Spring Means Performances
Giving your students the opportunity to perform is a great way to highlight progress, in addition to getting parents and others out to see what is happening at your studio. This article will touch on ways you might organize the recital as an opportunity to promote your studio, and to encourage and inspire your students. They are, after all, the reason your studio can exist and prosper.
Feature individuals from a group environment
There is a lot of stress involved in standing up in front of others and having that “all alone” feeling. That said, every student wants a chance at the spotlight… every parent (and grandparent) wants to see how their child is growing in skills and confidence.
Explore ways to remove the pressure while providing the rewards. That might come from combining students into groups if your studio is built around private lessons (musical instruments). To feature individuals, trade off for a few measures or phrases if the students are comfortable with that. If your business involves something unique like an art studio, consider a “display” where materials are grouped by class. Co-mingle sets of beginning and advanced materials, it makes sure parents see a variety of materials. Use tags to make sure it’s easy to tell students “which one is mine so I can show it off.”
Class oriented studios may want to think in terms of rotating visibility (front row status) during the performance. Everyone should have a chance to shine. The last thing you’d want is for a student in the back row to feel they’re hidden.
At the same time, you can focus “polishing” on those individual highlights to make sure they’re the best they can be. The ensemble components may not be perfect, but students and parents will usually remember that special moment.
Consider starting and ending with what they’d call in the South a “y’all come” ensemble performance if your space permits. That gives students a chance to shake off nerves at the beginning and provides the opportunity to “end on a high.”
Keep it short
Nothing turns off an audience more than being in uncomfortable seating for a long time. Even when the seating is comfortable, a “long wait” to see a child’s performance can seem interminable for the audience.
Another impact we often don’t think of is how backstage nerves can build as time passes.
Plan for and measure time for getting on and off stage, practice (and time) any announcements.
Nobody complains about a reasonable performance time, anyone can be upset at events that drag on. That is, of course, a less than positive experience you’d rather avoid. As long as everyone gets featured, your mission is accomplished.
During the performance be sure to recognize teachers and other staff as well.
Promotion and Publicity
Make up one page fliers that you can photocopy and send home with students a couple of weeks before the event. Sure, some will never make it to the public… but parents are likely to see them and some will make it onto bulletin boards.
Don’t forget, list the location and time of the event clearly in large print. Adding “Free Performance” also removes any question of cost and may help boost attendance.
Find creative places to post the information. That might be at neighborhood grocery stores, coffee shops… anywhere there is a “general information bulletin board.” Note: Some places expect for you to ask and have the poster approved. When students are putting them up, please remind them to ask and be courteous. Also, taking thumbtacks, a stapler and/or a roll of tape is a big help.
Certificates of progress or completion are wonderful motivators. Lengthy presentation ceremonies are not.
Figure out how to get the certificates to students in a way that [a] they don’t get lost and [b] parents see them and understand the positive way your studio feels about their student’s progress.
One way to handle this is to have certificates on a table outside the performance and ask parents to pick them up as they arrive. Sure, you’ll have some left to mail, but getting them directly to most parents presents another way to reinforce the personal value you place on their child.
If you have the recital before the last lesson or class, then the final session can be spent giving positive feedback (and perhaps distributing leftover certificates).
If you can do so without creating a lot of extra work, make CDs and/or DVDs of the performance available. This involves thinking, as you need to consider recording, cost, duplication and delivery. Still, it adds tremendous exposure. Perhaps consider contracting out duplication and providing “pre-order” with payment outside the performance hall.
These ideas may get you jump-started on ways to make your performance a positive experience for all.