Tips for Teachers: Deck the Halls with the Perfect Holiday Recital

Although it may seem earlier than usual this year, the red cups at Starbucks are here, many department stores already have their holiday decorations up, Glee’s Christmas album is now available online, and Bieber’s Under The Mistletoe album has already snagged the #1 spot on the Billboard 200 chart.

It’s that time of the year again, teachers – time to start planning your holiday recital!  Recitals are a great way for students to work on their performance skills and showcase what they’ve learned in front of family and friends.

If you’ve already chosen the date and location, you’re one step ahead.  But the perfect holiday recital requires more than just the what, when and where.  You’ll need to get out your Santa (er, thinking) caps and think of some ways to make the recital even more memorable.  Here are some additional details to get you thinking, courtesy of Yiyi Ku over at the Music Teacher’s Helper Blog:

1. Recital fee – Decide if you are going to charge each student a recital registration fee. I used to view studio recitals as advertising opportunities, and absorbed all the expenses. Now I charge a recital fee to help cover venue hire, printing programs, refreshments, and also student prizes. As my studio grows and I am spending more time planning for the recitals, I also feel I need to be paid for my time, at least during the recital itself! Usually I barely break even, but I feel it is an important factor to consider whether a recital fee should be charged, and if so, how much.

2. Student prizes – Decide if you are going to reward each student at the end of the recital by presenting them with some sort of recognition for their efforts. I try to vary each recital and depending on budget, give different prizes. When the recital is relatively small, and there is barely enough money to cover for other expenses, I give each student a Certificate of Performance. Students love to receive their prizes at the end of the recital, and it is also an incentive for them (and their families) to stay for the whole recital!

3. Duet/Ensemble/Family performances – Apart from solo performances, I like to include these, especially for the holiday recital at the end of the year. I teach many siblings from the same family, and many of my students parents are musicians themselves, so it makes perfect sense to include ensemble performances in the program. These are often the highlights of the recital, and although nerve-wracking, parents enjoy the opportunity to perform, too!  Including family members in the program can mean extra rehearsal time for you, but it can also inspire them to practice harder at home before coming to the lessons!

4. Teacher performances – Do you perform a solo or two at your studio recitals? Having to perform solos myself give me the extra incentive to practice and brush up on my own skills as a performer. It is also a great advertising tool; the parents are hopefully ‘wowed’ by your skills and will get you more students!

5. Advertise your studio recitals – I always make a poster for my studio recitals, and try to post them everywhere in the community. If you look, there are many places where there is community notice board, including grocery stores and even Starbucks! Many community newspapers will also be willing to include event listings for free. Holiday recitals with festive music are especially popular. If you put in some time to advertise your recitals, you will usually find that time well spent, as you will get some new students afterwards!

Teachers, what do you think?  What other ideas do you have, and what are your own planning strategies?  Feel free to comment below and let us know your own tips for planning a perfect recital! Looking for a music teaching job?  We’re hiring!

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