Recitals, competitions and examinations can be great opportunities for our young music students. Competitions and recitals allow singers to perform for an appreciative audience, listen to other performers and receive constructive criticism on which to improve. Examinations provide musical goals and a guideline to mark their musical progress.
Sometimes our students and parents are not pleased with the adjudicator’s placing or mark awarded in graded performances. This has been an issue since the beginning of competitions, but TV programs such as The Voice, Idol and others haven't made local music competitions any friendlier. Furthermore, practical examinations are highly subjective and marks can vary greatly from one exam to another.
Follow up after any graded performance is important. Whether celebrating an outstanding performance or damage control when things do not go well, you need to discuss the results with everyone. Invite families into lessons following the performance to discuss the adjudicators/examiners comments. If families are upset with the results, negativity will follow them into their lessons.
Truth Bomb: Some families hold grudges. Unhappy students/families will quit lessons or transfer to another teacher if they are not happy with performance results. If they do - it is unlike that they will have nice things to say about you or your teaching studio.
What can you do?
Communicate, listen carefully and discuss. Regardless if the performance results were good or not so good - ask your students AND parents, “What did you learn from this experience?”. Other effective follow up questions could include:
“Do you feel that you were well prepared for this performance?”
“Is there anything that you/I can do to help you prepare for the next performance?”
“What can you/we do differently next time?”
“What did you think of the adjudicator’s/examiner's comments?”
“Are there any comments that you disagree with and WHY?”
These questions open up some very interesting dialogue from both students and parents and return the focus to the fact that all performances are fantastic learning opportunities. New goals and performance opportunities can be planned and perhaps the colour of the ribbon or the mark awarded might not be that important after all.