Recital Communication: A Week-by-Week Guide

I hear stories of teachers getting inundated by last minute questions from parents about recitals. “Where is the recital?” “What is Emma supposed to wear?” “Is Jack playing this piece or that one?”

I confess, I have a hard time relating. It could be that I’m spoiled by exceptional studio parents (I think they’re pretty great!). But I think it has more to do with the effort I put in to communicating the recital details in the months beforehand.

Here’s a timeline of the communication plan I follow for recitals:

2-3 Months Out

Teaser Email

At the beginning of the semester I sent a “welcome back” email and included this little announcement about our next recital:

“Our fall recital will be on a weekend afternoon in late October or early November. I’ll keep you posted on the details!”

I don’t give any specifics until the venue and time are set. I do like to provide the general timeframe so that if I’ve missed something major (like a school holiday) a parent will tell me at this stage and I can make adjustments.

Start Talking About Recital in lessons

I also start talking to students and parents in their lessons about the upcoming recital. We begin selecting music around this time, which gets everyone pumped up!

6-8 Weeks Out

Save the Date Email

Once I’ve finalized the venue, date, and time, I send an email that looks like this:

Subject: Fall Recital Info

Fall Recital

Time: Sunday, November 5, 2017 at 3pm

Location: Steinway Gallery

123 Main Street

Feel free to invite friends and family!

The format of this email is always the same and I keep it limited to just the details for the recital. I give it an obvious subject line so parents can easily search for it in their email account.

I have amazingly supportive studio families and I’ll often get an offer or two to help with the post-recital reception after I send the teaser email or this one.

2 Weeks Out

Detailed Email

As the recital date draws nearer, I send the recital info email again, with some additional notes about parking, proper attire, a reminder to bring music even for memorized pieces, notes about the reception afterward, how early students should arrive to get settled or warmed up, etc.

If I haven’t had any offers for help with the reception, this is the time when I would ask.  Be specific about the help you’re looking for so people aren’t afraid to volunteer:

“I’m looking for three families to bring a dozen cookies each and two families to bring their favorite kid-friendly beverages. Please let me know if you can help!”

One time, I sent individual emails to each family at this point and listed the songs their student(s) would be playing. Usually this isn’t necessary, but this particular time, there had been some last minute program changes and I wanted to be sure there was no confusion. Use your judgement!

If you’re at risk of having inclement weather, this is also a good time to remind everyone how you’ll make any cancellation announcements.

Paper Invites

I’m a digital girl, but I also print up a stack of paper invites and give each student a handful to share with friends and family. I’ve had kids give these invitations to their teachers at school, share them with their friends, and send them to their grandparents. It lets them take ownership of the recital and it gets my studio name out there!

Facebook Event

If you have a studio Facebook page, now is the time to set up the event there, too!

A few days before

Final Email

I resend the same email with all the recital details and answer any questions parents have asked in the last week. I figure if one parent asks, three more are wondering the same thing.

I also take a moment in this email to thank the parents for their support and offer encouragement to the students. This message sets the tone for the event!

Do What Works

This may seem over-the-top, but it seems to work for my studio. Spelling out all the details well in advance and repeating them regularly as the recital draws nearer ensures that there is no confusion for students or their parents.  A little preparation can go a long way in making sure you have a high level of participation in your recital.

Stay tuned for next week’s post, when I’ll share how I automate this process!

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