Recital? Or Guitarbeque!!!

Mar 16, 2016

Public performance is one of the great motivators to any practice. Athletes need to compete, musicians need to perform and dancers need to take the stage.

Most instructors would agree that there is “no motivation like the fear of public humiliation.” Students need the opportunity to perform for their peers and families. Performance teaches us to work towards a goal, face our fears and experience the very unique rush that only performance offers.

The first recital I ever hosted was during my first year of teaching in Seattle. I had around 20 students, mostly children, and I worked at local music school. I invited all of my students and their families to school for a Sunday afternoon performance and my students worked away at preparing their pieces. I planned it to be a traditional recital… some snacks, rows of chairs, kids performing. Who doesn’t love a bunch of kids dressed up for a recital? Well, three students showed up for my recital on that Sunday afternoon. (And one of those students is now studying at the Curtis School!)

I was really disappointed. No one showed up to my recital. They were either too afraid, or had some other lame excuse. I needed a new game plan to get these kids up on stage. I had an idea. Forget the recital.. I would host a Guitarbeque!

My first Guitarbeque was in a private picnic area in Seattle. I invited my students to come hang out, play some music and eat some killer barbecue. For some reason, with that little shift from buttoned-up recital to chilled Guitarbeque, 80 people showed up the first year, and all of my students performed. Not only did they perform, they had a blast. I was on to something.

In the following years, the Guitarbeque has become a pretty huge annual event. I cook more than 100 pounds of barbecue, each family brings a side and we have more than 250 folks show up.(see picture above)Students perform on a stage for friends, families and other students at an outdoor amphitheater. The Guitarbeque is an amazing opportunity for students to perform in a relaxed, supportive environment.

A side note on the Guitarbeque. It’s the only marketing that I do for my teaching studio, aside from word of mouth. I always get at least 5–10 new lesson inquiries leading up to the Guitarbeque or just after. Videos get shown to co- workers, friends tag along and become interested in learning.. people talk. It’s a nice reminder of how doing something cool for others can lead to something cool for you!

I’d love to hear what you do to make your recitals an awesome experience for your students. Please share.

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