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Promoting Musical Understanding: Recital Guides for Children

It is so important for people at a young age to be invited to embrace classical music and opera.

—Luciano Pavarotti


If we are working to raise up musicians who will be lifelong participants and supporters of the arts, we must provide the opportunity to attend concerts routinely.  Regularly attending classical music concerts has so many wonderful benefits for children (see this earlier article:   The Importance of Attending Live Music Recitals).  However, we must ask ourselves how we can make the recitals meaningful for children.  Young children, especially, may have difficulty sitting attentively through an entire concert.  I have taken my five-year-old son to a number of recitals this year and have found these tactics to be helpful:


  1. Make it a special outing. When we go to a recital, I like to call it a “special time with mommy.”  We often stopped for a special treat either before or after the recital and I made it a point to enjoy some quality time with just the two of us.

  2. Set expectations beforehand. Before attending the recitals, I discussed the recital with my son.  We discussed about how to sit and when we could and could not whisper or get up.  We discussed applauding at the ends of pieces and what that means.

  3. Help them follow along in the program. We followed the program together and he knew the times when we could get up to stretch our legs or use the restroom.  He also was able to point to pieces that he especially liked.  He knew where we were in the recital.

At The New School for Music Study, we have a wonderful faculty recital series each year.  This year, our four faculty recitals took place at the beautiful Nassau Presbyterian Church in downtown Princeton, NJ.  At each concert, we made a special point to encourage our students to attend.  To help our students get the most out of the recitals, we focused on studying the music in our repertoire classes and the students heard live performances of some of the pieces prior to the recital.


We also included a Children’s Listening Guide for each recital.  This guide included questions, games, and puzzles that helped to engage the children and inspire them to think more deeply about the pieces being performed.  Attached are examples of each listening guide: The More the Merrier,   A Masquerade Ball,  An Afternoon of Music,   Music for Children  


How do you engage young children in recitals?

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This site is created by the faculty of the New School for Music Study, a division of the Frances Clark Center for Keyboard Pedagogy.

February 13, 2018

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