Inside: A review of The Piano Recital and 3 follow-up activities.
Have you ever had to do something really scary?
Of course you have; it’s part of being human. For me, the very first scary thing I can recall happened when I was 10. I had to present an interesting news story to my Grade 5 class. I was terrified and even managed to convince my mom to write a note to the teacher asking him to excuse me!! But at the last moment I screwed up my courage and stood in front of the class and presented my assignment.
Phew! Up to that point it was the hardest thing I’d ever done, but I was SO happy and proud of myself for doing it.
Why am I talking about my fifth grade experience? Because The Piano Recital deals with the very same fears I experienced, but with a huge dose of fun and magic!
Author & Illustrator: Akiko Miyakoshi
Themes: Worry, Wonder
Synopsis (from book flap):
“It’s the day of Momo’s very first piano recital, and she is terribly nervous. But just beyond the daunting stage, through a tiny doorway, a marvelous surprise awaits: a miniature theater, an audience of finely dressed mice, and a magical recital about to begin.
Wonder takes the place of worry in this enchanting tale.”
Today is Momo’s very first piano recital. She and the other children gather backstage.
‘Just play how you’ve practiced,’ their piano teacher says with a smile.
Since I’m also a piano student of many years (and have NOT performed in a piano recital–that’s one fear I’ve yet to conquer) I could totally relate to this sweet story.
Young Momo is very nervous about her first recital but is distracted by a sweet little mouseling who is also facing some performance fears of her own. Momo is transported to a hall filled with very well dressed mice who are all excitedly anticipating an upscale talent show. Momo is dazzled by the many talented performers. As wondrous as all this is, the real magic happens when Momo comforts and encourages her new mouse friend as she begins to sing for the audience. I won’t give away the ending, other than to say it’s very happy!
If your child is nervous about an upcoming event or performance, this book might spark some discussion that could help them deal with their own anxiety.
My little granddaughter was enchanted with the pictures and little mice: we read it two times in a row!
While the artwork is beautifully done (in pencil, charcoal, and acrylic gouache) I personally felt it was a little dark. I would have preferred brighter, lighter colours, but I DID appreciate the contrast of red, pink and the occasional yellow and green.
Having said that, it’s still a very worthwhile read!
Book Related Activities:
1.Parents: If you have a child who’s dealing with stage fright / performance anxiety, be sure to read this article by Today’s Parent. I found it very informative. What I liked best about the article is that a) they make it clear that stage fright is normal, and b) it’s best to encourage a child to move a tiny bit out of their comfort zone in a “taking baby steps” kind of way.
2. Teachers: As we all know every year we have one or more children in our classes who have performance anxiety issues. And that’s okay. One way to normalize it in the class is to read a book like The Piano Recital, and then be sure to follow it up with a discussion. Let the kids share their stories of the times they were scared to do something and how they overcame it (or didn’t). Then let them talk about it some more in pairs. And then have them either draw or write about a time when they were afraid to do something and/or how they overcame their fear.
3. Mouse Art: This book is full of the sweetest and most talented little mice, so it would be fun to follow up a reading with some mouse art. Red Ted Art has a cute tutorial for making finger puppet mice.
And the site How2DrawAnimals has step-by-step directions for drawing a chubby little mouse.
Be sure to check out Akiko Miyakoshi’s other books.