Countdown to a Stellar Holiday Piano Recital

Ho Ho Ho! Countdown to a Stellar Holiday Piano Recital!

Holiday piano recitals are great. A time for star students to get up there and show their stuff. A time for parents and grandparents to experience the payoff that comes with all of those lessons and all of that practicing. A time for teachers to see the fruits of their labor.

Then again, recitals are also a time when students are nervous, parents are worried, and teachers…well teachers are just plain stressed out! Especially at Holiday Time. But this doesn’t need to be the case. With some careful planning, holiday recitals actually can be fun. How? you ask. Come on, fasten your seatbelt as we launch into a “Countdown to a Stellar and Stress-Free Holiday Piano Recital.”

T-10 Set a Date

Once you decide you want to have a holiday piano recital, set a holiday recital date. Holiday time can be tricky for a lot of families. Some things to consider when setting a recital date are things like; school exams and school concerts. I also recommend booking a recital a few months in advance in order to give students plenty of time to prepare their music. I know some teachers who have a “Winter Recital” after the Holidays. This is a great option if you find that you are just too pressed during December.

T-9 Land a Festive Venue

This is my least favorite step. Where I live, places to hold recitals are few and far between and they book up a year or more in advance. Some ideas that have worked for me are: Having recitals at Churches, Art Museums, Music Stores, Piano Stores, Community Centers, Retirement Homes, Hotels, and Restaurants. I have even hosted holiday dinner recitals at my townhouse. Some venues will charge a fee which you can then pass along to your students. Other places, like Retirement Homes, will want to have residents attend the performance. Network with students and friends, make a list and start calling places.


T-8 Check it Out

Be sure to visit any of the prospective recital venues and meet with the person in charge of the scheduling. Look at things like seating capacity, parking, the neighborhood and the atmosphere of the place where the students will be playing. Ask whether or not refreshments are allowed and whether a list of students attending is needed. Some places, especially Retirement Homes require people to check in with a valid driver’s license before entry.

If your recital includes a piano, always be sure to check out the piano (seriously). Make sure it exists, and that it is in tune and playable. If it looks like all systems are a go book your holiday recital date and time. And get it in writing, either on paper or by email or text.


T-7 Communicate

Make a flyer and hand it out to parents and students. Include all of the holiday recital specifics i.e. date, time, address, directions, dress code, parking instructions, your cell phone number, what students should bring with them, how many people may attend, cost of the recital (if applicable). Post the flyer in your studio, on your studio website and your studio’s social media. Email it to all of your students’ parents. Keep plenty of extra copies handy and give them out freely. Talk about the details of the recital at every lesson. Even with all of this, someone will still probably say they didn’t know about the event, but at least you know you did your best to get the word out.


T-6 Secure the Repertoire

Once the recital is all set, it’s time to decide what each student will be playing. Be sure it is something each student who is playing will easily be able to get ready in time for the performance. I try to have each student play a different piece for the recital. This is fun at holiday time because there are so many great Holiday Arrangements! With a little research, you could even have all of your students playing different renditions of “Jingle Bells.”

T-5 Learn the Music

This is certainly the most labor-intensive part or recital planning. We all want our students to play well at performances. Success breeds more success, a good holiday piano recital builds a student’s confidence, makes parents happy, and reflects positively on us as teachers. There are many great ways to teach repertoire. Find the ways that work best for each individual student.


T-4 Play, Play, Play

Once the music is learned or nearly learned I tell my students to play their holiday piano recital piece/pieces for everyone who will listen. Most of the time, dress rehearsals are not possible so I have my students play for family and friends and for each other when they come into my studio. This helps them to know where they need to devote extra practice time and get over some of the recital jitters.


T-3 The Details

Now is the time to decide whether there will be refreshments and who will bring them. I have each family bring something to share such as cookies and lemonade (no colored drinks or messy snacks). You really should videotape your recital and take photos, so now is the time to assign that task to someone who likes doing that type of thing. Giving recital photos and videos to families at holiday time is a great idea. However, be sure to get permission from parents before posting and images of students on social media or websites.


T-2 Write up the Program

Take it from someone who has put on dozens of recitals – it pays to have a program. Especially if you have a larger studio. Be sure to check the spelling of each student’s name and the pieces they will be playing. It is a nice touch to use the program to thank parents for bringing the students faithfully to lessons and to the recital. I also like to acknowledge the person responsible for the recital venue for allowing us to use their place.


T-1 Confirm Everything

Email or call the person at the recital venue and let them know that your students are definitely coming. Remind parents. Be sure everyone knows when and where they are going, what they are playing, what they are bringing (including music scores if they are not playing from memory) and what they are wearing. Ask how many people they are bringing just to get a ballpark headcount.


T-0 Blast Off! Holiday Recital Day is Here

Today is the culmination of months of work. An exciting day for students and families and a great day for teachers. We get to see all of the families we love so much in one place. Let your students know how proud you are of them no matter how they play. Relax and enjoy your day. You have done your due diligence and you are ready. Sure mishaps may happen – I’ve had more than a few. But, all-in-all, I have found a holiday piano recital can be a heavenly experience.


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