Young Soloists Turn Butterflies Into Bravado

Posted on January 24th, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

Yes, there were a few butterflies in the stomachs of Lower School students who had signed up for the annual Solo Performance Night held January 18th. But once they got started, the young students turned those butterflies into brave and beautiful notes that floated to the receptive ears of a welcoming audience. 

Lynn Grossman, Lower School Music Teacher, had a conversation with some young students about butterflies and how they overcame them.“Sometimes, when we’re about to perform, even though we are prepared and confident, and we’re next up, we’re sitting in the ready chair it’s almost our turn, something happens to our stomachs. What is that?

“You’re afraid all of a sudden.”

“Nerves come through your system of your body.”

“It just goes to your head, and you’re feeling like ‘I’m going to regret this,’ and you want to get off the stage.”

Listen in to Ms. Grossman’s conversation with students here.





“Opportunities to perform individually are naturally built into our general music classes at AC with an emphasis on trying – even if something is not perfect the first time,” Ms. Grossman explained. “The children who performed in this year’s event went above and beyond – and showed great courage by getting up in front of the audience. The preparation they accomplished through practice at home definitely helps build confidence and allows the piece to feel ‘second nature’ when nerves creep in. However, knowing that there was ice cream for them afterward might have helped ease nerves a little bit, too!”

And, for those students who attended as audience members, she added, “They got to witness their friends experience the butterflies and the joy that comes with taking risks, and hopefully next year, they might give it a try too!”

When Ms. Grossman asked some students who performed at Solo Performance Night if they felt butterflies and how they overcame them, they had these reactions:

“I felt excited and a little nervous,” second-grade student Lucia said. To get past it, “I quietly said to myself in my brain, ‘it’s OK to be nervous.’ Once I got into it, it went away.”

Adam, a first-grader, shared quite a vivid description. “There’s a show where they call it “scappy,” which means happy and scared. I felt really excited and super happy. One side of my body felt super happy and super excited, and this foot was like trying to get up there, but this half of my body was trying to pull my foot back and stay in my chair…I was sitting in my chair, gulping, but what I’m thinking in my head is that ‘it’s worth it, it’s for ice cream!’. At the end, I was fine.”

“I was dancing,” second-grader Kendall explained. “I kind of felt a little nervous. I do a lot of competitions in front of judges, but I never performed here before.” How did she manage it? “I just took a deep breath and calmed myself down.” A great strategy for all of life’s nervous moments.

“I just tell myself that I can do it,” Connie, another second-grader, said. She tells herself, “that the crowd is just my mom and dad, and nobody else is there.” This is another good technique that she recalled from another public performance opportunity.

Overall, 28 students from Grades 1-5 performed on Friday night. Many students sang or performed on the piano, while others played ukulele, guitar, or band instruments, and one student danced. Some students accompanied themselves, singing while also playing an instrument, and some were accompanied by a teacher or other adult. A delightful variety of songs were shared by students, including familiar songs like “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” “Let it Be” by The Beatles, a medley of the Mario Brothers Theme Songs, and “Ode to Joy.” Some pieces may have been new to audiences, for instance “Dolly’s Dreaming and Awakening,” “Windy Nights,” or selections from the Vivaldi Flute Sonata in C. One student even improvised over a blues progression on the guitar.

“From my perspective, the success of the student performers is determined by how they handled the moment,” remarked AC music teacher and band director, Gabriel Costanzo, who on the side plays horns for the local band The Buddhahood. “I know how nerve-wracking it can be as a soloist in a setting in which all attention is on you, feeling your sense of pride and self-worth on the line as you bare your soul to that assembly of judges that is the audience. Then there is the moment when you take a deep breath, think about the next step, and play or sing that first note, and you’re off and running! All of the students who performed at Solo Performance Night excelled in that moment.”

Developing a resilient spirit that dares to take risks is a goal in the music curriculum; it’s all a part of preparing students for the world they will inherit outside AC.


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Posted in: Authentic Learning, Fifth Grade, First Grade, Fourth Grade, Highlights, Kindergarten, Lower School, Second Grade, Third Grade

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