My students and I have been planning this year’s recital for several months now.
We chose a theme, I assigned their pieces, they worked hard to learn them, and we set a date, time, and venue.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit my home state of Michigan and our lives changed almost overnight.
The idea of having an in-person recital is pretty much a non-starter this year. As much as I hate to call it off and disappoint the kids, it’s not worth putting everyone’s health at risk (or potentially breaking a government ban).
You might find yourself in that boat as well, but there is some good news!
We don’t have to give up on having a recital all together.
Instead, there is a very doable recital alternative: enter the virtual recital.
If you are in the midst of moving your recital online, here are some dos and don’ts for your consideration.
Here are some tips to make your virtual recital as successful as possible.
Do Get Written Permission from Parents
If your students are underage, make sure that you have their parent or guardian sign a consent form giving you permission to record their child’s performance.
Make sure the parents know that the recordings will be made into a video as part of the virtual recital.
Most parents will probably be fine with this, but it’s always best to make sure.
Do Explain the Concept to Students
Most students haven’t heard of or participated in a virtual recital, so you might need to explain how it’s going to work.
I tried to frame it as an adventure when talking to my students, and so far they’ve all been excited about the idea!
Do Rehearse the Performance
Like with any other recital, students will need to be reminded of performance etiquette.
You’ll want to take a few minutes to remind them how to announce their pieces, bow, sit (or stand) up straight while playing, etc.
Practicing the performance as well as their pieces will help the students feel more confident and prepared.
Bonus tip: use stuffed animals as a practice audience for extra fun.
Do Make a Virtual Program
It’s nice for the students and their families to have an actual program to follow during the recital, even if it’s a virtual one.
I used Microsoft Word to create mine so that I can embed the performance videos directly into the program.
(Jennifer from The Playful Piano has a helpful post explaining how to do this).
Do Set Guidelines for Sharing
I’ve asked the parents of my students to only forward the recital videos to friends and family who would have normally attended the recital.
They have also agreed not to post videos of any student performances on social media without the permission of that student’s parent or guardian.
That way each family can be assured that they’ll have some control over who does and doesn’t have access to a video of their child.
Here are a few things you’ll want to avoid.
Don’t Ask The Parents to Do the Recording
With everything parents have on their plates right now (school closures, etc.), it’s best not to add anything else to their to-do lists.
If you can, wait until you’re able to resume in-person lessons with your students and make the recordings yourself.
Besides, that gives you extra time to practice the performance and make sure the recording is formatted the way you prefer.
Don’t Make the Video Available to the Public
If you’re uploading the performances to YouTube, make sure that the video is Unlisted.
A Public YouTube video is accessible to any stranger that could be searching the site, and you don’t want that if your students are minors.
Important Note: Make sure the video is marked as Unlisted rather than Private. Unlisted YouTube videos can be viewed by anyone who has the video link. Private videos can only be viewed by the person who uploaded them.
Don’t Use Full Names for Underage Students
If you have underage students participating in the virtual recital, make sure you don’t identify them by their full name (either in the performance videos or in the recital program).
I’ve used only first names and last initials for my young students.
Again, we’re just trying to do everything possible to protect our students and their privacy.
Don’t Worry About Making It Perfect
When you first started planning this recital, you probably didn’t have a virtual one in mind. I know I didn’t, but circumstances have made it necessary.
In fact, it’s more than okay. It’s a great way to set an example to our students on what it looks like to be flexible and resourceful during difficult times.
Maybe our videos will be less than professional grade and we’ll miss the atmosphere of a traditional recital, but we’re doing the best we can in a hard situation.
As my piano teacher used to say, “Strive for excellence, not perfection.”
The Bottom Line
Do the best you can, and don’t stress about the change in plans.
Focus on making the virtual recital experience as enjoyable as possible for you, your students, and their families.
Hopefully it will be a great memory for you all to look back on someday!
Have you ever hosted a virtual recital, or would you consider it? Let me know in the comments!