Organize Your Piano Recital's Epic and Out Of Control To-Do List

Everything You Need To Organize Your Piano Recital

Recital prep.  It’s a busy time of year for everyone.  Students learning songs. Parents doing their best to support practice. And, with so many items involved when you organize your piano recital, the to-do list (or lists) can feel very overwhelming. But, it doesn’t have to be like this.


Feeling Stressed?

I used to get so stressed out before our studio recitals.  Between the million items on the to-do list and worrying about my students performing their best, I realized that my stressing wasn’t solving anything. Perhaps you can relate.

So, I made a list!  Over the years, I tried to get the biggest items done over the first week with some years more successful in this goal than others.  I was often incredibly tired by the end, but I am quite sure my shoulders dropped a good 3 inches. 

Thankfully, over the years, I’ve streamlined my recital prep to take away a lot of the stress! Now, outside of regular performance nerves, I feel confident and prepared. This is the key to organizing a piano recital. Streamline the process!


What Every Recital Needs

While there are different types of recitals, there are certain things that are going to stay the same on your to-do list regardless of where the recital takes place.

These include:

  • Invitations: digital, physical, or both
  • Program
  • Compliment cards (optional)
    • The original idea came from here, but these are incredibly easy to design on your own.
  • Introductory and ending comments
  • Introductions of songs (or a template for students to use if they will be doing this)
  • Handwritten notes for all clients with specific praise for each student.
  • Copies of all songs in case a student forgets their music

That last one may seem weird, but it has happened.  One of my clients arrived and their youngest suddenly realized that he didn’t have his music with him.  Even though he had been asked multiple times if it was in the bag.  And, of course, because he was panicked he also completely forgot how to play any of his songs.  So, one of his parents drove home to get the book.  As a parent, I could understand the frustration of a 20-30 minute round trip just to get a book.  Having an extra copy, even when songs are memorized, eliminates this situation.

I love to use Canva, to easily create beautiful invitations, programs, and compliment cards!  The best part is that it’s incredibly easy to make sure the branding/look is consistent across all those documents.  And, having a tool that makes the design part of recital prep easy saves so much time. 

(This is a Canva affiliate link that gives me a credit if you sign-up.  Links like this make running the site financially possible.)


In Person Or Online

Which is better? Well. That’s completely up to you. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

As much as I loved getting together with families for in-person recitals, I often was a slug on the couch afterwards. It also took a huge hit on my profits and was exhausting to pull together. Even with a great system in place. With venue pricing going up each year, I’m happy to offer online recitals. Not only are they much more affordable, but I don’t experience the burnout I used to.

That being said, you need to choose what works for you. Not sure? Take a moment to figure out the best type of recital to host in your studio. This might change from year to year. That’s okay too!


In-Person Recitals

For in-person recitals, there are a few more things that get added to that to-do list.

  • Pencils with erasers to fill out compliment cards
  • Box for books that should be returned to you after each performance
  • Camera or camcorder to record the event
  • Refreshments and beverages so families can visit afterwards
  • Gift bags for attendees
  • Any permits or materials needed to keep the event safe: check with your local bylaws, etc.

We used to pile everything in our car in totes and plastic bins. It made it easier to carry things into the venue by having them organized by where they needed to go.


Online Recitals

There are distinct advantages to online recitals. But, I understand they aren’t for everyone.

Here are some of my favourite reasons.  Now that I have templates in place, recital prep is greatly reduced. After the event, I just shut down my computer instead of 30 minutes of frantic cleaning to clear out before the rental time is up.  They’re so much less expensive which means I’ve added another recital and still had more profit than before moving online!  I take some of the extra profit to make sure my students are getting something extra special from the experience.

Some extra items on your to-do list for online piano recitals are:

  • A video that shows people how to join the event using the program you choose (i.e. Zoom, etc.)
  • Multiple scheduled emails with the recital URL (1 week, 24-hours, 1-hour)
  • Run-through with students on how to use the program, if different than what you use for regular lessons
  • Set event to automatically record, mute participants and leave all participants’ videos on.
  • Decide how applause will show after each performance.

The nice part is that many of these things can be reused with little to no editing each year. Once your first online recital is done, it becomes much faster subsequent recitals.

To find out exactly how I host virtual recitals in my studio, read Part 1 and Part 2 on the site.


Organize Your Piano Recital

You’ve got your list. You may be panicking a bit. But, it is possible to organize your piano recital without pulling out your hair. If you create a checklist and templates your first year, recital prep becomes much easier as you build on what you have already created!

Check out these and areas and tips to “Organize Your Piano Recital’s Epic To-Do List“!


Student Readiness

I think this is the one that many of us stress over the most during recital prep.  In some ways, it can feel like we take on this responsibility more than some of our students.  Just remember, their performance is their performance.  Not yours.  But, that isn’t to say there aren’t ways to help students have a great experience.

You can add backing tracks that are fun to listen to.  They also force students to keep a steady tempo and master their songs earlier.

You can add a practice challenge like our “Students vs. Ms. Rosemarie” practice challenge which still keeps our studio community strong but adds a little friendly competition.  Plus, I’m always excited when most, if not all, of my students beat me in the number of practice sessions!

Or, you can make the practice fun with a series of activities (but more on that below).  Whatever you choose, just have fun with it!


Your Recital Prep List

While recitals are a LOT of work (both before and during), it is wonderful to see everyone’s smiling faces as we celebrate together.  

What is your favourite way to organize your piano recitals? 

  • Change the type of recital depending on your energy and planning time.
  • Always look for ways to streamline your planning.
  • Make templates to use each year (or tweak what you already have).
  • Add fun activities to keep students engaged so you can focus on the admin side.

Let me know in the comments what you do annually to make your recitals a success!

Fun Recital Practice Resource

When it comes to organizing my piano recital, I like to keep things simple. And, this includes combining recital practice with social media posts for my studio channels! It makes it easy to streamline the process.

One of the ways we love to prepare for the recital is to do fun activities that strengthen our ability to play recital pieces.  Whether it’s off-the-bench and being active or changing up the song in some way,  “5 Ways Recital Activities” have bridged the gap between repetition and having fun.  Plus, they can make for great social media posts for your studio as well!

To get your copy of “5 Ways Recital Activities” here.


NOTE: This article was originally published on June 10, 2016.  It continues to be updated while keeping many of the great ideas from the original article and previous updates. 

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