Joan H., Canada
We ( the two of us who teach SM in our city) are hosting our first joint recital in a few weeks. Would love to hear from your voice of experience re: any tips or tools you have to share to make this a great experience for all – both to help students prepare for it, and then during the actual event.
Alex N., California
Here are some of things I do to prepare for a recital:
1. I prepare in advance. I call a local piano store that has a nice recital room. I usually contact them a few months in advance and book my reservation.
2. To prepare the students I spend a couple of weeks leading to the day of the recital going over their songs, working with them individually. I also have a big rehearsal a few days before the recital date. I find this very helpful. Students get to perform in front of their peers. They’ll find out what they need to work on. Nerves is a big factor so I tell them to over practice their songs if they want to do well at the recital.
3. Since Simply Music is non traditional, I always try to find ways to make our recitals different from the typical recital. One thing that I do is to invite a special guest artist to perform a few songs for the students, parents and guests. I look for aspiring local musicians, indie artists. Most artists will appreciate the chance to showcase their talents. I try to help them out as much as I can. I allow them to sell their CD’s at the recital.
4. I remember when I first organized my first recital, I consulted Neil and he gave me this advice: have the 2nd best student play the first song and the best student play the last song of the program. I keep this to heart and it works very well. Psychologically speaking this has to do with the recency and primacy effect. People tend to remember the first and last thing.
Katy S., Australia
I held two of my recitals in an Aged Home and children love to play thinking of their own grandparents. The old people equally enjoy thinking of their own grand children. So it works wonders having a concert in an Aged Home.
I also involve the parents to accompany their kids to play other instruments or duets on the piano with their kids. Some siblings accompany each other too either on a violin, clarinet, guitar etc.
I make a bag of goodies for the students and put some juice and biscuits as well in case they feel thirsty or hungry during the concert.
I tell them to come at least 15 minutes early so nobody is late.
If you can arrange for a PA system to announce the students names and the songs they will be playing would be nice.
I start the concert with a common accompaniment so it makes everybody relaxed and end with the National anthem.
Sue C., Australia
I gave each SM child a small brown paper bag with handles and inside was a SM poster a small box drink and packet of healthy snack ie chips.
The PAs students got a small inexpensive hardcovered note book with nice picture on front. They also got Pas certificates also in brown bag.
BUT I had a few complaints from parents saying they could hear opening of packets all thru concert. It did not bother me at all as it saved on having to provide much food at the end.
The kids loved snack as concert was near lunch 11 am and young PAS. Kids are hungry then.
I started my program just a few months back, and have about 12 students now, and am growing. I like the idea of having a Spring recital in a few months as they are making such great progress. My only issue is since they are all new students, everyone is on Foundation 1, so everyone would theoretically be playing from the same catalog of a few songs right now. Wondering what others have done in this situation, or if perhaps I should just wait until later in the year when there is a greater variety of music. Any suggestions/ideas would be greatly appreciated.
Carol P., South Carolina
I was in the same situation over the winter holidays (new teacher, all of my students in Level 1) and decided to have a recital/play party, allowing the students to choose their favorite song to play. I wondered if they would all choose the same, but only two of them did, and I just placed one toward the beginning of the event and one towards the end. I also explained to the parents that the students were playing their favorites, so they might hear the same song twice, but that would be ok and we will clap just as loud the second time as the first! It was relaxed and every parent gave positive feedback, people seem to really appreciate the opportunity to play for others.
Also, the variations in the TTM at the end of Level 1 opens up more possibilities.
Will, If you have any kids who have gone a little faster and have done some arrangements I have had some fun having a medley of each of the beginning songs. The kids all go up to the piano together – the youngest plays dreams come true, then Dream Up, then the one that sounds like the young and the restless with everyone else singing etc.
Jackson blues is good like that too with someone playing the orginal, someone playing with the syncopation, then a duet with the blues scale bouncing around on the top.
Also Honey Dew turns into a nice duet with Dreams come True on top.
Jeanne W., Connecticut
I did my first recital for Found 1 like a piano party. We just let the students draw the piece that they were going to play out of a hat. They were ready to play anything and were so excited for their turn. And some even took more than one or two draws. The parents/guests were blown away and the children felt great about themselves. It was anxiety-free and fun.
Kim B., Indiana
Go for it, Will! It won’t kill anyone to hear the same song a few times. What we sometimes do is once the student has learned the song is have them change it up a bit. Maybe put a different rhythm to it, play it in a different position on the piano, etc. Your students will probably come up with great ideas of how they can change it. We have them play the song the way we teach it, then they do their version, then they end the way it is taught. (Or maybe they have an even cooler way to end it!) The kids have a lot of fun with this.
We also in our spring recital have students write a composition. Even your beginning students can do this. This is always very exciting for them to do. They are so very proud of their first composition. Give it a name and put it on the program. Their debut performance! So exciting! We have a new group that started the first of February. Our spring recital is March 23rd. The new students will probably play one of the 1st three songs in Foundation 1 and then their own composition. They are really excited about it!
Just have fun with it. It’s a good thing to get them started performing from the very beginning!
Joan H., Canada
The recital we are hosting on March 10th is a similar scenario to what you describe – 4 of my 16 students are in foundation 2, the rest in foundation 1. Sure, there will be a bit of repetition, but the more advanced students are doing a medley of Dreams and its arrangements, Night Storm its arrangements, etc, which will add some variety. The rest will be playing Foundation 1 songs. With 12 students and 10 songs to draw from, it would not seem you would need to wait for more variety – the goal is to enjoy a forum for the students to share their music, and so I don’t feel it is a problem to have some repetition. Enjoy the journey!
Elisa J., New Jersey
You can have duets. Honey Dew on bottom while another student plays Dreams on top. NS on top with NS arr 1 (if you’ve already taught this) on bottom. Since it’s not going to be your typical “recital” NS arr 1 on bottom then call anyone from the audience to do improv on top – someone who doesn’t play at all would be great.