By Lou Ann Pope, Tonara Creative Education Specialist
How cool would it be to add a Performance Room to your house? What would it be like to be able to have your students knocking on your door, any day of the week, any time of day, to perform their favorite pieces and to encourage each other to play? Perhaps a few of your students would drop by several times in the same day! Can you picture it? Maybe you would entertain the idea, or maybe (if you are like me) you think you wouldn’t want to be available to unlock the door for your students any time of the day! Here are a few scenarios: just as you sit down to dinner…”ding-dong,” your doorbell rings! Or just as you are headed out the door, keys in hand, to go to the grocery store, or to take your young daughter to ballet, here comes a student to perform in your Performance Room. But of course, that would be an inconvenience! But wouldn’t it be a great problem to have?
I’m here to tell you, I have a Performance Room for my students to utilize! Although it is not a physical room added onto my house, it is a well-visited room! So what kind of performances happen in my Performance Room? Sometimes the recitals are “teacher-driven.” Sometimes I ask students to perform...maybe each student plays just a phrase. I love putting those together into full pieces. And students love to see their work multiplied! I’ve created 31 challenges for the students to participate in.
Perhaps I ask students to play a piece while blindfolded. Or maybe I ask them to play a piece that I didn’t assign: “on your own” so to speak! And sometimes the performances are student-driven. “Hey friends! Listen to this piece that I just composed.” Or “I’ve been practicing the phrase lifts on my Bach. I think I finally got it. What do you think?” The best part is that the other students in my studio actually answer these questions! “Wow! That was great! Good job!” One of the favorite aspects that my students love is the ability to send stickers of encouragement and kudos!
What else happens in my Performance Room besides piano performances? Let’s see... My students and I have seen a ventriloquist act, a family performing a Lion Dance, several performances of back handsprings, state wrestling championships, a student jumping his dirt bike, medals received for a Geography Bee, pictures of hands at the piano, pictures of students’ practice spaces, paintings painted by students, dogs singing, a kitten on the keys, birthday parties, the winning race at a Boy Scout Pinewood Derby, children singing books, children asking each other if they have practiced yet that day, and as I mentioned before, students sending stickers to encourage each other! Last year a student taught her mom a piece and the mom challenged another mom to learn it, too! It was so fun to see the families engaging in new musical endeavors! Here are a few of the examples:
Once I asked my students to perform their recital pieces the night before their recital, but the trick was they only had 15 minutes to complete the task! One of my piano parents was texting me, “Hey, what did you just post to Daniel? He couldn’t get out of the car fast enough to RUN to the piano to practice!!” I’ve had many, similar comments from parents, pleased that they don’t have to nag their children to practice. Many of them have watched the transformation in the past two years!
That would have been amazing to have all of these students knocking on my door to enter the Performance Room in my house...but let’s be realistic! We all know that parents would not be driving over to my house so their children could show me these achievements! So where is my Performance Room? We are a Tonara Studio. Some Tonara teachers see a “Group Chat” on Tonara, but I see beyond what meets the eye. I renamed our Group Chat “Pope Piano Performance Room.” It took a little bit of coaxing at first, but now students are confident that it is a safe and encouraging place to perform! Now they can’t remember what life was like without it. And I will not be “locking the door” anytime soon!
Have you tried Tonara, yet? I would love to hear about the amazing performances in your very own Performance Room in your studio. You can watch the transformation of your students, right before your very eyes! Just watch your piano parents transform as well! If you would like to try Tonara and get your students performing other than just at scheduled recitals, check us out!