Music Practice Tips: Giving a Recital

So you have a recital coming up, or you need to plan one. How can you use your music practice sessions to help?

Music Practice Tips | Hannah B Flute

Giving a recital isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Consider how you can start planning now so that your next recital goes off without a hitch!

Choose the Right Repertoire

One of the first steps to giving a recital doesn’t even involve music practice. But it does involve thinking about music and finding what you want to play.

When planning a recital, listen to a ton of pieces to see what you like. If you have certain repertoire requirements, you can start there. For example, my undergrad recitals needed:

  • A concerto
  • A sonata
  • An unaccompanied piece
  • A chamber piece

If you aren’t in school, perhaps you want to follow a theme for your recital. Perhaps you decide to play music by women or composers of color. Or maybe you want to perform all works by Bach.

You should look for repertoire at or around your playing level. If you’re a flutist, the National Flute Association (NFA) has an excellent graded list of flute pieces.

Another thing to consider is having enough repertoire. If your recital needs to be a certain length, make sure you choose the right number of pieces.

Start Early

As soon as you know you’ll give a recital and have an idea of when that will happen, start practicing. Listen to each of your chosen pieces and get the sheet music.

Take a look at the sheet music and sight read through each piece. I go through more of my learning process in my eBook How to Learn a Piece of Music, which you can download to learn the details!

The sooner you can start practicing, the less you will have to learn right before the recital. That way, you can focus on the details and polishing everything as the performance gets closer.

Plan Your Music Practice

As you start learning your repertoire, you should plan out your practice. You don’t have to plan out every detail, but you should get an idea of when you plan to practice and what you want to practice each day or week.

If you have a busy schedule, you may not get to every piece whenever you practice. And that’s okay! But make sure you know when you can get to each piece so that you can learn the repertoire efficiently.

You can use something like a music practice planner to track each practice session and set goals for future sessions. That way, you can stay on track for your recital.

Your practice plan can be as detailed or as simple as you like. And you can change your practice plan as you learn more of your music.

Develop Your Program Order

As you get to know each of your pieces, you can get an idea of a program order. Some pieces just flow better in one order than another. Fortunately, you can create your program order in a few ways.

First, you can consider the instrumentation of each piece. If you play both flute and piccolo, like me, consider grouping all of your flute pieces together. Then, group all of your piccolo pieces together.

You can also consider if you’re playing with a pianist but also other musicians. If you have two flute trios, for example, you can put them near each other. That way, your collaborators won’t have to go on and off stage a ton of times.

No matter how you order your pieces for your music practice and your recital, consider how you want to start and end it. A showy piece, like a concerto or sonata, can be a good finale. Meanwhile, you may want to start your program with something slow and soothing.

Do a Run Through

Once you get to about a month or two away from the recital, you should start incorporating run throughs into your music practice. You can start by just running through one piece at a time before or after you work on the details of it.

Eventually, you should practice running through your entire program. Go through each piece in order and count any rests as best as you can, even if you aren’t running through everything with your collaborators.

If you find something doesn’t work well, you can change the program order. That way, you can feel good when you run through your program and when you give the performance.

Take It Easy

Once your recital day arrives, take it easy as best as you can! Don’t over-practice because that can cause a few issues. For one, it can psyche you out, especially if your music practice goes very well or very wrong.

Another reason is that you could set yourself up for a performance injury. If you spend all day practicing and then all night performing, that can be problematic for your hands, arms, lips, and more.

In addition to taking a break, be sure you drink enough water. Eat something before your performance, but choose the right food. When I was in high school theatre, one of my classmates ate something spicy and had trouble getting through the show…

Be sure you get to the recital venue early so that you can set up, warm up, and tune. Then, you can relax a bit more right before your recital starts.

Music Practice Just Got Simple

Do you have a recital coming up? Are you looking to improve your music practice?

Giving a recital can be exciting, but it takes a lot of prep work. Fortunately, I have plenty of downloads to help you! And if you need more help, feel free to book a consultation!


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