Music is fun to share. It brings people together, and puts excitement and joy into life. Piano students should get a chance to share music early on, no need to wait until they’re advanced piano players. That’s what a piano party is all about. It’s an opportunity to realize the joy of sharing music with family and friends. At a piano party, students play several songs they have learned, usually all the songs from one or two of our piano units. Most piano parties are given by just one student, though siblings or friends could perform together. Students invite friends, neighbors, teachers, coaches, family members, and whoever else they’d like to come to their home and hear them play. It’s a great way to engage in a very important step of the creative process, sharing what you create with others. It’s also a great way to reduce performance jitters, because it normalizes the act of performing. Here’s how to prepare for and put on a piano party:
1. Make a Plan
Decide with your piano student that you are going to have a piano party as soon as your piano student has learned all the songs in a unit (or two or even three units for an older student). As they learn new songs, students should practice every song they have already learned, every day. This will help keep all of the songs fresh in their minds. Students can also get creative and compose their own song for the piano party, or make up their own arrangements of the songs they learn, for example by adding another verse or changing octaves.
2. Practice, Practice, Practice
When all the songs are learned, take a week or two to make sure that every song can be played without mistakes. People enjoy listening to music, no matter how simple, so long as it has a flow and a rhythm. On the other hand, listening to someone stumble through a song makes everyone uncomfortable. Students who are making a lot of mistakes on a particular song should focus on that song and try to play it through three to five times perfectly at every practice session until it is as strong as the other songs.
3. Choose a Date
Pick a good time to have your piano party and send out invitations. Rehearse the piano party as if all the guests were there by having your piano student introduce themselves, then introduce a song before playing it, take a bow at the end, and then introduce the next song. Do this a few times so that it will feel comfortable and natural.
4. Create a Program
Make programs for the piano party, listing the student’s name, the date, location, and all the songs that will be performed. Some students like to make their own programs by hand, others like to make them on the computer with the help of a parent. By typing the program out, the program can look professional, colorful, and can make the student feel proud of their accomplishments.
5. Got Milk?… and Cookies?
Don’t forget the refreshments! After the performance is done, providing refreshments gives everyone a chance to relax, chat, and praise the piano student for their hard work and wonderful performance. To raise the level of excitement, let your piano student be involved in choosing and even preparing treats for their guests. Some wonderful treat ideas could be cookies and milk, chips, or ants on a log!
6. Party Time!
On the day of the piano party, set up chairs, put out programs, and prepare to serve the refreshments. To get out any last minute jitters, have your piano student warm up on the piano. Depending on your student’s personality, warming up on their piano party music can either make them feel more or less nervous about performing. In order to get rid of any pre-performance jitters, either have them run through everything one last time before the guests arrive or have them warm up with scales or something else they know by heart that isn’t part of the performance!
If possible, don’t forget to record the performance! Recording the performance on an audio or video recorder can be a great way to remember your child’s achievements. It can also be something that you can share with family members and friends who are unable to attend.
Lastly, sit back, relax, and enjoy the party, knowing that you’ve given your piano student the opportunity to experience one of the best things about music–sharing it with others!