Re-Imagining the Music Degree Recital

Music school curricula are filled with requirements. And all requirements show bias.  As a result of these rules, students’ priorities are heavily influenced (whether they know it or not).  So what lessons are being taught?  Are expectations likely to cultivate savvy entrepreneurial artists with the maximum potential for professional success?  Let’s consider the degree recital.

Degree recitals are a staple of every music performance program.  The following requirements are typical:


  • Artistic excellence.  High level performance is mandatory.
  • Specified solo literature.  There are often repertoire regulations ensuring a well-balanced event featuring pieces from different eras.  For example, violinists may be expected to include a Bach solo suite, classical sonata, Romantic work, and something contemporary.  Each piece must feature the recital giver, whether on a single instrument work, composition with piano accompaniment, or concerto.
  • Venue.  The performance must be held in a pre-determined hall, usually in the music building.

So what does our current degree recital teach young musicians?  Playing a standard and balanced solo program in a pre-determined space at a high level equates to success.

The problem—it’s not true! 

Now consider the outcomes if we were bold enough to re-imagine the degree recital. Obviously, artistic excellence should remain top priority.  But what if one or two additional aspects were stressed?  Below is a sampling of the types of expectations that could be incorporated.

  1. Attracting audiences. If musicians can’t pack a free recital, how will they ever attract paying customers down this road? With this requirement, 100 attendees equals an A, 80 results in a B, and so forth. It doesn’t matter who’s in the audience— fellow music students, school children, church members, senior citizens bussed from a nursing home. Just fill the seats.
  2. Attracting new audiences.  A twist on the previous point. Performers specifically seek and engage audiences not typically involved with the musical genre they perform.
  3. Off-campus show. Students are typically required to perform in a given on-campus venue. Consider the lessons learned if students were asked to identify an off-campus venue or series, coordinate efforts with the presenter, and follow through on all logistical concerns. This could be anywhere: public school, library, park, museum, private residence, etc.
  4. Multiple performances.  Another possibility would be requiring both on and off campus performances. This also provides students more than one opportunity to perform music they have worked so diligently to prepare.
  5. Revenue generation. To succeed as a professional, we must be able to exchange art for income. A recital presents an opportunity to sell tickets, merchandise, and related services. And it’s easy to apply quantitative standards–$200+ is an A, etc. Money earned could be applied to some kind of meaningful project related to the music school.
  6. Public relations. A recital is the perfect occasion for learning how the media works, both mainstream and Internet. Students are asked to imagine a newsworthy angle for their show, write a press release, and pitch it to actual media sources. They register their concert with Internet event calendars, and approach radio stations.   
  7. Marketing. Performers are required to draw up and enact a multi-faceted promotional plan, which includes branding, buzz marketing, social media, traditional advertising, and other techniques.
  8. Chamber music. Most school recitals focus on solo literature. Yet professionals are more likely to perform chamber music.  Why not allow the option of a chamber recital, even if none of the pieces specifically feature the degree recipient as a solo voice? They are responsible for organizing rehearsals, shaping interpretation, and leading the efforts.
  9. Unique programming.  While balanced literature requirements ensure that musicians become familiar with a range of musical styles, they often result with concerts that are generic and lack unity or “brand.” Instead, students can be asked to create programs with a central theme, compelling angle, or unusual approach. In the real world, niche programming is expected for recording and performing artists.
  10. Your own voice. Each student is required to include at least one element completely unique to them: an original composition, premier, new arrangement, interdisciplinary adventure, combination of instruments, secondary skills, etc.
  11. Collaboration. A recital is the perfect opportunity to work collaboratively, and not just with musicians. Possibilities include student/professional dancers, film makers, actors, visual artists, writers (to compose program notes), costume designers, lighting designers, stage designer, marketers, publicists, individuals connected to concert theme, etc.
  12. Audience engagement. For most student recitals, the audience is completely ignored.  The soloist doesn’t speak a word, and hides backstage during intermission. Why not require some kind of engaging and interactive activity that draws the audience in?  (“Lecture recitals” don’t count—they are often as dreadful and academic as the title suggests.)  
  13. Education. Students are required to design and administer an educational teaching artist event at a local school or community built around one or more of their recital pieces.

Obviously, it’s not possible for every student do all these things on each recital.  But focusing on just one or two elements in addition to performance excellence would have a huge impact.  Perhaps the students themselves could decide which challenge they’d like to conquer. 


Who cares if these are official requirements?  Why not impose a few on yourself?

True, incorporating additional challenges like the ones outlined above is time intensive. But it also offers experiential and real time lessons, emphasizing that success requires a whole lot more than great playing on a formulaic program. Re-imagining the music degree recital presents an exciting opportunity to better prepare students to thrive as professionals.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Share and Enjoy:
  • email
  • Print
  • RSS
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Digg
  • Technorati
  • StumbleUpon
  • Mixx
  • Blogplay
  • Yahoo! Bookmarks
  • Yahoo! Buzz

282 Responses to “Re-Imagining the Music Degree Recital”

  1. zaborilenta says:

    Thank you for some other informative web site. The place else may I am getting that kind of info written in such a perfect method? I’ve a project that I’m just now working on, and I have been at the glance out for such information.

  2. Así que añadir los pilotos para el médico y la enfermera de la escasez. Si hubiera alguna forma de poder combatir este desempleo 20.09%!

  3. Nona says:

    great points altogether, you simply won a emblem new reader.
    What might you recommend in regards to your post that you simply made a few days ago?
    Any certain?

  4. Cliff Cully says:

    I feel that is one of the most important information for me. And i’m happy reading your article. However wanna statement on some common things, The website style is wonderful, the articles is really nice : D. Good activity, cheers

  5. Have you ever thought about writing an e-book or guest authoring on other sites? I have a blog centered on the same information you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my subscribers would enjoy your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to send me an e mail.|

  6. Hi your website url: appears to be redirecting to a completely different web site when I click the home page button. You might want to have this checked.

  7. Music began playing anytime I opened this web site, so irritating!

  8. We absolutely love your blog and find most of your post’s to be just what I’m looking for. can you offer guest writers to write content in your case? I wouldn’t mind producing a post or elaborating on a number of the subjects you write regarding here. Again, awesome web log!

  9. I just added this website to my feed reader, great stuff. Can’t get enough!

  10. Isiah Klindt says:

    I just added this blog site to my rss reader, excellent stuff. Can’t get enough!

  11. Howdy! I just noticed your webpage: when I was exploring It looks as though someone loved your site so much they decided to bookmark it. I’ll definitely be coming here more often.

  12. Hi your internet site url: seems to be redirecting to a completely different web page when I click the home page button. You may want to have this looked at.

  13. Santos Si says:

    Thanks for the update, is there any way I can receive an update sent in an email whenever there is a new update?

  14. fire dancing says:

    great work! i love your updates.

  15. Full Article says:

    Hey. I’m sorry to hassle you but I ran across your site and noticed you happen to be using the exact same template as me. The only issue is on my site, I’m struggling to get the page layout looking like yours. Would you mind emailing me at: my mail so I can get this figured out. By the way I’ve bookmarked your web page: and will be visiting often. Thanks alot :) !

  16. I’m curious which blogging platform you’re using? I’m new to blogging and have been thinking about using the Ning platform. Do you consider this is a good foundation to start with? I would be very thankful if I could ask you some questions through e-mail so I can learn a bit more before getting started. When you have some free time, please be sure to contact me at: my mail. Thanks a lot

  17. I used to be recommended this website through my cousin. I am no longer positive whether or not this put up is written by way of him as no one else recognise such distinct approximately my difficulty. You’re wonderful! Thanks!
    Recharge Longchamp 7238

  18. I loved your blog post.Much thanks again. Really Cool.

  19. website link says:

    Hey just came upon your website via Yahoo after I typed in, “” or perhaps something similar (can’t quite remember exactly). Anyways, I’m happy I found it simply because your content is exactly what I’m looking for (writing a university paper) and I hope you don’t mind if I collect some information from here and I will of course credit you as the source. Thanks.

  20. Your website seems to be having some compatibilty issues in my firefox browser. The text seems to be running off the webpage pretty bad. If you would like you can e-mail me at: my mail and I’ll shoot you over a screen grab of the problem.

  21. google says:

    Hello my family member! I wish to say that this post is amazing, nice written and include approximately all significant infos. Iˇd like to see more posts like this .

  22. Full Report says:

    Hi there! I hope you don’t mind but I decided to publish your blog: to my on-line directory. I used, “” as your website headline. I hope this is fine with you. If you’d like me to change the title or remove it entirely, email me at my mail. Thank you.

  23. Hey there your web site url: seems to be redirecting to a completely different web-site when I click the home-page button. You might want to have this looked at.

  24. Hi there! I know this is kinda off topic however , I’d figured I’d ask. Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest authoring a blog post or vice-versa? My blog discusses a lot of the same subjects as yours and I believe we could greatly benefit from each other. If you might be interested feel free to shoot me an email. I look forward to hearing from you! Wonderful blog by the way!

  25. Wow! This blog looks just like my old one! It’s on a entirely different topic but it has pretty much the same page layout and design. Superb choice of colors!

  26. Interesting blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere? A design like yours with a few simple tweeks would really make my blog jump out. Please let me know where you got your design. Thanks

  27. Hi! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after browsing through some of the post I realized it’s new to me. Anyways, I’m definitely delighted I found it and I’ll be book-marking and checking back frequently!

  28. Hi! I just noticed your site: when I was searching It looks as though someone enjoyed your site so much they decided to bookmark it. I’ll unquestionably be returning here more often.

  29. I don’t know if it’s just me or if perhaps everybody else encountering problems with your site. It appears as though some of the written text in your content are running off the screen. Can somebody else please comment and let me know if this is happening to them too? This could be a issue with my web browser because I’ve had this happen previously. Kudos

  30. Hi, i think that i saw you visited my web site so i came to

  31. Amazing! I’m genuinely enjoying the design and style of your web site. Are you using a customized theme or is this freely available to all individuals? If you do not want to say the name of it out in the general public, please make sure to contact me at: my mail. I’d really like to get my hands on this template! Thanks a lot.

Leave a Reply

Powered by Wordpress | Designed by I Design Blogs