Pianist's Recital Preparation

Recitals are opportunities for our students to demonstrate what they have learned, show their growth in musical understanding and gain poise and confidence. They are also an educational introduction to the concert hall for both students and their families. Through teaching and practice, they learn considerate etiquette for the concert/recital hall.

In order to showcase the best of what our students can do, a solid preparation is essential for the student and their family. Here are some ideas we've gleaned from Virginia Buhn, Lea Mirabella and Dorothy Munz:

  1. Lay a firm foundation of technique and theory.
  2. Cover a wide selection of repertoire at each level. Include more than what is contained in the method books. There are so many choices of supplemental repertoire to delight and challenge the students.
  3. Develop concepts of style and expression with each piece. For example, how is the Mier jazz piece different from the Gillock waltz? Do the staccatos in the jazz piece sound the same as in the waltz? Help the student so he/she not only "feels" the expression but can project those feelings/sounds to the audience. Can the student's dynamic contracts be easily heard from the back row? Compare and contrast with the student. Play and listen.
  4. Choose repertoire carefully for recitals. The method book is similar to the students' school reader, i.e., short stories covering educational concepts but not the stuff of book reports and special projects. The grade school student is excited to read those special books for reports. The same should hold for our selection of special pieces for performing at special events.
  5. Memorization - the key to reliable performance. Memorization should be expected at least three to four weeks ahead of the event. Teachers can drill the various memory spots to make the memory work secure.
  6. Rehearsals are paramount. Rehearse with the student on how to walk up, adjust the bench, mentally prepare, perform, bow and exit. Rehearse the piece at home with parents, friends, at school, with stuffed animals, etc. Rehearse and enjoy in special playing classes where students can share their special music with each other. These rehearsals can start with the shy student using his/her music, then gradually moving toward full memorization. The primary purpose is to grow and learn how to perform in front of others.
  7. Studio and OMTA recitals offer a more formal environment where students are encouraged to play to the best of their ability. Suggest that students "dress up" for this special event that showcases what they have accomplished.
  8. Even with solid preparation, students are human and make mistakes. Even the best prepared student will have off days. With solid preparation, students and teachers are better able to deal with mishaps along the way and continue to take on the challenge of performances and growth.