I don’t know who came up with the idea, but I remember how much fun it was.
When I was little, my family held “family recitals” every now and then. We would gather together and play our instruments for each other. Family recitals became a time of celebrating each other and our hard work over the past few months or maybe the last year.
We simply pulled out our books and played whatever composition we were working on right then, whether it was “Birthday Party” from the John Thompson piano series or “Wildwood Flower” played on the guitar or “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” on the violin.
I remember a certain family recital we held in a church in Oregon. For various reasons, we were parked for weeks (maybe months) at this church with little to no meetings. Usually, my older sisters found some way to liven things up, and a family recital was planned. We practiced diligently. On the night of the recital, we all dressed up, big ’80s bangs and all.
My sister Becky (the second oldest) was in charge of organizing the younger siblings and our performances. I still remember standing in a back room, trembling with fear and excitement. One by one, our names were called. When my turn came, I shyly stepped on the “stage” and sat in a chair with my mandolin. My older sister Deborah accompanied me. The name of the song escapes me, but our antics were recorded for all time by Dad or one of the other siblings.
The recital had its flops: as Joanna was playing a violin solo with Becky accompanying her at the piano, sheet music began falling off the piano. Becky frantically grabbed at pieces of paper as they fell, missed, and played a few jarring chords not in the original composition. Joanna began to giggle as pages cascaded toward her.
And I think Deborah fudged some of the chords while she accompanied me on my mandolin piece. (I only know this because the video revealed her strumming along, smiling and trying to find the right one.)
Those family gatherings were a little intimidating to me as a child, but once I became comfortable playing for my family, it was a little easier to play for a church full of people. I am not sure if Dad and Mom planned this necessarily, but learning to play in front of smaller group settings certainly helped prepare me for larger group settings.
Someone once said that getting up in front of people and doing anything–whether that is acting, singing, or speaking–is one of the hardest things that humans do. I cannot prove this with documentation, but I agree.
Some children naturally take to the stage. Others (like me) need time and preparation. Time to prepare mentally as well as learning the notes and rhythm. Time to conquer stage fright.
If you want to prepare your child to play music in your church, start simple. Have them perform regularly for your family. Then perhaps your family and some friends and relatives. Your child will sense the pressure of “performing” but will play in a safe environment, where their mistakes are heard and ignored, where they can learn to adjust to the pressure.
Make your family recitals enjoyable–and at the same time important. Your child will learn that playing music for others is significant by the way you emphasize these family gatherings. Dress up. Set up your living room like a recital hall. You could even make some refreshments for after the recital. Above all, encourage and praise your child for any and every effort made.
Children should have the opportunity to play and to minister to others using the instruments they are working on, at the level at which they are learning. As a parent, you can help prepare them for bigger audiences and bigger opportunities to serve the Lord.
Yes, you can do that…even with a fun “family recital!”