Preparing for a Music Recital in 6 Fun Ways

This article about preparing for a music recital was written by Carmen Carpenter. Carmen has taught music in a school setting as well as in her home studio for more than 30 years. Teaching combines two of her favourite things: music and kids! Besides teaching music, Carmen loves spending time with family playing games, working puzzles and watching movies. She’s also an avid reader and loves taking long walks on her local, woodsy trails.

It’s easy to think that preparing for a music recital means practising a whole lot until a piece is learnt and polished, ready to trot out to an audience. And, I’m not going to lie, practising a whole bunch is required (as is teacher patience!). But does it have to be a drudge for both students and their teacher?

There are plenty of ways to make preparing for a music recital a pleasure both for students and for you, their lovely teacher. So, I say “no!” Piano recital preparation does not need to be tedious.

No. 1: Rib-Tickling Recital Themes

If the only way you’ve approached recitals is to simply have students play their current best or favourite piece, your first – and possibly best – way to ensure prep is enjoyable is to structure your recital around a theme that shouts fun

For your next recital, why not try one of these ideas?

  • Pop music
  • Animal-related pieces
  • Audience participation
  • A creativity showcase
  • A composition project
  • Student artwork related to their pieces

The possibilities for a not-so-boring recital theme are endless. You’ll find that because the theme is something interesting and enjoyable to you and your students, the actual piece prep will be, too.

No. 2: Playful Practice Process

As previously stated, the actual preparation for a performance can be arduous. Anything you can do to take the boring out of practice for students will not only mean they enjoy the undertaking more, but they’ll learn better and more quickly. Bonus!!

When preparing is fun, music students are much more likely to have a positive outlook on recital readiness.

Certainly, there are plenty of practice games available in the Vibrant Music Teaching Library and these work well at any time during the learning process.

That said, I don’t know about you, but when getting ready for a recital I invariably have a handful of students polished and prepped 2 or 3 weeks too early. Playing that same piece over and over can get old and boring fast which means the piece ultimately suffers. 

Keep the piece fresh with simple tricks like:

  • Take out all the [middle Cs or minims or what-have-yous] and make them rests instead.
  • Create or change lyrics for the melody of the piece.
  • Play the piece “yo-yo style” by going back and forth between the left-hand and right-hand parts.
  • Draw a picture or write a story that reflects the mood of the piece (to be displayed later at the super fun-themed recital you’re planning).

Keeping pieces fresh in these sorts of ways will ensure your students’ music doesn’t fossilise while waiting for the recital performance.

No. 3: Magic Memorisation 

I personally don’t require memorisation for recitals, but I know plenty of teachers who do. If you’re in the latter category, the act of memorising doesn’t have to be boring.

Turn memorisation into a game with Mount Memory and Memorisation Mission, two fantastic games from the VMT Library.

Still not a member of Vibrant Music Teaching? You’re missing out on loads of games, articles, videos, courses, discounts, business resources and on… and on… and on… Check us out at vibrantmusicteaching.com.

NO. 4: Nifty Nerve-Relief

For some students, the only thing that drains the pleasure out of a recital is the level of nervousness and anxiety they’re feeling about performing. You can help relieve butterflies in the tummy in several ways:

  • Play some ‘Gritty Critters’ games, a series of mindfulness games from the VMT Library.
  • Help your anxious students create a positive affirmation they can repeat to themselves anytime they feel worried about an upcoming recital.
  • Check out ‘The Distractor’, a game specifically designed for students to practise blocking out the screaming baby, car alarm, phone chime or [insert inevitable distraction here].

Whatever way you choose to calm music students’ nerves, your efforts will go a long way in making it much more pleasant to prepare for a recital.

No. 5: Relaxed Run-Through Rehearsal

If you’ve never held a group workshop or masterclass for a recital run-through, I highly recommend the ’Performance Party’ Workshop Plan available in the VMT Library.

This ready-to-go plan walks you through how to turn performance prep into good ol’ fashioned fun. In the workshop, students get to perform their pieces for a small group of their peers in a low-stakes environment while learning audience etiquette at the same time.

What could be better than purposely distracting another student while they’re playing? Or acting like a goofball while entering or exiting the stage, just to show your peers what NOT to do as a performer? 

You’ll find that approaching the recital this way strips away some of the stress and adds a dash of fun.

Get more ideas, advice and tools to help you with your next recital in the ‘Recitals’ section of our Studio Business page.

No. 6: Tricks for the Teacher

When talking about fun ways to prepare for a piano recital, let’s not forget the teacher. It can be a slog for us, too! Here are a few ideas to amp up your enjoyment in the recital prep process.


If you like to shop (and really, who doesn’t?!), how about purchasing a new outfit to wear at the performance? Shop online, in a store, in your best friend’s closet or go bespoke.

Whatever you choose, be sure it’s something that will make you feel your very best on recital day.


Do you love organising? If this is your jam, work out a checklist or calendar for getting key recital ingredients accomplished. Use colourful pens, papers and a slick new journal.

If you prefer a ready-to-go checklist, the Recital Readiness Checklist is just the ticket. Enter your info below and we’ll send you a free copy.

Members of our Vibrant Music Teaching community for teachers can download the Recital Readiness Checklist from the VMT Printable Library. Not a member? Learn more and join today at vibrantmusicteaching.com.

After you’ve checked things off the list or made your deadlines, reward yourself for a job well done. 🍹

Outsourcing the Recital Speech

Public speaking isn’t for everyone. So if the recital speech is something you dread preparing and executing, why not recruit a willing parent or student to play emcee?

Write a script or just give them the important points you want them to make and let loose their creativity.

What tricks do you use to keep recital prep fun and fresh?

We’d love to hear your ideas.

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