Putting together a piano recital for your students is a fantastic way to give them a performance opportunity and celebrate all the progress they’re making.
But it’s not easy! There are lots of moving parts and so many things to remember.
Let me take you step-by-step through the entire process so that you know you have all your bases covered.
3-6 Months Before the Piano Recital
The first thing to think about is your recital venue. The options will be different depending on where you are in the world, but here are some of the most common recital venues:
- School halls
- Community centres
- Nursing/care homes
It’s good to get into the habit of making a note to yourself whenever you see a piano when you’re out and about and to inquire about hiring the space.
If you’re not having any luck finding a good space with a piano that you can afford, you have 2 options. You can hire a piano, but this is often expensive. The more feasible option is normally to bring a digital piano to your venue.
You can also use your home studio as a recital space if it’s big enough.
I do my mid-year concert at my home studio. I have enough space for 30 people if I move out all the furniture and I invested in IKEA chairs a while back for this annual occasion. This means I can have 10 kids in each recital, along with their parents, and it makes for a lovely low-pressure performance environment every January.
No matter where your recital will be held, you’ll want to book the date at least 3 months before so you’re sure it’s available.
If you have a few dates to choose from and you’re not sure which would be best, email your studio parents. Just make sure to note that you know you probably can’t suit everyone (you really can’t!) but that you’ll go with the majority.
When you have your date tell your studio parents to mark it in their diaries and put a poster up prominently in your studio so they have a constant reminder.
2-3 Months Before the Piano Recital
You don’t have to have a theme. Really, you don’t.
But if you are going to theme your recital, now is the time to start planning it. Some examples of themes for your piano recital:
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Basically, anything you might do for a kid’s party would be a good theme!
In, or out. Your students and parents need to decide an absolute minimum of 2 months before the big day.
Email around and ask everyone to let you know before a certain day whether or not their child will be performing. Make sure to give them a deadline to respond – about a week should be sufficient.
Remember the deadline you set? Not everyone will meet it.
When the day rolls around that they were supposed to respond by, send a text to those that haven’t gotten back to you. Everyone needs to give you a yes or a no.
6 Weeks Before the Piano Recital
If your students are going to be learning a brand new piece especially for your recital, then you need to move this waaaay back. 6 weeks is not enough time to bring a new piece up to performance level.
However, my students do not learn new pieces for the piano recital. I see the recital as a chance to show off what they’ve learned this year or this semester.
At this stage, we’ll be picking one or two of their favourite pieces that they’ve learnt recently. From there it’s just a case of refreshing the piece and bringing it back up to performance level.
We choose their piano recital piece together at their lesson and I make a note of each as we go.
If you’re going to perform yourself, now is the time to pick your own piece and get working on it too. 🙂
Once we know what piece they’ll be playing, they need to get practising!
Every week from here until the recital, I have my students do a full performance run-through at their lesson.
- I sit on the couch in my studio, pretending to be in the audience.
- The student will walk nicely up to the piano and place their book on the stand. (No, my students don’t memorise their recital pieces. For more of my thoughts on memorisation, read this post.)
- Fix the bench and sit down.
- Place their hands on the keys, take a breath and hear the beginning of their piece in their head.
- Play the piece without stopping or “fixing” mistakes.
- Lift their hands gracefully off the keys and place them in their lap.
- Pick up the book, take a bow and walk back to their seat.
My students will do this routine at every lesson for 6 weeks, and will also practise it at our group performance workshop (more on this below). I want them to be really confident with all the details so that they can relax a bit and enjoy their performance.
Begin Recital Program
As my students select their pieces, I’m creating the piano recital program.
If creating the program is the part that stresses you out, then I’ve got you covered. Vibrant Music Teaching members click here to view the complete set of program and poster templates.
Watch this video to get full instructions on how to use these.
While you’re creating your program you’re going to come up with a question I hear from teachers a lot: what order should I put students in?
Of course, there’s no “wrong” way to do it. But here’s my process:
- Set the first performer. Choose someone who’s not going to be phased – usually, a young student who I know won’t be nervous and is playing a duet with me.
- Set the last performer. This should be the most impressive piece and allow one of my more advanced students to shine.
- Mix up the rest. Avoid putting siblings back to back or students of a similar age who are at widely different levels. Basically, avoid any situations where there could be a negative comparison between the students.
I know many teachers would go from beginner to advanced but I have 2 problems with this:
Firstly, I think it’s too competitive and piano recitals should just be about celebrating and enjoying music.
Secondly, it makes for a very boring concert! It’s not fun to sit through a bunch of beginner pieces in a row, no matter how fabulous they might be for their level.
The Final Few Weeks Before the Piano Recital
Ready to continue the recital readiness journey? Click here to read the second part of this article.