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First Student Piano Recital - Any Advice? #2842552
04/26/19 06:00 AM
04/26/19 06:00 AM
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United States
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RyanThePianist Offline OP
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Hi all,

I'm here again to share my experience and to ask for advice as a novice piano teacher. I started teaching last September and have accumulated 34 students, 25 of which will be playing in the first recital in May. All the students will be playing at least 2 pieces, but every student is a beginner except for one so the pieces will be mostly short and from method books.

This will be the first time that I'll be in control of a 2 hour event. It's only natural that I'm excited and nervous at the same time. I just have a couple of questions.

1) I want to make the recital special for the kids. Any creative ideas? I purchased Treble Clef pencils and plan to put them in a small goodie bag for example.

2) Any advice on programming? I'm planning to mix the experience levels so the audience doesn't fall asleep.

3) Any great advice for lessons before a recital? I've been teaching my students to bow and go through the whole performing routine, play through the program despite mistakes, emphasizing that it's ok to make mistakes, etc.

4) Since it is the first recital, I plan on playing two short pieces. Should this be at the beginning, middle, or end of the recital? Since it's spring, I chose Arabesque No. 1 and The Lark. Arabesque reminds me of a colorful flower garden, and The Lark is obviously about a bird singing and flying from tree to tree or in the sky, so I will tell a story before I perform so the kids can use their imaginations.

5) Any advice on talking in front of an audience? I'm typically more nervous to speak than to play in front of an audience. Is it ok to talk a bit about the student or the student's piece? If so, would it make more sense to talk about them after they finish playing?

Anything helps. Thanks!


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BA Music, Biology Minor

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Re: First Student Piano Recital - Any Advice? [Re: RyanThePianist] #2842560
04/26/19 07:18 AM
04/26/19 07:18 AM
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 133
Canada
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Hello Ryan,
A few things I have learned about putting on recitals:

- Less than 60 minutes is preferred. Any more than that is too much, especially if you have young students. Even adults will get tired and fidgety after 60 minutes of student piano music. If I have a lot of students playing, I generally divide the group into two recitals.

- Limit your own comments. Express your appreciation to students and families, sure, but people are not there to hear you speak. Parents have thanked me for not speaking too much, having endured other events where teachers/coaches give long speeches. Write down exactly what you are going to say to prevent rambling or blanking out.

- Have a printed program rather than announcing the pieces.

- Program the students who are most likely to give a good performance near the beginning and end. Mix up the style and length of the music, so that you don't have too many long or slow pieces in a row.

- Put your own performance at the beginning of the program. This way no one has to feel stressed about going first, and you have the opportunity to model good performance skills. I noticed that when I started playing first at recitals, my students were more likely to remember to take their time getting settled at the piano and to bow after playing.

- Be prepared, but don't try to control everything. Random, unexpected things may happen, but you just have to go with it.


Private piano teacher
B. Mus., M.Mus. (piano performance & pedagogy).
Re: First Student Piano Recital - Any Advice? [Re: pianist_lady] #2842577
04/26/19 08:27 AM
04/26/19 08:27 AM
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 6,208
Tyrone Slothrop Online content
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Originally Posted by RyanThePianist
This will be the first time that I'll be in control of a 2 hour event.
Originally Posted by pianist_lady
- Less than 60 minutes is preferred. Any more than that is too much, especially if you have young students. Even adults will get tired and fidgety after 60 minutes of student piano music. If I have a lot of students playing, I generally divide the group into two recitals.

As a child, I remember being forced to attend a student violin recital. It was only 60 mins long, but I'm sure time dilation was involved and the subjective time was 4 hours. I can't imagine how as a child, I would have been able to take 2 wall-clock hours. Probably would have had to get sick or something to make my parent take me home.

These days, even movies average 85 minutes. Hard to imagine the average person sitting still for even the most fascinating entertainment for two hours without a break.

I love Wagner operas, but even I struggle during Parsifal with the 2 hours between intermissions!


across the stone, deathless piano performances

"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: First Student Piano Recital - Any Advice? [Re: RyanThePianist] #2842581
04/26/19 08:42 AM
04/26/19 08:42 AM
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My advice as a parent of a violin/piano student.

I agree with others about keeping the recital length to approximately 60 minutes. If your studio grows too large split the recital into multiple groups. My daughter's violin teacher does this and each recital lasts about an hour and a half. Parents sign up for the time they want electronically (first come first served) and the teacher limits the number of performers in each group.

People do pay attention to order smile. I find my son's teacher generally puts kids in age order and she seems to sprinkle the best students throughout the performance rather than saving them all until last.

Don't let any one performer take up too much time. It's never happened with my son's teacher but I can remember going to a family member's recital when I was a young adult and some 50 year old played poorly for what seemed like a hour.

Find a venue that allows food. Encourage parents to bring food. Ask a super enthusiastic parent or student to help you set up/ make print/ programs etc.

Lastly, 30+ students in one year seems like quite an accomplishment. Congratulations!

Last edited by pianoMom2006; 04/26/19 08:46 AM.

Yamaha G2
Re: First Student Piano Recital - Any Advice? [Re: RyanThePianist] #2842583
04/26/19 08:50 AM
04/26/19 08:50 AM
Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 4,300
Virginia, USA
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TimR Offline
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I would echo the suggestions to reduce the time.

Even the most music loving parents don't want to listen to piano beginners for two hours. It's rude to get up and leave after your child plays but having sat through an 8 hour dance recital with my daughter (well it seemed like that) I can't find it in my heart to blame them. So you'll will have the disruption of parents collecting their child and all their recording equipment and dashing out continuously through the recital. Then at least 3/4 of them will be on their phones making beeping noises.

this can't be totally eliminated but it can be greatly reduced with a shorter recital - fewer children and shorter pieces.


gotta go practice
Re: First Student Piano Recital - Any Advice? [Re: RyanThePianist] #2842625
04/26/19 11:00 AM
04/26/19 11:00 AM
Joined: Feb 2018
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mostlystrings Online content
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Congratulations on your first studio recital. My first one was combined with another teacher so that it could be more than 20 min and we definitely filled some time by talking. Limit the talking if the performance is already long!

The easiest way to halve your program time: limit everyone to one piece, done. Even for you: Arabesque, at 5 min, is short compared to the heavier masterworks but long compared to 1- and 2-min beginner tunes.

1. Goodie bags and/or reception snacks are a nice touch...just know at some point you may find yourself delegating the task to parents or dropping hints that you need it taken over.

2. Some of my students prefer to play earlier or later, some will feel extra nervous or burdened if they are before or after someone else who is much older/younger/more or less advanced, etc. Sure, they should eventually learn how to deal with challenges but if I can make the early recital experience better for them, I will.

3. The top "stage presence" opportunity I see in young piano beginners is learning to finish the piece before standing up. So often their fingers barely touch the last note and already they are turning away, their bottom coming off the bench, fingers still on the keys!

COURTESY:
- Make an announcement and/or print an etiquette sheet to hand out with the program. I don't find that we have issues with ringing of phones but it's that people are attached to their devices instead of being attentive to a live performance.
- My studio families are (now) generally good about audience behavior but I continue to mention it for the benefit of any friends they may have invited who aren't aware that you shouldn't be walking around during performances, making noise at your seat, blocking other people's view, etc.
- I set the expectation ahead of time but there is always someone who says they need to leave early because of whatever. If I detect a "frivolous" reason, I try to impress upon them the importance of students/families supporting each other. So far it hasn't been a problem (i.e. noticeable dwindling of audience) and I haven't had to have a conversation with repeat offenders.

Other logistics:
- Depending on your room setup, you may want to enlist someone to watch the door and not let in latecomers in the middle of a piece.
- Decide if you want performers to sit with their families or if you want to designate a seating area and seat them by performance order.
- Mark the spot on the floor for where they stand to take a bow.
- Are students bringing up sheet music or book to play from? Do they need to adjust the piano bench height, distance, etc. themselves or will someone do it for them?

Re: First Student Piano Recital - Any Advice? [Re: RyanThePianist] #2842635
04/26/19 11:33 AM
04/26/19 11:33 AM
Joined: May 2018
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Not too far North of Los Angel...
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Learux Online content

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Two hours is way to long for anyone. Remember the parents are mostly interested to see their own child's performance.

I think just under 60 minutes is as long as you should go.

You don't want people leaving during the recital or just as bad not come to the next one!

Good luck.


When you play, never mind who listens to you. R.Schumann.

Casio GP-400
Schimmel SP-182T
Re: First Student Piano Recital - Any Advice? [Re: RyanThePianist] #2842651
04/26/19 12:13 PM
04/26/19 12:13 PM
Joined: Mar 2019
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KL NY Offline
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I don't know if this is normal for recital. In my daughter's recital, teacher reserved a spot in the front row, close to the piano for parent to take picture or video.

Re: First Student Piano Recital - Any Advice? [Re: RyanThePianist] #2842677
04/26/19 01:59 PM
04/26/19 01:59 PM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 8,205
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
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Break the recital down to 45-minute programs, or shorter. Beginners have the worst attention span.

Spend lesson time to teach the students AND parents concert etiquette: How to control the little ones, how to applaud, how to bow, how NOT to make paper airplanes out of the program, how NOT to make noises with the program.

No matter how much I stress these things, something always manages to go wrong. At the last recital one of the babies dashed across the room in front of the audience. I may start banning little children from attending recitals, or force one parent to sit outside with the little one.

If you are using public space that you borrowed or rented, make sure you tell the parents to watch the kids like a hawk. You don't want to get charged for damages. At a local piano showroom, some idiot teacher's students spilled food during the reception, so ALL teachers got punished--no more receptions after recitals.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: First Student Piano Recital - Any Advice? [Re: RyanThePianist] #2842688
04/26/19 02:46 PM
04/26/19 02:46 PM
Joined: Dec 2017
Posts: 372
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Andamento Offline
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Echoing the other comments about length. I've received many thanks for keeping recitals to 45 minutes tops. And attendees seem to enjoy the whole program more -- they say things like, "The kids all sounded so nice," etc., and didn't act like they were glad that thing was finally over with. laugh

No early departures from audience members either, that I ever recall, except for if they have to leave early to get to another event, which doesn't happen often, in my experience.

Have you considered doing a recital rehearsal a week or so before the actual recital? That isn't always possible, depending on the venue, but perhaps you could invite groups of students to perform for each other ahead of the recital date. I don't know if you teach from your home or a spacious enough studio to have others sit in and watch, but I have done recital rehearsals at my home, and invite all the first-time recital participants and their parents to be there. I play first, then have each student play for the other students and parents in attendance.

That probably wouldn't work this year with the number of new beginners you have smile but in future years, as your studio clientele become more established and your number of brand-new beginners grows more slowly, you might find space to hold a preparatory mini-recital for the beginners and their parents. My young beginners have benefited from this extra practice, and have been more at ease in their first recital than the beginners I had years ago before implementing recital practices in front of a handful of other students and parents.

Re: First Student Piano Recital - Any Advice? [Re: KL NY] #2842691
04/26/19 03:20 PM
04/26/19 03:20 PM
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RyanThePianist Offline OP
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All this advice is great, especially about recital length. Perhaps the next recital I will cut it down to 60 min, especially as the students get more advanced. I figured since most students have 2 pieces, 2 hours might even be more than enough (with an intermission). We'll see how this goes.

I love the idea about discussing performance etiquette at recitals such as not walking about, not playing with the papers, etc. I will incorporate this into my lessons.

I will definitely keep talking to a minimum. I will likely have a print out of what to say in the beginning, and when students finish playing I may just say a few words as they walk back to their seat such as how exciting the piece was, etc.

I'll be sure to make this into a potluck, though I'm not sure how I feel about students having a bunch of sugar or dirty hands during a recital. I know cheap foods like cupcakes and cookies are popular. Maybe I'll just ban sweets.

Originally Posted by KL NY
I don't know if this is normal for recital. In my daughter's recital, teacher reserved a spot in the front row, close to the piano for parent to take picture or video.



Great idea! I will try to incorporate this.


Novice Private Piano Teacher

BA Music, Biology Minor

Yamaha G3, Yamaha P-515
Re: First Student Piano Recital - Any Advice? [Re: RyanThePianist] #2842694
04/26/19 03:31 PM
04/26/19 03:31 PM
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 6,208
Tyrone Slothrop Online content
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Originally Posted by RyanThePianist
I figured since most students have 2 pieces, 2 hours might even be more than enough (with an intermission).

If you are going to have an intermission, you could just divide this into two recitals, one after the other with the natural break being the intermission. The parents will thank you if they only have to attend one half or the other.

Just print two programs instead of just one, one for the students for the first half and the 2nd for the students for the 2nd half. Almost nothing will change except you get to make your welcome speech twice.

You can also invite everyone to "optionally" attend the other half if they desire. Then if there are any enthusiasts in beginners music, they can stay for both parts. I predict though that almost no one will take that option unless they are a child with a friend in the other session.


across the stone, deathless piano performances

"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: First Student Piano Recital - Any Advice? [Re: RyanThePianist] #2842715
04/26/19 05:10 PM
04/26/19 05:10 PM
Joined: May 2018
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Not too far North of Los Angel...
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Learux Online content

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I would let all the student play one piece, skip the intermission and absolutly no food.

I think you are overestimating how much these people(performers and spectators) want to be there.

I dont want to come over rude, just giving you my opinion.

Good luck.


When you play, never mind who listens to you. R.Schumann.

Casio GP-400
Schimmel SP-182T
Re: First Student Piano Recital - Any Advice? [Re: RyanThePianist] #2842733
04/26/19 06:08 PM
04/26/19 06:08 PM
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RyanThePianist Offline OP
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I have recently attended a piano recital of another teacher who has done this exact same thing as I suggested for 10 years. I wonder how her families feel. In the next week, I may cut down some music if my students don't seem fully prepared. After the recital, I will likely give a survey to my families adjust the next recital accordingly.


Novice Private Piano Teacher

BA Music, Biology Minor

Yamaha G3, Yamaha P-515
Re: First Student Piano Recital - Any Advice? [Re: RyanThePianist] #2842745
04/26/19 06:55 PM
04/26/19 06:55 PM
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Somewhat OT, but the best student recital I ever attended was in London's Royal Festival Hall, and the host was......Lang Lang.

There were fifty-one grand pianos on the stage, all provided by Steinway (though only one was a Steinway D, the rest being Bostons and Essexs). And there were 100 kids (two per piano, plus Lang Lang on the D) for the extravaganza performances of arrangements of Schubert's Marche Militaire No.1 and the finale of Beethoven's 5th Symphony.

Lang Lang was a model host, sitting at one side and providing short introductions to each of the (fifteen or so) pianists who performed solo (on the D), then leading the applause afterwards, praising each one individually, occasionally adding special complimentary comments if something caught his ear. It was swift-moving: as soon as the applause had died down for one pianist, the next one came on stage. And the music the kids played was very varied, ranging from Bach to contemporary (and I don't mean pop or jazz).

Of course, all the kids were of a very high standard, being selected by Lang Lang himself from audition tapes sent to him. He himself played solo only once (Chopin's Op.53). There was an interval of the standard 20 minutes, and the whole thing - including the intermission - was finished in about 90 minutes. Proud parents videoed their kids from their seats in the audience. The whole concert was a great celebration of the kids' talents, and it was not a minute too long, not least because Lang Lang was such an engaging host.

Here is a snippet of the grand, grand, grand finale grin:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aO6_ONXp-Y



"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: First Student Piano Recital - Any Advice? [Re: bennevis] #2842750
04/26/19 07:07 PM
04/26/19 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Somewhat OT, but the best student recital I ever attended was in London's Royal Festival Hall, and the host was......Lang Lang.

There were fifty-one grand pianos on the stage, all provided by Steinway (though only one was a Steinway D, the rest being Bostons and Essexs). And there were 100 kids (two per piano, plus Lang Lang on the D) for the extravaganza performances of arrangements of Schubert's Marche Militaire No.1 and the finale of Beethoven's 5th Symphony.

Lang Lang was a model host, sitting at one side and providing short introductions to each of the (fifteen or so) pianists who performed solo (on the D), then leading the applause afterwards, praising each one individually, occasionally adding special complimentary comments if something caught his ear. It was swift-moving: as soon as the applause had died down for one pianist, the next one came on stage. And the music the kids played was very varied, ranging from Bach to contemporary (and I don't mean pop or jazz).

Of course, all the kids were of a very high standard, being selected by Lang Lang himself from audition tapes sent to him. He himself played solo only once (Chopin's Op.53). There was an interval of the standard 20 minutes, and the whole thing - including the intermission - was finished in about 90 minutes. Proud parents videoed their kids from their seats in the audience. The whole concert was a great celebration of the kids' talents, and it was not a minute too long, not least because Lang Lang was such an engaging host.

Here is a snippet of the grand, grand, grand finale grin:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aO6_ONXp-Y



Now THAT was fun too watch!


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Re: First Student Piano Recital - Any Advice? [Re: RyanThePianist] #2842770
04/26/19 09:32 PM
04/26/19 09:32 PM
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mostlystrings Online content
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Originally Posted by RyanThePianist
I have recently attended a piano recital of another teacher who has done this exact same thing as I suggested for 10 years. I wonder how her families feel. In the next week, I may cut down some music if my students don't seem fully prepared. After the recital, I will likely give a survey to my families adjust the next recital accordingly.

I rent a church basement for ensemble classes and once dropped in on the piano recital of another teacher that was happening upstairs. It was long, 40-50 students many with 2 pieces each, and eventually some families were hanging out in the basement with the younger kids. I think sitting through long recitals can become a normalized part of the music lesson experience, something that one resigns oneself to doing once a year (until quitting).

If you cut pieces because of unpreparedness, you end up with some students getting 1 piece and others getting 2 and it could be viewed as unfair. I agree that an intermission may as well be a complete break between two shows (if you can still arrange that, being that it's getting close to May). It's quite possible that people would leave during intermission anyway...

Re: First Student Piano Recital - Any Advice? [Re: RyanThePianist] #2842776
04/26/19 10:13 PM
04/26/19 10:13 PM
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My current experience is this:
The teacher never performs, saying that the event is about the students.
After performing, each student draws a name from a hat for the next performer. This has eliminated the stress about best students going last or having to follow a fabulous performance. Also after a less than perfect performance, the player can return to life while drawing the next name.

Previously, I took a group "piano for adults" class and we performed in the order that we ended up sitting on the pew in the former chapel where the great old piano lived. The only rule was "You may not talk while performing." We could start, stop, start over, delay, drag, skip or whatever, but there was to be no talking and at the end the performer stood and took a proper bow. Also no one allowed in the room who was not performing.


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Re: First Student Piano Recital - Any Advice? [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2842778
04/26/19 10:16 PM
04/26/19 10:16 PM
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Posts: 5,444
*sigh* Salt Lake City
malkin Offline
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by RyanThePianist
I figured since most students have 2 pieces, 2 hours might even be more than enough (with an intermission).

If you are going to have an intermission, you could just divide this into two recitals, one after the other with the natural break being the intermission. The parents will thank you if they only have to attend one half or the other.

Just print two programs instead of just one, one for the students for the first half and the 2nd for the students for the 2nd half. Almost nothing will change except you get to make your welcome speech twice.

You can also invite everyone to "optionally" attend the other half if they desire. Then if there are any enthusiasts in beginners music, they can stay for both parts. I predict though that almost no one will take that option unless they are a child with a friend in the other session.


What he said!


Learner
Re: First Student Piano Recital - Any Advice? [Re: RyanThePianist] #2842791
04/26/19 11:02 PM
04/26/19 11:02 PM
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How about let each kid pick one of his/her pieces to play informally for a friend or neighbor at home, and the other piece to play for the formal studio recital? That way, each student gets to perform both prepared pieces, but no audience member ends up listening to 50 pieces. The recital audience gets 25 pieces, and the informal audience 1. smile

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[article] When the Pianos Went to War
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Kawai or Yamaha?
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