What to Do When You're Sick Right Before the Recital

Every time there's a recital, someone gets sick and isn't sure what to do. Obviously, if the child is too ill to even play it's an easy decision. But sometimes it isn't quite so clear.

I love this particular mother because she always asks for what her kid needs. It makes it so much easier to help out.

Hi Diane,

Audrey has been sick since Tuesday night with a fever and a cough. She's improving, but it's hard for me to think that she'll be far enough past it by tomorrow afternoon to want to expose you to whatever she's got. She has really been too knocked down to play any music the last couple days as well. 

(If she bounces up in the morning full of energy and seems all better, I will bring her at her lesson time but I suspect that's not going to happen - she's probably one more rest day away.)

I do think she'll be fine by Sunday, so I was wondering you have any advice, especially for a kid who worries - I'm betting this isn't the first time this has happened! How do you get ready for the recital if you've been too sick to practice and you miss your final lesson?

Thanks for any ideas!!



Here's what I replied:

Hi Cyd and Audrey,

I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve been sick.

Here are my strategies:

First, remember that you’ve been ready - almost too ready - for weeks. You’ve been playing the piano for years now, and this is when you can call in the favor of all the time you’ve spent enjoying and practicing the piano. It won’t fail you now. You’ve been a diligent and attentive musician for years.

If you have enough energy, simply play through your pieces slowly with the music open, reminding yourself of the things you want to think about and consider before you play. (Things like how it feels to start the piece - what kind of tempo feels best to you - is there something about balance you always want to remember? What about the character of the pieces. Is one of them, perhaps, more than a bit silly?)

Then remember that music isn’t ever about being perfect, it’s about saying something. About expressing yourself. And that’s all that matters.

I’ve made a lot of recordings when I was really quite ill, and you can’t tell them from the ones I made when I was feeling fabulous. That’s when the practicing pays off!

Take it easy, get plenty of rest and let me know if there’s anything else you need from me.

I’m rooting for you and I know that you’ll play the way you always do! (Which is wonderfully!)


I might put you a little earlier in the program than usual so you won’t have to wait as long. It might make it a bit easier on you. :)

One of the biggest benefits to learning to play an instrument is the long-term-ness of it. Working through the times when it feels too hard. Persisting when you feel like giving up. Being able to play even though you've been ill. And hopefully, a long-term relationship with a warm and inspiring mentor.

Anyone you can inspire today?