How to Host an Online Piano Recital

online-piano-recital

This Halloween I decided to try something different in my studio – hold an online recital! I love finding ways to use technology in my studio, and I think it’s important to use the technological world our students are growing up in to our advantage. I also wanted to do something fun for Halloween but with a recital coming up in December I didn’t feel like we needed two recitals in close succession.

Advantages of Online Recitals

An online recital has many advantages. First, students are able to “invite” ALL of their grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and friends, no matter where they live! What a fun way to share with family members near and far what your students are learning in piano and what progress they are making. With more “attendees” at this type of recital the students can get more support and more positive feedback. This in turn motivates them to continue to practice and progress.

Second, you don’t need to rent out space for your recital or clean your house and get it all set up for a recital. You simply sit at home in your pajamas and upload all of your students’ videos and format it how you want it, then send it off in an email! You also don’t need to stress about recital refreshments or anything else you usually stress about for recitals.

Another advantage that I discovered is that you are able to see each of your students in their home environment, playing on their own pianos. This can be eye-opening, as you can see the quality, the set-up, and the location of the pianos your students are doing their daily practice on.

A recital of this type also encourages some fun parental involvement (if you have the students record their videos at home, as I did) – parents get to help record the performance, optionally edit the video, and sometimes (if they play the piano) they may have the opportunity to play a duet with their child for the recital video.

Now obviously you would not want to hold every recital in this format, but it is a fun way to change things up once a year or so.

I would like to share how I hosted my online recital and all of the steps leading up to it.

Before the Recital: Making Performance Videos

Before the online recital was posted on Halloween, my students did have an opportunity to perform their pieces for each other in a group class. I think performance practice is an essential part of recital prep no matter what type of performance they are involved in. We practiced announcing pieces and bowing, and I had the students write little notes to each other, including what they liked about each performance.

I sent a note home to parents after the group class explaining how the online recital would work (the note also had a little chart for students to mark off after they had completed 5 practice performances, which they had to do before recording their video). Students were each responsible, with their parents’ help, for recording a performance of their recital piece at home. I told them that they could have fun with it and dress up in costume if they would like. We had a ninja, a princess, Mary Poppins, a witch, Darth Vader, and even Napoleon Dynamite performing in our recital! A few students opted to not dress up. There were also a couple of students who strung some spooky Halloween lights across their piano or used fun video effects to make their performance extra spooky.

Many of the students’ pieces had a teacher duet part. A couple of the parents who play the piano accompanied their child at home in their video performance; others I played with them and we recorded a second video during their lesson the week before the recital.

I gave students a deadline for sending me their videos. I found that it was easiest for them to just text me the videos – with smartphones that most people have these days it couldn’t get easier! You can have students record using a smartphone, if they want to edit the video they can use iMovie or similar video editing apps on their phone or computer, then attach the video to a text message.

Uploading the Videos to YouTube

Once I had all of the videos, I uploaded them to YouTube. YouTube has 3 options for privacy – I made sure to mark each of the videos as “Unlisted” and explained to the parents in advance that the videos would be unlisted and not available to view unless you have the link. Once I had all of the videos uploaded, I created a Playlist on my YouTube channel and also marked that as Unlisted.

With all of the videos in the playlist, I moved them around in the order that I chose. It’s very easy to click and drag the videos into whatever order you want once they are in the playlist. The advantage of using a YouTube playlist is that it will play all of the videos in a row automatically; so even if someone starts in the middle of the playlist it will continue through the whole recital.

Creating a Digital Recital Program

Next, I used Word to create a recital program. I changed the page background to orange (because, Halloween!), found a fun font and entered in all of the students’ names with the names of their pieces. I decided to just use first names and last initials, as this was going to be emailed around to friends and family. I ended up using a table to enter in all of the students and their pieces, then made the table border and lines transparent. Once the program was all typed up, here came the fun part!

I went to my YouTube playlist in my internet browser and, one by one, clicked on each student’s video (*be sure that you have the actual playlist opened, not just the individual videos you uploaded to your YouTube channel; if you use the video in the playlist it will continue to play each of the other performances after the selected one). After clicking on a video, I selected the URL address at the top of the browser and copied it. Then I went back to Word, selected that specific student’s name, then right-clicked on their name. From the menu that pops up I selected “Hyperlink.” I then created a hyperlink by pasting in the copied URL address. I also changed the font style of the hyperlink so that it would not make the words blue and underlined (which is the default hyperlink setting). I wanted an orange program with all black words. See the following images for help in adding a hyperlink of a YouTube video to a Word document:

online-recital-3

online-recital-2

 

online-recital-4

I went through each video and changed each student’s name AND the name of their piece to a hyperlink linking directly to their performance video in my playlist. I also put a link at the top of the program that linked to the full playlist, so you could simply click on that and watch the whole thing. In addition, I created a Google form where viewers could leave comments and feedback for each of the students; there is also a link to that at the top of the recital program.

One important thing that I did when making the recital program was I did NOT click on the hyperlinks until AFTER I had saved the recital program as a PDF. This was because once a hyperlink was clicked on, it changed the color of the font. I am sure there is a way around this, such as customizing the font color and style once the link is clicked on, but I couldn’t figure it out. So I entered in all of the hyperlinks, made sure it all looked good, saved it as a PDF, and then opened the PDF and tested ALL of the links. I made sure they all worked and linked to the correct video.

Click the following link to see what my digital recital program looked like. For the privacy of my students, I have removed all of the hyperlinks except for the one of my performance at the bottom of the program.

online-halloween-recital-program-without-hyperlinks

Creating a Comments Form Using Google Docs

I created a simple form using Google Docs where recital viewers could leave nice comments to the students after watching the recital. I thought this would be a positive way to receive feedback, since they wouldn’t get instant feedback like a traditional recital where viewers are clapping for the student immediately after their performance and congratulating them afterwards. I wrote a little explanation at the top of the form, then made a “question” for each student; I simply entered in each student’s name for each “question” and then changed the answer to a paragraph response.

Emailing the Recital

Once the recital program was complete, I made a simple recital “invite” and saved it as a jpg file. I then sent an email to all of my piano students’ parents (I always use BCC in the “to” field when emailing all parents – this makes it so each person cannot see all of the other email addresses I sent the email to, and when they respond to me it does not send an email to EVERYONE on the list). To this email I attached the recital invite image so it would show up in the email when it was opened, and the digital recital program PDF. Students could then forward on the email to whoever they wanted to view the recital – grandparents, friends, cousins, whoever!

online-halloween-recital-invitation

This was a lot of fun and a positive experience for my studio. I hope it helped give you some fun ideas for your next recital!

Happy teaching!

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Jennifer Boster

4 Responses to “How to Host an Online Piano Recital

  • D'Anne Ibarra
    1 year ago

    What a great idea, Jenny. I appreciate all the technical instructions too. I can see this working during the winter in Michigan!

    • Jenny
      1 year ago

      Ooh, great idea D’Anne – excellent for a cold snowy winter, then everyone can watch from home 🙂

  • Fabulous idea. Thanks for including so many details.—PianobyNan