Last year I wrote a post on the top ten studio recital themes for a memorable performance.
It’s been one of the most popular posts on the blog ever since, so I’ve decided to expand on the idea and give you even more themes to choose from.
Whether you love movie music, classical repertoire, or something totally unique, there’s something for everyone on this list!
1. A Night at the Opera
This is a fun way to introduce students and your audience to the world of opera music.
Suggested Repertoire: “Queen of the Night” aria from Mozart’s Magic Flute, Bizet’s Carmen overture, and the William Tell overture by Rossini.
2. A Night of Surprises
If you’re looking for a unique theme, this is it. Keep your audience guessing by only listing student names, not repertoire, in the recital program. Then surprise them with a unique mixture of the unexpected!
Suggested Repertoire: “Pop! Goes the Weasel”, Alice in Wonderland’s “The Unbirthday Song”, and anything from Haydn’s Surprise Symphony.
3. A Walk in the Park
This would be great for a spring recital.
Suggested Repertoire: “Strolling Through the Park”, “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree”, and “The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down.”
4. Across the Stars
I have a lot of little Star Wars fans in my studio! If you do too, then this recital theme will be a hit.
Suggested Repertoire: “Star Wars Main Title”, “The Imperial March”, and “Cantina Band”.
5. Adventure Is Out There!
Apologies to Ellie and Carl from Up, but it’s true. You never know when an adventure (musical or otherwise) is waiting around the corner!
Suggested Repertoire: “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, “Jolly Holiday”, and “Life Is a Highway”.
6. African American Music
What better way to teach kids about the musical heritage of African Americans than by choosing this recital theme?
Suggested Repertoire: “I’ve Got a Heart Full of Rhythm” by Louis Armstrong, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and Duke Ellington’s Black and Tan Fantasy.
7. All About Bach
Bach is my favorite composer, and I’ve often picked his music for recital repertoire. So why not go all the way and make it an official theme?
Suggested Repertoire: Prelude in C Major, Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, and any of his Inventions and Sinfonias.
8. All Things Celtic
Celtic music is a fun twist on the usual recital fare.
Suggested Repertoire: “Irish Washerwoman”, “Molly Malone”, and “Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair”.
If your students love to play fast pieces, they will love this theme!
Suggested Repertoire: Mozart’s Rondo Alla Turca, Lynn Freeman Olson’s “Rhythm Machine”, and Flight of the Bumblebee by Rimsky-Korsacov.
10. At the Fair
Fairs are a big part of life here in West Michigan. If they are in your area too, try this recital theme on for size.
Suggested Repertoire: “Scarborough Fair”, “The Ferris Wheel”, and “(Have I Stayed) Too Long at the Fair?”
11. Autumn in the Air
If you’re hosting an autumn recital, this theme is perfect.
Suggested Repertoire: “Autumn Leaves”, Autumn in New York”, and Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag”.
12. Awesome Architecture
This unique theme focuses on the architectural elements we’re all familiar with.
Suggested Repertoire: “On the Bridge of Avignon”, “Underneath the Arches”, and “A House Is Not a Home”.
13. Big City Slickers
Celebrate city life with this fun theme.
Suggested Repertoire: “Meet Me In Saint Louis”, “The Sunny Side of the Street”, and “New York State of Mind”.
14. Brilliantly Baroque
Showcase the music of the Baroque period with this recital theme.
Suggested Repertoire: Music for the Royal Fireworks by Handel, Trio Sonata in C by Vivaldi, and Bach’s Goldberg Variations.
15. Candy Shoppe
This is one for the students with a sweet tooth!
Suggested Repertoire: “On the Good Ship Lollipop”, “Cotton Candy Land”, and “The Candy Man” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
This fun theme is all about special celebrations!
Suggested Repertoire: “Celebrate Good Times”, “Happy Birthday to You”, and “We Are the Champions”.
17. Character Pieces
There are a ton of amazing character pieces from the Romantic period. Your students will have fun learning them!
Suggested Repertoire: Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s Six Character Pieces for Piano and “The Wild Horseman” and “The Happy Farmer”, both by Robert Schumann.
18. Classical Collaboration
Enjoy the best of the Classical period with this engaging recital theme.
Suggested Repertoire: Haydn’s Variations in F Minor, C.P.E Bach’s Sinfonia in G, and Eine Kleine Nachtsmusik by Mozart.
19. Classical Pieces You’ve Never Heard Before
If you feel like you’ve assigned Fur Elise to your students a hundred times, try this new and refreshing take on a classical recital.
Suggested Repertoire: Divertimento by Jane Mary Guest, Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky, and Little Songs for Little Folks by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.
20. Colorful Music
Assign each student a piece about a different color and watch the musical kaleidoscope come together at the recital!
Suggested Repertoire: “Red River Valley”, “The Pink Panther Theme Song”, and “Follow the Yellow Brick Road”.
21. Creepy Crawlies
If you and your students are nature lovers then you might appreciate this unusual recital theme.
Suggested Repertoire: “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”, “Ants Fight Back” from the soundtrack of A Bug’s Life, and “Shoo Fly, Don’t Bother Me”.
22. Disney Extravaganza
It’s hard to beat a good old-fashioned Disney song!
Suggested Repertoire: “A Whole New World” from Aladdin, “Hakuna Matata” from The Lion King, and “Beauty and the Beast” from, well, Beauty and the Beast.
23. Duets are the Best!
Most of my students love playing duets. If yours share the same enthusiasm then this recital will probably be a dream come true for them.
Suggested Repertoire: Virtually any piece can be arranged as a duet, but I’ll give a special shout-out to Dvorak’s Legends, “A Cover Is Not the Book” from Mary Poppins Returns, and the “Flower Duet” from Delibes’ Lakme.
24. Everybody Dance Now
There’s nothing like some dance music, old or new, to put everyone in a better mood.
Suggested Repertoire: “The Anniversary Waltz”, Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers” from The Nutcracker, and “Dancing Queen”.
25. Farmhouse Fanfare
Those would be a great one for more rural areas. Celebrate the beauty of the countryside with this fun recital theme!
Suggested Repertoire: “Home On the Range”, “Take Me Home, Country Roads”, and “Shine On, Harvest Moon”.
26. Favorite Folk Songs
A folk-themed recital is a fun twist on the usual classical repertoire.
Suggested Repertoire: “Billy Boy”, “Simple Gifts”, and “Home On the Range”.
27. Feeling Good
Happiness is contagious!
Suggested Repertoire: “Happy”, “Walking On Sunshine”, and “If You’re Happy and You Know It”.
28. Flower and Fauna
A great theme for nature lovers.
Suggested Repertoire: “My Wild Irish Rose”, “D-E-E-R Deer”, and Johann Strauss’s “Waltz of the Flowers”.
29. Happy Endings
Whether in story or song, everyone loves a happy ending.
Suggested Repertoire: “At Last”, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”, and “Auld Lang Syne”.
30. Haydn Seek
This one takes a little bit more preparation, but it would be a lot of fun! Arrange small sections of Joseph Haydn’s most famous pieces to be woven into the students’ pieces. (Haydn was a known prankster after all. I think he would approve!)
Suggested Repertoire: “Pomp and Circumstance” with Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser, Beethoven’s Shepherd’s Song with Theme from the Surprise Symphony, and “Give Me the Simple Life” with Fantasia in C Major.
31. Hymns and Gospel Songs
A beautiful tribute to the most beloved Christian songs in history.
Suggested Repertoire: “Amazing Grace”, “Nothing But the Blood”, and “It Is Well with My Soul”.
32. Improvising Fun
This would be a really fun recital theme for students and audience alike.
Suggested Repertoire: Any piece would work for this theme, but I would suggest picking well-known tunes and then having the students improvise on them and create their own variations. The more creative the better!
33. In Memorium
This would be a good theme for older students, or a Memorial Day performance. It’s a touching way to honor those we’ve lost or those who who were lost in the past and should be honored and remembered.
Suggested Repertoire: “Taps”, “Theme” from Schindler’s List, and “If You’re Reading This”.
34. Inspiring Impressionism
A fun way to explore the Impressionist style of music with your students!
Suggested Repertoire: Debussy’s La Mer and Clair de Lune and Fountains of Rome by Respighi.
35. Jazz Jam
A celebration of jazz music!
Suggested Repertoire: “Take the A Train”, “The Girl from Ipanema”, and “Fly Me to the Moon”.
36. Jungle Jamboree
Lions, tigers, and bears, oh my! Your animal lovers will enjoy this one!
Suggested Repertoire: “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”, “The Three Little Bears”, and “Bare Necessities”.
37. Kids Corner
This recital theme celebrates all the songs that kids love most.
Suggested Repertoire: “Old MacDonald”, “The Muffin Man”, and “Baby Shark”.
38. Kings and Queens
A musical celebration of royalty (real and legendary).
Suggested Repertoire: “Good King Wenceslas”, “In the Hall of the Mountain King”, and “God Save the Queen”.
39. Lights! Camera! Action!
Bring the magic of the stage to your studio recital with this fun show tune theme.
Suggested Repertoire: “Don’t Rain On My Parade” from Funny Girl, “One Day More” from Les Miserables, and “Maria” from West Side Story.
40. Love Me Tender
What’s more fun than an Elvis-themed recital?
Suggested Repertoire: “Blue Suede Shoes”, “Hound Dog”, and “Can’t Help Falling In Love”.
41. Lullaby and Goodnight
This is a sweet recital theme for an evening performance, especially for younger students.
Suggested Repertoire: “Rock-A-Bye, Baby”, Brahm’s Lullaby, and “Hush, Little Baby”.
42. Man’s Best Friends
A recital theme to celebrate our beloved pets.
Suggested Repertoire: “Who Let the Dogs Out”, “I Had a Little Turtle”, and “The Siamese Cat Song” from Lady and the Tramp.
43. March through History
A chronological narration of history through music.
Suggested Repertoire: “The Virginia Company”, “Ashokan Farewell”, and “Over There”.
44. Masterpieces of Music
The most popular pieces of classical music have stood the test of time for a reason. Why not embrace them with this recital theme?
Suggested Repertoire: Fur Elise by Beethoven, Pachelbel’s Canon in D, and Air on the G String by J.S. Bach.
45. Medieval Matinee
Explore the world of Medieval music.
Suggested Repertoire: “Sumer Is Icumen In”, “Song of Roland”, and “Greensleeves”.
46. Meet the Great Composers
This fun theme combines repertoire from music’s most beloved composers with the students own original compositions.
Suggested Repertoire: “The Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah, Schubert’s “Gretchen am Spinradde”, and Felix Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words, plus whichever pieces your students create themselves!
47. Merry and Bright
A bright and cheerful theme for a Christmas recital.
Suggested Repertoire: “Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas”, “Joy to the World”, and “Jingle Bell Rock”.
48. Modern Mashup
Help your students discover the interesting world of Modern classical music with this theme.
Suggested Repertoire: Phrygian Gates by John Adams, Three Fantastic Dances by Shostakovich, and Jennifer Higdon’s Blue Cathedral.
49. Movie Night
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but a crowd-pleaser nonetheless.
Suggested Repertoire: “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz, “As Time Goes By” from Casablanca, and “Moon River” from Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
50. Music Around the World
Around the world in a studio recital or less: celebrate the music of many nations!
Suggested Repertoire: “Sakura Sakura”, “Hava Nagila”, and “Scotland the Brave”.
51. Music by Women Composers
Most people have heard very few pieces by women composers. This theme is a fun way to change that!
Suggested Repertoire: Allegro Molto in C Minor by Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, Nocturne in B-flat by Maria Agata Szymanowska, and Prelude On an Old Folk Tune by Amy Beach.
52. Music Math
A numbers-based recital theme for the math lovers among us.
Suggested Repertoire: “Three Blind Mice”, “Beethoven’s Fifth”, and “The Twelve Days of Christmas”.
53. Music of the Night
A good theme for an evening recital!
Suggested Repertoire: “All In This April Evening”, “I Could Have Danced All Night”, and any nocturne.
54. Music’s Greatest Hits
Explore the most popular pieces throughout music history!
Suggested Repertoire: Prelude in C Major by J.S. Bach, Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer, and Star Wars Main Title by John Williams.
55. Musical Extremes
A theme based around musical contrasts: fast, slow, loud, soft, legato, staccato, the options are endless!
Suggested Repertoire: Theme from Haydn’s Surprise Symphony, Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven, and John Adam’s Short Ride In a Fast Machine.
56. Musical Legends
A fun recital theme based around legendary figures.
Suggested Repertoire: “Yankee Doodle”, “The Magic Piper”, and “In the Hall of the Mountain King”.
57. Musical Mayhem
Embrace your crazy side with this fun theme!
Suggested Repertoire: “Scampering Squirrels”, “The Clown”, and “Three Wise Monkeys”.
58. My Favorite Composer
Let each student play a piece by their favorite composer.
Suggested Repertoire: Well, this one is pretty self-explanatory!
59. My Favorite Things
Have each student play a piece based on something they love!
Suggested Repertoire: “The Baseball Game”, “Music Box Dancer”, and “My Clever Pup”.
60. Nice Nocturnes
Nocturnes are lovely recital pieces, especially for older and more advanced students.
Suggested Repertoire: Nocturne in B-Flat Major by Maria Szymanowska, Nocturne in E-Flat Major by John Field, and Nocturne in B-Flat Minor by Frideric Chopin,
61. No Place Like Home
A musical celebration of the homes we love.
Suggested Repertoire: “Home On the Range”, “(There’s No Place Like) Home for the Holidays”, and “Home, Sweet Home”.
62. Old Blue Eyes
Celebrate the music of Frank Sinatra with this recital theme.
Suggested Repertoire: “The Way You Look Tonight”, “It Was a Very Good Year”, and “New York, New York”.
63. Old-Fashioned Spirituals
There are plenty of amazing African-American spirituals for this enjoyable recital theme.
Suggested Repertoire: “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, “There Is a Balm In Gilead”, and “Steal Away”.
64. Oldies But Goodies
I love oldies. If you do too, you’ll love this theme.
Suggested Repertoire: “Why Do Fools Fall In Love”, “Help Me Rhonda” and “What a Wonderful World”.
65. Once Upon a Time
A recital theme covering all the best fairy tales.
Suggested Repertoire: “The Cinderella Work Song”, “Sleeping Beauty Waltz”, and “Main Theme” from Peter Pan.
66. Over the Sea We Go
A seafaring musical adventure.
Suggested Repertoire: “I Saw Three Ships”, “Russian Sailor Dance”, and “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”.
67. Piano Olympics
Have a blast with this Olympic-themed recital. You can even hand out medals for Best Performance, Best Stage Presence, Best Effort, etc.
Suggested Repertoire: “Olympic Fanfare and Theme” by John Williams, the Theme from Chariots of Fire, and your country’s national anthem.
68. Pixar Parade
I love Pixar movies! Your students will have a lot of fun with this one.
Suggested Repertoire: “You’ve Got a Friend In Me” from Toy Story, “Married Life” from Up, and Remember Me from Coco.
69. Planes and Trains
This recital is all about modes of transportation (I have a feeling some of the boys I teach would really enjoy this one).
Suggested Repertoire: “Midnight Train to Georgia”, “The Wheels On the Plane”, and Duke Ellington’s “Take the A Train”.
70. Rags to Riches
A fun theme showcasing the most popular and best-selling pieces in ragtime history.
Suggested Repertoire: Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer” and “Maple Leaf Rag” and “The Thriller” by May Frances Auferheide.
71. Rally Round the Flag
This flag-themed recital will be a lot of fun for all.
Suggested Repertoire: “You’re a Grand Old Flag”, “Wavin’ Flag”, and “Rally ‘Round the Flag”.
72. Reading Rocks!
Fellow book lovers, this is your chance to shine! Your students will have a blast preparing pieces based on their favorite books.
Suggested Repertoire: Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” (based upon Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet), and “A Cover Is Not the Book” from Mary Poppins Returns, and Dr. Jean’s “Who Let the Letters Out?”.
73. Renaissance Fair
Embrace the music of the Renaissance!
Suggested Repertoire: “Sing Joyfully Unto God” by William Byrd, “With All Our Hearts” by Thomas Tallis, and John Downland’s Fantasia No. 7.
74. Romantic Repertoire
This theme centers around pieces from the Romantic period.
Suggested Repertoire: Robert Schumann’s Carnaval, Brahm’s Piano Sonata No. 3, and Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody.
75. Safari Night
A fun-filled night of music from the animal kingdom.
Suggested Repertoire: “The Zebra Song”, “Baby Elephant Walk” from Hatari, and “Never Smile At a Crocodile” from Peter Pan.
76. Silver and Gold
This fun theme about money (or lack thereof) is a unique twist on the typical musical recital.
Suggested Repertoire: “Counting Coins”, “At the End of the Day” from Les Miserables, and “If I Were a Rich Man” from Fiddler On the Roof.
77. Spectacular Sonatas
So, this one is pretty self-explanatory: have each student play a sonata!
Suggested Repertoire: Beethoven’s Sonata in G Major, Ostersonate (Easter Sonata) by Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, and Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 11.
78. Studio Favorites
Turn your student’s favorite pieces into a fun and engaging theme.
Suggested Repertoire: This will be unique to every studio. For example, my students have a special fondness for “Carol of the Bells”, “Fur Elise”, and “Freight Train”.
79. Stuffed Animal Friends
If your students are anything like mine, they love their stuffed animal friends fiercely. Why not invite them to recital night, too?
Suggested Repertoire: Any piece that corresponds to the student’s favorite stuffies, such as “Little Green Frog”, “My Clever Pup”, and “All the Pretty Little Ponies”.
80. Suessical the Musical
Draw your recital inspiration from the soundtrack of this beloved musical.
Suggested Repertoire: “Oh the Thinks You Can Think”, “It’s Possible”, and “Chasing the Whos”.
81. Summer Serenade
Suggested Repertoire: George Gershwin’s “Summer Time”, “Surfin’ USA”, and ” ‘Tis the Last Rose of Summer”.
82. Surprise Symphony
Haydn’s masterpiece makes for a great recital theme. Pair it with other musical surprises for extra fun.
Suggested Repertoire: “A Surprise For You”, “Pop Goes the Weasel”, and, of course, Surprise Symphony by Joseph Haydn.
83. Take Me Out to the Ballgame
Sports enthusiasts will love this one!
Suggested Repertoire: “The Soccer Song”, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, and your university’s fight song!
84. Tchaikovsky’s Favorites
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky wrote some of the most beloved classical music in history. Sounds like a great recital theme to me!
Suggested Repertoire: Theme from Swan Lake, “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from The Nutcracker, and 1812 Overture.
85. The Four Seasons
Here in Michigan we get to experience the beauty of the four seasons. Why not incorporate them into a recital?
Suggested Repertoire: “Autumn in New York”, “Winter Wonderland”, and The Four Seasons by Vivaldi (or The Seasons by Tchaikovsky).
86. The Great Outdoors
If weather permits, it would be really cool to hold this recital outside!
Suggested Repertoire: “Sunrise and Sunset” from Fiddler On the Roof, “Autumn Leaves”, and “Let’s Plant a Tree”.
87. The Greatest Show On Earth
Kids will love this circus-themed recital.
Suggested Repertoire: “Entry of the Gladiators”, “The Man On the Flying Trapeze”, and “The Clown”.
88. The History of the Piano
Or the violin, or the clarinet, or whatever instrument you happen to teach.
Suggested Repertoire: Anything from Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier, Mozart’s Rondo Alla Turca, and First Interlude for Prepared Piano by John Cage.
89. The Nutcracker
Bring Tchaikovsky’s beloved ballet to life this Christmas season.
Suggested Repertoire: “Waltz of the Flowers”, Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy”, and “Waltz of the Snowflakes”.
90. This Will Cheer You Up
Sometimes you just need to chase the blues away with some happy music.
Suggested Repertoire: “What a Wonderful World”, “Smile”, and “The Sunny Side of the Street”.
91. Time Flies
A musical tribute to time.
Suggested Repertoire: “As Time Goes By” from Casablanca, “I’m Late” from Alice in Wonderland, and “Rock Around the Clock”.
This fun theme has a mischievous bent. Perfect for your spirited music students!
Suggested Repertoire: “Runaway Rabbit”, “Trashin’ the Camp” from Tarzan, and “Maria” from The Sound of Music.
93. Under the Sea
Dive into the ocean (at least musically) for a fun and memorable recital.
Suggested Repertoire: “Baby Shark”, “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid, and, if you’re really brave, the Theme from Jaws.
94. Welcome Springtime!
Celebrate springtime with this fresh and enjoyable recital theme.
Suggested Repertoire: Johann Strauss’s “Voices of Spring”, “A Flower is a Lovesome Thing”, and “April” from Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s Das Jahr.
95. We Love Music!
Let your students play their favorite piece that they’ve learned in the past year.
Suggested Repertoire: Whatever your students love most!
96. We’ve Got the Blues
There are so many fun blues pieces for this one!
Suggested Repertoire: “Got Those Blues”, “Stormy Monday”, and “Memphis Blues”.
97. What’s in a Name?
Every name is unique, and there are a ton of them to be found in music.
Suggested Repertoire: “Liza Jane”, “Barbara Ann”, and “Linus and Lucy”.
98. Winter Wonderland
Embrace the snow and cold with this chilly recital theme.
Suggested Repertoire: “Frosty the Snowman”, “Sleigh Ride”, and Vivaldi’s “Winter” from The Four Seasons.
99. World Turned Upside Down
A recital theme about all things topsy-turvy.
Suggested Repertoire: “Topsy Turvy” from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, “Red Is Blue” from Hoodwinked, and “Masquerade” from The Phantom of the Opera.
100. You Are My Sunshine
Who doesn’t love a nice, sunny day?
Suggested Repertoire: “Sunny Today”, “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone”, and, of course, “You Are My Sunshine”.
What are your favorite recital theme ideas? Share them with us in the comments!
Rick Hess reporting in, from sunny (OK, cloudy, Bellevue). Really enjoy these newsletters – very well done. Many good themes given above!
I’m just emailing to let you know of two recital ideas I did years ago. Both well-received.
#1 – Matching – the students were listed down the left side of the program in performance order. The pieces, though, were not in performance order, listed down the right side of the program. As the recital was progressing the audience had to draw lines from the performer to the piece they guessed they were doing. After the recital I gave the answers and everyone could see how they did. There were probably 20-25 players, with many playing relatively early pieces, so there was a LOT of guessing. Great fun.
#2 – The Recital Juke Box. The program listed the pieces and players, but not who was playing what. To begin the recital, I picked one of the parents, or siblings, or grandparents, etc. to ask what piece they’d like to hear. They said it out loud and the appropriate student marched up and played. Then I’d pick another family member, and so on. The audience loved it; the students all aged a couple of decades. It was a fun format.
That’s it – keep up the great work. Thanks very much – Rick.
Thanks for your reply, Rick! I love those recital theme ideas. My students love anything adventurous and/or surprising, so I will definitely have to try those sometime! I think they would be a hit.
I’m so glad you’re enjoying the newsletters also. I really enjoy putting them together.:)
P.S. It is cloudy here in Michigan, too! Must be October…