‘Tis the season for studio performances. But before you stress about coordinating all the details, we have streamlined all the steps to make this winter’s recital a blast!
1) Find a location: Space for your recital shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. If you teach regularly out of a high school, or are involved in a church’s music program, you can reserve these spaces for free or at a nominal fee. Another idea is to give back to the community. Find a local retirement center and see if they have an entertainment program or coordinator. Most retirement centers gladly accept volunteer performers and come with decent pianos and performing spaces. Verify with the coordinator if family and friends of the performers are welcome. As always, keep documentation of fees for tax time.
2) Hire an accompanist: If you have connections with your local high school or church accompanist, ask them if they would be willing to accompany your students. You may also contact your local college or university for lists of available accompanists in the area. Plan at least one dress rehearsal for students to run through their entire piece with the accompanist. Remember to ask your accompanist for a printed receipt of all services for your tax purposes.
3) Enlist your students: I typically announce recital dates at the beginning of the semester. However, a month before the recital I send home or e-mail ( via www.letterpop.com) a flier with all pertinent information about the recital (what to bring for the reception, any fees for the pianist or space, etc.) In each lesson of the week, verify if each student is available to perform, and determine their piece for the performance. As a voice teacher, I require all of my students to be memorized for the recital. To ensure the best preparation, I also require all students to attend all lessons and scheduled run-through prior to the recital. All of these requirements are noted in the flier and are discussed with the student.
4) Get performance ready! As a voice teacher to many high schoolers, I find nerves run high at recital time. Throughout the month, I invite parents and other students to listen in on the last 10 minutes of a student’s lesson. There we walk through the stage entrance, introduction of their name and piece, the performance, and bows. Performing for familiar faces can nip nerves in the bud. The week before the recital, I have a 1 1/2 hour run-through with the accompanist. This gives the students a chance to work with their pianist and sing in from of their peers.
5) Creating the program: Mix your program with all levels and styles. My programs always have some of the Italian 24 Arias, art songs, folk songs, and musical theater pieces. On the program, list the student’s name, piece, where it is from (opera/ musical/ larger work), and composer. Make enough copies to account for each student and two guests. Keep receipts of all printing services.
6) Coordinating the reception: Ask all of your students to bring either a plate of cookies or a 2 liter bottle of soda. You can provide napkins and cups- again, keep those receipts! Make sure a table is set up at the recital for parents and students to drop off their goodies.
7) Streamlining the performance: Be sure to arrange all music for the accompanist in order in a 3-ring binder. Also, line up all students in order of the program and have them sit in the front row. This saves more time than you can imagine! And last but not least, don’t forget to thank your student’s for all their hard work, parents for their encouragement, the accompanist and location provider.
8) Post Performance: Some students will blow you away with their semester’s progress. Others may have forgotten words or passages, making you wonder “What happened?” Recitals are as much of a learning tool as the lessons themselves. Performing in front of an audience brings yet another element to the equation. The week after the recital, talk one-on-one with your students, first asking them for their thoughts on the performance. Cite the strengths of their progress and performance, and then explore areas that still need attention. But above all, reinforce the idea that one performance is not the end all be all. There will be more recitals, competitions and other performance venues where the student can learn new ways of overcoming their obstacles.
Enjoy this performance season, and watch your students grow!