Is Performance Important When Learning a Musical Instrument?

April 1, 2024

Music Lesson Goals - Music Lessons in NYC - performing - Piano Lessons NYC


Music, like dance, is first and foremost performance art. While some people may take music lessons for their own enjoyment, a lot of people learn an instrument specifically to be able to perform for others. Putting together a recital on piano or other instruments requires a lot of physical, emotional, and mental preparation from both student and teacher ahead of time; however, that preparation can yield fantastic results for music students.

If you have taken music lessons in the past, you may remember having had a required performance at the end of the semester or a school year. At the recital or jury, you would play the pieces you had worked on for several months and then moved on to new pieces. There was not much flexibility to opt out of such events! If you were nervous and didn’t want to do it, you still had to do it!

Nowadays, end of term performances are often optional or not even offered at many music schools due to the challenges they pose to the students and the school/teacher. Performing when learning a musical instrument is an important part of a musician’s development. Professional music schools will always find ways to overcome these challenges. Recitals and performances should always available to students who choose to participate.

Recitals Provide a Sense of Community and Motivation

In private music lessons, all the work is often kept between the student, the teacher, and the parents. Social interaction is important in music! Recitals provide this vital sense of community – participants are able to see that other people share a common interest and love for music. It’s great to be among the people who you can easily make a connection with and even become friends with.

In addition to the social aspects, a big driving force of public performances is the motivation that we get from hearing other students play. When beginner students hear more challenging songs performed by more experienced players, they see where their own hard work can lead to. At one of the recent student recitals of Riverside Music Studios a very talented teenage student performed his own rendition of “Sweet Child of Mine” by Guns and Roses. Now, we have several younger students who were there at the recital and who were inspired to learn this challenging song, too. They are very motivated and they are doing great!

Overcoming Stage Fright is Thrilling

Some music schools and private teachers are apprehensive about losing students by putting too much pressure on them to perform. It’s important to note that nearly everyone who performs publicly will experience some level of nervousness at some point in their musical lives. The natural reaction of the body to such events is to produce adrenaline to help us to deal with an out-of-the-ordinary situation, which can make us feel nervous or stressed!

Stage fright can happen before a performance, sometimes in the weeks leading up to it, and also during the performance itself. Some people really don’t want to have an experience like that in their life. They want to enjoy playing the piano or violin by themselves or in front of the teacher and they want to remain in this comfort zone. We respect that, and don’t require all students to perform!

Experiencing performance anxiety does not always have to end up as a negative experience. In life, we frequently find ourselves in situations where we have to perform in front of other people, whether that is at school, work, or even in our social circles.

Our ability to perform well in stressful circumstances rewards us with new opportunities, better prospects, and more confidence.

Playing at a student music recital can prepare us to better handle stressful circumstances in other areas of life. There are specific strategies and techniques that a music teacher can show you to significantly reduce performance anxiety. People who routinely perform music on stage often report that they experience no anxiety or stress in any public speaking, for example. As a writer of this article and a pianist, myself, I can confirm that this is absolutely true!

We have talked about how it’s normal to feel nervous before the performance. What happens when the performance is complete? If you practiced hard and played well, what follows is the feeling of catharsis. As a musician, it’s an absolute thrill when you finish your program and receive applause from your audience. It feels great!

Preparation Requires Time & Patience

The other challenge of performing at the recitals is that you have to get really good at playing your pieces. You can’t come out on stage half prepared, and if you do, this will definitely be a negative experience for you. Getting to the top level requires hard work; a push – something that not all the students are prepared to do. Some students don’t have enough time to commit to this effort, or simply don’t have a desire to do it. It is possible, after all, to just hop from one musical piece to another and just enjoy the experience of being introduced to various composers, artists, and styles.

Getting your pieces in tip top shape for performance is a skill that requires patience, persistence, and tremendous focus. This is usually done over the course of several months; endurance is also an important factor. Students who know how to do this can apply these awesome skills to other areas of life: study, work, and even social interactions. It is a known fact, for example, that children who take music lessons score higher on SAT tests then those who don’t. So it’s good to not shy away from the challenge – it makes us stronger and smarter!

Recital Logistics are a Challenge for the Music School

Putting together a public performance is also a gargantuan task for private music teachers and schools. Not all the music teachers or schools are ready or willing to do that.

Firstly, for private music teachers in NYC and other large metropolitan areas, the price of renting performance spaces is ever-growing. Sometimes it is just not possible logistically or financially. After the space is rented, it’s necessary to put together programs, provide trophies/refreshments, and arrange for many other logistics.And we should also consider how hard the teacher needs to work to prepare their students for a solid public performance!

It is always a great sign if your teacher or music school is able and willing to offer them. It’s a sign that your music educator understands the tremendous value of performing in public and is going the extra step to make that happen. If there is a good system in place, recitals will run smoothly and can even be financially successful. 

So, are public performances important for learning a musical instrument?

At Riverside Music Studios, we believe performance is an important part of the process of learning music. Our music school overcomes logistical and financial challenges to offer recitals to our students throughout the year in NYC. Sometimes, our students need a little push or a pep talk to play at the first recital, but after they do this for the first time, they come and play at every single recital thereafter. They come back to feel thrilled, happy, and artistically satisfied!

If you want to come to any of our Student Recitals and see how it feels for yourself please reach out to us via the contact form on our site. It’s free to attend!



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