(To catch up on this series see Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4)

So far, we’ve talked a lot about what adults are looking for within the lesson time and for their personal fulfillment playing piano at home.  But there’s also a social aspect here for many adults.  Adults often want to be a part of a community of musicians.  Jenell mentioned that she liked having people get together in a casual atmosphere and play for each other.  Another stereotype of adult students is that they don’t want to perform.  But, I think they often do want to perform if given the right circumstances.  Here’s a short clip about how not to set up adult recitals:

So Bill’s experience was playing in a formal recital with kids of all ages.  This is a really challenging situation for an adult beginner, imagine being 70 years old and playing alongside 7 year olds who can play better than you!  And Joe’s experience was a recital for adults, but he describes it as “horrific.” It was a big auditorium, he didn’t know everyone there, and there was too much pressure!  

So how can you set up performance opportunities for your adult students that are more positive than this?  We still want to keep in mind that RMM is process-driven, not outcome driven. Students should not be required to perform.  But if they have an interest in playing for others they may enjoy the process of performing if the conditions are right. Our solution at the studio where I teach has been what we call “Wine and Keys.”  You’ll hear more from Joe in the next video about how this began.  Basically, we get together with adult students from several teachers, at our studio or someone’s home.  We have food and drink, and then the adults play for each other if they want to.  It’s a pretty casual setting.  Students can talk about the pieces they are learning, give background information and share about why they are learning it, and they get to know each other. Here’s what our students had to say about our Wine and Keys gatherings:

Jenell recorded this interview right before she was moving out of state, so she was feeling a bit sentimental about the camaraderie she’s built with the other adult students, and she is hoping she can find something similar in her new home.  So, over two years of having these Wine and Keys gatherings the students have gotten to know each other and become friends.  They mentioned that they get support from each other and feel like they are all rooting for each other to be successful.  They also mentioned how they feel a sense of accomplishment when they’ve performed, and feel like they are achieving their goals.  I think that’s one of the key benefits of giving them performance opportunities, they gain a sense of accomplishment.  Otherwise, as Ellen put it, it’s just a lesson with this woman and that’s it.

Remember how Ginger said she was hoping to perform this year? She did this past spring at one of our recent gatherings! And she played wonderfully! Such a big improvement from being afraid to go near a piano.  I can really see her self confidence growing. Now I do have some adult students who never come to these gatherings and that’s fine. Some don’t feel the need for this, and I don’t push it. But I feel like it is so valuable for those who enjoy it.


Author: Spring

Spring Seals, NCTM, teaches 60 piano students ranging from age 3 to 70 in Fort Worth, Texas. She also serves as the Director of Certification for TMTA. She is passionate about helping teachers become more effective in their studios through professional development, new resources, and fresh ideas.