If you had told me a year ago that I would be preparing for my second virtual recital this year, I probably would've laughed at the idea. And really, I never thought I'd be writing a post like this!
My first virtual recital was held back in June. As I began to prepare for our next recital in October, I started reflecting on the lessons I learned from that first experience. Hopefully, these tips will make your next recital a little easier!
Lesson 1: Prerecorded Performances Make It Flow!
I know for many people, the primary purpose of a recital is to perform live, but the reality of a live virtual recital has so many unnecessary complications — unpredictable interruptions (aka noisy siblings or pets), unreliable internet connections, poor audio quality, etc — that I decided to have all of my students prerecord their videos and boy was it the right decision for us.
Lesson 2: Send Very Specific Instructions For Recordings
Send families an email at least 3 weeks before the recital with specific instructions for how to record their performances. Here's mine. Feel free to us any and all of it in your studio.
Over the next 3 weeks you will be receiving several emails from us. Please take the time to read them all so you have the most up-to-date info on the recital as well as the summer schedule.
Below are tips and requirements for creating your recital video!
Experiment over the next week or two to practice performance and work out any kinks. Send Miss Christie your "rough cuts" for feedback. Remember, videos are due BY DATE YOU'VE PRESELECTED. If you get an awesome recording before then we'll take it early!
Remember these three words: “Lights, Camera, Sound!”
We want to see every performer clearly throughout the entire program, so when you’re setting up your lights make sure that there are no shadows over the performer and that the background is not washed out.
The easiest way to accomplish this is to set up lights behind & slightly above the camera.
If that’s not working, play around moving some lamps until you find the right setup for your space.
Camera angles will vary by instrument.
Pianists should have a side shot that leans a little toward the front of the pianist’s body.
Vocalists should use a 3/4 shot which means you’re far enough away from the camera that the bottom edge of the frame bisects the upper thigh.
Guitar & Ukulele players should have their stand off to the side so their entire instrument and face are visible to the camera.
The important thing with audio is to make sure that the performer is picked up by the microphone without any distortion or background noise. This means the microphone needs to be in the sweet spot, not too close and not too far away.
A Note for Pianists: If you are using a phone to record a pianist please DO NOT put the phone on the piano. This will cause major distortion ruining your recording.
A Note for Vocalists: Make sure that your backing track is balanced with your voice. You will need two devices to record yourself – one to play the track, and the other to record the video / sound. Explore sound balance with your teacher.
This might be one of the most important parts of your recording. Noise will disrupt any performance, so please make sure that any pets, young children, or young at heart adults are in a place where they can make as much noise as they want without disturbing your recording session.
This may be more information than your families need, so feel free to reduce the wording to suit your needs. I know I will be this time around.
Lesson 3: Google Slides Is Amazing
I spent weeks and weeks researching the best (and easiest) way to share students’ videos. I finally settled on Google Slides after my pastor included a video in the service.
We hold Zoom worship on Sunday and she uses Google Slides in place of the bulletin and hymnal. So, I played around with it and found out that you can embed videos from Google Drive, set them to auto-start, and then you just share you screen and start the slideshow!
Lesson 4: Allow Only ONE Method Of Entry For Videos
I allowed parents to use email, Dropbox or Google Drive to submit their videos. This made things WAY too complicated for me. Next time around, I'm going to require parents to email all videos so I can put it on my own Google Drive.
Lesson 5: Do A Complete Dress Rehearsal
This piggybacks on the last lesson learned. I allowed parents to share videos on Google Drive. I thought this would save me space on my drive and would make it easier for the parents as well. What I didn’t know was that if they delete it from their drive, I lost access to the file. The picture stayed on the slide, but the video wouldn’t play. If I had done a full dress rehearsal — making sure all of the videos played through completely — I would have seen that the video wasn’t available and could have reached out to the parents before the recital started.
Lesson 6: Send A Formal Invitation
So many students and parents missed the recital because they forgot to sign on. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around how that can happen, but one mom who missed it said that a formal invitation would’ve been a good prompt, so I’m going to give it a try.
Lesson 7: Do Your Welcome Live
I prerecorded my welcome schpiel so that it would match the students' prerecorded videos and even though it went well, I know it would've gone better if I had done it live.
Lesson 8: Take A Screenshot At The End
I found the biggest downside to a virtual recital (aside from not having a reception) is that I wasn’t able to take a group shot of everyone.
A few weeks after my spring recital I saw someone post screenshots they took of their students in gallery view and kicked myself for not thinking of that myself. I will not be making that mistake again.
Are you considering having a virtual recital? Have you already done one this year? Do you have tips or ideas that were not included in this list? Let's keep the conversation going in the comments!
Over the past several weeks, I've been sharing several resources I've created and used in my music studio as we transition to online music lessons.
In March, I shared 11 benefits of online music lessons. Last week were student and parent guides to online lessons.
In today's post, I'm be sharing dynamics practice sheets.
These fun llama-themed sheets - from my "Llama Hear Ya Play!" series - will help your students understand reading and playing with dynamics on the piano!
The theory sheets can be emailed to your students or printed and put into their piano practice packets!
Using the packets
There are 3 versions of the dynamics practice sheets: Pre-Reading, Beginner, and Elementary.
Each packet has an informational page that introduces the dynamics forte & piano, their definitions, and a description of how to play them properly on the piano. The next page provides your students the opportunity to practice these dynamics with easy to read and play exercises.
Packets can be used as an introduction to dynamics in your students' lessons or you can send it to your students as a fun supplement to their daily practice routine.
Click the photo to download the Llama Hear Ya Play! Dynamics Packets or on the link below.
I, like you, have been a busy bee these past few weeks.
In addition to teaching, running a multi-teacher business, transitioning my other teachers and their students to online lessons, and transitioning church services to an online format, I've been hard at work creating teaching materials.
You may have noticed there wasn't a post last Friday. That's because I chose to use that time to create new resources that I think will benefit you more than reading me ramble on about being a piano diva.
Don't worry that post will come! :)
Back in March, I shared 11 benefits of online music lessons with you. If you haven't read it and grabbed your freebie, head over there now before continuing on!
Got your freebie? Great, here are the next ones!
After creating that download, I realized that very few of my parents needed convincing about how good it is for them to continue lessons and needed more guidance in how to help their children succeed, so I created a guide, or cheat-sheet if you will, for parents and students to help with having successful online music lessons.
You can get your free guides here:
I hope your families find these resources as useful as mine found them!
Hello my friend. I very much hope you, your family, your friends, your teachers, and your students are healthy and well.
Today’s post is not what I had originally planned, but given the unprecedented time we’re in, I felt it would not be prudent to share what I had originally planned. It’s day will come, but for now I’d like to discuss online lessons with you.
My entire studio (5 teachers and myself) will be transitioning to online lessons next week. We’ve done online lessons before for students who are sick or who’s parents aren’t able to bring them in, but never to this scale. And I’m finding that a lot of teachers who don’t specialize in online lessons are struggling to wrap their minds around how this can be beneficial to their students, so I polled some online music teachers about the benefits of teaching online. Here are their top 10 responses.
1. Continuous Learning
It’s well established that music is best learned uninterrupted, continuing online when not able to meet in person keeps students from losing progress that they worked so hard to achieve.
2. Keeps normalcy
With so many other things changing in their world, children appreciate their normal lesson with their music teacher. And this is one of the few activities right now that some children CAN continue.
3. At-Home Set Up
You get to see their at home set up and offer suggestions and guidance for improvement.
Parents & kids, and adult students, love how easy it is to jump online. A 30 minute lesson takes 30 minutes, no drive time no waiting because you had to get there early. Parents can make dinner or do household tasks. Student’s get to play in the comfort of their own home, where they practice…which leads me to my next point.
5. Playing Their Own Instruments
Unlike other instrumentalists, pianists almost NEVER get to play their own instruments. With online lessons, however, their playing on their piano in their practice space. How much better does it get than that?
6. Playing an instrument eases anxiety.
I’m just gonna leave that one here.
7. Online Lessons Can Feel Different
Stay with me here, it’s not a bad thing. A change like this can put a spark back into their lessons. If you have a student who has been blasé, this could be the change they need to reignite their love for their instrument!
8. Attention and Focus Are Developed
Students engage differently with teacher, music & instrument. They have to listen carefully & watch more more attentive & aware. We as their teachers have to choose our words more carefully. It actually motivates the students to stay more focused and pay better attention to the details.
9. Independence Skills
You are not there to physically point to a note on the page, so they have to learn to find the note you're talking about. Students have to turn their own pages, they have to learn to count measures, write their own assignments and notes. It seriously ups the responsibility game.
10. It’s Super Fun
No really, it’s so much fun! As one teacher said, "Kids are amazing and funny and creative. Run with that!" Play games using their instruments as the game board. Have flashcards dance across the screen. Be silly. Be enchanting. Be compelling. Be YOU!
One Word: Pajamas!
You get to wear pajamas and you get to wear pajamas and you get to wear pajamas and you get to wear pajamas!
Which benefit do you like the most? Which one do you see fitting your students/studio the most?
Download a PDF of this list to share with your studio parents and teachers.