Recitals - Creative ideas for recitals

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Postby Christine » Sat Apr 01, 2006 5:41 pm

Hello everyone,

I was just in the process of planning my year end recital (didn't want to leave it to the last minute) and I would really appreciate the ideas of the more experienced teachers out there, as to how to host a recital. Some questions I had were:

(1) Where do you hold your recitals? (living room, church sanctuary, etc.)

(2) Do you purchase small gifts for students?

(3) Do you serve food after?

(4) Do you yourself perform?

(5) Do you have the students announce their name and piece they will perform (a good experience) or do you announce it for them?

(6) Does each student play one or more than one piece?

(7) Do you write up a program?

I would welcome any suggestions, as well as other creative ideas that may make the recital a fun, memorable experience, with professionalism.

Thanks.
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Postby Stretto » Sat Apr 01, 2006 7:55 pm

- having a recital tommorrow! I debated whether having a recital the day after forwarding clocks an hour was a good idea. Hope the students go to bed early instead of losing an hour sleep (yeah right!).

I'm no expert. I'm always for something non-traditional or out of the standard thrown into a recital though. One year at my home I even passed out tickets at the door and gave away a door prize!

Tomorrow is suppose to storm (perhaps hail) and the distance from the parking lot to the building is a little ways to walk (It's at classroom at a local university's music hall). That's the only downfall of having it on a campus is the walking to the building especially in bad weather. Anyone ever canceled a recital due to a hail storm or tornado warning?

I don't have any really exciting ideas but will try to post back what I've done next week which is mainly just the basics.




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Postby pianoannie » Sun Apr 02, 2006 1:30 pm

Hi Stretto,
I've had to cancel lessons due to tornado warnings, but thankfully, never a recital!

I've done my recitals just about every different way I could think of! I think to keep things fresh and new. I've done recitals in churches, retirement homes, in my own home, in my back yard (on a nice keyboard), at an outdoor festival, and this year it will be at a department store in a mall. They have a grand piano there, and they often have pianists playing during store hours. I just called and asked it my students could play on a Saturday afternoon, and they were excited about the idea!

Here are some preferences I have developed over the years:
1. No gifts for students, unless it is a student graduating from highschool who is playing in his/her last recital.
2. Finger-food afterwards, that families help pitch in. I provide drinks and paper products. Having refreshments really gives the kids and families opportunities to get to know each other, and feel part of "the group."
3. Printed programs rather than me or the students announcing students/pieces. (saves time, reduces nerves, and gives the parents/students a nice momento from the recital).
4. If it's a small in-home recital (ie for just a few of my students, like last year's honors recital/dinner that I had at home) then I will play. But for a big recital that's already going to be over an hour long, I prefer not to play myself. I do a lot of duets with students of various levels though.

There's not a definitive "right way" to do recitals. Try various things, Stretto, and see what works best for you and your students. I'm looking forward to having this year's recital at a mall, because it will require the least amount of work on my part of any place I've ever done one. No printed programs, no food, no set-up, no tear-down. Just show up, hear my students play, then go shopping! :) (I needed something easy this year!)
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Postby Christine » Mon Apr 03, 2006 5:54 pm

Hi Stretto,

Just wondering how your recital went...I would love a "play by play" so I could get some ideas. Hope there were no tornados!
:)
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Postby Stretto » Tue Apr 04, 2006 8:11 am

Christine wrote:Hi Stretto,

Just wondering how your recital went...I would love a "play by play" so I could get some ideas. Hope there were no tornados!
:)

The recital went well with no bad weather. The sun was even out! The forecast called for scattered storms and golf ball size hail, possible tornado weather but every time the sky got dark, nothing else much happened and the next thing one knew, the storm warning was canceled. This happened about 3 times from morning 'till evening. It went north of us. Phew! (Can't imagine having a tornado warning in the middle of a recital!)

As far as your questions:

Where do you hold your recitals? I used to have them at my house as I have had just a half-dozen students on an average most of the time. When I was taking lessons as a child, I remember my favorite recitals were those one of my teacher's had at her house. With having recitals in my home, however, I felt badly that families had to limit the number of people they could bring. Also, we always had an assortment of chairs, once including one lawn chair! One could probably rent chairs but I have never checked on the cost. The thing I liked least about having recitals at my home was it was extra stress trying to get the house cleaned and looking presentable for guests. (I was always paranoid parents would inspect the cleanliness/tidyness of the teachers house while they were at it. I know I would as a parent.) I only held a recital once a year because of the extra stress of trying to get my house looking in "perfect" shape. One parent cracked a joke also that her family could fill the whole room with their relatives alone. I started looking more seriously for another location so I didn't have the extra stress of getting my house ready and so families wouldn't be limited on numbers of guests they could bring.

I called several churches in the area. Most required that one be a member of the church in order to use their facility. I think churches probably have so many kinds of requests to use their buildings and it would be too much to accomodate everyone's requests. The church where I attend has their own "School of Music" and one has to be a teacher in the program to use their piano for a recital (I'm not in their program because it's far from my house, etc.) They are also so large that they would have a lot of problems letting anybody and everybody use the building for personal events. I didn't check every church possible, however. I also think it would be more difficult finding an available time at a church that wasn't being used for weddings and I also like Sun. afternoons to hold recitals as students most likely wouldn't have a conflicting activity. Most of my teachers growing up all held their recitals in churches. (Just as humerous side-note, I knew one particular church I called is a denomination that does all their music accapella. I wasn't thinking about it as I was calling around several churches in the phone book. I originally left a phone message with my inquiry. The person in charge of giving the approval for such things said something similiar to, "that's fine to use our church for your recital. You realize, however, that we don't have a piano as we don't use instruments in our services." I was a little embarrassed.)

OK, I got really lengthy here on the recital location portion of the topic. I finally called the music dept. office at a local university just to ask if they knew of any facility in town where a piano teacher could hold a recital. It turned out at that particular music dept., I could book any of the classrooms or the recital hall simply by turning in or e-mailing a written request in advance for the room and date I would like and if available, it would be posted on the music dept.'s calendar and reserved. So that's what I've done now last year and this year. The only drawbacks are May is out of the question due to the college student's recitals, the whole month of June is tied up with a Fine Arts Festival, and if they were to need the room one reserved for a dept. event, then you would have to give up your reservation.

Well, I got a little lengthy here, I'll try to post back on your other questions at a later time.

Stretto




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Postby 88keys » Tue Apr 04, 2006 5:02 pm

I teach 4 students in a private school located on our church property. Since my husband is on stafff at the church I have access to the buildings. However, since all of my students are in the school, I have my students perform at the Christmas and end-of-year programs the school has. It has worked out very well for me. The students have a much larger audience than they would otherwise have. (And maybe it will generate interest for lessons!)

It's a win-win situation for me - no rental fees, no food to worry about, and no worries about no audience.
That's my story and I'm sticking with it!
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Postby 88keys » Tue Apr 04, 2006 5:12 pm

I almost forgot the other questions.
Yes, I do give out little token gifts.
I have never performed at any of my student's recitals. (but I might do several duets this year!)
My students just play one piece.
In the past I have printed recital programs, but I may not this year. We'll see....
I have usually announced the name of the song but having the student announce it is a good idea.
That's my story and I'm sticking with it!
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Postby Stretto » Wed Apr 05, 2006 12:01 am

I'll try to add a few more answers:

I give out certificates that say, "this is to certify that so and so participated in the Spring 2006 Recital." It's economical and gives students a sense of accomplishment.

I served food when I held recitals in my home but kept it simple or had parents bring snack foods.

I've always performed one or two short pieces at the end and nothing too elaborate - just fun one's I think an audience would enjoy. This year I decided not to play because it's just one more stresser on top of running it. This time when I went to thank everyone for coming, however, a few from the audience wondered if I was going to play. So I ended up playing one short, simple, 2- pager piece. I would like to sometime, give a 5-10 min. talk on a piece and then play it, sort of educate the audience a little while they're there! I haven't really come to any solid conclusions on the appropriateness of a teacher playing at a student recital. In asking others outside of my student/parent bunch for opinions, some suggested a teacher give a solo recital at a separate date rather than play at the student recital.

I don't have the students announce their names and pieces since it's all listed on a printed program. I think it's enough for a student to get in front of others and play the piano without adding any extra anxiety it might cause a student to have to announce their pieces. At least that's how I would feel in their shoes.

I usually require a minimum of 2 pieces but allow them to add as many as they want up to 5.

I also make a program. Once a student's family offered to design the program and it was really professionally done. (Not that mine aren't professional-looking :D ). My mom saved the program from my very first piano recital. I have it now and it's a great keepsake. It's neat to know what the pieces I played were.

I used to have Christmas recitals with sing-a-longs at the end in which students took turns accompanying everyone. I held the Christmas recitals due to the suggestion from one of my students. But I quit having them because I hate to add one more thing to what's already a busy time of year for many.

The only other idea I've had is to offer students the opportunity to do their own solo recital.

These are great questions. I've enjoyed reading what pianoannie and 88keys have done and will look forward to hearing from others.




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Postby Beckywy » Wed Apr 05, 2006 7:14 am

My senior students are playing in our annual benefit concert for Sick Kids hospital - it's 2 hours long, and very formal and elaborate...complete with a hired MC, catering for the students between rehearsal and the show, hair and makeup. Also, we have the end-year recital for all students in June.
"The real purpose of studying music-to unite ourselves with our special gifts in such a way that one would add strength to the other" Seymour Bernstein
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Postby 108-1121887355 » Wed Apr 05, 2006 11:18 am

1. In my home, always. More relaxed for the students.

2. Everyone receives a small musical award for completing a year of piano. Students who composed, receive a copy of all the compostions in a booklet, plus a small gift. If there is an outstanding student, I may give a special award. All gifts are related to music (musical pin, CD, musical pencils, etc.)

3. We have light refreshments, from me and the families. It is a good social time.

4. I used to perform but now I just play some duets with my students.

5. The students and I do a program together. I usually find a picture and quote I like and copy it and the students can color or write on it as they wish ...Musicale, Spring 2006 and the time and their name if they wish. When their famuily comes, they give them their program. I plan an order of performers and put the name first and under that, the names and composers of the pieces. I decided to do it this way many years ago as the parents come to hear and see their child perform so that is first...the Bach or other they are playing, is second.

6. I feel two pieces is minimum for a year of piano and more if they wish. Some play duets and their own compositions. I have many young students and the pieces may take less than a minute to perform.

7. We invite the guests to play at the end - alone or as a duet. Encores may continue after that. It is the enthusiastic playing that contunues while we serve the food, that is special!

Hope that covers all.

Joan
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Postby Stretto » Wed Apr 05, 2006 11:43 am

Good ideas, loveapiano.

Loveapiano, your mention of writing the order of performers got me thinking, how do all of you determine who goes first in a recital?

It's always a dilemna for me to decide who will play first. Sometimes I ask around if anyone would be willing to go first but if everyone says, "no" . . . I try to rotate it each year so someone who went first last year doesn't have to go first the following year.
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Postby Christine » Thu Apr 06, 2006 7:53 am

Thanks for the insight from everyone! As to order of performers, I never even thought of that...would it be scarier for little ones to go first, or to have them be sitting the entire time, waiting for their turn? Actually, it's my older students that I would be more concerned about!

Keep the ideas coming...

Thanks everyone :)
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Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Thu Apr 06, 2006 10:19 am

Well, if you have a fairly large number of performers you can do what they do at the international competitions: draw lots. The one who 'lost' last time can be exempted next time.

Or you could arrange in order of age, alphabet, etc. and then keep putting the first person last next time until it comes back around to the beginning.

A good way of calming little ones' nerves is to have them play a duet first and maybe a solo later.

Etc. etc. etc..........

Dr. Bill.
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Postby Stretto » Thu Apr 06, 2006 11:43 am

The 'lot' idea is good. Isn't that done in other types of competitions too like the olympics?

Also the duet idea sounds like a good idea.

Otherwise, I find it a catch 22. Having the younger ones or beginners go first may cause them to get more nervous due to being first. On the other hand, having the older ones or more experienced players (who may also be more confident), go first might intimidate the younger kids or beginners because then they'd feel they couldn't "measure up" to the more advanced performers.

I have one student who I know certainly would be more nervous if having to go first. This was only her second recital and she is also one of the younger, but next time I may have her go first. Then I had one beginner just start one month before the recital who I was impressed even willing to play at the recital. I put both of these students somewhere in the middle this time.

Perhaps the random idea is the best, as of course, it seems "no one" wants to be first. What is it about having to be first no one likes? I could understand this for a competition as it seems, for example, maybe to have a disadvantage, but for a recital or speech or something, should it matter? I'd rather be first, get it out of the way and just enjoy the rest of the recital knowing my turn was over.

It's probably a good experience for everyone to have a turn being first as it would probably be the best way to overcome the fear of "being first".




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Postby 108-1121887355 » Fri Apr 07, 2006 8:33 pm

I ask my 2nd year and up students sometimes, and also note who offers to play first at our groups. i almost always begin with a duet - then that student continues. I try to begin with the youngest or less profient so he may not feel he can't play as well as the person before him. This ends up with the "best" student performing last. Encores follow closely, including more duets and this is the best part for me to see who is eager to play again!

I have two Musicales - one in the afternoon for the first year and an evening one for 2nd year and up. One or two of the 'older' students are asked to play for the afternoon group - if they want to play. If someone cannot make a group, they may attend the other and it is noted.

I also take into consideration the music - not too much Beethoven all at once, and separating siblings so not performing back to back.

I have seldom had anyone asking to change a spot tho they do occassionally ask to add or subtract a piece. I run a very relaxed Musicale (a fun time of music) and there are not too many nerves - they have played for each other before and I tell them ahead, 'have fun and enjoy your music and everyone else will also'.

Joan :D
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