Recital Tips (gifts!)

As far as teaching careers are concerned, mine has been relatively short. I taught a few lessons as a teenager, but have only been consistently teaching for approximately 6 years. Here is what I have learned:

  1. Make a simple program of all students and pieces played. Kids love to see their name written down, and it helps relieve anxiety about when students perform.
  2. Keep your own program and mark which students you are accompanying, the track number of their CD accompaniment, etc.
  3. Arrange the recital order from beginning students to older students. It is much more enjoyable to see the really good students later on in the recital, and it helps to not intimidate the students who are nervous.
  4. Give a unique gift to the students. Certificates get thrown away, and participation trophies are meaningless (and expensive). I recently started giving buttons! The kids can collect them, and they are small enough to store easily or wear whenever. These are the buttons I ordered for this year: colorful sheet music (my favorite!), treble clef with roses, and this bold design. This year I have two students with birthdays on the recital day. I am giving them this button.
  5. Send multiple reminder emails with the following information: what is appropriate to wear (if jeans are not acceptable, emphasize it), what time they are to arrive (15 minutes prior for piano students), the location, how long it will last, and brief reminders about behavioral expectations for students as well as friends and families (flash photography!).
  6. Have a separate area for the students to sit while they wait for their turn. This makes stage transitions easier and helps them relate to other students.
  7. Arrange the pieces so that students who might be both singing and playing an instrument are not doing one after the other, and try to avoid putting two of the same piece of music close together in the recital order. I also like to make sure I don’t have all students of one instrument type in a row. So three piano students (that’s six pieces!), violin, two piano, clarinet, voice, three piano, flute, etc.
  8. The night before, pack a bag with all the things you will need (including programs and gifts!) and review the items before you head out the door.
  9. Consider having a “finale” number, something as simple as “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” that would be enjoyable for students, a photo op for parents, and encourage them to stay to the end of the recital.
  10. Ensure that the recital is special — include decorations if at all possible, or host the event at a location other than the studio, preferably one with a small stage. This year mine will be at a piano store that has a room for recitals.
  11. Remember that your behavior, dress, and attitude will affect the children whether you realize it or not. If you are flustered and disheveled, irritable, stressed out, etc. students will begin to think this is the norm for a recital day. If you appear prepared, relaxed, let mistakes roll off your shoulders, etc. then students will know they have nothing to worry about!

About Lady Fair

Lady is a musician with a bachelor's degree in music education. She plays multiple instruments and has participated in numerous musical ensembles, giving her a wide variety of experiences and knowledge to use in her teaching career. Of her ensemble participation, she has fifteen years of band experience, nine years choral, and four years in orchestra. Éowyn's primary instrument is clarinet, with voice and piano being close secondary instruments. Throughout her musical education career she studied voice and clarinet simultaneously. In addition to clarinet, piano, and voice, she has also studied violin and oboe at the college level, and also plays recorder, tin whistle, and other instruments in the woodwind family. If you ask her, she will say, "I chose to major in music education because I have a desire to use my knowledge and experience in music to share its beauty and foster a love of music in the hearts of my students. I hope to encourage my students to try their hardest, feel like they have accomplished something, and give them a life long passion for music." Lady currently teaches private lessons on clarinet, sax, flute, oboe, piano, and voice, and recently gained a position teaching orchestra and chorus at a local middle school. She is also a member of the Once Upon a Dream woodwind ensembles.
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