“Why Recitals?”


I learned to play the piano as a 6 year old and took lessons throughout my childhood. I loved playing the piano, singing along, entertaining myself. I learned to read music which has been a valuable skill when encountering new hymns at church. However, from the beginning, I hated recitals. If you have been spared either performing in or attending a piano recital, consider yourself fortunate. Basically each child has to stand in front of the audience, announce the name of the piece about to be played, play the piece, stand, bow or curtsy and return to his seat.

Yesterday we went to hear my granddaughter in her piano recital. She is quite good at the piano, with a solid sense of rhythm and good technique. I enjoy hearing her play at home. But we also got to hear fifteen other kids play. A majority of them sped up with notes they knew and slowed in the hard parts, finally loudly plunking out chords they recognized. While we clapped enthusiastically for each child, it was painful at times to listen. At the end of the recital my granddaughter announced “I hate recitals.”

Who decided that playing the piano also necessitated playing it in a recital? It seems to me that two skills have been combined: playing the piano and performing. They don’t necessarily go together unless one is going to be a performer. I think most kids are not going on to be concert pianists. Even as a adult I was told by one teacher that if I wanted to take lessons, I was going to have to be in the recital. I passed on the “opportunity.” I am satisfied with an audience of one–me.

16 thoughts on ““Why Recitals?”

  1. We have so many shared experiences. I also began taking piano at a young age. 😊 I didn’t mind piano recitals because I could hold my own but I hated dance recital because I was not at all talented in dance and my ineptitude was highly exaggerated up against others who had talent. Lol


  2. I only get to appreciate listening to music because I never play any musical instrument. My uncle (dad’s brother) plays the violin) and dad plays the the guitar.


  3. I envy you learning to play something, despite the ‘recitals’. I suppose they were to ‘prove’ to everyone that you had reached some perceived standard. As long as you enjoy it, then so what? I have a very nice electric guitar in the loft, but I never had the aptitude/talent (or patience) to learn how to play it. I finally concluded that some are born to play, and others could try all their life and only ever hit bum notes.
    That made me feel better, even if it isn’t true. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.


  4. I was never good enough for recitals. Here in the UK only the good ones get to play at events.
    When my eldest son sat his grade 5 piano his piano teacher told me his problem was he couldn’t make it through a whole piece without a mistake and I thought “That’s me!” And I can’t carry on regardless – I have to try again to get it right.
    Like me, he failed, but he still plays at home – for fun. And isn’t that what it’s about? Sadly I never had the confidence of my father-in-law to belt out a tune for everyone to sing along to (most of the chords wrong, but half of the singers were tone-deaf anyway).


    1. Who can make it through without a mistake? Certainly no one at my granddaughter’s recital. There is a man at church who loves to sing–loudly–out of tune.


  5. I like the concept of playing for an audience of one. Sometimes I feel that way when I’m writing too. Sure, it would be nice if someone else liked it, but if a writer isn’t getting pleasure from writing, what’s the point?

    As far as recitals go, I’ve only been to a couple; they were painfully long. I’ve recently taken up the guitar at age sixty (better late than never), and I can’t imagine performing for anyone other than myself. Even at my very elementary level, it lifts my spirits; that’s good enough for me.


    1. I think it’s great that you have taken up the guitar. I always imagined I was Joan Baez, but only in my imagination! I started out just writing for myself, and the audience I have acquired feels like all gift.


  6. I totally agree with you. I’ve been taking private lessons as an adult and wouldn’t do a recital if required. As you say I’m learning for my own personal enjoyment not to entertain others. I’ve played guitar for years by ear but piano is much more difficult. Perhaps recitals instill confidence in children but I think it should be optional.


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