Thursday, October 13, 2011

Recital Etiquette

Dear Suzuki Parents,

As Suzuki piano teachers, we admire Suzuki parents. They are dedicated and hard working. Parenting a Suzuki child is a big commitment. The benefits are huge, but the work is a little daunting. Congratulations on the work that you do and the effort you put into Suzuki Parenting.

Teachers prepare carefully for each recital in their studios, helping each student to play at a high level in order that they will have a good experience. We also teach the students about recital etiquette and ask them to be respectful of other performers. We ask them to dress in their best clothes and to come early so that they can do their best. We hope that they will have a respectful audience.

At the beginning of each recital, there is a speech about recital behavior. We ask the students to be team players. We ask them to be courteous listeners and to applaud their fellow performers. We also ask the audience to be courteous listeners. For the most part the Suzuki students are respectful of each other. They are usually quiet and attentive to the performers.

Not everyone in the audience is quiet and respectful, however. When a student misbehaves, we quickly correct the behavior. When a parent misbehaves, we have a difficult time addressing the behavior. It is awkward for us as teachers to confront a parent or visitor who is creating a distraction and ask them to be quiet. We would rather not do this. We would prefer that every person in the audience would commit on their own to be courteous and attentive.

It is puzzling that parents who have gone to great effort to prepare their student to perform can be discourteous and impolite when someone else’s child is performing. Most Suzuki parents understand what is being asked and do their best to support the performers by being quiet and gracious. Unfortunately there are a few who don’t seem to understand, and so we are writing to clarify our request to parents, grandparent, family and friends.

Hopefully, no one will be offended at these suggestions. Please don’t assume a finger is pointing at anyone. Give careful consideration to these ideas and ask yourself if you can improve your recital behavior. If you will be inviting friends or family to a recital, please share this letter with them.

1. Please be in your seats five minutes before the recital is to begin. If you need to get a drink or use the bathroom, do that first, so that you will not need to leave the recital. If you have children with you, please take them for drinks and bathroom needs before the recital and help them to be calm and quiet before the recital begins.

2. Performers should arrive 15 minutes before the recital is to begin, take care of drinks and bathroom needs, and find their seat in time to sit quietly before the announcements begin. This quiet time helps create a calm mind and body for a more perfect performance.

3. Give consideration to what you will be wearing to the recital. This is not a sporting event. Performers are dressed in their Sunday best. If you are dressed casually you may be tempted to behave in a casual manner. If you dress up a bit, you may feel a little more formal. Children notice the difference too; your clothing lets the child know how important the recital is to you. If they are dressed up, they may be easier to control.

4. There should be no talking during the recital. Please do not try to entertain a child by reading them a story, however quietly, or playing any sort of game with them. Show them by example that this is a quiet time. If you must communicate, please whisper. If your neighbors can hear you talking, you are talking too loud.

5. Cell phones should be turned off and put away. Handheld video games should not be brought to a recital.

6. If you have children with you, please help them to understand appropriate behavior during a formal performance. Talk with them before the recital about what is expected, and then help them to stay calm and quiet during the performance. You could practice this at home. If a child is noisy during the recital please take him/her out, and only return if the child is able to regain control. If a child is not able to be reasonably quiet during a recital, consider leaving him/her with a babysitter until he/she develops more self-control.

7. If it becomes necessary to leave the recital hall for any reason, please go between performers. The greeters will try to enforce this. Please work with them. Excessive leaving and re-entering even between performances is inappropriate. Please do not ask to arrive late or leave early. This is inappropriate, and such requests cannot be honored. If it is not possible for you to stay for the entire recital, please ask to be rescheduled for the next recital.

8. There should be no flash photography during the recital. Hand held video cameras are permitted if they are not distracting. Video cameras on tripods are permitted only in the back.

That was long, but really vital. Please give it careful thought. Parents set the tone for the recital. When the audience is noisy and casual in their attention, it is the students who pay the price. Help us to minimize stress and distraction. Consider the effort they have put into preparation and what distraction can do to their focus. Please do your part. Give them the audience they deserve.

Suzuki Piano Teachers
Salt Lake East Region