The “Live” Drive-in Concert at Bethel during COVID-19, June 27, 2021.
At Classic Studios Music Academy, we believe in the value of musical performance. Music lessons and performance are not solely about music lessons and performance. They are also about life skills.
This article was written during a bizarre COVID-19 time in Alberta when the province was in Stage 2 and we didn’t know what to expect. Musical performance was the last thing on anyone’s mind. However, at Classic Studios, we are a music school, and the show must go on! But how do you go on when you can’t do an indoor concert and you have to wear masks and socially distance while playing as a group?
You put on a drive-in concert, that’s how! We kept it safe by getting an FM radio station to broadcast the performances so families could listen safely in their vehicles if they wished. After soliciting many different businesses that were not able to help, Classic Studios finally found the support and great leadership at Bethel United Church in Sherwood Park. To sweeten the event, an ice cream truck would attend as well!
To most of our students, this sounded like a fun opportunity, but some kids aren’t big fans of performing.What if your child is more introverted or just plain anxious, cringing and crying at the thought of performing in front of a considerable amount of people? Here are a few things that might help you motivate your kid to pick their guts up and hit that stage at events like ours.
A lot of parents and families struggle with the idea of public performance. They worry: My kid might be humiliated. What if my child resents me for this experience? They have too much anxiety. My kid is not ready… One of the things parents and guardians might not consider is, wow, this can be fun and a grand time! But we’ll get to that.
The musical performance is the final product of a strong-minded process of heavy learning, multiple hours of studying, and a ton of practicing. (Really—just ask Paganini or Beyoncé!) Although it is pleasant to be delighted by music being played, why not be the one who plays the music and delights others? See?! This is why it’s just not possible to separate music from the whole stage issue. We’ll always desire to showcase the products of our hard work at some point.
In hockey, athletes practice for the game. They learn skills like skating and stick handling so they can play the game. In music, the game is a public performance. Now, I know I will get criticized for saying that students should be encouraged to perform publicly. Some students will say, “I’m just doing this for myself, and performing is not that important.” That is totally fair and no problem. However, consider that you might be robbing yourself of a deeper experience of meaning and learning, and of experiencing more joy and sharing joy with others.
A significant real-life skill that kids learn through public performance is being able to delay gratification. They practice, practice, practice, and their transformations are not instant. They are learning how to get one percent better and be really happy with that. Learning patience is at a premium these days. One of the benefits of learning slowly is that you learn to love the process of music making. The final performance is really a celebration.
If we encourage children to perform at any chance possible—birthdays, family meetings, dinner parties, Christmas, hanging out with friends—they see that it’s just part of the process and it’s not a big deal. And people love to see others succeed on stage, especially kids!
It doesn’t matter if your child isn’t interested in being a professional performer one day. The experience of being on stage can still shape their life in a positive way. The feeling of showcasing your skills in a live and public atmosphere is far different from that of learning and mastering a craft. Performing in front of people at a young age stimulates self-confidence for further activities that might involve social or emotional skills.
There are even 62 studies about the effect that performing arts has on children’s academic achievements. The researchers agreed that kids who are used to performing in front of people improved in some of their academic areas, like reading and math.
Now, you might be wondering, “How does one get a child to be able to perform in public without having them chicken out, cry, and run off the stage?” The answer is pretty simple: you start gradually. Get your miniature-sized human into activities that involve speaking in public—maybe first in front of their closest family members and then progressively with their schoolmates in the classroom. The key to the process is doing it gradually and overcoming each stage in a progressive, non-invasive way.
So before you even think of having your kids perform musically in front of a crowd, consider a simpler task like public speaking. It’s no secret that speaking in public is also scary for most people. Surveys have shown that some people fear public performance or speaking more than death! Once again, it’s not about the results but the details in the step-by-step process. Children often approach things fearlessly, which is a great thing to take advantage of in this case. The sooner you start teaching kids public speaking skills, the better.
At some point in life, your children will have to deal with nerves and anxiety. They will have to write tests, speak at a wedding or funeral, or try to get a date. They might have to stand up for what they believe in or talk to the Canada Revenue Agency with a straight face. Public performance and musical training help make these life skills easier.
Another way to turn things around is by using public performances as a reward system for the hard work, discipline, and dedication your kid has put into their study of music. First, find small opportunities to encourage them. These can include simple exercises or pieces performed in front of the family, always in a safe and fun environment.
Most importantly, always keep a positive mindset. Don’t let your child entertain negative thoughts, such as worries about messing up their performance. If possible, don’t even bring that up. Always persuade them into confidence and optimism. If your kid does have a rough performance, stay positive and help them to understand that it’s not a tragedy.
Also, acknowledge that music is made to be shared and showcased. Explain that performances are their big chance to express themselves through their talent, and that’s where the biggest benefit is. And they get a chance to have more fun and make other people happy!
Oh, so the “live” drive-in show at Bethel was a hit! There were many challenges during COVID times in trying to make a little performance happen. So the show wasn’t just a hit because it was a performance and the kids had worked so hard on their pieces. It was a knockout for the bigger life lesson here: the show must go on! Public performances inspire others to dream, listen, and go on. The beauty of it is that you can connect with people and spread joy.
Thank you to all the students, parents, families, and teachers who helped make our show happen!
If you want to see some photos from the event, click here: