Last Updated on 2022-11-01 | Originally Posted on 2022-10-25
This past Saturday, October 22nd, we had our fourth annual Halloween Piano Party. The event debuted in 2018, but we skipped it entirely in 2020 due to Covid-19 concerns. Each year I try to do something a little different and learn along the way what worked and what didn’t! The participants had a good time, including the chance to play a piece or two in a low-stress environment.
Changes from Last Year
I changed the format of last year’s party to be more like an open house but with scheduled arrival times. Despite not having those same Covid concerns this year, I kept the same open-house feel. However, I allowed families to choose when to show up. My only stipulation was to stay at least 30 to 45 minutes to support other performers.
In past years, I tried to gauge attendance ahead of time, but that was pretty pointless. Too many families would either cancel at the last minute or not show up. I’m glad that I just managed on the fly with those who showed up, even though it presented its own risks. The only adjustment I made was starting the games early since we ran out of performers.
Attendees can wear a costume and take part in a contest that is judged by several piano teaching colleagues after the fact. I’ve found this works well because it’s impartial – it’s hard for the piano parents or me to make that decision. Plus, it fits the open-house format, so that not everyone needs to be in the room at the same time.
The prizes are tiny amount gift cards to Andy’s Frozen Custard and Chick-fil-A, or a gift certificate to Amazon.com if those don’t work out. The only downside to this is that the younger kids tend to do better than the older kids. But that’s a good life lesson for an 11-year-old to understand that being cute and adorable doesn’t last forever!
Click on the picture collage below to learn more about the contestants on Instagram.
I purchased Wendy Stevens’s ComposeCreate Rhythm Cups as my main activity for students. I had separate activities planned for the younger and older kids, but it turned out I didn’t need either of those. The kids had a lot of fun, but I have to spend a bit more time practicing the techniques myself because I couldn’t successfully teach passing cups.
I heartily endorse this activity, and I’m trying to figure out how we’ll use this going forward. It would be great to do something with it regularly, but at the very least it will be a go-to occasional activity.
I tried to make the day appealing with some games that would appeal to all ages. However, I’ve given up hope that older kids will attend such events. I had what I thought would be a terrific activity around the piano favorite Heart and Soul, but I’ll save it for another time. I gave it a good shot, and will now focus future piano parties on younger attendees. If an older kid or two show up, they can always play a piece and stay around to help out if they like.
No Video Camera
I decided not to set up my video camera, which I think helped lower stress levels. It’s not intended to be a performance masked as a party. There were some moments when we had a bit of extra time, so I was able to do a bit of masterclass work. Several kids who are participating in an upcoming festival got to test out their pieces. Others chose repertoire they recently learned and enjoyed playing.
Lillian won first place in the costume contest. Click the photo to see the other winners on Instagram.
I enjoy offering piano parties as a bonus to weekly lessons. The extra time it takes, plus the small cost for materials and prizes is well worth the cost. It really helps to enhance the overall experience in my studio. Please let me know if you enjoyed my post and feel free to offer some ideas for future events!