Nothing is more powerful than a kind word or compliment. Our singers (and their families) need to be reassured and encouraged more than we may realize. Especially after performances.
At my last in-person recital, I introduced my performers and audience to compliment cards. (The shout-out goes to Wendy Stevens of composecreate.com, a great website for music teachers.)
Compliment cards are simple slips of paper where people can jot down a positive remark or comment about the performances. After the recital, I collected all the comment cards, sorted them*, and presented them to my students at their follow-up lesson. As we read through the compliments, it was pleasing to see my students' faces light up and, more surprisingly, see parents beam with pride.
Honestly, I had no idea that many of my families struggled with post-recital regrets.
As teachers and experienced performers, we can forget how stressful and unkind first recitals can be to performers of all ages. Those small, nervous mistakes that our students navigate during their performances are not easy to forget (and parents notice too!) Even though we are careful to celebrate our singers with applause and positive feedback, many students and families can feel disappointed after a recital.
I found that compliment cards help to reassure students and parents that there are many beautiful moments in a performance. This feedback lifted the energy of the post-recital lessons. Students are inspired to continue working on performance skills. Parents are reassured about their investment in lessons! AND What a lovely way to build support and community within your teaching studio.
Compliment cards encourage everyone in the audience to actively listen for the good things rather than focus on weaknesses. Asking students to participate in writing compliment cards can help adjust their attitudes toward their own performances. (It helped to keep younger students engaged through the recital too!)
When my recital was online I mailed the compliment cards sheets to my families. They will return them to me so I can then distribute them and celebrate all my students' efforts. My studio is excited about this! Many of my students have kept the compliment cards as inspirational keepsakes. What a lovely way to finish this teaching season.
*Unfortunately, some audience members did not understand the instructions and provided constructive criticism rather than compliments. I recommend you screen the cards first before handing them out. Those cards went into the recycling bin.