Recital Week: Planning – 10 Questions to ask when planning your next recital

by | Apr 18, 2016 | Recitals | 2 comments


piano recital

Welcome to Recital Week at Fun Key Music!

Over the next week I will be bringing you ideas and inspiration for recitals. Today, I will talk all about planning your recital and every day this week will cover a new recital topic.  They will include:

  • Programs
  • Refreshments
  • Introductions
  • Decorations
  • Pictures
  • Awards

Stay tuned all week for new ideas coming your way.

Let’s get planing!

The planning stages of your next recital can really be a “make it or break it” experience and determine how smoothly your recital runs.  Here are some tips to make your event go off without a hitch.

Get a vision.

Think of everything the entire recital day that could possibly affect the outcome of your recital. Imagine what your recital will look like from the time you arrive at the venue to the time your last guest leaves.  What will need to happen in that time for you to consider the recital a successful event? Here are 10 things to consider.

1. Will I have a theme for my recital?

The theme of your recital will affect everything from the pieces your students will perform, to the program design, maybe even the food, decorations and what your students will wear.

There are so many great ideas for recital themes and lots of creative teachers who have shared their ideas.  These two posts share over 60 recital themes if you’re in need of some ideas.

44 Recital Themes Everyone Will Love – Wendy Stevens

20+ Fun Piano Recital Ideas – Take Lessons

After you’ve chosen your theme, think of a catchy name or have a studio contest to name your recital:

Dancing through the Decades, Rock and Roll Rewind, Springtime Serenades, Musical Memories….(can you tell I’m a fan of alliteration?)


2. Where will I have my recital?

Whether it’s held at a music store, a church, a university, in your home, an outdoor location, a restaurant, a banquet hall, or other location, the venue of your recital can really change the energy and feel of your recital.

Think outside of the box on this one.  You don’t always have to hold your recitals at the same location.  Try a new venue, a change might do you good!

Get your recital date and venue on the books and start telling your piano families as soon as possible so they can mark their calendars and start inviting friends and family.

Create an event on FaceBook and invite your piano parents.  They can then invite their guest.  Create recital invitations over at JoyTunes and send those out to your families as well.

JoyTunes recital

3. What time should I arrive?

I always, ALWAYS have students and parents arrive well before the start time of the recital, up to 30-40 minutes early.  There is nothing more embarrassing than pulling into the parking lot later than a parent, or frantically trying to get everything organized when you should be greeting and welcoming your guests. (Not that this has EVER happened to me! ;P)

I like to arrive no later than one hour before the start time of the recital.  This gives me enough time to get everything into place and make sure I have time to take some deep breaths, focus, say a prayer and bring good energy to the recital.


Click on the image to download this recital prayer for free.

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 9.16.38 PM


4. What will I wear?

Having my outfit set out the night before, down to the very last detail, makes a big different in my stress level on recital days. I can tend to change clothes too many times (according to my husband) and if I’m rushing around trying to figure out what to wear that can bring some un-welcome tension and anxiety. I try to keep everything as stress-free and calm as possible on recital days.


5. How will I greet everyone and start the recital?

While you don’t have to read from a script, it’s best if you have an idea of what you’re going to say when you welcome your guests to the recital.

Thank them for attending and supporting students in their musical journey.

Tell your audience what to expect at this recital. What type of music will they be hearing? Describe your theme and how your students’ pieces fit into that theme. Draw their attention to what is special and unique.

Will there be refreshments afterwards? A group picture that they should have their cameras ready for?

Tell them what you’ve been doing in your studio since the last recital.  Have your students participated in any contests or festivals? Composed their own pieces? Participated a studio wide like the 40 piece challenge or the One Minute Club?

Tell them about the technology you’re using in your lessons and showcase it. Last spring, I had each student play with a background track they created using Garage Band or with the Piano Maestro app. Everyone really enjoyed it and even the youngest beginners sounded impressive with the big background sounds!

For more recital songs with cool background tracks, listen to my latest releases in the Composers Community at Piano Pronto.

Tell your guests about upcoming events. Have them mark their calendars for upcoming performance opportunities.

What have your students excelled at? Showcase it!

girl in shiny dress speaking on a microphone in a podium on white background


6. Where will students sit and how will they know when it’s their turn to perform?

Will your students be sitting with their parents?

With the other students in the front of the recital hall? in the back?

Sitting in recital order with the other students?


7. Who will provide refreshments?

If your recital venue allows refreshments will you be in charge of providing them? What about cups, plates, napkins and silverware? Will you ask parents to bring an item to share? Will you order a custom cake from a bakery? More on refreshments later this week!


8. Getting students and families there with correct materials.

E-mail directions to your recital venue and post directions on your FaceBook event page. All guests should be able to pull up directions directly from your e-mail/FaceBook event page to their smart phone. Easy peasy!

Tell them what to wear and give descriptions or examples. They don’t want to be the only ones to show up in blue jeans when everyone else is dressed in their recital best or come completely overdressed to a casual performance.

Remind families to bring sheet music.  This one seems to go without saying, but I have had students who thought that I had extra copies of all students songs so they left their music books at home or students who memorized their song and thought I had my teacher accompaniment part memorized, too. Yikes!

Remind, remind, and remind again. Over-communication is key.  You may have been doing this gig for years, but for some families, this may be their first recital and they will appreciate the extra reminders and instructions and feel confident knowing what to expect and what to bring.


9. What materials should I bring with me?

Here are the items on my go-to list:

  • Recital programs
  • Tape/Scissors
  • Certificates/Awards/Trophies
  • iPad/AirTurn pedal/audio/visual equipment/cables
  • Music
  • Decorations
  • Goodie bags/Treats
  • Camera/extra batteries/memory cards
  • Student speaking parts/introductions – more on this to come later this week!

Double check your list and make sure you have everything packed before hand.  For me, having everything in my car the night before I go to the recital is key.  That way, when I wake up, my mind is clear and I can focus on getting myself ready, and holding positive thoughts and positive energy for my recital.


Unfortunately, I have learned the hard way and I have had to worry about something last minute that could have been avoided had I prepared properly.  I’m going to keep it real with you and share two of my embarrassing recital moments that all could have been avoided had I been properly prepared.

Embarrassing story #1…

I was holding a Piano Luncheon at a local restaurant and we had a private room with wait staff just for our group.  The room didn’t have an instrument so I was bringing my digital piano. I *thought* everything was packed the night before and I had unloaded the keyboard from the back of my car and I went to open up my trunk where I expected to see my speakers…nothing.  My stomach sank.  Of course there were parents and grandparents there already so I had to live through this moment with an audience.  By the time I got home, loaded the speakers and was in my car again, it was 5 minutes after the planned start time of the luncheon.  When I had arrived back at the restaurant, I walked into a room full of students and guests.  They had already started eating and I’m sure my face was bright red.  Luckily, I have a wonderful group of families and they were gracious, kind, and understanding and quickly set me at ease and the rest of the event was wonderful!

Story #2…

On a different recital date, I had set my recital programs in a box under my purse thinking…’I have to grab my purse so of course I will see the programs right under the purse!’ Nope! In my hurriedness I left without them. I had to call my brother in law to save the day–he had an extra key to our house and was able to get inside to get the programs. Then a piano mom who was coming to the recital met him at my house and brought them with her. With their help, they saved the day and we had recital programs.

Please, learn from my mistakes. I’m able to laugh at these now, but stories like these have taught me how important recital preparation can be.

10. How will you make it an event to remember?

What will be your “Wow Factor”?

At each recital, I like to try one new thing to make it different or unique from my other recitals.  It’s great to have a distinct memory from each recital for myself, students, and parents.  It’s fun to hear things like “Remember the recital where we walked down the red carpet?  When we had a band play with us? When our artwork and pictures were displayed? When everyone played a song on Piano Maestro? When Santa came to take pictures with everyone at the Christmas recital?

When we danced down the aisle to come get our certificates? This is something I tried and I haven’t turned backt to the way I did it before.  Presenting certificates with a little fun music in the background is a recital HIT!  Kids can walk up, dance up, parents relax, fidgeting siblings can get their wiggles out, it eases the formality and gets everyone smiling.  It really changes the energy and ends things on a high note.  I HIGHLY recommend trying this at your next recital.


I hope today’s post has helped in planning your next recital and offered you at least one idea to try out at your next performance.  Happy Recital Season!!

What items are on your go-to list that you always bring with you to a recital? What is something you do to plan and prepare for your recitals to ensure they are a success? What is your favorite recital “wow factor”?

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