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How to Host Teen-Friendly Piano Recitals

Concerts should be a wonderful time for all your students to show off their skills. So how can we make our piano recitals welcoming and exciting for our teen students, too?

teen piano recitals

Think about it from a teenager’s perspective. If your student concerts have mostly young kids with balloons and silly “kiddy” songs, they might not feel like they fit in. Especially if they’re a teen beginner.

So how can we help our teen students feel like they belong at our piano recitals, rather than sticking out like a blue banana?

Note: This post was originally published in April 2017, and updated in November 2022.

Piano Recitals With Jammin’ Tunes

Make sure your students walk into the recital space and know straight away that it’s for them – especially your teen students.

If your students arrive and hear music that they might hear at a friend’s house, that says a lot. It says: “Welcome, this is your event. This is your time to shine.”

So don’t play music the 6-year-olds will love; go with the teen-friendly choice. Because honestly? The 6-year-olds will barely notice the difference, but for the teens, it could make all the difference in the world.

Note: Be sure to listen to the entire playlist and read through the lyrics to make sure the music is appropriate.

Celebratize Your Teens

Not a word I know. What I mean is: make a BIG DEAL out of your teenage piano students. A really big deal. They should feel like your special guest performers.

This rings particularly true if you only have a couple of teens performing. If you don’t take the right approach, they could feel like the odd ones out. But if you frame it right, they can feel special, not odd.

This can be as simple as putting your teen at the start or end of the program, and telling them ahead of time why you’re doing it. Tell them how excited you are for their performance and how it’s the perfect concert closer since it’s so fast and flashy.

Inspiration and Aspiration

If you don’t have a ton of older students performing, there might be a key ingredient missing: something to aspire towards.

One of the big benefits of participating in a studio concert is that you get to see where you’ve come from…and what’s ahead. But if you have mostly beginners, those few advancing teens don’t get that “aspiration” benefit.

The best solution to this issue is to play something yourself. And play something your teens will love and want to learn. Don’t play the Bach that you think your teens should be playing – play something that has the cool factor for teens.

For example, for my upcoming recital I’m thinking about going with one of Stacy Fahrion’s “whimsically macabre” pieces because I have a teen in mind for that book. If your teen piano students love pop, rock, Chopin, or whatever, go with that.

Pick your repertoire with your teens in mind. Give them something to aspire to.

Pride-Worthy Pieces

Speaking of repertoire, what piece are you going to give your teen student to play? Will you have them play one of their favourite pieces they learnt during the year, or pick out something new?

If you want your teen students to feel comfortable in their own skin at your piano recitals, repertoire selection is everything. While I might be a little more hands-on with the younger kids’ recital choices, I allow my teens to pick out pretty much whatever they want to play (as long as they can play it well.)

I have one agenda for this performance, and it’s not to show off my great teaching skills. It’s to give them a performance glow. To give my teenage students an opportunity to share their favourite music with everyone.

Recital Responsibilities

Megan Desmarais from the ‘Very Piano’ blog shared this tip for getting her teens involved and creating a sense of community:

I like to give teens responsibilities at recitals like being the MC, helping to serve snacks afterwards, or helping a really young student by walking them to the piano and staying nearby as they perform.

-Megan Desmarais

I love this as it not only makes the teens feel welcome, but it also teaches them valuable life skills. I’m sure the parents love this extra learning opportunity for their teenagers.

How do you make sure your recitals are teen-friendly?

Do you ever wonder whether your older students feel welcome? Do you gear your concerts more towards your kiddos or your teen students? Let me know in the comments below.

Not sure if you’re ready for your next recital? Enter your info below and I’ll send the Recital Readiness Checklist right to your inbox. You can also check out the “Recitals” section of my Studio Business hub page for the most up-to-date resources about performances.

If you’re a VMT member, you can grab the Recital Readiness Checklist from the printable library.

2 thoughts on “How to Host Teen-Friendly Piano Recitals”

  1. I have one big recital with all of my students (except adults) and the older kids know that as they get more advanced they get placed later in the lineup and they look forward to that! I’ve tried to mix it up more with the different levels, but they do prefer to be “ranked” by a progression of levels. I choose pieces with them, typically from a special book or sheet music. That also seems to be their choice, rather than something from their regular repertoire. I don’t do theme recitals very often because I like the kids to choose something that they are inspired to work on and perfect. It’s always fun to see their choices. Thanks Nicola, for all your wonderful suggestions! I’ve learned so much from following you!

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