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How to Host a Virtual Recital: Part 2

How to Host a Virtual Recital

Hosting a virtual recital, much like an in-person recital, has many moving parts.  The nice part is that many of these parts are the same regardless of the format!

P.S. This is part 2 of a series covering virtual or online recitals.  Be sure to read about choosing the right type of virtual recital & marketing to clients/teachers in Part 1.

Virtual Recitals 101

Since the idea of a virtual recital may be new to clients or teachers, it’s a good idea to let them know what their responsibilities will be before, during & after.

I’m not sure about you, but I become a bit of a drill sergeant when it’s recital day.  I have my clipboard, checklists & everyone in the family is given specific jobs to take care of.  This is so I can focus in on tech issues.  Because there are always tech issues.

While I’m sure my family is relieved when the recital begins because I’m too busy to give them more tasks, their help means that the studio recital stays light-hearted, fun & social.

By taking the same approach to hosting a virtual recital, my clients will (hopefully) get that same light-hearted, fun & social atmosphere as our in-person event.

Below I’ll be guiding you through the before, during & after of hosting a virtual recital.  I’m writing “clients” in the sections below for ease, but you can apply these same steps to any teachers that may be working for you.

Before the recital

Set clear expectations right from the start.

When a family is doing a recital in your studio for the first time what do you do? 

You spend a little extra time guiding them through the process from start to finish.  And, you make sure first time students know exactly what to expect both before, during & after the recital.

This is the same as hosting a virtual recital.  The only difference is that you are dealing with more technology.

Thank goodness we have options of companies that make this much easier on us by taking care of all the programming!

Your client’s responsibilities

Make a list of what clients are required to.  Will they need to:

  • Record their child(ren) playing their pieces & send those videos to you?
  • RSVP by a certain date?
  • Ensure any invited family guests are also RSVP-ing with you as well?
  • Use a particular device?
  • Download an app?
  • Go through a run-through with you before the recital date?

Let your clients know they should NOT use cell phones to attend the recital.  The screens are too small & more often than not the speakers just don’t do justice for the performances.

Make it a family affair with everyone attending.  This ensures that no one is streaming YouTube videos or watching their favourite streaming service (i.e. Netflix, Disney+).

Your responsibilities

Just like an in-person recital, hosting a virtual recital can feel a little like you are a swan on the water.  Looking graceful as you flow through the water, while below your legs are furiously paddling to get you from point A to point B.

And, at least in a virtual recital your clients won’t get to see you run from place to place.

Here is my biggest piece of advice when working with technology.

Have a backup plan.  Then, have a backup plan for that plan.

I love technology.  But, I also understand that Murphy’s Law will probably hit at the worst possible time.  Like during the recital when everyone’s eyes are on me.

Before hosting a virtual recital, make sure you:

  • Test out the features of whichever program you are using.
    • Do this with people who are NOT in your home.  You will get a lot of feedback if the testing is all happening on the same network & same home.
  • Set up the security features of that program so you are less likely to be hacked.
  • Get everything for your plan, backup plan & backup-backup plan on the device you are using for the recital.
    • I would recommend using your computer or a laptop.  Not only do you typically have more features available within streaming programs, but there is more space to store all your videos, images, etc.
  • Make any visuals or handouts for all attendees (this includes for teachers that work for you) that guide them through how the recital will work.

As much as we want to focus on the positives, thinking about possible tech issues will save you a lot of frustration. 

Remember you are the swan on that screen.  No one needs to know you paddled like crazy to solve those “unexpected” tech problems beforehand.  

On the plus side, your clients will be impressed you are handling the technology with aplomb.

During the recital

A lot of clients, students & guests will wonder if the etiquette or expectations will be different between a virtual recital vs. an in-person recital.

In terms of etiquette, these are the same whether in-person or online.  Listen to others as they play, be respectful/encouraging in your comments, & have fun!

Your job at this point is to make attendees feel welcome & smoothly guide them through the event.

In other words, you’re the hostess with the most-ess.  In the best possible way.

At the start of the recital, go through any expectations & tips with everyone. 

Let them know:

  • How the recital will flow?
    • Keeping track of who’s turn it is: they watch the recital program or you let them know in the chatbox
    • Introductions: you or your students
  • Who to contact if they are having audio/video issues & how to do contact that person.
    • Give tips to improve their connection before they contact you.
  • What the backup plan is if the internet connection goes down.
    • If you are doing a live stream of the pieces, have a way to convert everything into an on-demand playlist that can be sent out as a last resort.

Hosting a virtual recital is about setting expectations, guiding everyone without them realizing it & letting them know what to do if there is an issue.

After the recital

Recitals in my studio are always a social event.  We all gather to visit over refreshments & catch up from the last time we saw each other.

If you choose to do an interactive recital (see part 1 for the different types), this is especially important.

I tend to run around to tidy up after students finish playing before going to visit with clients.  And every year my husband comes in & tells me to go “work the room”.  He reminds me that at this point in the recital my job is not the background details.

When your last student plays their piece your job is to build that sense of community & make sure everyone leaves the event with a smile.

You need to “work the room” so your clients & students leave ready to tell everyone how much they enjoyed getting together as a studio.

Think about what usually happens at your in-person recital.  How can you recreate something similar online?

Once all students have finished their pieces, what happens?

Do you:

  • Say goodbye & end the event?
  • Have a way for people to interact online?
  • Direct them to another offline activity to do as a family?

Guiding your clients & students from the first moment to the last moment of your virtual recital is sure to make it a success.

Make it fun & build community

The best way to get buy-in from clients is to make it easy for them to join.  The other part of that equation is to make it a fun event for everyone.

Why do clients & students attend recitals?

Hopefully not because it’s a required part of being in the studio & something that needs to be endured each year.

That’s not your studio, right?

Clients & students attend because it’s a supportive event where:

  • Student get to share their music with others
  • Parents get bragging rights
  • Guests get a glimpse into what their loved ones have been doing the past year

And, let’s face it, there are also a lot of “Oh my goodness!  I can’t believe how much you’ve grown from last year!” comments afterwards as well.

Ideas to build community

Hopefully you have activities that bring up the fun factor each year while also building community.

When your studio is online, building a community is incredibly important.

Why keep going to piano lessons if it’s not fun?

What’s the point in re-registering if it’s just another year of your child sitting alone at a piano?

But, when students are having fun?  When parents are cheering on not only their kids, but everyone’s?  That is when your clients will look at your studio as an integral part of their family’s life.

Some ideas are

  • Special action after a student plays:  Turning on the audio for applause after each student could quickly go wrong when you forget to turn off the audio.  But, having a special action that students can see on the screen after they play replaces the usual applause.
  • Compliment cards: These are more important than ever when students can’t see the audience’s reaction or hear their applause.
  • Chatbox encouragement:  Keep all comments ‘public’ within your studio community.  Turn off the ability to chat privately for participants.

Remember this is not about more work for you.  This is about creating an encouraging space that students & their families want to share with others.

That something special

I always like to include a little something special each year at the recital.  And this year’s virtual recital will be no different.

Because your clients & students are having a little social distancing during the recital, it is important to do something above & beyond.

It also happens to be a fantastic marketing idea.

Physical vs. digital

Depending on your situation, you may lean towards a physical product that clients get later or a digital product that is sent at that moment or later.

Some ideas of physical products can be found at “End of Year Gifts for Students … That Don’t Break the Bank“.

Digital gifts could be:

  • Student compositions: digitally notated them to make them look all “fancy-schmancy”, always wows the socks off students, parents, grandparents, friends … you get the idea
  • Your compositions:  students love music their teachers have written & because you wrote it you have the right to send it digitally
  • E-Gift Card:  If sending something physical to your families is not possible, an e-gift card can work well.
  • Access to music apps:  Whether it is accessible through a teacher subscription or purchasing an app for them this is great.
    • To “gift” an app, you need to be signed out of the iTunes store so it doesn’t show as something you’ve purchased.  Then, you will have the option to “gift” the app.  (This is from a while ago so please let me know in the comments if this has changed.)

Notice almost all of the digital gifts are music based.

Normally I would not worry too much whether the special something was entirely musical.  But unless you are there to make the connection for your clients, it’s better to make sure the connection is abundantly clear why they are getting the gift after attending a recital.  As opposed to another event.

Hosting a virtual recital

I hope the idea of hosting a virtual recital seems much more approachable with a clear plan from beginning to end.

To help you out even further, below are the checklists & resources to help you host a virtual recital that will knock your clients’ socks off.

Get your FREE Virtual Recital Checklists

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