Recital Space Size
Mark M. New York
I’m in the process of planning my first real recital.
Can anyone share with me typical attendance / audience size you’ve experienced based on your student body size? I have no real idea what size venue to pick based on how many students I have.
Has anyone found it a good idea, or a bad one, to open a recital to the public as opposed to keeping it to just students and their families? If a good idea, how has that affected how much bigger a venue you needed?
Cathy H. California
I have held or been in hundreds of recitals and concerts throughout my 45 year career in music and generally the system is pretty much the same. Some venues I have had 100 people in attendance others over 3000. An average recital for my studio has about 300-400 in attendance and I hold it in a church that seats 700, plenty of room. However, here in San Diego, I have two beautiful libraries with concert halls that seat 200 and I shortly I will be using a special venue in which we can broadcast the concert live (more on that later).
You need to consider where the piano is in the venue, microphones, speakers etc. and whether or not the setup is appropriate for your needs (kind of obvious but often people don’t think about these things)
You might consider the purpose of your recital and who your students are. Is this for fun? Benefits? Do I have students that are afraid to perform? Will this be for practice for larger recitals? Do you need to talk for a long time? Party afterwards? Are you recording the event? Many considerations. One year I had all the children come in bathing suits with t-shirts over them and we have bouncy houses, a bbq and water balloons after!
If you have new students, I would suggest a smaller intimate recital for the first time so it is less intimidating visually for the student as well as short pieces to play leaving the student wanting to perform more. Get them in and out quick. As your students grow musically, the length of each piece will increase and so will their desire to perform. I have found this to be a very successful way of handing performance anxiety.
When planning attendance I always take the number of students and triple it (1 student, 2 parents), then ask parents who is inviting grandparents etc. In addition, you know your families and can guess on who may invite step parents, friends etc.
A smaller recital does not require tickets, however, larger ones do in order to control the number of attendees and to keep the event very organized.
Terah W. Kansas
I am in favor of venues that expose more folks to SM than just the students.
I was pleasantly surprised recently when an Assisted Living facility voiced a desire through a mutual friend of having some more events for their residents to engage in. I responded and discovered they had a great room with a nice grand piano and lots of sitting room. So we set it up expecting 30-40 residents on a Sunday afternoon. We ended up with folks standing wall-to-wall!
As the workers finished setting up chairs, I sat down to play (Never met a grand piano I didn’t want to play) and let my students see me in that ‘spot’ as well as give the room time to fill. I was delighted to look up to applause and folks still coming in to an already filled to capacity room! Being as how it was Sunday, these folks were dressed in their best and apparently thrilled by the afternoon ‘concert’.
This venue cost us nothing and paid us in spades! And quite possibly my students and I gave something back, so to speak, to the senior community.
Another plus is that there is not a more forgiving audience anywhere. Watching them all smiling, tapping their feet at the blues pieces, smiling at the Beethoven and clapping like grandparents was probably the most perfect setting you could imagine. Afterwards the worker helping set up said they had gone to basement for extra chairs and those all got used, too!
And as the area I live in has families that have lived here for generations, I figure it’s advertising to some degree as these folks no doubt have grandchildren. And afterwards the families mixed and chatted with each other, the workers and the residents–all who were very impressed with SM and the way the afternoon had gone.
I am currently looking into and setting up similar opportunities for Studio for this Spring and Fall.
Darla H. Kansas
I have found that it’s very hard to predict how many to expect at my recitals, but generally my numbers have been between 15-20 students participating and between 60 – 100 people attending. My recitals are all held at the chapel of our local nursing home. (I’m in a small town.) The space is free for our use and we do always invite the residents. Depending on the timing of the event, we sometimes have no residents, sometimes a few, and sometimes up to 20 or so join us. I’ve always told students they can invite as many people as they want to, but never have done any advertising to the public.
Ethel S. Arizona
We have done several recitals in conjunction with the monthly socials for the senior groups of a couple local churches. So far, they have provided all the set up, decorations, and the food. We just have to tell them how many people (students & their families) we are bringing so that they will be sure to set up enough chairs. They let me plan the program and they run copies of the program to pass out to everyone. The first time that we went, they were a little unsure of what to expect. Now they ask us to come back. We have been going approx. every 6 months for the past two years. Typically I plan on a program of 30-45 min. The students play a solo piece of their choosing and also at least one accompaniment for the sing-a-long. The only problem that we have encountered is that these socials are during the day and sometimes it’s hard to schedule a time when students from different schools are all out on a vacation day at the same time and sometimes parents have a hard time getting off from work.
Alex T. California
I hold two recitals a year, one in the Summer and one in the Winter. The Summer one is kind of “formal” just because the place that I rent has a “formal” setting. We just call it Summer Piano Performance. The Winter one is more casual. That’s why we call it a Piano Party. For the last three years it’s been held at a clubhouse.
I’ve had between 15 – 27 performing students. I asked them to bring anybody they wanted. The number in attendance has increased over the years, from 60 first year to 98 this past year. The room capacity was 150. The clubhouse capacity is smaller at 63. Eighty-three people showed up this past winter.
I’m happy with the room capacity of the Summer performance. There’s room for growth. Some people have complained that the size for the Winter performance is too small. It’s a problem, but a good one.
I haven’t experienced the full-blown “open to the public” recital yet. So far with the students and family it’s been great.
Typical Attendance calculation
Primary children will bring the whole family and a grandparent(s)
Teenagers bring 1/2 a family/friend
Adults will bring a partner/friend/grandchild
Average four per student.
I don’t invite public but students can bring who they wish
Students always tell me who they are bringing for catering and they
are excited, well the children are!!!
Tommy & Emily T. California
We have 140 students in our studio (piano and guitar). In order to keep the recitals on the shorter side and the audience size smaller so that the students can relax, we hold 14 separate, 60-minute recitals over a three-day period in our studio space. We have 10 students perform in each recital, and each family can bring up to 4 audience members per student (our studio space can hold 40 audience members).
We have done our recitals this way for the past 5 years after finding that the original way we did it (rental space of a large hall with several hundred audience members and 140 students) to be too big, too expensive, too long for the audience and too stressful for the students. Over the years, our families have commented how they really enjoy the more intimate setting and shorter recitals. In addition, we have the other 9 students form a chorus to sing along with the student who is playing, which adds support to the student playing, as well as makes it more interactive for the students who are waiting their turn to play. This keeps everybody (students, parents & siblings alike) more attentive and interested throughout the recitals as well. We also start off each recital with our three teachers performing a short number in a 3-piece band, which helps set the kids at ease about performing and gives the families a chance to see their teachers play.
One other thing: From a suggestion from another SM teacher a few years ago, we don’t hold lessons the week of our recitals (our recitals are always on a three-day period Friday, Saturday & Sunday) in order to get our studio ready for the recitals and for our teachers to get rested
and ready for the big weekend. We consider the recitals THE lessons for that week, and therefore, still charge the lesson rate for that week. We have never had a single family complain that the recitals are not “free.” We just explain that we need to prepare the studio and the teachers need to get ready for the recitals and everybody seems to get it.
Marina G. New Jersey
At the beginning I just made a list and asked each family how many guests they are going to bring; recorded their answers and that gave me an idea (you do not need precise count.) Our spring recital is officially open to the public, but very rarely someone stops by – I guess it depends on other entertainment your township people have.