My Recipe For Recital Success

The Power Of Recitals To Transform Lives And Community

We held our Winter Music Recital last Saturday at my local public library.  It was a massive success and every one of my student’s came through with flying colors.  Were they flawless?  Not at all.  But the passion, joy and enthusiasm was palpable.

It takes an incredible amount of courage to get up in front of a room full of strangers and perform.  I remember at my first recital, several of my students looked green around the gills, I was worried that I needed to get a bucket!  So after all these recitals, what have I learned?

Be Prepared

For months we’ve set goals, learned challenging new pieces, honed the trouble spots, worked on memorization and then polishing it all into a performance.  I helped arrange each student’s pieces to be suitable for recital length and simplifed when needed.  Preparation is key and it’s the Boy Scout motto.  I was Senior Patrol Leader of my troop (385 Commack, NY) and probably learned more about leadership and public speaking there than any place else.  My aim was to bring this experience to my music education experience for all my students.

Winter Recital 2016 Park Slope Music Lessons, Brooklyn, NY

Winter Recital 2016 Park Slope Music Lessons, Brooklyn, NY – Photo by Paloma Tejada

Music Creates Community

I love the fact that music can create community and by holding my recitals in our public library, this really resonates.  I ask the parents of my students to come early and help set up the room and I am so grateful so many do!.  I have the children sit up front on the rug to reserve the chairs for the adults, especially the grandparents and the mothers of young toddlers. During the year, I’ve tried to find other ways to bring my student community together with music salons hosted in student homes and looking for ways to do an outdoor picnic event too.

Power Poses As A Life Skill

I always begin my recitals with a brief talk to calm their nerves.   In our lessons, I’ve discussed Dr. Amy Cuddy’s research on confidence through power poses.  At the recital, I remind them of their power poses.  I also encourage them to yawn, stretch, get oxygenated.

Recognition Doubling As A Stage Presence Exercise

Then I bring them up to the stage one by one and recognize their efforts with a Certificate of Achievement.   While I don’t want to just give everyone an award, my motive is to really get them to stand on stage and see the crowd is no longer strangers but made up of their families and their new “music friends.”  As we stand together to get a group photo, it brings us all together and again I remind them that this is a safe space and there is nothing to be nervous about.

“See you’re already on stage!”

I’ve also told a few of the more nervous students about visualizing the audience being naked.  That always gets a laugh!

Tell A Story

As we reached the final weeks before the recital, I started to ask some of my students to tell me what they thought the story of the instrumental piece was about.


“Well, if this was a movie, and we are seeing this movie with music, what is the picture telling us?”

I do this usually with students who are age 8  and up and the results can be astounding.  Instead of saying “Play it mezzo-piano here and then do a swell here, etc,” the story makes the choices come organically and almost without effort.  For some students, they even close their eyes and absorb the sound of their story.

The Music of Life

Music is life.  We are all vibrations at a frequency first set by our creator and maintained by our mindset.   I believe music should be for everyone as it is already in us and the joy of creation and organized the sounds is something that carries over into our thinking, feeling and living.

All The World’s A Stage

The process of learning music is a metaphor for life and all the skills are transferrable.  Learning how to set goals, break down massive challenges into bite-sized pieces, managing overwhelm and frustration, memorization and visualization, and public performance – these are the skills that all of our future leaders want and need.  I hope my students will look back to their recital experiences as being a positive turning point in their lives.

What’s your experience with your recitals?  Do you have any success tips to share?  I’d love to hear them.  Please post your comments below.  And click here to see videos from this and many more recitals.

About the Author

Andrew Ingkavet
Andrew Ingkavet believes that learning a musical instrument builds skills vital to success in life which has led to a thriving music school in Brooklyn, NY. Andrew supports music teachers with the Musicolor Method®, an online curriculum/training as well as 5 star-rated book, The Game of Practice: with 53 Tips to Make Pr... [Read more]


  1. Mary Farrell

    Great article, Andrew! I like your idea of music salons in homes and an outdoor picnic, as well as a recital — will have to try that.

    I hold a piano popcorn party in my home (serve popcorn after they play) as a rehearsal for a formal recital. This way, the children get to know each other — it reduces peer pressure. They practice walking up to the piano being silly, and then walking up properly. They really enjoy being silly.

  2. Andrew Ingkavet

    Thanks Mary. I wish we had the space to host something in my own home. Luckily, I have a few families with large townhouses! I found the youngest ones really benefitted from having the salon as a warmup to the recital. It was a safe space and they all were coaxed to finally take part.