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How to Plan Your Studio Recital

If you teach music lessons, you have probably organized a student recital. Recitals are great for keeping your students motivated and practiced. If you teach little ones, recitals are practically expected of most studios and teachers because parents love seeing their children perform on a stage. It is also a great experience to help prepare younger students for other events, such as public speaking, presentations, and interviews. By holding an annual or bi-annual event for the students and parents, your studio will be able to show off their progress and always have something to look forward to. Use these eight steps to plan your studio recital.

Step One: Find a Venue

Finding a venue can be the most difficult part of planning a recital. The best options are libraries, churches, event halls, performance centers, and schools in your area. Make sure to take a tour to see if it is the right venue for you. You will find that each space has different pros and cons; prices can vary greatly, so be sure to find something that you can manage financially. Another important component is booking a date. Popular venues tend to book up quickly, especially during the holidays and the end of the school year, which are both great times to host recitals. Be sure to call months in advance to secure your spot. Also, try to find a time and day that works for most of your students. Weekend afternoons are a good bet to have the highest attendance.

If you are booking a space that offers music services, such as a church, propose a bartering of services. You can ask to sing some services in exchange for renting the space. Once a venue is chosen and secured, a big chunk of your planning is complete.

Other things to consider when booking a venue:

  • Does the piano need tuning?

  • Do they have a sound system you can use?

  • Is the space large enough to host your group?

  • Can you serve a reception?

Step Two: Setting a Recital Fee

Assuming there will be costs associated with programming this event, you may want to consider charging your students a recital fee. Consider the costs of renting the venue, printing programs, hiring a sound engineer (if needed), hiring an accompanist (if needed), and a reception. All of these things add up, and the cost does not need to come out of your pocket. Add up and estimate all of your costs with how many students you think will participate so you can calculate a recital fee per participant that is fair and affordable.

Step Three: Inform the Students and/or Parents

Once you have all of the information to announce the recital, formulate an email to send to all of your students and/or parents. Try to email all of your students, even the ones you think will not want to perform, as they may surprise you and express interest! In your email, be sure to include all of the event information including the date, time, address of venue, recital fee, and due date of recital fee. If you can send out this email months in advance, more students are likely to participate.

Be sure to also include your expectations of each performer. Do they need to have their music memorized? Do they need to dress up? Be sure to include any information you think will help the students decide whether they can successfully perform or not.

Step Four: Prepare Your Students

Perhaps one of the most important steps is preparing your students for the performance. Try to start selecting recital songs as soon as you can to help best prepare your students. Some students really need extra time to get mentally prepared and memorized. You may be able to throw together a performance within a few weeks, but younger and less experienced students need more time to let it all sink in. If the students will be performing with an accompanist, it would be good to schedule a rehearsal with the accompanist. You could also consider organizing a small dress rehearsal or a mini performance to help the students feel better prepared for the nerves. By helping them be as ready as possible, you set both you and your students up for success.

Step Five: Create and Print Programs

As you get closer to the recital date, you may want to create and print programs for your audience members. This can be a little tedious, but if you have your students prepared ahead of time, you will have plenty of time to write the programs. Consider a program order that will keep both the audience and the students excited and interested. Start and end with a bang and choose students who you think can handle the challenge of going first or last. Try to alternate slow and fast songs or alternate different instruments if you have other kinds of musicians performing. Think about how you would program your own recital to keep the music flowing. Once that’s all done, get it printed, and purchase more copies than you think you may need.

Step Six: Reception

Think about if you would like to serve a reception. You don’t have to do anything too extravagant, but a simple drink and snack is a nice gesture. Get serving platters, napkins, cups, plates, and whatever else you may need. Also don't be afraid to ask parents and students for help. You could do a potluck-style reception and have everybody bring a snack or just have parents help set up the reception on the day of the recital. You can also consider giving flowers or awards to your students as an acknowledgment of their accomplishment!

Step Seven: Performance Time

After all of the prep work, the recital day will finally come. It may be a bit stressful, especially if you’re coordinating everything on your own. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from the students, parents, or your friends. Sometimes just having an extra set of hands to set up the reception or put out the programs can be a lifesaver. Do your best to focus on your students and make sure they are comfortable and happy. There will likely be some nerves, maybe even from yourself, but reassure everyone that it is normal and you are there for them.

Step Eight: Recital Reflection

Before you know it, the recital will be over in a flash! Try to take the time to talk to each student, whether it be at the recital venue or in their next lesson. Assess the performance and ask about which areas the student can improve for the next recital. Be sure to include praise for each student because it’s not easy to get in front of an audience and perform. Also, don't be afraid of constructive criticism from students and parents. These comments will help you make changes to improve the recital flow every year.

After all of the lessons, planning, organizing, and nerves, hopefully you feel successful about your first studio recital. And once you have recovered from this first recital, it’s time to start planning the next one. Try to keep your recital calendar somewhat consistent from year to year to help your students and parents better plan for the next event. Though so much goes into preparing a recital, it is always worth it to see the looks of triumph on students' and parents' faces. Now go get your students excited for new repertoire, the opportunity to perform, and off you go!

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