Looking for creative ways to structure end of year recital

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Christine said: Apr 27, 2013
Christine Goodner
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Viola
Hillsboro, OR
68 posts

I am busy planning my end of the year recital (June 1st) and am wondering if anyone has any creative ways they present/run their recitals.

Just for background I have a hand full of pre-twinklers, about 20 students in Book one & two and about 7 in Book 4 . . . another hand full of students are scattered in Books 3, 5 & 6.

Everyone has a piece picked out to play so I’m good there—I am just trying to think of how to keep the event engaging and fun for families who are sitting through 35+ pieces of various lengths.

I did have a parent mention they wanted to invite their neighbor but wouldn’t because the recital was “so long”—It typically lasts just over an hour, which seems reasonable to me . . . I’m thinking it feels longer than it is & needs some spicing up!

Any ideas?

Christine Goodner

Studio Website: Brookside Suzuki Strings

Blog: The Suzuki Triangle

“When Love is Deep, Much can be Accomplished” ~ Suzuki

Michelle McManus Welch said: Apr 27, 2013
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Lindenhurst, IL
42 posts

Gee at (one of the places I work)we made our boss split the school wide performance into 2 recitals after it reached 3 hours, lol!
Do you have a break for intermission half way and serve “treats” afterwards?
That’s how the more ‘formal’ school I work for structures each of the 5(I think) recitals and it seems to work well without anyone complaining.
Is there any theme you can work thru or a silly story to connect all the pieces?
One time I wrote a simple story and fit all the songs into it-seems like a child walking thru the forest and saw the twinkling stars on her way to Go Tell Aunt Rhody. I wish I could remember exactly how I did this it was a LONG time ago.

Michelle Mc Manus Welch

Nina Black said: Apr 28, 2013
Nina Black
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
Modesto, CA
10 posts

I decided that I lose the attention of young students after an hour. I now split my recital into two separate recitals, same evening. Everyone seems happier and they actually enjoy it!

I have two recitals each year (fall and spring) and one is always our “Masquerade Recital”. The students have the assignment to come dressed as something or someone that has either (A) something to do with the piece; (B) something to do with the composer; or (C) something to do with the country or period of time in which the piece was composed.

The results have been thrilling! How wonderful to have Anna Magdalena Bach perform at your recital! Pianist Glenn Gould has also made an appearance! This annual event always has the largest crowds, and the students are excited about surprising their audience with their character.

Susan said: Apr 28, 2013
 Violin, Viola
22 posts

Christine:
There are various things I have tried over the years. First I must say that while I have done very traditional recitals, I find them boring (sorry, teachers!) so I mix the Pre-T’s and T’s amongst the other players. It brings up the energy because they are so cute. I also do things with the Pre-T’s like Open Strings Blues and pieces from Magic Carpet.

This year with the Twinkles I’m having my older students be the leaders, one for each variation. I also set up the chairs with a wide aisle in the middle and have
the Twinkles played with the students lined up & down the aisle. The one thing with solo recitals is placing the students in some kind of order that keeps the audience attentive. I suggest writing down the pieces they are playing in book and piece order, then list them in a cycle so it works out like Lightly Row, Minuet 2,
Chorus, Hunters’ Chorus, etc. then begin the cycle again. If there are duplicates back to back then I just put that piece is some logical place in the order.

Because my teaching set up is different, I teach in a group setting for a non-profit with no individual lessons, I also have the students play duets and trios. Sometimes they can play the duet parts and sometimes I play them. I also find that moving the students around also is very enjoyable for the audience. But that depends on your venue. Such as, have a Pre-T on stage, the next student in the center aisle, then next at a corner of the audience, etc.

As for your recital being too long, that’s a matter of perception. If things move
along and the audience is engaged by what’s going on other than the playing, time
will fly.

And, or course, at the end there is always food which is made by the parents and pizza for the kids!

Hope this helps a little and have a wonderful recital!

Lori Bolt said: Apr 28, 2013
Lori Bolt
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
San Clemente, CA
226 posts

I accompanied violin and viola students yesterday at a recital. There were approx. 15 students playing, and there was a short Intermission. There was a written program, and students were seated in playing order….so no waiting to see who played what/when. Four Twinkle students came to the front together and stood as each one played a different Variation, then all played Twinkle, Twinkle together. This was a great way to get through the Twinkles, I felt. You do have a large number of students, Christine…..consider the suggestion to have two recitals.

Definitely mix the levels and styles of pieces as you plan the order. Will there be an accompanist for any of the advanced students? Just a nice change from hearing only the instrument playing. And yes, don’t forget the “eats”!

Best wishes on your recital :)

Lori Bolt

Phyllis Calderon said: Apr 28, 2013
Phyllis CalderonViolin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Piano
Chicago, IL
22 posts

Hi Christine and Everyone,

It was fascinating to read the experiences and suggestions. Because my studio is large (lots of violin and piano students) I have to be creative. One year I had all students do a solo and this was almost 3 hours long. I never did that again.

I like the idea of doing two recitals on the same day, though I haven’t tried that yet. But I do theme-based recitals, have groups play and only selected solos and duos (students playing violin or piano/violin duets). Last year for example, the students presented a musical story entitled The Wolf, the Frog and the Ant in the Big Race. Because the music is from Suzuki Book 1, it was perfect. Then for one part, I had my violin students be the choir and sing the Andantino during that part of the story. (In the story it is called “Irving’s Secret”) And one of the parents narrated. In this way all levels from the Twinklers to Book 2 students performed together.

In Feb. the theme was Music of the American Experience and students learned music of America (patriotic, jazz, and music by African American composers). This year I am thinking of doing a wedding recital so my students can learn some wedding music. Any music I include that is outside the Suzuki rep. is always within the context or skill level of where they are in their playing/technical ability.

And I always, always do refreshments afterwards—I have the parents bring treats and finger foods for that while I supply the paper goods and bottled water.

Phyllis Calderon
Director, String Instructor
A Touch of Classical Plus, Inc.—Calderon Music Studio
www.atouchofclassicalplus.musicteachershelper.com

Rebecca said: Apr 28, 2013
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
West Valley City, UT
12 posts

35+ pieces can seem really long for most people. Spicing things up might even make the event longer. Hold at least two solos recitals—if not three. If you have smaller groups, you can even get parents to host them at their homes. Or….hold them one after another. Mix up levels so each group gets to hear all levels of advancement, or simply have a sign-up sheet (with a set number of lines) and let them pick which time is best for them.

Christine said: Apr 28, 2013
Christine Goodner
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Viola
Hillsboro, OR
68 posts

Love all of these ideas—Thank you everyone !!

  • I use a wonderful accompanist for all students and we have a big party with treats at the end—everyone’s favorite part <img src=" />

  • The first thing I need to do different is vary the order of students—I’ve been having all the beginners at the start of the recital and all of the advanced students at the end . . . some variety (and an intermission) will help a lot.

  • By next year I know I will likely need to move to two separate recitals. I so love having everyone together at once to hear each other, but as students get more advanced and play longer pieces I do think it is going to be necessary.

  • I love the ideas for different themes and telling a story weaving together the book one pieces . . . lots of food for thought for future events.

  • I think my problem is that I am getting stuck on arbitrary rules I have about how recitals “need to be done”: like going in order of difficulty or “everyone must play a Suzuki piece”. I am in my first year of running my own studio full time, after teaching most of my students in a very structured music school for 10 years so I need all the help I can get to think outside the box! <img src=" />

Thanks again!

Christine Goodner

Studio Website: Brookside Suzuki Strings

Blog: The Suzuki Triangle

“When Love is Deep, Much can be Accomplished” ~ Suzuki

Barb said: Apr 28, 2013
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

I have a smaller studio of 8- 10 students with no advanced players, but what I usually do is two sections within 45 minutes to one hour, and most students play two solos as well as group things.

For one section we have all on stage where some of the book 1 pieces are played once by everyone and repeated once as a solo. Some play the 2nd part. This year this will include some early book 2 pieces as most of my students are that far along. This is helpful for those who are nervous about playing on stage alone. The young ones who don’t play very much yet are dismissed from the stage after their few pieces.

The other section of the recital has individuals or small ensembles coming onto the stage in turns to play so they can get used to being in the limelight without the group. This includes students playing beyond book 1 or playing a solo outside the Suzuki rep. I like to wrap up with group playing and all on the stage at the end, too. We usually include rounds or two to three part ensembles as an entire group as well and do one or two of these at the end. I try to include family members if there are violinists or pianists or anyone that can play along in a round or in a family ensemble.

I also have awards presented with grand ceremony and much praise, and of course the requisite goodies and visiting afterwards. I TRY to remember to set up for a group photo at the end as well, and I also try to fit a short solo in myself.

I have gotten some very good compliments on this style of a recital—one said it was the best student recital format she had ever seen. I did not invent the format myself, however—I more or less copied another Suzuki teacher!

We have a practice contest about a month before the June recital, and a few of the categories are for photos, so I usually have several to choose from for a program cover. I have seen another idea here to use student art (voted on by students) for a program cover.

This year I have some pre-twinklers who are just now starting, so we will just slip them in somewhere to do their very beginner things. Since an evening recital is late for one family and I don’t have a weekend that works this year I may do awards and group picture earlier so they don’t have to stay through the program.

One year we played through book one as a group plus a featured soloist on every piece, PLUS had additional family ensembles and other group and book 2 pieces, and I had 12 students… it went over an hour and was too long for the kids, though I still got compliments on the format from adults in the audience that year, too.

For a larger group, would it be possible to have two overlapping recitals? Maybe the more advanced students could arrive in time to play a few things after the beginners, then have an “intermission” where the beginners will be dismissed, and continue the event with the advanced students? That way all can still socialize, and the younger will get a chance to see some of the older students for inspiration, but not have to sit through a long program.

I agree with not “saving the best for last” (eg the most advanced players and longest pieces). I think mixing things up is good. I love the idea of having performers around the room. Harder to see cellists and arrange their seating, but good for violin. The theme and costume ideas sound fun, too! Thanks to everyone for sharing!

Barb
Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

Andrea Hudson said: Apr 29, 2013
Andrea Hudson
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
26 posts

Anyone want to share a story (narrated) that uses Book 1 pieces? Thought this would be fun for a conclusion to my Book 1-3 recital.

I used to have all my students play together in the spring recital. I do it Saturday morning so all are fresh and we don’t risk going late into the evening. We used to have a picnic outside afterwards for a social. Now we’re split into two recitals (Books 1-3 and 4+, and I invite any who’d like to stay and listen to the second recital), we have a reception in the middle where all the studio socializes (potluck finger food—I provide the paper goods and drink).

I thought if someone had a nice story, I’d have the older students come early and join in for the final portion of the Book 1-3 recital so that the whole studio can play together, not just the reception together.

I have two stories from past years which I’ve used and could probably go back to as I haven’t done this for awhile. But if someone has a story for any of the early books, I’d appreciate any sharing you’d be willing to do!

Susan said: Apr 29, 2013
 Violin, Viola
22 posts

I would love to have those, too, please!

Phyllis Calderon said: Apr 29, 2013
Phyllis CalderonViolin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Piano
Chicago, IL
22 posts

The only two I have come across and used for my recitals are:

  1. The Wolf, the Frog and the Ant in the Big Race: A Musical Fable for Violin Students Published by MMB Music Inc. You can purchase it by going to http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/?aff_id=252180.

  2. Musical Stories for Violin, Volume 1 Beginner Level by Adam Hyman. I just checked and unfortunately, his website www.adamsmusicalstories.com seems to be nonexistent and I can’t remember where I purchased this (maybe it was through Shar or SW Strings).

But the first one above is great as it has all the Suzuki Book 1 pieces included as part of the story.

Phyllis Calderon
Director, String Instructor
A Touch of Classical Plus, Inc.—Calderon Music Studio
www.atouchofclassicalplus.musicteachershelper.com

Krista Lucich said: Apr 29, 2013
Krista LucichCello, Guitar, Piano, Bass
Mashpee, MA
2 posts

We are doing our recital at a “paint your own pottery” store, for a coffee house/recital feel. People can paint while they listen. I’m hoping it will help to ease nerves too. My students are all looking forward to it.

Jennifer Visick said: Apr 30, 2013
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

Krista, I like the pottery store idea! I wonder if I can find one… (does the store have a piano in it, or are you doing unaccompanied solos, or are you having some other kind of accompaniment—e.g. a duet partner or a guitarist or what have you…)

I usually hold my studio recital (once a year, although I have considered doing two a year, in seasons when I have lots of students—half playing on each recital, but all expected to attend both recitals). I live near the mountains and my city has a park up in a canyon wilderness area not far from where I live. I rent a one-room conference cabin from the city that is in the canyon park and it’s a kind of a fun location to do a recital in! Sort of a retreat from the city area and because i encourage them to go hiking and whatnot before or after it’s a casual recital—jeans & sneakers are allowed (because who wants to go hiking in heels…).

On another tack, I find Philip Johnston to have some good ideas:

http://insidemusicteaching.com/articles/art_studiorecitals.html

Mary said: Apr 30, 2013
 39 posts

My son’s violin teacher had us write our own book 1 story for his book 1 recital. He was about 6 at the time and he came up with a very crazy story about outer space travel and I helped him figure out where to put all the book 1 pieces into the story. Friends and family really enjoyed it. And I think it was especially fun for the folks in the audience familiar with the Book1 repertoire to hear where the story would go and which song would pop up next. We printed up the story and had the songs bolded so that his teacher, who was doing the piano accompaniment, would have an idea of which piece would come next. The whole performance including reading the story out loud took less than 30 minutes.

It might be fun to ask your book 1 kids to work on a story together and then you could assign the different pieces to different students. It could even become a fun end of the year tradition for your studio.

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