Having a studio recital is a lot of work. And, it’s completely worth it. But, you may be thinking, “The recital is over … now what?” Maybe you are feeling burnt out or “burnt out adjacent” (the feeling of don’t-add-anything-more-because-I-am-JUST-barely-able-to-get-everything-done). Having some post-recital ideas to keep lessons engaging is a must.
In the past, I definitely have found myself burnt out adjacent after the Spring recital. It’s one of our studio’s last big projects of the school year. And, I’m proud of my students, happy, tired, … & strangely philosophical as I talk to my husband about the studio culture that I’ve worked at developing for years. A culture that is always so evident at the recital.
Then Monday would come & I knew that I needed a plan for the last lessons before summer break. Thankfully there are many ideas I can pull on!
Post-recital practice woes
Before I start implementing post-recital ideas, I ask my students at their lesson how their week went. Without fail, the first lesson after a recital almost every student looks a little sheepish & says, “I didn’t really practice”. Sound familiar? Turns out students practice a lot before the recital & then after the recital, “well it was Mother’s Day [insert any reason] & forgot to get back into the other songs on Monday & …”
Now I know to be prepared for this lack of practice after the recital. I know both my students & I will need to start something new to get our energy up & interest going again. So, often my studio will start a new warm-up & new studio project!
This is a time of year when students & teacher alike start feeling the pull of vacation.
This is a time for a change of pace, a change of focus, & activities that draw together everything students have learnt over the course of the year.
Rather than fight the lure of vacation, a little freedom from the regular schedule, or insert the distraction of your choice … change it up. Not only is it much easier than fighting that uphill battle, but it’s a lot more fun as well!
What parents & students need
The first weeks after a vacation are filled with setting a routine & making sure it sticks. The first weeks before a vacation are a little different. Our students need something that is easy, fun & engaging. And, if it doesn’t need practice during the week, even better. Plus, this is the perfect time to engage with their parents since (hopefully) good feelings are in the air.
It’s not just about the kids
To keep parents engaged, be sure to:
- Send a personal thank you card/email after the recital thanking them for all they did in helping their child prepare
- Have an activity that they can be involved with (if they want) or that their child can share with them
- Let them know what to expect in the upcoming weeks
By drawing in the parents, you increase the likelihood of re-enrollments & keep those warm fuzzies from the recital going strong. Yes, your students practiced. But, their parents were right there encouraging them along the way.
But, during the lessons it is
I often will link this last project to something that we have already been doing in the studio. Making it a review activity that combines several concepts your students have worked on individually makes things a lot more rewarding. And, it reminds families just how much their students have learnt & grown over the course of the year!
For the last weeks of lessons, you can:
- Add a new warm-up at each lesson
- Play games that review concepts
- Start a short project (2 – 3 weeks)
And, the best part is that often we have been preparing for these projects & activities all year!
The sky really is the limit here. If students are seeming rather burnt-out, then keep things light & easy. If they seem squirrely & can’t sit still, then getting off-the-bench is the best option. And, if the thought of looking at another piece of music makes them revolt, then focusing on creative projects will be best. Below are post-recital ideas that will fit each student.
During lessons you can:
- Games: Review concepts learnt over the year
- Rhythm: Students put measures in an order that you like … then, clap/tap/say the rhythm from these rhythm warm-ups.
- Review songs: Grab music that your students played a year or two earlier. Enjoy the fact that these are so much easier to play now! (P.S. Don’t correct any mistakes. This is meant to be fun.) If you want to ramp up the fun, let students choose from “5 Ways” to play the song.
- Right after the recital: Add this fun ‘Mad Lib’ activity from TeachPianoToday! My students loved them.
During lessons you can:
- The Animals are Listening: Listen to a few songs & move like the animal.
- Games: Change all the actions to your games as something active. Run to the piano to show the interval. Sit on the floor, then jump up high when you know the answer. The person who gets the answer wrong has to do pushups. (Or if your student loves being active change it to the person who gets the answer right.)
- Rhythm: Change all the actions from these rhythm warm-ups to actions. We have done actions for dinosaurs, ocean animals, birds, bike riding & more!
- Active Listening: Similar to “The Animals are Listening”, you & your students do actions to show dynamics, articulation, or pitch. We all need a little more movement in our lives, so let’s got off the teaching bench & make it happen.
During lessons you can:
- Chords: Practice these chord progressions for each section. Ask students to remember how they explored different ways to sing the chords in the chord warm-up then do the same for practice during the week.
- Improvise: Play an accompaniment pattern for your students & get them to make up a melody for 1-minute.
- Compose: For students that love creating music, let them! This could involve you notating for them, they notate using any method they want or just enjoying the moment.
Teaching composition was not my strength for a long time. It isn’t that I hadn’t tried. I just hadn’t always thought about what my students needed to have as base skills to complete the projects. Which led to limited success. Once I decided to make it a priority, I thought about all the skills my students would need to complete an honest-to-goodness, this-could-be-notated-and-shared-with-others, song that had a clear form, rhythm, melody, & accompaniment. And, then those became our warm-ups for the year.
If it’s almost the end of the year, don’t worrying about whether it will be a fully fledged song. You can focus on these elements:
- Melody: Melody often has notes within the chord played. The singing chord warm-ups will help a lot with this.
- Fill out an idea/motive: Use a short sight-reading warm-up (like Dozen a Day) for the base of a motive (or have your student create their own). Then, use these rhythm warm-ups to change things up!
- Accompaniment: This list from TopMusicCo has over 10 accompaniment patterns with variations & has been a life-saver over the years. It gives a framework for student to try out.
- Notation: Depending on the level of the student, this will look different for each. It doesn’t really matter how the notation happens, or even whether it happens at all. What matters is your student is creating music!
My students think it was pretty cool that even things we did in September are coming back to help them as they create a song from scratch! And, everything is easily leveled to where they are & what they have covered.
These ideas work regardless of the students & are great for overall studio planning:
- Focus on songs THEY want to learn, not their method books
- Do activities where we show & remind them of how their past learning is helping them … great for re-enrolment.
- Hold a student-led conference so they can teach their parents something from this year.
- Group lesson week! Our studio does these the last week of lessons. These are the lessons most likely to be cancelled, the kids are done attention-wise with regular lessons, & we get a chance to be outside. It’s a win-win!
Post-recital ideas for vacation-ready teachers
We may be ready for vacation, but the calendar is telling us it isn’t quite time yet. That’s okay!
As teachers, we can:
- Add a new warm-up that doesn’t take planning. That could be the “Pattern Play” books by Akiko & Forrest Kinney as the basis of our improvisation warm-ups. Or, it could be these singing chord warm-ups, rhythm warm-ups, or changing up songs in one of “5 Ways“.
- Get together with other teachers for a planning session … or, plan a date for the end of the school year. This planning session is something I do each year & it is one of my favourite activities of the year.
- Engage in a little self-care. With the warmer weather, maybe a walk on a morning or evening that you don’t teach is just what the doctor ordered. And, who is to say you can’t listen to some podcasts, listen to some new music, or just enjoy walking?
Self-care in recent months has meant walks with my husband. Turns out it’s no longer cool to walk with mom & dad so the kidlets tend to leave us behind. Sometimes, those walks are close to 4 kilometres as we talk & catch-up after a busy day.
Recital Is Over …. What Are YOU Doing?
Just because your studio recital is over doesn’t mean you have to go back to the hum-drum of regular ol’ lessons. Instead, add a little excitement to with these post-recital ideas to keep you & your students smiling & having fun each week!
What is your studio doing in the last weeks or months of lessons?
NOTE: This article was originally published May 18, 2018. It’s been updated with more great ideas, but keeps the essence of the original ideas.