my new home studio. This was an entirely new venture, as although I'm a huge fan of home concerts, up to now I haven't had enough space at home to actually hold one.
Given the dimensions of the studio, I estimated that I would be able to seat 20 people at a time. Assuming that each performer brought an average of two people, a concert sitting would only be able to accomodate 5-6 performers without overcrowding the room. But since I would be needing to accommodate close to 75 people (including students, parents, and friends), there would need to be not one, but at least four of these concerts throughout the day.
Here is where circumstance and the busy schedules of my Oakville students and parents came into play to make the format work. Since most families would only be available for a short window of time in the late morning or afternoon, it became a necessity to schedule multiple concert times. And since each recital would end up being 25-30 minutes in length, I could schedule recitals each hour, allowing for a half-hour reception after each performance.
A month before the performance day, I put out a sign-up sheet for four hourly recitals starting at 1pm. They quickly filled up and I added a fifth recital for 11am. Each student signed up for the number of people they would be bringing, and once the magic number of 20 was reached, the program was closed. This format meant that I couldn't control exactly who played when in the course of the afternoon, but each concert ended up being a mix of junior and advanced performers.
Since there is considerably less formality in a house concert compared to the concert hall, I decided to entirely do away with programs for the event and only asked each student to introduce their pieces before they played. The dress code for the afternoon was listed as "Strictly Casual", so no student would be prevented by concert attire from jumping on our backyard trampoline following the concert. Each family brought some food for the reception, so it turned out that the event was as much a culinary occasion as a musical one.
The concerts were short and sweet (a blessing compared to many epic studio recitals taking place at this time of the year), parents got the chance to connect and chat, and several were kind enough to bring friends interested in enrolling their children in lessons for next season. I plan on doing several of these events throughout the year, and the informal, non-competitive spirit of the concerts may inspire yet more students to take the next step into more competitive situations such as festivals or competitions.
Teachers: how do you structure your own home studio recitals? If you have any ideas or best practices, leave them in the comments.