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by Alyssa Cowell

As the studio gears up for recital season, it’s a great time to review the finer points of recital etiquette; for both participants and audience members! Students usually receive some sort of instruction for how to behave when it’s their turn to perform but may not know what they’re supposed to do before and after their moment in the spotlight. Here are a few reminders for ensuring everyone involved is going to enjoy recital day.

Performers should prepare diligently. This may seem like a no-brainer, but, practicing ahead of recital is the first and most important step for a successful and enjoyable recital performance. Students who wait to prepare their piece can only associate feelings of stress and panic with performance opportunities because they lack confidence that their piece is ready. Remind students that the miracle of a good performance is the result of taking time daily to work a little at a time.

Performers should dress for success. After all the care and attention that goes into the preparation of a piece, students should show respect for their work by presenting themselves as performers. The audience is better equipped to take a performer seriously when he or she looks the part!

Performers should acknowledge the audience. Even if it is the worst performance of a student’s musical career, the audience in a recital hall is going to give him a round of applause at the end of his piece. Performers should be reminded that no matter what, when the audience thanks them for their performance with applause, the performer responds with a bow of acknowledgment.

Once a recital participant has finished their performance, they become part of the audience for all the other participants. Reviewing the traits of a good audience member can make an especial difference for younger performers with little recital experience.

Sit quietly and listen to the other performers. Remind students that they are part of the audience much longer than they are on stage – so part of their job is to support their fellow performers by paying attention to the other performances.

Enthusiastically support the other performers. Make applauding part of the student’s job! It uses up excess adrenaline and calms pre-performance nerves, and makes the performers feel good about their performance. Lackluster audience response lowers a performer’s confidence. Remind your students to be part of the solution!

Plan to be present for the entire recital. Audience members who leave during the middle of the recital are disrespectful to the performers and organizers of the event. Encourage students ahead of the recital date to plan on staying until the recital is complete. This way everyone has full audience support for their performance.

Even the youngest recital performers can start out with an awareness of good audience etiquette. Taking time before the performance date to talk through the details can help everyone know what to expect from a recital and gives everyone involved confidence that the performance has been planned with care.