Recital prep can be a stressful time for students & their families.  The pressure to play things perfectly can lead to tears & parents wondering if it’s all worth it.  NOT what we want on their mind around registration season.  Instead, wouldn’t it be great to keep things light & fun while you prepare students for the recital? Yes!

I’ll be sharing my top 3 tricks that lead to smiles, lots of practice & happy families!


Make it fun

I remember practicing for performances.  It wasn’t fun drilling minuscule parts of each song. 

One particular practice session sticks in my mind even decades later because it was clear both my family & I had had enough.  While I was practicing, someone turned on the radio.  So, I played louder in order to hear myself.  The radio was turned up.  I played louder.  The radio got louder and … well, you get the idea. 

The good side of this story?  I can tell my students that no matter how loud they play the piano chances are they won’t be breaking the keys or strings.

Make recital prep fun for everyone in the family. 

Get off the bench!  Make your student (& their families) smile!

We need students to work on problem areas & make sure their songs are performance-ready. But, the best way to learn is to make the brain come at the information or skill in a new way.

Plus, preparing students for the recital is a whole lot more interesting than listen to the recital prep version of the Song That Never Ends.


Make it practical

Fun recital prep activities tend to lead to more practice.  After all, we are more likely to do activities that are enjoyable to us.  Think about the items that stay indefinitely on your to-do list.  Chances are it’s filled with items that rank right up there with picking lint out of the carpet.

But, it also needs to be practical.  Otherwise, it’s a waste of lesson & practice time.

Nerves are a big part of the performance stress so recreate it in fun ways.

Students may freeze by literally stopping, playing something in a different way than they practiced or, (most common) suddenly realize what they were playing doesn’t match the music.

Part of preparing for the recital should focus on strengthening aspects of practice that let them jump back in if they freeze or get lost in the moment.  This can be everything from playing their music in different orders to changing aspects of the music so if they suddenly play an octave too high it’s not a big deal.


Make it a friendly challenge

This idea to prepare for the recital isn’t necessarily for every student.  But, it is one that has worked well in my studio.

When I moved online, I created a digital leaderboard for our recital prep challenge.  Every time students practice, they earned points.  And each day I practiced, I got the same number of points. The “Students vs. Ms. Rosemarie” challenge was born.  Any students who get more or equal points to me earn a reward.  A bonus reward went to the student(s) who earned the most points total.

Another idea is to combine it with a “Surprise the Teacher” challenge! A little gentle nudge on how they can uplevel their recital pieces means there are always a few students who use this challenge as an opportunity to earn extra points while getting ready for the recital.

Another idea for a friendly challenge is to give students recital prep activities to choose from each day.  They send a video of each activity to show it was completed.  And, (with permission from parents) you share them on your social media channels!  Or, you can have parents posts these themselves.  The advantage to the first option is that students can text or upload the videos themselves.  Kids often ask at the most inopportune times (at least in my home) so making it easy on the parents usually is the best way to go.


Fun ways to prepare students for your recital

Recital prep can be fun, practical & a friendly studio challenge (if you want).  By taking the stress out of practice, we make it a great experience for parents & students alike!  And, isn’t that what we want?

To help my students, I decided to make a fun & quirky practice PDF for my students.  Cue the cute animals, fun emojis & colourful layout … 5 Ways is back!  But, adapted for our recital prep.  My students love having choices, so each page gives them 5 ways to get ready for our spring recital.

You can get your studio-licensed copy of “5 Ways: Recital Prep Activities” below! It includes 20 activities ranging from at the piano to off-the-bench & cover all aspects of preparing students for a recital.

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

Which of these 3 “tricks” will you use as you prepare students for your recital?


NOTE: This article was originally published on April 28, 2021. It’s since been updated the lessons I’ve continued to learn about helping students prep for recitals!

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