I am inspired to write this entry after reading Chris Foley’s well written article “Lessons learned from a studio recital”.
Chris listed many important factors regarding how to plan for a successful recital. It is this time of the year again when many teachers hold a recital at the end of the year to coincide with the holiday season; I thought I would add onto Chris’s list, sharing my own experiences planning for studio recitals.
1. Recital fee – Decide if you are going to charge each student a recital registration fee. I used to view studio recitals as advertising opportunities, and absorbed all the expenses. Now I charge a recital fee to help cover venue hire, printing programs, refreshments, and also student prizes. As my studio grows and I am spending more time planning for the recitals, I also feel I need to be paid for my time, at least during the recital itself! Usually I barely break even, but I feel it is an important factor to consider whether a recital fee should be charged, and if so, how much.
2. Student prizes – Decide if you are going to reward each student at the end of the recital by presenting them with some sort of recognition for their efforts. I try to vary each recital and depending on budget, give different prizes. I have presented certificates, pins, medals, trophies, and also use the opportunity to present to those students who have special achievements, such as the National Piano Guild audition certificates or winning a competition. Students love to receive their prizes at the end of the recital, and it is also an incentive for them (and their families) to stay for the whole recital!
3. Duet/Ensemble/Family performances – apart from solo performances, I like to include these, especially for the holiday recital at the end of the year. I teach many siblings from the same family, and many of my students parents are musicians themselves, so it makes perfect sense to include ensemble performances in the program. These are often the highlights of the recital, and although nerve breaking, parents enjoy the opportunity to perform, too! One time I had a grandmother and her friend singing “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire” while her grand daughter and I played a duet arrangement on the piano. It turned out to be such a moving experience for all. Including family members in the program can mean extra rehearsal time for you, but it can also inspire them to practice harder at home before coming to the lessons!
4. Teacher performances – do you perform a solo or two at your studio recitals? I started doing these when I first moved to Long Island from New Zealand, and did not have enough students for a whole recital. Having to perform solos myself give me the extra incentive to practice and brush up on my own skills as a performer. It is also a great advertising tool; the parents are hopefully ‘wowed’ by your skills and will get you more students!
5. Advertise your studio recitals – I always make a poster for my studio recitals, and try to post them everywhere in the community. If you look, there are many places where there is community notice board, including grocery stores and even Starbucks! Many community newspapers will also be willing to include event listings for free. Holiday recitals with festive music are especially popular. If you put in some time to advertise your recitals, you will usually find that time well worth spent, as you will get some new students afterwards!
These are some of the things that come to my mind, as I am planning for my next holiday recital. Do you have any other ideas? I would love to hear what other teachers do!