By Nellie Vinograd
A recital is a fantastic opportunity to invite your community to celebrate your growth and enjoy your beautiful music. You’ve been practicing, challenging yourself, and dealing with low moments and high achievements with grace. Now isn’t it time to show off a little?
Choosing the pieces you’re going to perform will require careful thought, so start planning as soon as possible. Do you want to show off your range and perform a diverse array of music, or focus on one theme or a particular style? The most essential thing is to choose the pieces you feel most comfortable with – challenging yourself is great for practice, but when you’re up on stage you’ll want to feel totally confident. Along with this, consider which songs you’ll be able to memorize. Finally, and this is a bit subjective, but it never hurts to end on a fun crowd-pleaser.
Regardless of what songs you choose, aim for a total run-time of about 30-60 minutes. It’s common (and advised) to have a brief intermission or a few breaks to rest your voice, so remember to account for that when planning. Once you have a rough idea of what you’ll want to sing, do a full run-through to get a feel for your stamina and see if you need to cut anything.
Finding any affordable venue can be tricky, especially one that fits your needs, has seating, a stage area and a piano. One option is to start your search with local churches, schools or community centers. They’ll usually have lower prices than for-profit spaces and could even have an area you can use free-of-charge. Along with that, ask around at music studios, professional and community theatres, and even hotels to learn about their available venues. If someone has a piano at their home, this could even be a viable option depending on how professional you want to appear. If possible, rent your performance space for a rehearsal time as well as for your recital. You’ll be astoundingly more at ease as a performer if you’re in a familiar place and know its acoustics.
If you don’t have a piano-playing friend who owes you a favor, you’ll have to pay up to get a professional accompanist for your recital. If you’re in a pinch, you can use recorded backings and play them over a stereo, but your recital will have a more polished look and sound if you have someone playing live. Many regions will have local listings for hiring musicians for particular gigs, or you can always try reaching out to people online or via social media.
About one to two weeks before your recital, you’ll want to print up a program for your audience. A basic program just needs to have your name, the titles and composers of your songs and the total run-time. One nice touch is to include lyrics or translations if you’re singing songs in foreign languages. To add a splash of personality, come up with a fun title for the recital as a whole, like “A Joyful Evening of Song” or “Winter Tunes with [Your Name Here]” Some singers also like to include a “Thank You” section to show gratitude for instructors and other supporters.
Set a date, time and location and send your invitations out about a month in advance. If you’re new to singing or nervous in front of audiences, it can feel like an awkward experience deciding who will attend. Be sure to invite people who will appreciate your music and who you feel comfortable around. And if you feel obligated to invite someone who might make you feel judged, just remember this is your recital and your time to shine – not theirs.
Choose a classy outfit that makes you feel confident and that won’t be too distracting. Recitals are often formal events but you also aren’t obligated to be in black-tie attire if that isn’t your style. Also, the following cannot be stressed enough: Wear. Comfortable. Shoes. This is not the time to pull out the six-inch stilettos or the Italian leather boots that always pinch your toes. You want to feel supported and comfortable, especially because you’ll be standing on a hard stage for about an hour.
It can be courteous to plan a small reception after the recital to provide food and drink for your audience. This is a totally optional aspect of the recital process, of course, but something to consider all the same.
You’ve worked hard, so it can be great to have something to show for it and look back on. Think about if you’d like the recital to be recorded, and how: do you want audio and video? Do you want to hire a professional so your family doesn’t have to be distracted during your performance? Plan these things out at least a few weeks before your performance date so you can make all the arrangements necessary.
Details on the big day
Arrive to your venue at least an hour before your start-time so you can check over the space, do a speed-run of the recital, make any needed changes to things like lighting, and, most importantly, do an effective warm-up. Make sure you have a glass of water or water bottle nearby so you can refresh your voice as needed. You can choose to greet your audience as they come in or have them seat themselves as you wait off stage. Just always keep in mind that this is your big day and you’ve worked hard to get here, so enjoy it!
For more on how to perform in front of a crowd, click above for a great tutorial on performing!