Episode 028 – Allison McDonald on Branding Your Next Studio Recital

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With spring officially here, that means recital season for so many music teachers. Today we’re taking the branding conversation we been having over the last few episodes, and applying it to our studio events, like recitals!

Joining me is Allison McDonald, an event planner from St. Louis.

Now, I know most of us aren’t hiring event planners to coordinate our recitals and the majority of our prep time is probably spent choosing rep and rehearsing students. But while we’re on the topic of focusing our studios to serve our ideal students well and communicating our brand values through the way we run those studios, it got me thinking about recitals and how we might approach those events with more intentionality.


Allison described the two sides to a successful event: logistics and guest experience.


  • Potential Locations
    • Churches
    • Community centers (getting your recital listed on community calendars can also be a way to boost attendance!)
    • Libraries
    • Small, local performance venues
    • Piano/instrument dealerships
    • Private homes
    • High school/college auditoriums
  • Communicating with venues
    • Confirm that the date is free
    • Be clear about when you will have access to the space for setup and when cleanup needs to be complete.
    • Ask what you are and are not responsible for in terms of cleanup.
    • Get things in writing. If your venue doesn’t provide a contract, develop your own contract that outlines these details.
    • Confirm details in advance, even if it feels like you’re belaboring points. Allison has had experiences where the wedding venue was double-booked.


  • If you’re planning a large event, enlisting the help of professionals or volunteer parents can help lessen your workload so you can focus on greeting people and making a great student/audience experience.
  • Consider including a photographer or videographer to document the day. You’ll be able to use the media to promote your studio and also as an additional revenue stream.
  • If your venue has special lighting or a sound booth, figure out if the venue provides staff for these roles or if you need to manage them yourself.
  • When interviewing vendors, pay attention to whether or not your personalities are compatible because you might be working closely with them through stressful moments.
  • Make sure you are on the same page as your vendors. Share your vision clearly through images and keywords so they can add their creativity and expertise to enhance the event.


  • Narrow your focus and be consistent. Don’t try to be everything on one event.
  • To get clear on your vision, consider these questions:
    • What do I want this event to achieve?
    • How do I want people to feel during the event? After?
  • Some ways to communicate your brand values through an event include:
    • Using consistent colors and images
    • Being intentional about the spoken remarks from the stage
    • Thoughtful favors and giveaways. Don’t give favors just to give favors, try to be personalized and intentional
      • Ideas: give away a favorite music book, cookies from a local bakery emblazoned with your logo, bags of candy or chocolate with logo stickers, etc.
  • Identify keywords to describe your event and share these words with vendors to help them capture the vision with their own creative contributions

Organization and Logistics

  • Allison keeps a folder on her computer with all the contracts and files associated with her current events. After the event, these folders become a digital archive to reference for future event planning.
  • Before an event, she prints hard copies of contracts and contact information so it’s easily accessible on the day of the event.
  • Pre-plan as much as possible! Allison creates a minute-by-minute timeline for the day of the event to help it run smoothly. She also creates a thorough packing list for things she needs to bring, including personal care items like a water bottle and snacks.


  • You might not be able to negotiate on the price of a venue or vendor, but you can try to negotiate value added services, like custodial services or the use of chairs or other equipment.
  • Consider selling tickets or including recital fees to defray the cost of hosting large events.
  • If you hire a videographer or photographer to cover the event, you might be able to make arrangements with them to sell photos or a compilation video and create an additional revenue stream for your studio.


    • Allison makes time to send thank you notes to vendors and volunteers to recognize them for their contributions to the event.
    • Sometimes problems arise and Allison has to address issues with a vendor or follow up on a refund.
    • Events can be stressful, so Allison is intentional about post-event self care. She recommends doing something like taking a hike or getting a massage to celebrate the successful event and refresh yourself for the next big project!






Facebook Ticketing through Eventbrite

Connect with Allison

Website: Flourishstl.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/flourisheventsstl/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/flourish_events/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/FlourishSTLam/

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Episode 027 – Tim Topham on Building a Specialized Teaching Studio
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Episode 029 – Lee Stockner on Going Deep to Serve Students with Special Needs