Search This Blog

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

May Day! May Day! Studio Recital Stress!

This month seemed liked the perfect time to talk about upcoming recitals and preparation to avoid any undue stress associated with the event. There are many possibilities to structure studio activities in a way that eliminates or minimizes potential stressors. Here are a few ideas.

Weekly Observation

I actually begin this particular activity in March at the end of our spring break, but teachers can begin this activity at any time. My purpose here is to capture what I need for the recital. So I grab a small legal pad and start taking notes as I observe things that need to be done, come up with ideas for the recital, or think of things that I need to remember. My legal pad fills up rather quickly within 2 days. Here are the sorts of things I include on my list as I note them during the usual weekly lessons.
·      Recital selections: I begin noting the particular pieces that each student would likely perform well and make plans to be sure the student is ready to go by the recital date. 
·      Tools I Need at the Recital: I begin making my list of items I need to bring to  the recital, such as:
o   Piano foot stool
o   Piano cushions of varying height; I need one for myself as well
o   Suzuki piano accompaniment books (this is almost a list in itself!)
o   Other piano accompaniment books (nonSuzuki repertoire or special group class arrangements)
o   Tuner: I use a special tuner that sounds rather loudly to help me do the pre-recital violin tuning. This is a different tuner than my regular tuning app on my iPhone, so I need to remember to bring it.
o   Extra rosin, so I can rosin any bows that I find a quart low during the tuning process
o   My own instrument
o   The printed programs, which I ask students to fold for me at the recital. I also ask students to act as ushers before the recital begins.
·      Items we need for after the recital: We have a reception after the recital, and we bring refreshments for this. I do this informally rather than a sign-up sheet, and it usually works out. I do, however, bring the “extras,” as you will see listed here.
o   Napkins, plates, utensils, cups
o   Any item that would help a quick clean up after the recital, such as:
§  A dustpan and brush
§  Bottle of window cleaner
§  Roll of paper towels
o   I ask parents to discuss amongst themselves what they might bring, and possibly ask someone to be in charge of providing drinks.

Recital Preparation

I make sure that everyone has chosen his or her recital pieces with my approval by the week after spring break. This gives everyone at least a month to have any final teaching points learned and pieces memorized. I have a rule that students must have their pieces memorized by one month before the recital date. On occasion I have permitted a student to play a particularly tricky memory piece with music if there are extenuating circumstances, such as a student has been heavily involved with school performances that require a great deal of memorization. I use my discretion and sparingly, but there are times when this is the obvious solution to a difficult set of circumstances outside of my or the student’s control.

I have made sure to inform the parents before the beginning of the semester concerning the recital date, but I remind parents often again from this point on, just in case someone has forgotten to put the information on the family calendar or there is a new parent who is unfamiliar with the recital process.

I remind students weekly about the recital and the need to be ready. I think I will do a “recital countdown” sign at the studio next year, with the number of days remaining before the recital, and I will hang it on the studio door.

Countdown to the Recital

One month before the recital, I check memory issues. I have reminded students for several weeks before this date, and I have also helped memory issues along the way. Still, there needs to be a deadline, and I have chosen the one month out from the recital as the deadline for this. I usually am the accompanist for my students’ recitals, but if my students were to use someone else, then they would need to make these arrangements by this time if they had not already done so. These students must schedule accompanist rehearsals for the next few weeks.

Two weeks before I begin typing up the program. I take my recital piece selections list and begin entering it in the computer. If I have any issues, I take care of them in these last two weeks:
  • I verify the correct spelling of my students’ names and their accompanists.
  • I like to add the child’s age to the program, so I verify my students’ current ages at the time of the recital.
  • If I have time, I like to include a sentence or two about the children’s other interests, such as black belt in karate, tennis competitor, ice skater, artist, and so forth.
  • I adjust the order of the program to fit whatever direction I determine is appropriate for this time. I often go in order of the book songs, with a tweak here and there to avoid repetition of the same pieces (more than one performance of a piece does not bother me at all, and I think it should not bother the parents and students either). The program could also go in order of children’s ages, and that would provide lots of variety. Sometimes I have even ordered the program by listing a piece from each book and rotating. There are many possibilities here.

One week before the recital, I do these things:
  • Finalize the program and print out the final version
  • Get the program printed. This is as simple as running colored paper through a copy machine, but I have also had office supply stores or copy centers print the copies for me.
  • Send a final email reminder to parents about the recital.
    • Date and time
    • Location, address, and directions if needed or a GPS link
    • Any other special information or instructions, such as
      • Remember to bring items for the reception
      • Be there early for tuning or to help younger students tune
      • Help to set up for the reception
      • Watch out for any anticipated traffic issues (this is prom and commencement season, so there are days that have heavier traffic surprises on occasion)
  • Check the state of recital preparation one last time
  • Remind students to do extra listening and practice in this remaining week.

Whew! This article turned out longer than I thought! I am glad that I started writing this out, because now I have my own checklist to follow for recital preparation. I feel better already and less stressed because I now have a list to guide me. In future articles, I intend to list things that need to be done at the recital, so be sure to add your comments below so we can add your ideas to the checklist!

Let me know if you have any other items to suggest to the list.

Until next time,

Happy Practicing!

----- Paula -----

© 2016 by Paula E. Bird

No comments:

Post a Comment