I have a confession to make, and I’m a little bit embarrassed to tell you. The reason I’m so obsessed with checklists and organization and productivity and what-have-you, is because…well…I’m not super organized. In fact, I think my signature style is flying by the seat of my pants and hoping for the best.
So for me, part of being a “plucky violin teacher” is getting off my rear and organizing my chaos.
In the past, my recital planning consisted of:
1. I would think, “hmm..we should probably have a recital,” and then scheduling the Recital with the library (sometimes only a few weeks in advance!)
2. Choosing which of my students’ current pieces that they will play (also, probably not far enough in advance.)
3. Panicking at the last second because I forgot to make a program, and rushing to Kinko’s in the moments before the recital.
After a few disastrous recitals where students (or their families) were:
I decided that not only did I have a problem, but that it was all my fault. Based on those issues, here is my current studio recital-planning process.
1. Schedule all recitals for the whole year. I go schedule all of my recitals at one time. This saves time (only one trip to the library where I hold my studio recitals), and ensures that I can get the times and dates that I want! I decided to have a studio recital every twelve weeks. This keeps my students motivated and constantly preparing for a performance. It’s key to keeping practicing consistent in my studio.
2. Make a long term plan for each student. I should have been doing this anyway. (I wasn’t.) I have a projected trajectory for each student that includes their recital pieces for the year. Of course, things change and have to be adjusted but having a rough outline helps me make sure that our lessons are really preparing them for their upcoming performances (near and far.)
3. Book the pianist far in advance. I still struggle with this. I’m sorry to all the pianists that I have called last minute and given music to the week or two before a recital. I’m so so sorry.
4. Make a Recital Countdown for your studio. Sometimes these dates aren’t communicated clearly from me to the student or the parent to the student. I am hoping that adding this count-down to my studio decor will help that problem. My students will always know when the recital is, and therefore that they really should be practicing!
5. Make a Recital Program Template. Do you really need to design an entirely new recital program every time you have a studio recital? I say, no! (Though this is exactly what I did. For years.) Make one that you can fill in the blanks and then BE DONE. You’re welcome, you just got hundreds of hours of your life back. (Haha, if you are as slow at this stuff as me maybe more!)
6. Hang the finished Recital Program in your studio a week or two in advance and ask students and parents to proof it for spelling. This is so embarrassing, but I actually had a student who I had misspelled his name for years and he never told me. I should have asked, but I didn’t and they never said anything! I was horrified when I found out.
7. A few days before the recital, send out some information (via email) about recital etiquette to your studio families. Ask them to review the key points with their children before coming to the recital. Unfortunately, in the time and culture that we live, some people may have never been to a classical music concert. They may not know that they shouldn’t be eating, talking loudly, coming in and out during pieces, clapping between movements (and more)…We have to be taught this stuff, and guess what? Teaching this stuff…that’s part of our job.
8. Send out reminders via email and text. I know everyone probably has a few families in their studio that are a bit forgetful, and fair enough, life is crazy. Especially if you have kids! Do your parents a favor and send an email reminder the week before and the day before the recital. Be an extra awesome teacher and send a reminder via text on the day of. You don’t need to make it sound like you are nagging, just be genuine and express your excitement for the recital “tonight at 7pm at the Kaysville Library.”
Of course, there is much more to recital preparation, right? Students actually need to learn their pieces and practice with a pianist, but if you know way in advance what they are playing and when they are playing it then it is so much easier to do that part.
I’ve come to realize how vitally important a successful recital is. It’s a big deal. Feeling prepared and performing well in recitals gives your student such confidence and pride in their work. We actually owe it to our students to do everything we can to help them have a good recital experience. I know I remember every recital I wasn’t prepared for, or thought I played (particularly) poorly. We don’t shrug those off very easily.
In addition, the recital is a great place to show studio parents how incredible you are and what an amazing opportunity they are giving their child to have lessons with you. Usually, only one parent is attending the private lessons and group, so the recital gives you a chance to win over the other!
How do you prepare for your studio recitals? Any steps that I missed? Comment below and let me know!
Here’s an infographic with the bare bones of this post that you can pin to one of your Pinterest boards so you can find it later!
If you thought this post was helpful, I would be forever grateful if you shared it on Facebook or Pinterest so it can find other disorganized music teachers like myself…
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