This weekend we are hosting a performance party at my home studio. It is the first performance opportunity this year for our students.
I started these parties about 18 months ago and we now do three a year. At first it took a little while to get students into the swing of things but now they are very popular.
Students arrive and bring with them a plate of afternoon tea to share. We have some board games set up and they quickly get into playing these as everyone arrives. It is a great icebreaker and we have found the best games are those that are quick and simple. Games like Trouble, Operation, Jenga and Uno for the older kids are very popular and work well in this setting.
Prior to the party I ask some of the older students if they would be my helpers and be in charge of a game each. The benefit of this is two fold. Firstly, the teenage students have purpose when they walk in and they have buy-in to the process so they will attend. Secondly, it means each of the games is being supervised by someone other than me, which leaves me free to supervise everything else!
After about half an hour, students begin playing their pieces. It is very relaxed and everyone sits around and listens. It is a great, very informal way of them playing infront of other people. As needed we stop for food breaks, game breaks and then more music.
Parents get a chance to chat in the kitchen and have a coffee and the kids get to know a community of other musicians.
In total (from set up to pack up) the parties take two hours.
The atmosphere is always a little hesitant at first and then everyone warms up and has a great time. I’ve found that more parties we have, the better everyone gets to know each other and has better interaction.
This weekend I’m expecting around 20 students. It will be interesting to see how it all kicks off for the year!
So here are my top tips for hosting a performance party:
- Make it quite relaxed and informal- students get plenty of other chances to do formal performances.
- Ask each student to bring food to share.
- Have icebreaker games available such as board games or small group games.
- Ask older students to be responsible for supervising a game.
- Have something for parents to do if they wish to stay (try coffee in the kitchen).
- Be specific with a short time frame for the party (this makes it easy to fit in and will maintain your sanity).
- Decide on a rough structure for the party. My choice is usually games, music, food, music, games.
I find these parties quite enjoyable. It is great to see them developing friendships and gaining more performance confidence.
Do you offer informal performance opportunities?