Monday Mailbag – Structuring Recitals

In the past I’ve done the recital where we start with the simplest pieces and work to the most complex. That has worked out pretty much following ages, with the exception of a few younger really gifted kids who make it to the older age group. But now I have some older beginners who will be playing some simple pieces, so I was thinking of creating different “sections” to the recital, like a “show tune” section, a “classics” section, etc. That way I can mix up the ages a little better, more naturally…But I was wondering what others do in this situation?

Growing up, my teachers always followed this method to structuring recitals, too – the earliest level pieces to the most advanced. But for some reason, I’ve never been a fan of that approach. One of my biggest priorities with recitals has always been to plan an event that people will want to attend over and over again. (You can read the post, 7 Tips for Enjoyable Recitals, for a bit more on this topic!) So the idea of a systematic easiest-to-hardest-piece program doesn’t appeal to me at all.

For our annual Christmas recital, I usually include some sort of narration, theme, or special guest musicians, so the program is planned around that. I try to mix up the levels and ages of the students, in addition to developing a flow throughout the whole program. When we did a big patriotic dinner and music program one spring, I used a similar approach with narration transitioning from one piece to the next.

Sometimes we do other random things like drawing numbers out of a basket, going in order of birthdays, alphabetical order by students’ first name, alphabetical by composers last name, etc. The “sections” idea is great, too! I’m all for changing it up to keep things exciting…and to keep everybody wanting to come back to see what new ideas the recital will hold each time!

I would love to hear any other creative approaches to structuring recitals! Do you use a systematic approach? Or what other approaches have you tried that you and your students like?

Remember, if you have a question you’d like to contribute to next week’s Monday Mailbag, leave it in the comments below or send me an e-mail sometime this week with Monday Mailbag in the subject line!

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