This past weekend I held my annual Christmas piano recital and party. It’s always fun for the kids and for me (not sure who enjoys it more!). My goal is for the kids to have a great time, without it being too much work on my part. In case there are others out there looking for tips for a Christmas piano recital and party, I thought I’d share what I did.
The first thing that happens when the kids arrive is the actual recital. They all sit in the foyer, which is where our grand piano is. Since the floor is tile, it’s not too comfortable, so the kids sit on the stairs. This works well. Another thing is that this recital/party is only for the kids. I just don’t have room for parents too in my house, plus this way it’s a bit more low-key. I think the kids enjoy this less-formal opportunity to perform for each other. In May, I hold a formal recital at a church.
Each of the kids play one or two pieces, most play something Christmas- or Hanukkah-related (I have 2 Jewish students). The kids vary from early beginners to quite proficient, but they are all respectful listeners (for the most part!). To keep everyone engaged, between playing I ask kids to name something they liked about the prior pianist’s playing, whether they can guess the piece played, etc.
Next, it’s on to games. The kids always enjoy these! This year, we started with “telephone.” I whispered a phrase from a Christmas song to one child, and he passed it to his neighbor. At the end, the last child tells the phrase she heard. I have to say that the kids had fun with this, but it was wildly unsuccessful. Oh well, that’s kind of the point 🙂
Then it was on to Bingo. We always play bingo, with each child getting a blank grid and filling on spots with Christmas and music words that the kids suggest. I put out piles of pennies to use as markers. The best part — for the kids — is the prizes. Throughout the year, I collect little goodies — candy, kids’ meal toys, notepads, etc. Each child gets to “win” and choose a prize twice. They love this stuff!
Funny story involving a bingo prize: earlier this week, a student showed up for her lesson. She put a little trial-size vial of perfume on the piano. I asked if she wanted me to spray some on her, and she said, “No! I don’t want to use it up! I have anger issues and it calms me down. I love to smell it!” Then she took a big whiff and laid it on the piano again. I asked where she got it and she said, a bit indignantly, “As a prize at the recital!” So there you go. You never know what will thrill a kid. And you might even forget what you put in the pile. Ha.
All kids love food, so we finish up with refreshments. This year, I (helped by my daughters) made 3 types of cookies and one kind of candy. I also had a bowl of tortilla chips and a cheese/fruit “tree.” I skip drinks because they’re messy and honestly in the past, many kids don’t drink them. A few kids asked for water, which I gave them.
Before leaving, I give each student a small gift. This year, my mom knew a co-worker who carved Santa faces into pencils (for the Jewish kids, we dubbed him “Father Abraham”). I tied one of these onto a bag of “reindeer chow” for each of the kids to take home.
We do all this in two hours (this year, it was 10-noon, although I’ve also held it noon-2).
I hope you got some ideas for gatherings you may host. If you’ve had a recital or similar event and have some tips to share, I’d love to hear them in the comments.