Recital Checklist: Preparing for a Successful Recital Performance

Performing in a recital is a significant milestone for any music student. It’s an opportunity to showcase your hard work, share your musical journey, and grow as a musician and performer.

However, forgetting something important in the weeks leading up to your recital date can make the experience of performing more stressful than it needs to be.

To ensure you’re fully prepared, we’ve created a comprehensive pre-recital checklist to help you feel confident and ready for your big day.

Printable Pre-Recital Checklist

We’ve created an itemized to-do list of essential tasks leading up to a recital performance. Save, print, or screenshot our handy pre-recital checklist below, so you have access to all of this must-know information as you navigate this process. The checklist is available in both colour and black & white.

Download the Printable Pre-Recital Checklist here!

1-3 Months in Advance

1. Choose piece(s) to perform

Selecting the pieces you will perform is one of the first and most important steps in your recital preparation. Consider pieces that showcase your strengths and skills while also challenging you to grow as a musician. Discuss your choices with your teacher and get their input to ensure the repertoire is appropriate for your current level and the recital setting.

  • Confirm the pieces you will be performing.
  • Begin memorizing the music if required.

2. Create a practice schedule

Consistency is key when preparing for a recital. Set aside dedicated practice time each day, focusing on challenging sections of your pieces. Running through your entire piece many times will build stamina and familiarity, helping to reduce performance anxiety. Consistency is key, so stick to your schedule as closely as possible.

  • Create a daily practice routine.
  • Focus on technique and challenging sections.

3. Attend lessons regularly

Regular lessons with your teacher are vital to your recital preparation. These sessions provide you with professional guidance, constructive feedback, and personalized tips to improve your performance. Your teacher can also help you develop effective practice strategies and monitor your progress, ensuring you stay on track.

  • Schedule consistent lessons with your teacher.
  • Discuss your progress and areas needing improvement.
Recital Checklist - Attend lessons regularly
Regular lesson attendance ensures you get the most of your teacher’s support and expertise.

2-4 Weeks in Advance

1. Practice in sections

Practicing your music in sections is an effective strategy to master complex pieces. This approach allows you to concentrate on difficult passages without feeling overwhelmed by an entire song. Start with slower tempos to ensure accuracy and gradually increase the speed as you become more comfortable.

  • Break down your music into smaller, manageable sections.
  • Practice at slower tempos and gradually increase over time.

2. Focus on technique

Focusing on technique is essential for delivering a polished and professional performance. Incorporate technical exercises into your daily practice routine such as scales and arpeggios to strengthen your technical abilities. Pay attention to posture, hand position, and finger placement to avoid strain and ensure efficiency. Work on specific techniques relevant to your repertoire, such as dynamics, articulation, and phrasing.

  • Practice exercises that will strengthen your overall technique.
  • Pay attention to posture and hand positions.

3. Record practice sessions

Recording your practice sessions is a valuable tool for self-evaluation and improvement. Use audio or video recordings to capture your playing and listen back critically. Identify areas where you can improve and make notes for targeted practice. Recording also helps you track your progress over time, providing motivation and a sense of accomplishment as you hear your improvement.

  • Use recordings to identify areas for improvement.
  • Track your progress over time.
Recital Checklist - Practice in sections

1-2 Weeks in Advance

1. Practice all the way through

The next step in our recital checklist is to start combining sections together and practice your pieces all the way through. This practice simulates the actual performance experience so that you will know what to expect when you finally get up on stage. Playing your entire program without stopping also allows you to gauge your readiness and identify any sections that may still need work.

  • Combine sections together and practice all the way through.
  • Identify sections that may still need work.

2. Mock performance

A mock performance is an excellent way to simulate the recital experience and reduce performance anxiety. Arrange to perform your program in front of family, friends, or even your teacher in a setting that mimics the recital environment. This practice helps you get used to playing in front of an audience and ensure you are mentally and physically prepared for the real event.

  • Perform in front of family or friends to simulate recital conditions.
  • Work on stage presence and overcoming performance anxiety.

3. Confirm recital details

Confirming all recital details well in advance is essential to ensure a smooth and stress-free performance day. Verify the date, time, and venue of the recital, and make sure you have all necessary information about the event and any specific requirements. Confirm your place in the program and the order of performances. It’s also important to plan your travel to the venue, allowing extra time for unforeseen delays.

  • Confirm the recital date, time, and venue.
  • Plan your travel and transportation.
Recital Checklist - Mock-Performance

1 Day in Advance

1. Light Practice

On the last day before your recital, it’s important to run through your pieces lightly, being careful not to over-exert yourself. This isn’t the time for intensive rehearsals, but rather a period to reinforce your confidence and focus on maintaining your muscle memory. Avoid over-practicing to prevent fatigue and possible injury.

  • Run through your pieces lightly, focusing on confidence and relaxation.
  • Avoid over-practicing to prevent fatigue.

2. Final Instrument Check

Conduct a final instrument check to ensure everything is in optimal condition. Examine your instrument thoroughly, looking for any signs of wear or issues that could affect your performance. A final instrument check helps prevent last-minute surprises and ensures that your instrument will perform reliably during the recital.

  • Ensure your instrument is clean and properly tuned.
  • Pack extra supplies (strings, reeds, etc.).

3. Recital Attire

Selecting and preparing your recital attire in advance helps to reduce last-minute stress and help you feel confident and focused on your performance. Choose clothing that is both comfortable and appropriate for the event, taking into account any dress codes or themes. Make sure you can play your instrument comfortably while wearing it.

  • Perform in your recital attire to get comfortable.
  • Ensure you can move freely and are not distracted by your clothing.

Relax and Rest

Ensure you get a good night’s sleep to feel refreshed and alert on the day of the recital. Avoid any strenuous activities that could cause fatigue or injury. By ensuring you are well-rested, you set the stage for a successful and enjoyable recital experience.

  • Get a good night’s sleep to be well-rested for the recital.
  • Avoid stressful activities and stay relaxed.
Recital Checklist - Recital attire

Day of Recital

1. Arrive early

Arriving early on the day of your recital allows you to get accustomed to the performance space, which can help reduce your anxiety and improve your comfort level onstage. Additionally, arriving early gives you a buffer for any unexpected delays – such as fighting traffic or finding parking – ensuring that you have ample time to prepare mentally and physically without feeling rushed.

  • Arrive at the venue early to acclimate to the recital space.
  • The earlier you arrive, the less rushed you will feel and thus less stressed for your performance.

2. Final check-in

Once you arrive, you’ll want to check in with your teacher or recital coordinator to confirm any last-minute details about the program and any specific instructions you may need to follow. Additionally, if there are other performers, this is a good time to coordinate with them and make sure everyone knows where they need to be in order for the event to run smoothly.

  • Check in with your teacher or recital coordinator.
  • Confirm the order of performance and any last-minute details.

3. Tune instrument (if applicable)

An out-of-tune instrument can be distracting and detract from the overall quality of your performance. If you are playing an instrument that requires tuning, you’ll want to take a few moments to tune your instrument thoroughly, checking each string, to ensure it produces the correct pitch. If you are not comfortable tuning your own instrument, then you can enlist the help of your teacher to make sure that your instrument is in tune before your performance.

  • Tune your instrument properly before the recital.
  • Have backups of necessary items (strings, reeds, etc.).

4. Warm-up / sound check

A proper warm-up is vital to prepare both your mind and body for the performance. If possible, spend some time doing light exercises such as playing through scales to get your muscles moving. This helps to prevent stiffness and ensures that you are physically ready to play at your best. Additionally, a sound check allows you to adjust to the acoustics of the venue and ensure that your instrument sounds as good as possible in that environment.

  • Warm up thoroughly but without exhausting yourself.
  • During the sound check, you can make necessary adjustments to your playing technique or instrument volume settings to achieve the best possible sound.

5. Enjoy the experience!

Finally, remember to enjoy the experience! Performing in a recital is not just about showcasing your technical skills but also about sharing your passion and love for music with others. If you make a mistake, don’t dwell on it; instead, keep going and remember that the audience is there to support you. Enjoying the experience means appreciating all the hard work and dedication that led you to this moment, and celebrating your achievements as a musician.

  • Remember to enjoy the moment and share your music with the audience.
  • Focus on expressing yourself and having fun.

Conclusion

By following this pre-recital checklist, you’ll be well-prepared to deliver a successful and enjoyable recital performance! Remember, the goal is not only to play your pieces accurately, but to have fun and share your love of music with your audience.

Good luck, and enjoy the experience of performing!

Phil Barrow

Phil Barrow

Phil is a guitarist and Director of Resound School of Music, a music school specializing in at-home music lessons. Phil's passion is helping others to discover their lifelong love of music, and he writes about a variety of topics aimed at helping you to become a better musician.

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