I still believe in having a formal recital at year-end. Students have to prepare well, conquer nerves, and perform in front of a crowd. It’s a good growth opportunity for them, publicity for you, and a big reward for the parents. A few thoughts on how to plan and run a recital with as little stress as possible:
- Venues: they vary wildly. You have to do your homework. Priorities are the piano and the cost of rental. I wouldn’t do a big recital without the space for a reception as well.
- Cost: pass it on to the students. Divide the cost by the number of students and round up slightly to allow for the inevitable last-minute cancellations. Parents are used to user-fees for everything; I’ve never had a problem with this.
- Attendance: This is out of your control. Much as you try to make it mandatory, it’s up to the parents. Reality is that sports and dance will generally win out over a music recital. Accept this. It really is the student’s loss at this point.
- Advertising to parents: mass email is the only way. Give as much notice as possible, and remind them weekly in the assignment books for the month before.
- Dress: no sweats, no gumboots, no pyjamas. I can’t believe I even have to say that. I also say “no flip-flops” but I generally lose on that one. I tell them to dress up. Everyone acts and plays better that way.
- Program: print up a program (on a word processor – maybe nice paper – keep it simple) and enlist a student or two to stand at the door and hand them out. It makes them feel important and leaves you free to greet your students and their guests. After all, you’re the host/hostess of this party.
- Program: 90 minutes is too long. 60 is OK. This means 2 pieces for elementary and intermediate students, and possibly just one for advanced. Do not let anyone play a complete classical sonata in a final recital. If prep is needed for an exam, do it in a different setting.
- Program: if you can have a wee bit of variety, do it. Sometimes a parent can do a number with the student – a duet, possibly with a different instrument. Anything to break the tedium of piano solo after piano solo.
- Memory: in a perfect world, every piece would be memorized at every recital. Announce in your opening speech (the most stressful part for most teachers) that music should not be brought to the piano if the piece has been memorized. The printed music is a crutch; the domino effect kicks in rapidly.
- Certificates: I question the value of certificates for every program in which kids have ever participated (there are dozens if not hundreds lying around my house). I don’t do certificates for my students. I’m not saying you shouldn’t, just that it’s not necessary.
- Reception: keep it simple. Ask each family to bring a plate of goodies. I supply the drinks: several 2-litre bottles of pop will do. Bring paper plates, napkins and plastic glasses. Don’t be tempted to make fancy piano-themed cupcakes. You’ll just get stressed out (learned that one the hard way).
- Visit: mingle, mingle, mingle. Touch base with every family and let them know how well the students did. Even if they didn’t. There’s always something good that can be said.
- Boring Piano Recitals (ladonasmusicstudio.com)