Recitals are a great opportunity for both the students and the teacher to exhibit the progress made throughout the year.  Parents play a big part as well, and should be shown their role as the supportive team behind their kids.  Many wonderful teachers have given suggestions for the information below.  This list of etiquette rules is not exhaustive and is not mandatory.  However, it has been a tool (though some things are changed from the way my studio handles it) helpful and strategic to avoid any confusion or chaos.  🙂  Important issues to address are noise control, dress code, staying the duration of the recital or not, being prompt, applause for all students, and materials to bring (refreshments, music, etc).  I hope this will be a blessing and resource to all of you and that your recitals this Christmas season will be special beyond compare.  Have a wonderful week!

Recital Etiquette:
1.    Please plan on staying for the entire recital. It is rude to stay only for your child’s performance. If you absolutely must leave during the recital, please wait for the applause and then move as quickly and as quietly as possible. It is expected that those families that need to leave early will give notice of such prior to the day of the recital.

2.    The recital will begin promptly at 3 p.m. Please make the necessary arrangements to be at least 10-15 minutes early. Please allow your child and self ample time. Rushing in just before the recital will not be conducive to a relaxed, comfortable performance. Plan extra time.

3.    Please refrain from any talk, whisper, or chatter during the performances. Students please set a good example by demonstrating appropriate audience behavior. (This, of course, goes for parents too!)

4.    Be sure ALL mobile/cell phones, pagers, beepers, digital watches, and the like are OFF. It is distracting to both the performer and the listener.

5.    Please leave electronic games/portable electronic devices (CD players, walkmans, game boy, etc.) at home. Attention should be on the listening of the people performing.

6.    Videotaping is fine provided it is not noisy. If you do choose to videotape, please be sure you are not obstructing anyone’s view. Consider arriving early for better placement of your camera. I would prefer flash photography be delayed until after the performance as the flash and advancing film noise can be quite distracting.  The studio makes a DVD of the entire performance for $6.00.  Please let me know in advance if you would like a copy.

7.    Give enthusiastic and encouraging applause to ALL of the students! They have worked hard all year!

Students and Parents:
**Please wear dress clothes.
Jeans, open toe shoes, etc. are not acceptable attire for a recital. Parents, you don’t have to be dressed fancy, but you should be dressed up and look neat.
**Suggested attire: Boys: suit and dress shoes or button-down shirt with dress pants and dress shoes. Khaki pants and knit shirts are NOT dress attire. Girls: Either a dress or blouse and skirt/dress pants. DO wear proper hosiery! Please choose your footwear carefully; those fashionable thickly heeled and soled shoes may be cute and stylish but may not be conducive to proper pedal technique. DO practice your recital piece(s) in the shoes you intend to wear the day of the recital. Please note: students who are not dressed appropriately for the recital will NOT be permitted to perform. No exceptions.
**All students are required/highly encouraged to have their recital repertoire memorized. For those students who do not have pieces memorized, please remember to bring your materials.
**Students may sit with families until it is their turn to play. Order of recital will be given in advance of the recital day.
**You may invite anyone; there is no limit on seating.
**Seating is available on first come, first serve basis. The studio is not responsible for where people choose to sit.

Please let me know if you have anything to add to this list… it is ever being fine-tuned, edited, and added-to.  🙂

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With only 4 weeks before my studio’s recital, students are frantically practicing the pieces they’ve been so diligently working on since school started.

Today, I am going to address the idea of recital rehearsals.

One of the scariest things I faced as a young musician was showing up for a recital without knowing exactly what I would be doing or what my teacher had planned for the event.  A few years ago, I decided, with the encouragement of my students and their parents, to host rehearsals in my home studio to address the issues before us.

About two weeks before the actual performance, only the students gather in my home studio in groups of 4-10 by age to “rehearse” the recital just as it will happen on the real day.  This time, however, we take pictures (posed & candid), do a craft (for the younger students), talk about stage fright and recital etiquette, and video-tape their performances twice.  Why twice?  The first time, the students who are not performing at the moment will be very, very, very quiet… as well as polite, clapping at the end, and encouraging in every way.  The second time, they will still be encouraging and clap at the end, but they will be loud and talkative.
Often, students are told to pretend no one is there… or that those there are invisible or some such thing.  I find it important, however, to remind my students that those attending their recital are there to support them.  If they make a mistake or lose their place, no one is going to criticize them.  They need to be prepared if someone sneezes or a baby cries… and the best way is to be completely aware of their surroundings and who is in the room.  By playing for the enjoyment of their audience rather than using a great deal of energy trying to block that audience out or mind awareness, the student has the opportunity to enjoy performing and will overall have an amazing outcome – playing their best not for me, but because they love what they do.

We go over a few steps in the rehearsal, which will be duplicated in the actual recital.  I have broken it down by the minute…

  • 8-10 minutes = Introductions & icebreaker game, favorite song to play, another hobby or interest
  • 10 minutes = Order of Recital (just talking about it)
    When the student before them goes up to play (students sit with their parents), you will come up to the front row where I (the teacher) will be.  When the student playing is done, you will go up to play and the student after you will come sit up with me.  Everything (all the moving) is done during the applause… and has worked great!
    Approach w/ music
    Enter piano bench on left
    Sit @ piano, set up music
    Hands in lap 5 seconds, deep breath
    When finished playing, hands in lap 5 seconds
    Stand up and leave on left of the piano bench (don’t forget to take your music with you – I don’t require my students to memorize their music)
    Bow or curtsy, then sit down.  Good job! ?
  • For 20-30 minutes = Recital Practice (piece(s) & order) = 3-4 minutes each (video-taping)
  • 10 minutes = Explanation of Recital and what it will be like…
    Dress Code
    Be 10 minutes early to recital
    After the recital, mingle & meet the other guests
    Etiquette – what does it mean?
    Anxiety – Be ready for everything and anything.  Try not to block anything out.  If someone sneezes or a baby cries, don’t be surprised.  Expect it.
  • 20 minutes = Take pictures of students performing & do craft
    Decorate cookies (especially at Christmas time) when finished with previous activity
    As parents are coming = Review game – covering some musical concepts they are learning in private lessons

What is my greatest joy as a teacher?  Students come for lessons and only see me, their teacher, and any students before or after them.  When they are able to spend an hour together as a group with others their own age and approximate playing level, they find just as much joy in their playing as I find in teaching.  Recitals can be scary experiences, but with friends, anything is possible.  The support my students have for one another is truly amazing and shows me that the hours of preparation going into each recital is worth the time and effort… if only to know they are well-prepared, have made great friends, and find purpose and joy in sharing the musical skills they have learned and worked diligently at for so long.  Recital-time is truly one of my favorite seasons of the year.  🙂

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As the time comes closer for teachers around the world to organize a Christmas or seasonal recital, it becomes imperative to have a strategy or plan in place.  In most cases, students look forward to their recitals, but the responsibility is on the teachers to make it the most enjoyable experience possible.  Over the next few weeks, I will be addressing several issues and giving suggestions.  I am open to comments, ideas, and requests for articles.

A few examples from my own studio…
We hold recitals 2x/year – one a few weeks before Christmas and another in the spring.  Both are required of all students and are a great way to inspire and motivate… everyone looks forward to it!
I make sure reminders are periodically sent by email or posted on my website for all families to see.

Communication is key.  About 2 weeks before the recital, I send a detailed explanation of what to expect, what to bring, and where to be.  ?

I started having students write a short autobiography to be printed in the program.  Some students draw, paint, or color themed pictures to be included on the cover or inside as original “clipart”.

Students are expected to arrive a minimum of 15 minutes early… to avoid the stress of “running late” and making it much easier on their teacher!  ?  They are required to bring their music – in my studio, students are not required to memorize their pieces (for various reasons to be covered later).  The families also bring a dish or dessert to share afterwards during the reception time.

After the performances, we have awards – I give each student a certificate for performing and another for participating in games online at and another for student of the month awards (covering the months since our last recital).  Students also receive the certificates from the back of the method books they have passed or any exams passed.  The entire awards ceremony lasts from 5-15 minutes for 30 students.  They love the recognition of their hard work!

Employing volunteer parents to help with set-up and cleanup has lessened the load on my shoulders and is always greatly appreciated!  My family has been a wonderful help as well.

Prior to the recital, be sure to establish…

  • what the students should do upon arriving (check in with you, find a seat, do an activity)
  • where the students will be sitting (as a group or with parents)
  • who is invited to attend (family, friends, etc)… are invitations provided?
  • the cost & when it is due (students, attendees, etc) to cover the costs of rental, use of facilities, any other expenses related to the event
  • media (pictures, video, cell phones)… how do you wish to handle it? (when can pictures be taken?  Are families encouraged to take video and if so, where should they stand or sit as to be the least distracting?)
  • dress code (is this a casual or formal recital?)… what is acceptable and not?
  • volunteers for certain tasks

Suggested To-Do List…

  • Make Programs a day or two before the recital, but not too far in advance or changes will be inevitable and cause unnecessary frustration and stress
  • Make invitations for students – they love ones themed with pianos and music notes!  🙂
  • Verify venue and time – to avoid last minute surprises

These are all technical aspects of a recital, but more to come include…

  • how to deal with stage fright
  • ways to motivate and inspire through recitals… and when to give gifts to your students
  • ways to order students in a program… who goes first?  who finishes up?
  • recital themes
  • reasons for students sitting with parents vs. sitting as a group (I’ve tried both)
  • whether or not to hold any sort of rehearsal before-hand
  • recital etiquette
  • finding a booking a venue/location
  • establishing a day and time
  • refreshments
  • how to put together a program
  • copyright issues in media (making of DVDs or CDs)… recording and copying

Have a wonderful recital and remember to enjoy every moment.  Never forget the amazing memories you are creating in the lives of each of your students and the responsibility we all have to do everything in excellence.  Enjoy!

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