Piano Parties

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I started a piano club, the whole purpose of this is to make music a communal experience. When kids belong to bands, chamber ensembles, orchestras and even when they take part in other activities – be it in sports or being part of an art class or book club, they rub shoulders with other like-minded children. On top of going to art class, or chess club or soccer and learning something for a few hours, they make friends. They have something extra to look forward to.

This kind of communal experience doesn’t happen very often in the private one-on-one piano lesson context. The idea of starting a piano club is to make music a communal experience.  When I started studying at the music school that I go to, the best part of it was meeting other like-minded people. I met other musicians: pianists, singers, composers, violinists, cellists, musicologists (music scholars), music education specialists and plenty of other interesting people. We collaborated on quite a few occasions – we made music together, we’d get together and perform some of the compositions of our composer friends. We had stimulating conversations on music history, teaching and music making. This was magical. AND it was social, after a long rehearsal, we’d have dinner together, head to the cafe together, watch a concert together, watch a movie together – it was really a lot of fun!

The idea of starting a piano club also allows for group learning and musical collaboration. I’ve noticed that in the studio, a few students love to compose music, other students enjoy dancing and some play second or even third instruments. I think that it would be great to utilise their talents, by doing so, I believe that this should enrich their music education.

The piano club also allows for students to work towards something and to enjoy performing. I personally LOVE performing. For me my excitement always overrides my nerves because my performance experience was not limited to music exams. When I started performing, I performed in school assembles, in performing arts nights and school functions. I had a very supportive audience – people who would clap, cheer, yell and whistle. Also, there were great people who would approach me and tell me that I was amazing. If the student was limited to doing music exams, this kind of a supportive and encouraging audience doesn’t happen at all. I hope that the piano club would make the experience of performing not scary, not so formal, but fun and enjoyable.

So how does the piano club work? Members are established – parents and also other teachers in the local community. Parents and teachers in the local community donate their time and space to allow for these social events to happen. This will be a rotating arrangement, once a month or every six weeks –depending on what works for families, there will be a piano club meeting.  The meeting will be held in the lounge room of a family that belongs to the piano club.  Every family takes turns hosting a meeting. The meeting will consist of a three things:

  1. Performance: Each student brings in one piece and performs it to their piano club friends – when people get to know each other, I might start encouraging them to give each other some constructive feedback.
  2. A musical group game or group musical activity. These activities will be planned by yours truly and they will be aimed at developing the children’s musicality.
  3. Food – this doesn’t have to be elaborate. It can be ordered pizza with every family chipping in $5. I did study to become a chef once in my life, I also know that a few students in the studio enjoy cooking – if any of you parents want to have the night off in doing your normal parental duties, I wouldn’t mind making dinner with them and supervising them through this process.

I do want to make one thing clear: this doesn’t cost anything. The reason why I do these things is because I care and I want children to enjoy making music. Having said that, I do think chipping in for food, whatever the arrangement might be for the month wouldn’t be a bad idea. Please leave comments down below, or email me, or speak to me in person if you are a parent and let me know what your views are on this idea. I would love to hear from you, even if you don’t agree with this idea!

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2 thoughts on “Piano Parties

  1. Hi Rebecca, this sounds like a very interesting idea! Will you write a follw up with some experiences? I am wondering how many participants are enough, how many are too many?
    If there are not enough, then perhaps making a “music club” instead of a “piano club”, i.e. other instruments allowed would help?
    From which age does this work, do you think? Or from which level of playing experience?
    Any feedback on what works and does not work in practice?

    • Hi Hendrik42, sorry for the belated reply. It was a long time ago since I have done my first piano party, since then I have started a masters degree in music education research and sort of have thought more about communal music making in molecular and virtual worlds. Yes, definately, I will follow up with some experience – some of my failings and accomplishments 🙂
      As far as participants – it always, always depends on what your goals are. If you want a casual recital with food and games, then the more the merrier. If you want collaboration, you want to be picky with your age group. Though, when you have mixed ages, a lot of the time this is a good opportunity to have mentoring happen. If you want a kids party – then think primary school kids (or elementary depends on which side of town).
      Anyways, hard to condense what works and doesn’t work in practice – I will definitely write more! Thanks for commenting!

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