By Patrick Fritz
At The Catoctin School of Music, we have a fairly large guitar studio. This means that recitals have to be well organized and run very smoothly to fit all of the students into a given timeframe. The combination of performance nerves and logistical concerns has the potential to make for a stressful experience for students, faculty, and parents. To alleviate some of the inherent stresses associated with high volume recitals, our guitar staff created a Recital Information Sheet, a.k.a – the “Recital Interview.”
In a beginner’s hands, the classical guitar is often a very quiet instrument. This makes it necessary to mic each performer before they play. Guitarists also use adjustable footstools and require chairs of specific height to accommodate their stature. Even at a fast pace, there is inevitable dead time in between each performance as microphones are adjusted, music stands are moved, tuning is double checked, footstools are raised or lowered, music stands are added or removed, etc.
A few years ago, our guitar staff devised a way to fill the dead space with commentary unique to each student. A few weeks before the recital, we “interview” our students. The student responses are read aloud by an announcer and include information about the student and the piece to be performed. Additional information includes fun facts and biographical information about the student performing. It is helpful to have a charismatic announcer!
The recital information sheet has evolved over the years to suit our needs. We began with the student’s age, grade, school name, piece, and composer. Then we added questions about any hobbies they might have, or additional musical instruments they may play. To liven up the mood in a sometimes stressful situation, we started asking the students some silly or topical questions. “If you could have one super power, what would it be?” “What would be the first thing you would do if you were elected president?”
We always ask more questions than we need. If the set-up time is moving more slowly than anticipated, the announcer can fill time with more information. If set-up runs smoothly, less information is given. We find that students also enjoy being “interviewed” as part of the pre-recital ritual. They get to share a little bit about themselves, and they have another chance to see the recital as something fun to look forward to.
We always receive positive comments about our recitals. We do our best to make the event organized and relaxed. The recital interview questions take the edge off for overly nervous performers and most of the students and the parents look forward to the next recital. If you are looking to liven up your recitals, try a recital interview!