One of the most difficult things about being a private teacher is organizing performance opportunities for our students. If you’ve never done it before, it can feel extremely overwhelming, to the point where you never end up doing them at all! That’s really unfortunate because if you think back to your music education, I bet you performed a lot.
There is so much that can be learned by performing that by not giving our students a lot of opportunities to perform, we are really holding them back. So how can you get a recital set up? If you have already held recitals in the past, what can you do to make them even better?
1. Charge a Recital Fee
If you already hold recitals and you don’t charge a recital fee, you should really think about it. Even if you have very few costs (I’m sure you have some) it’s going to take some time to set up a recital, and honestly, there’s nothing wrong with getting paid for your time. Do you consider your lesson fee to include the recital fee? I get it, but you’re probably not charging enough to begin with.
How Much to Charge?
The recital fee should typically be charged per student. I always make sure we buy trophies for each student, so it makes sense that each student would have to pay some fee. You should charge at the very least what will cover your costs. Like I said, it’s ok if you charge more because your time is involved in making recitals great as well, but if you’re not charging enough to cover your costs, you’ll find recitals to be a burden and that’s not what they should be.
I’ve done two recitals a year for 7 years now, and I always charge $20/student. I’ve never had one complaint. Each recital has anywhere between 25-30 students. If we were to assume an average recital has 25 students, then you have a $500 budget. As long as you can get a venue for cheap, that can go a long way to making a great recital.
2. Find a Great Venue
If you’re a piano teacher, you want to do your best to find a venue with a grand piano. Most students don’t have the opportunity to practice or play often on a grand piano. I’ve actually had students play at recitals that have never played on a grand piano in their life! It could be the first time for a lot of your students.
Do you go to church? If you do, the first place I would check is the church you go to regularly. Often churches are more than happy to have a recital during the week when services aren’t going on. The church might see it as a service to the community, but it can also help bring in new patrons.
If you don’t go to church, or you know your church wouldn’t allow a recital, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other local churches that might love to host your recital for you. You can call your local churches, or even just make some rounds and go to many different churches. Some churches may charge a fee for use of their venue. That’s one reason you’re charging a recital fee. If they do, and as long as your recital fee can cover it, then by all means, try it out!
Be prepared to give a deposit as well. Your deposit will normally be held just in case you really dirty the place up. For the most part, if you clean up after yourself, they likely won’t even cash your deposit check.
Another great place to look is music stores. Piano stores specifically often have some room to hold a recital. You may find that many local teachers already use venues like these. These venues often charge very little (some don’t charge at all!) because they just want customers walking into their store. You likely have a lot of these type of stores nearby. Start making some calls!
Find the Venue Early
Some venues are booked solid for months. You don’t want to get stuck with a bad day. Initially, I always had to pick a day in the middle of summer when everyone was on vacation because no one wanted those days for recitals. It was hard to get a lot of attendance. Then I wised up. I asked if I could book a bunch of recitals. I had to pay the venue fee and deposit for each day, but I booked 3 years in advance. I got some great dates, and I didn’t have to stress about worrying about it in the future. If your venue allows it, try to schedule as many recitals as possible.
3. Give Awards
There are a lot of opinions on whether you should give awards out to everyone “just for participating”, but I personally think it’s a great way to get kids excited to perform. Each child get’s a nice trophy after the recital with their name on it and the season/year of the recital. Kids love it. I mean they really do. You think your stickers are a big hit? Just wait until they get this gold trophy in their hands. Regardless of how well they think they did, when they get a trophy they feel good about the recital. You can have a little mini award ceremony after the recital as well. You can call up each student one by one and say a little something. The specific attention really goes a long way.
4. Make Programs
At a college recital or even a professional recital, there will always be a program. You should have one too! Make the program simple. The name of each performer, the piece they’re playing, and if applicable, a composer and their dates are all you need. You don’t need some elaborate pictures or backgrounds. Just black text on normal paper. The front can have the date and your studio’s name. The back can have a little thank you note to the parents.
When I first started doing recitals, I went all out on the programs. I had them printed in color, on nice paper, with a lot of graphics. Printing 100 color pages front and back is not cheap. You know what I noticed? No one cared! It was just a big waste of money, and honestly, the simpler programs ended up looking better. Print them in black and white. 100 copies will only cost around $10-15.
Save your program template because it will help make your next recital that much easier.
5. Send Out Recital Invitations Early
The first thing you should do is send out a recital invitation in an email to all of your students at least 2 months early. That may sound like a lot, but the more time you give your students to clear their schedule, the more likely you are to have a lot of people there. Letting people know 3 or 4 months early is fine too! Just don’t forget to follow up with reminders when the date gets closer, as some people may have missed the first email, or completely forgotten about it by then.
If your budget allows it, make up some postcard flyers. I always have them printed nicely, and I give 10 or so to each family. It should have the date/time of the recital along with a map and address to the venue. Don’t forget to include “Free Admission!” on the flyer. These postcard/flyers are a fantastic way for your students to let their family and friends know about it.
You’ll notice people walking into the recital with the postcard in their hand. Whenever I do this, we always have many, more people at the recital. I’ve had 150 people at a recital with just 25 kids before. It’s a pretty fun event.
The first time you run a recital, you’ll likely be stressed out of your mind. It’s a lot of work and there are a lot of unknowns. Now each time I run a recital all I need to do is get a list of students, send the list to my trophy place, make the programs, and show up. The programs take me about 30 minutes because I already have a template. The whole process is pretty seamless and simple.
You know that performing is important. It helps with performance anxiety, it gives students confidence, and most of all, it’s fun! Hold recitals as often as you can. Your students and their parents will appreciate it.