It’s mid-April, and that means only one thing to music teachers: Recital Season!
While you finalize your recital plans, work through logistics, and look for ways to make everything flow as smoothly as possible you might be asking yourself if you should have a rehearsal.
That’s a good question to ask. And in my opinion, the exuberant answer is YES! A hundred times yes!
I love having recital rehearsals for so many reasons, but here are six reasons why I appreciate rehearsals the most.
1 | Early Preparation
This one might just be the biggest.
A trying-to-put-the-last-page-hands-together-the-night-before-the-recital approach is never fun. It’s usually not successful, either. Early preparation is absolutely invaluable, and no amount of last minute cramming will make up for a lack of it. If preparation is key, early preparation is a battering ram.
Having a rehearsal 2-3 weekends before your recital date sets a reasonable goal and an effective incentive for your students to have their pieces prepared and ready to perform well before the recital. It helps them avoid procrastination and allows the few remaining weeks between the rehearsal and recital to be devoted to enhancing presentation, refining artistic details, and building confidence.
2 | Working Though Logistical Kinks
Does the program flow? Are there too many slow pieces in a row? Did Johnny remember how to bow? Does everyone know what they need to bring? What time to arrive?
The rehearsal is a great time for you to see what logistical details need to be smoothed out between now and the recital (take notes!) and to make sure that everyone in the studio knows all of the important details for the recital night. At the rehearsal you can hand the parents and students neatly-printed sheets with all the information pertinent to them or follow up the rehearsal with a concise email. It’s also a great time to work through reception plans with your studio parents. Now, THAT’S the fun part!
3 | Discovering Hidden Weak Spots
Sometimes pieces that appeared solid during lessons suddenly become a bit shaky when performed “cold” for a roomful of people. Because rehearsals have so many of the same dynamics as recitals (audience, formal performance only one time through, etc.) they help to reveal those hidden weak spots that don’t usually manifest themselves during practice time or regular lessons.
As teacher, you’ll have the opportunity to target those areas during the rehearsal… And the best part is that you’ll have time to work through those spots with your students in the lessons between the rehearsal and the recital, find solutions, and get those sections in tip-top shape by recital time.
4 | Confidence
The rehearsal gives all of the students a chance to get familiar with the program and to practice everything that’s expected of them in an formal, recital setting. Audience, bowing, applause, smiling, order of pieces, memory, seating arrangement, presentation… it’s all there. Repetition builds confidence, and knowing that they have “done this before” will give a huge boost to their confidence on recital night.
The rehearsal also gives your students the chance to find out if there is anything they’re unclear about relating to the recital. Talking over these things with them (and their parents!) will ease their minds and help to prevent confusion come performance time.
5 | Parental Involvement
Ideally, your studio parents are involved all semester and not just during recital season. But if not, the recital rehearsal is a perfect time to help them get connected!
For your student, having a parent physically present at the rehearsal can go a long way in making them more focused during preparation and more confident once performing under pressure. Most parents are excited to come – it’s a great opportunity for them to see how their child is handling preparation for their upcoming performance, and it’s also a perfect time for them to talk with you to find out how they can help their students maintain confidence and overcome weak spots between the rehearsal and the recital night. Plus, they get a fun sneak peak at the recital program!
Ask that at least one parent per student attend the rehearsal to hear the performances. Encourage your parents by reminding them how invaluable their verbal encouragement and physical presence really is to their student and to you.
6 | Camaraderie
Students are usually too preoccupied on recital night to make new friends, but rehearsals lend the perfect atmosphere for them to connect with other students in the studio, mingle, and develop friendships.
Never underestimate this one! When students relate to each other like they’re “in this together” instead of like fierce competitors trying to see who can come out on top, charming things happen.
I have had so much fun watching friendships develop between my students. At rehearsals, I hear them chattering about the upcoming recital – what they’re looking forward to, whether or not they’re nervous yet, and a host of other little excitements and woes. At recitals, I see them huddled on rows together giving each other pep talks, encouraging speeches, and comforting hugs. Just the sort of thing to make a teacher’s heart melt into pudding.
So actively encourage camaraderie between your students. Rehearsals are a perfect place to start!
BONUS | Group Pictures!
If you’re planning to put a group picture in the printed recital program, the rehearsal is the ideal time to take it! I usually pick a color theme and request that the students wear it to the rehearsal so everyone is matching. They love it!
IF YOU HAVEN’T had a rehearsal for your recitals before, give it a shot! It doesn’t have to be complicated. It can just be on a Saturday afternoon in your home or studio – short, sweet, and oh-so-effective!
It lifts a huge amount of pressure from the recital evening and provides a great comfort cushion for both you and your students.
If you decide to try it out, let me know how it goes!
Happy recital planning, friends!
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