Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Studio House Concert (Times 5)

A few days ago, I held a year-end studio recital in 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.

9 comments:

  1. I've been doing this every Christmas for a few years - pretty much the way you did. The fun thing at Christmas is that I put their names into a Santa hat - draw the first one myself to see who starts - then each student draws the name of the next student. Adds to the fun!
    I like the mix, like you said, of levels of students that end up playing in any one recital.
    And I have enough leftover goodies for weeks...

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    1. Thanks LaDona. The Santa hat idea sounds like a lot of fun.

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  2. Sounds wonderful!

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    1. Alice, it certainly was!

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  3. Thanks for your blog. I'm just starting one from the perspective of the harp and have found it great to read yours from the world of piano. When it comes to student concerts I admit I have been really slack but will be organising some later this year in nearby homes for the elderly so we can give to the community while encouraging performance experience for students.

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    1. Thanks Megan. Tell me how it goes.

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  4. I sincerely believe that the home concerts are actually more entertaining and allow parents and friends the opportunity to enjoy the music and festivities far more than dressing up to go to the concert hall. My piano students sometimes bring their electronic keyboards and play out in the front of the house for people passing by. Of course, when we have our home concerts they sit behind the good ole gran piano and play away :)

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  5. Great news! The more concerts the better, and it's great that you're doing this even without a lot of space.

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  6. Anonymous6:20 PM

    I agree with Rain. I also find busking to be sincerely enjoyable. It's personal, it's a great way to entertain people, and it's a more lasting experience. I used to do that with my electric piano.

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