Recital Prep: The Countdown!

Recital prep.  It’s a busy time of year for everyone & there are a lot of things to get ready beforehand.  I used to get so stressed out before our studio recitals.  Between the million items on the to-do list & worrying about my students performing their best, I realized that my stressing wasn’t solving anything. 

So, I made a list!  Over the years, I try to get the biggest items done over the first week with some years more successful in this goal than others.  I was often crazy tired by the end, but I am quite sure my shoulders dropped a good 3 inches.  But, over the years, I’ve streamlined my recital prep to take away a lot of the stress!

What every recital needs

While there are different types of recitals, there are certain things that are going to stay the same on your to-do list regardless of where the recital takes place.

  • Invitations (digital, physical, or both)
  • Program
  • Compliment cards (optional)
    • The original idea came from here, but these are incredibly easy to design on your own.
  • Introductory & ending comments
  • Introductions of songs (or a template for students to use if they will be doing this)
  • Handwritten notes for all clients with specific praise for each student.
  • Copies of all songs in case a student forgets their music (memorized or forgets the book at home)

That last one may seem weird, but it has happened.  One of my clients arrived & their youngest suddenly realized that he didn’t have his music with him.  Even though he had been asked multiple times if it was in the bag.  And, of course, because he was panicked he also completely forgot how to play any of his songs.  So, one of his parents drove home to get the book.  As a parent, I could understand the frustration of a 20-30 minute roundtrip just to get a book.  Having an extra copy eliminates this situation.

P.S. I love to use Canva, to easily create beautiful invitations, programs, & compliment cards!  The best part is that it’s incredibly easy to make sure the branding/look is consistent across all those documents.  And, having a tool that makes the design part of recital prep easy saves so much time. 

(This is a Canva affiliate link that gives me a credit if you sign-up.  Links like this make running the site financially possible.)

In-person recitals

For in-person recitals, there are a few more things that get added to that to-do list.

  • If you are doing compliment cards, pencils with erasers
  • Box for books that should be returned to you after the performance
  • Camera or camcorder to record the event
  • Refreshments & beverages so families can visit afterward
  • Gift bags for attendees
    • Ideas: preserves (my homemade preserves were the gift of choice for my students for YEARS) , s’more kits, individual music, beach balls that are autographed, a compilation of songs students have composed in a keepsake coil-bound book (also a massive hit).
  • Any permits or materials needed to keep the event safe (check with your local bylaws, etc.)

Online recitals

I’ll admit, I’m loving online recitals.  Now that I have templates in place, recital prep is greatly reduced & after the event, all I need to do is shut down my computer.  Plus, they are so much less expensive which means I’ve added another recital & still had more profit than before moving online.  I take some of the extra profit to make sure my students are getting something extra special from the experience.

  • A video that shows people how to join the event using the program you choose (i.e. Zoom, etc.)
  • Multiple scheduled emails with the recital URL (1 week, 24-hours, 1-hour)
  • Run-through with students on how to use the program (if different than what you use for regular lessons).
  • Set event to automatically record, mute participants & leave all participants’ videos on.
  • Decide how applause will show after each performance.

To find out exactly how I host virtual recitals in my studio, read Part 1 & Part 2 on the site.

Putting it all together

It can be a lot of moving parts to a recital.  But if you create a checklist & templates your first year, recital prep becomes much easier as you build on what you have already created!

Here are what the various gift bags have looked like over the years.

Student readiness

I think this is the one that many of us stress over the most during recital prep.  In some ways, it can feel like we take on this responsibility more than some of our students.  Just remember, their performance is their performance.  Not yours.  But, that isn’t to say there aren’t ways to help students have a great experience.

You can add backing tracks that are fun to listen to.  They also force students to keep a steady tempo & master their songs earlier.

You can add a practice challenge like our “Students vs. Ms. Rosemarie” practice challenge which still keeps our studio community strong but adds a little friendly competition.  Plus, I’m always excited when most, if not all, of my students beat me in the number of practice sessions!

Or, you can make the practice fun with a series of activities (but more on that below).  Whatever you choose, just have fun with it!

What do you have on your recital prep list?

While recitals are a LOT of work (both before & during), it is wonderful to see everyone’s smiling faces as we celebrate together.  

How do you prepare for recitals?  Let us know about the projects that you do annually to make your recitals a success!

One of the ways we love to prepare for the recital is to do fun activities that strengthen our ability to play recital pieces.  Whether it’s off-the-bench & being active or changing up the song in some way,  “5 Ways Recital Activities” have bridged the gap between repetition & having fun.  Plus, they can make for great social media posts for your studio as well!

To get your copy of “5 Ways Recital Activities“, click below.

Get Your Copy of "5 Ways: Recital Prep Activities"!

NOTE: This article was originally published on June 10, 2016.  It has been updated to include prep that I do for online recitals as well + keeps many of the great ideas from the original article.

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