Planning and Preparing for Your Recital by Heidi Castleman

The following post is by Heidi Castleman.

Planning and Preparing for Your Recital
So, you want to give a recital?  What are the steps assuring a successful performance?  Planning and well-paced preparation are the keys.
Recital Preparation: General Principles
A.  First stage
● Know the date of your performance and plan backwards (flexibly, please!)
● Identify and learn the most difficult sections of your works first (slowly and cleanly at first)
● Next, identify and learn the sections of medium difficulty
B. As practice, use repetition intelligently
● This is the key to building performance consistency
● Choose a unit small enough to be experienced as uninterrupted whole
    * do with a knowledge of the whole score
    * silence between repetitions will facilitate automatic self-correction
● Combine units to make larger sections, ultimately repeating whole movements
C.  As concert date approaches
● Spend more time playing through whole movements, entire pieces
● Work to reduce the number of places requiring warm-up to play piece well
  • Take time for large expanses of uninterrupted playing; allows one to “be there”  (as opposed to over-directing with the analytical mind)
D. Use ongoing performance opportunities (enjoying being heard is essential!)
● Play through material either at end or beginning of practice session
● Record material just practiced
● Play for supportive friends/family
● Play for play-through class or small group
● Play for studio class/other master class
● Play run-through(s)
(fill performing space with playing, welcome audience, give to audience)
E. Visualize performance including events leading up to and following the concert
● purpose to create an emotional road map of the experience
● if negative feelings, choose how want to feel, visualize again with new feeling
Recital Planning: Task List
Recital preparation plan:
● Make weekly plans, including what is to be heard at each lesson, both viola alone and with piano, as well as plans for performance in Play-through and/or Studio Class.
● Allow two weeks at the end of your preparation for classroom run-through about 10 days before recital, and hall run-through time around two days before.
Arrange run-throughs:
First or classroom run-through:
Ten days to two weeks preceding the recital, pre-recital classroom run-through should be heard by a teacher or someone whose musical judgment you trust.  Be sure to consult with your pianist and other performing colleagues (if relevant) about availability before setting a time and reserving a room.
● Inviting guests is encouraged.
    ● The recital material should be at an acceptable level and from memory where relevant.
● Make arrangements to record this run-through!!
   ● It is best if this run-through can be done in program order.
Second or hall run-through:
Often, you will have limited time in the hall, so it is important to arrive early and plan in advance how best to utilize your time.
Recording Your Recital
Make arrangements to have your recital recorded!
Do not keep your recital a secret!  Posters, invitations, facebook, word-of-mouth are helpful.
Other recital-related tasks
It is your responsibility to arrange for a page turner.
Recital Run-throughs
Focus of First Run-through:
1) listen to piano carefully
2) play room (listen from back of hall or imagine doing so if in a room)
3) sing with great interval connection; breathing
4) awareness of metric and phrase structure

5) follow momentum of the phrases
6) pacing of recital; where will you need fresh energy?
7) unify tempo
Focus of Second run-through:
1) greeting, establishing atmosphere
2) position of stand, piano
3) bowing
4) starting movements/ listen to piano/ listen in back of hall
5) balance
6) use hall sound to allow extremes of expression; don’t let it neutralize colors

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