Tired of the usual spring or fall recital? Well, you might not be the only one–your students might be a little bored as well! Our local music teachers association came together recently and talked about different recital themes we could use to liven up our yearly performances. Teachers who have done this before mentioned how much more interesting the performance is as well as how much more excited their students are when there is a theme. Below, I have compiled a list of over 40 themes from our local association as well as ComposeCreate Facebook followers. I’d love to hear what ideas you have tried!
Music at the Movies
- Provide popcorn for guests (or ask a local popcorn store to supply the popcorn)
- Have a door prize of popcorn bucket and popcorn
- Used digital keyboards for fun sounds
- You could make this an “Academy Awards” recital and find oscar like trophies to award to students
- Find a red carpet for the students to walk down!
Music Around the World or Musical Travelogue
- Each student asked to present a paragraph about their piece (like Music around the World)
- Students mark where the piece was from on a map
- Make the program look like a passport
- Here’s a long list of world music pieces divided by level
Music Around Europe
- Spanish dances
Happy Birthday ________! (insert your state name here)
- Birthday cake
- Recital program on birthday paper
- Trivia information about your state
- Kansas themes: Wizard of Oz, Home on the Range, Over the Rainbow, Walnut River Rag
Sounds of Color
- Show a video of nature shots, first in black and white, then in color
- Sonatina in Colors, Splash of Color (Dennis Alexander), Sketches in Color (Robert Starer), Vandall has some pieces, Color My World
- Programs were on different colors of paper
- Parents make cookies in different colors
- Use student artwork
Hooray for the USA or Patriotic/Hymn Recital
- These are great for nursing homes
- Instead of having a program, have a “Name That Tune” contest with the residents.
- Use a call bell and after the student has played, ask the residents to name that tune. If they get it right, the student rings the bell (usually several times because its fun!)
- Repertoire can be about states, regions, patriotic
My Favorite Things – Christmas
- Use this as a Christmas recital theme
- The artwork had to be a drawing of their favorite things at Christmas
- The students share a favorite Christmas memory (or they write it out and the teacher shares it)
- Older students can make their own arrangement of a favorite Christmas piece if it was polished
- You could also have a My Favorite Music theme for times other than Christmas
Back to the Future – 300th Anniversary of the Piano
Christmas Around the World
Funny Recital or April Fool’s Recital
- Have a recital around April Fool’s day and ask the parents and students to submit jokes and tell them between the pieces.
- Here’s a list of humorous piano pieces.
Jazz Recital (e.g. “All that Jazz”)
- Ask a jazz ensemble to come and play with each student’s piece.
- Ask a drummer to accompany students.
- Use the blues scale on the piano or improvise.
- Move your digital keyboard out to your patio.
- Pre-record sounds
- Blankets, lawn chairs and picnic food
A World of Adventure
- Repertoire includes: Parade, Train Ride, Circus, Dragon Hunt, Toccata Brilliante, Midnight Choo Choo, State Fair, Nothing like a Circus, Cuban Nights, Jamaica vacation
Animals, Animals (or Carnival of the Animals)
Water Music (apologies to G.F. Handel)
- Rainy Afternoon, Wandering Music, At the Bottom of the Sea
- Water represented indifferent forms like “Joplin When Your Hair is Like the Snow” Faber 2B Tecnique “Winter Wind” and 3A Technique Tropical Aquarium and MFPA book B Gliding Goldfish
- Handel’s music for prelude music
“A Musical Journey Through the Ages” – Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Contemporary Recital Program
- Group music according to the time periods
- You could also do a “Baroque to Rock” theme and include pop music
- PIeces about Kings, queens, knights, etc.
- Possible repertoire: Ballroom dance, Greensleeves, Festival in Aragon, Dance of the Persian Princess, The Glass Slipper, Lady Alison’s Minuet
- For more ideas including ideas for snacks and decorations, visit the Dollarhide Music Center blog!
Fairy Tales, Fantasy Recital
- Could include some of the more recent film music like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, etc.
- Good for adult students especially
Stars and Planets
Creatures Great and Small
Classics and Folksongs
Music We Wrote
- Obviously featuring student compositions
A Pair of Shus
- Featuring music of Schumann and Schubert
An Afternoon at the Opera
Pirates and Fairies
- Make the recital program look like a menu.
- Placed songs in several categories: appetizers, main course, sides, and dessert.
- You might have to stretch some of the titles to make them fit the theme
- You could make this into a dinner recital and have ethnic food.
Bugs and Butterflies
- You can find all kinds of recipes online for various snacks that look like bugs!
- Repertoire abounds in this category. See Valerie’s post Recital Themes: Bugs and Butterflies for a great list and more ideas on this theme.
- Valerie from Dollarhide Music Center has a post about repertoire, snacks, and other things to do with this theme here.
- Repertoire ideas: Pomp and circumstance, wedding marches, military/patriotic marches
Music to Scare You Away (Halloween theme)
Handel with Care
- You can guess the repertoire. This (and several others here including the Pair of Shus) was suggested by Meri Dolevski-Lewis, a pianist who played such a concert with her husband.
Bach to Spring
Invitation to the Dance
Suites and Treats
- Light sounding pieces or pieces with light in the title
Other thoughts on themed recitals:
- Mini theme within each level (especially if you have very young and high school students).
- To strengthen the kids memory: Colored starting places instead of lettered starting places. Use shapes.
- Video your students saying why piano is so cool. Show the video as part of your program. Have a contest to see what student can come up with the best background music.
- Use trivia at recitals (there are especially good ones about Christmas music)
- Older students’ classical pieces can usually be incorporated in some way
- Before the recital (or as a part of the recital), play a video of beautiful pictures with student improv as the background music. See Anne Crosby’s post about this.
What are your ideas for recital themes?