Recital Etiquette Reminders

by Alyssa Cowell

Performance Etiquette Reminders for the Upcoming Recital Season

As the school year begins and the recital season draws closer, it’s a good time to review some performance etiquette practices!

You’ve practiced diligently to memorize your piece, you’ve signed up for a time slot, and you’ve had your dress rehearsal with your accompanist. It’s time to perform in recital! If you’re like most recital participants, you’re feeling a little nervous, and you’re wondering if you should have squeezed in an extra practice session, you know, “just in case.” When stage anxiety starts to get the better of a performer, it can be easy to forget some of the habits thThe-Piano-Lessonat make polished entertainers look so professional. Here are a few reminders:


This might seem obvious, but if a student feels unprepared for recital they cannot do their best. Recital songs are selected about 6 weeks prior to the recital date; they should be well practiced by the time recital day arrives! Preparation is the first thing a student can do to show that they have respect for their time, their parent’s investment, their teacher’s efforts, and their audience’s enjoyment! Make sure that practice is happening!

Arrive on Time

Make sure you show up early for your recital time slot! This means you’ll have a chance to scope out a seat, get settled in, and take some deep breaths as you scan your music one last time. When you arrive late, you run the risk of interrupting someone else’s performance, and you don’t give yourself a chance to focus on the task at hand.

Dress Appropriately

Wearing something nice is one way of showing the audience you take your performance seriously; plus, dressing up for recital is part of the fun of performing! Pull out something fancy that you don’t usually have an opportunity to show off! CSM’s rule of thumb is church clothes or nicer. This usually means dress pants and dress shirts/dresses/skirt and blouse combinations. Make sure you try on your outfit in advance to check fit – you should feel comfortable playing your instrument with no interference from your clothes! I always tell singers they should make sure their outfit isn’t too tight for deep breathing, pianists that their skirts or pants should be comfortable for piano bench sitting, and that everyone should be able to bow comfortably at the end of their performance.


Audiences show their appreciation for your performance by applauding your efforts. Make sure you thank them by bowing at the end of your song. Sometimes a performer doesn’t feel proud of his or her presentation because of mistakes made, or the performance wasn’t as perfect as he or she expected. Even if you feel you didn’t do your best, the audience appreciates that you were brave enough to try – don’t forget to bow!

Acknowledge Your Accompanist

If you are working with a live accompanist, remember that your performance wouldn’t be as good without the effort your accompanist puts in. Once you take your bow, make sure you acknowledge your accompanist! A little gesture in the accompanist’s direction is all it takes to remind the audience to give credit where credit is due.

Catoctin School of Music

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