It’s that special time of year when the air is filled with excitement and wonder. What can you do to add some excitement and wonder to your Christmas recital? Here are five ideas to make this year’s recital one your students and families are sure to remember.


5. Invite a Special Guest

Guess who? Straight from the North Pole…… it’s Santa himself! Have Santa arrive right after the last song to take pictures with students and their families and to hand out candy canes. This is such a special treat, especially for your younger students.  Their eyes will be wide with excitement!

I’ve been lucky enough to have a grandfather of my students willing to be Santa in the years that I’ve done this.  Ask around…your families are one of your best resources!



4. Hire Special Guest Musicians

Bringing in guest musicians can add a very special element to your Christmas recital.  I hired three musicians: a cellist, a percussionist, and a bass guitarist for my Christmas recital.

First, our cellist added some harmonies to these piano solos with teacher duets.

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear:


The First Noel:

The three musicians joined a trio of siblings in a rendition of Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Christmas in Sarajevo”.

(Please excuse the videos-I had a student record these.)


Not sure where to find guest musicians? Try your local university, ask friends and family for contacts, or reach out on social media. Be sure to plan for compensating these musicians for their time and talent.

3. Bring in an American Sign Language Interpreter

I think sign language is so beautiful and adds such a pretty element to music.  Our ASL interpreter taught some of my students Mariah Carey’s “Today a Child is Born on Earth” and they performed it at our recital.


2. Involve Parents

I’m sure you have some musical parents! Whether it’s a parent playing a duet with their child on the piano, strumming chords on a guitar while their child plays the melody on the piano, or singing….Christmas is time for family and the recital is no exception.

Here is a piano mom, piano student, special musicians, and ASL interpreter with Amy Grant’s “Breath of Heaven”.


1. Feature an All-Parent Ensemble

This was a special surprise for my students.  The 5 parents who played this ensemble are parents to 11 of my piano students. They practiced in secret and kept their performance a surprise until they walked on stage.

Four out of these five parents had lessons as children and the fifth mom joined in wanting to learn something new. She knew just a little from her daughters teaching her what they learned in lessons, but had no formal training.  I am so impressed with her willingness to volunteer to learn something totally new and perform just weeks later.

I love what an example this was for my students.

-How fun and rewarding it can be to make music together!

-It’s ok to make mistakes (and laugh at them). The last note—oops!

-One mistake doesn’t ruin an entire performance.



Bonus Idea: Drumming!

Whether it’s for your recital, lesson, or camp…drumming can add just the element of fun and energy that will have your students movin’ and groovin’!

Check out our FREE resource–12 Days of Drumming! This will give you a sneak peek of the ideas that Leila Viss from 88 Piano Keys, Marie Lee from Musicality Schools and I have drummed up for you.




No matter how you’re celebrating the holiday season in your studio, I wish you a wonderful season of music making!

What are you doing special this year at your recital? Start the conversation in the comments below.

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