Recital Food and Other Preparations
I consider a recital an "appreciation party" for my "clients." I don't cut corners very much, so I guess you could call my recital table lavish. I also think it's important to keep in mind what sorts of foods will please my guests. I make all of my own food (except things like crackers, of course!) because I want to make it a personal event. Despite pulling out all the stops, however, as a pragmatist I don't want to waste food and want to keep the clean-up mess to a minimum, so I serve the kinds and amounts of foods that I think will give me the best combination of all these factors.
My advice, which may not fit -your- entertaining style, is that you don't want to scrimp and appear stingy, but you don't want buy way more food than you need or purchase fancy, exotic stuff that won't be eaten - - or from which one bite will be taken and the rest put in the trash - - or that encourages extensive clean-up.
With that philosophy in mind, here we go!
- four cookies per child, three per adult (some will eat more, some less, some none - - it will average out)
- twelve ounces of punch per person
- one plate, one cup, and two napkins per person
Make a list of what you buy and the things you serve (for example, "5 pounds of carrots").
If it's something that I want to limit to reasonable amount, such as Gummi Worms, I specify the total number of bags I buy and how many I allot to each recital ("16 bags of Gummi Worms, 8 per recital").
After the recital, write down what "moved" and what didn't so you can adjust next year. Also note the number of people at each recital so you'll have an idea of how much served how many. Note changes for the next year ("in 2006: only 3 pounds of carrots"). After a year or so, your "eye" will know fairly precisely what and how much of what your families like to eat.
Have extra plates, cups, and napkins, of course. Especially napkins! Usually people are good about using the same plate for seconds, but you will have some who are fastidious (or clueless!).
If you don't open the package, you can return the extra stuff to the store if you want. Naturally, you will have held your receipt for tax purposes, so there's no problem with proving you made the purchase at that particular store!
Place open packages of plates/napkins/cups in sealed bags and store until following year, when you might be able to find the same "pattern" - - hah! not likely! If you can't find the same pattern, use a different design. In year three, choose a third. In all subsequent years, it will look as if you meant to have an "eclectic" table!
Stick to all-white napkins. They unify the table, especially when you have several patterns.
For Halloween or other theme-recitals, look for marked-down cups/plates/napkins after the holiday. Good places include the grocery store, discount store, party goods store, and dollar/closeout store. Don't forget solid colors, such as black, orange, green, and purple - - all of which are considered Halloween colors these days. Gray works, too, but it's pretty ugly. Try to avoid white, if you can! Kinda boring.
I use a punch bowl because I have one - - I also found a nifty Halloween punch bowl with a "skull ladle." Pretty cool! - - but serving from a pitcher is fine and probably less messy. If you have a punch bowl, don't forget you'll need a ladle. If you don't have one, check the houseware utensil section of places like Target and Wal-Mart. Party stores often have plastic ones.
How the table looks is important, but how well it functions is even more so.
- Serve from one table only.
- Place the table, if possible, so people can serve themselves from both sides.
- Make a number stacks of plates and napkins at various plaes on the table so you don't have a bottleneck while everyone waits for a plate. Keep all cups by the punch in order to make it easier for the server to monitor the liquid. Put -several- stacks of napkins near the punch service point. You're going to have spills, I promise.
- Similarly, put plates of cookies and candy at various points on the table to avoid bottlenecks.
- I like to keep the dips and spreads in the same area so I can keep all the crackers near them.
- Fruit and veggies near the edge is a good placement.
- Put messier things (like spreads and dips) near the edge of the table so they have a shorter journey to mouth or plate. Put cookies a little inside of the edge because of dribbling crumbs. Put "clean" stuff (candy, nuts) in the middle.
- If you serve spreads (thicker than dips - - and, therefore, less hazardous), put at least two small spreaders or blunt knives on the table. Also put out a spoon or three for each spread in case people would rather serve the spread onto their plates to scoop up with crackers. Being able to put dips on the plate discourages "double-dipping," although children are going to do this, if my experience serves!
- Serve food on/in a small enough container/plate that the food doesn't look "lonely" and your table skimpy. This is especially important if you have two recitals on the same day, for example. You know two cans of olives won't be eaten and don't want to be left with enough for a pizza, so make sure when you "re-serve" the olives that you put them in a smaller bowl so it doesn't look as though you did what you did!
- Set up brown paper grocery bags (double thickness) on the floor of the kitchen to receive trash. Usually people are intelligent enough to pour leftover punch in the sink!
- If you serve with utensils your family uses (forks, spoons, spatulas), as opposed to plastic ones you buy just for recital purposes and don't care if they're lost, before you set the table make a written list of what's out there ("4 spoons, 2 butter knives") so you can count pieces when the party's over. Not that anyone will steal, but something might slide off into the trash. It's happened to me, at least!
I use a floral centerpiece because I like flowers, but a centerpiece is not required! Nor, if you opt for a centerpiece, must one be made of flowers.
More about table decorations:
- Keep the centerpiece low so people can see over it.
- A tall vase with a small-diameter base is an invitation to tip-over. Can you say broken glass and recital food swimming in water as they reside in their lovely plates and bowls?
- Check your Costco or similar store for cut flowers. Where I live, I can get a huge amount for $25. This makes a massive centerpiece plus leftovers for quite a number of auxiliary centerpieces.
- Don't forget you can make one-sided flower arrangements. These are excellent in places where the back will not be seen (as on a table against the wall). This is a way to "extend" leftover flowers when you don't have quite enough to make a 360-degree arrangement. Don't forget that you can stretch leftovers by trimming greenery from your shrubs or use extra baby's breath (save it from year to year, tying the ends of the stems together in a bunch and placing it - - or at least the flower end - - in a plastic bag).
- If you don't have time (or you don't think you have the skill to arrange flowers - - hey, I'm fearless so why don't you be, too?), buy an arrangement. Usually you can get a better price at a grocery store than at a florist. Expect to pay $20-$40 for a ready-made arrangement. Some grocery stores have a floral department with a true staff, and they will make an arrangement to your specifications. Sometimes you can get a slightly better price if you bring in your own container, but don't count on saving much!
- If you're going to do your own arrangement, ask when the fresh flowers arrive. At my grocery store, it's Friday morning. I hotfoot it down there bright and early on Friday. Flower arrival on Friday works well because my recitals are on the weekends. Sometimes, though, I find the "fresh" flowers are not all that fresh. If your regular grocery store has the audacity to receive fresh flowers on days inconvenient with you, check out other grocery stores in your area! Harumph!
- Here's a recipe for a flower-life-extender juice that works really well. Another option is to make up a little packet that should come with your fresh flowers. Note: If I happen on truly fresh flowers, use this juice, cut down stems that are getting gooey, make sure no leaves are below the water line, and remove flowers that are nearly spent, I usually can make my recital centerpiece last a month by reconstituting it in successively-smaller vases! Granted, at the very end, I'm down to a few carnations and baby's breath, but I still enjoy them! I challenge myself to see how long I can make my arrangement last. (I know. Get a life.)
- Some flowers look better longer than others. Irises will be shot in 24 hours, so always make sure they are -tightly- closed -when you buy them- or don't buy them at all. Fading irises "dribble sticky blue dye," spotting your table linen or making a ring on your tabletop. Roses last a little longer. Carnations are great. Mums are good for a long time, too. And baby's breath lasts forever. So does statis. (These dry naturally, as noted above.)
- There are four things you can do to maximize your enjoyment of your flowers after the recital. (1) Remove all leaves below the waterline as you make your arrangements. (2) Change the water. Use warm water. (3) Monitor the level of scuzziness on the stems and trim as necessary. (4) Use the flower juice mentioned above, or put 1/2 t of bleach in the water to discourage the un-sweet smell of decaying plant matter.
- Although I haven't looked specifically, I am sure there are websites out there that cover the basics of flower-arranging. Stuff like "make a triangle shape" and things like that.
- Also consider using potted plants, such as miniature roses. I have my adult recital on the Saturday closest to St. Pat's, so I get three little (4") pots of shamrocks. I bought some metallic wrapping paper (the flexible stuff people fluff out and put in gift bags). I choose canned food of three different heights (small tuna, tomato paste, large pumpkin pie filling) and set a shamrock atop each. I cut the wrapping paper in large enough circles so they will draw up and end just above the top rims of the shamrock pots. I tie the paper with green ribbons, leaving long-ish ends as streamers. By saving the paper and ribbons, I can trot out the same centerpiece annually!
- Sometimes your students will bring cut flowers or potted plants as gifts. Put the cut flowers in a [tall] vase - - don't try to arrange them - - just pop them into a vase to keep them from wilting. Place potted plants in some sort of decorative position, under the piano, on a small table near the front door, etc. Have some placements in mind in case you need to think on your feet! Also locate some large-ish vases or empty mayonaise jars in case you receive cut flowers. (Don't try to arrange them, of course! Just pop them in some water or flower juice.)
- If you prefer something other than flowers as a centerpiece, you have lots of options. For Halloween, how about wooden figures and stuffed animals/creatures with a Halloween theme? You also can find Halloween "garlands." Check Target, Wal-Mart, party supply stores, and so on. It's rather hard to find stuffed pianos (for general recital use), so for a spring recital you might go with flowers or bunnies and other baby animals. For a winter recital, try Christmas and Chanukah decorations or a snow-fun scene.
- I'm sure that Martha Stewart et al. have lots of ideas - - maybe even some musical ideas!- - for centerpieces and table decor in general. Check the Web.
- For many years, I made chocolate pianos - - one for each recital - - and used them as part of the centerpiece and then as a door prize at the end of the party. Students always asked why I didn't make one for everybody. If only they knew that each one took about two hours just to put together the parts, after molding perfect parts to put together! In those same early years, I also made musical candy, also from molds. You might want to try your hand at something like this. Allow a day to make the parts and a morning to put them together. Set the finished pianos on a cake plate and put a cake cover or upended saucepan or bowl on them to protect them. Keep them in a cool place (but not the refrigerator because they'll develop that white dusty coating). Look on the Web for candy-molding supplies. Sometimes craft stores like Michael's have these supplies. You might have a restaurant supply house nearby that might have some.
- No candles, lighted or not!
- I advise against confetti or rose petals strewn on the table. Mess, mess, mess!
Most important guideline is to serve nothing weird!
Some general statements about food planning:
- Go for "one-bite" things such as small cookies, candy, nuts, and small pieces of veggies and fruit. If it goes into the child's mouth all at once, there's less chance it will be dropped and smushed on the floor.
- As noted, avoid weird stuff. For the kids' recital (and probably the teens'), for example, don't serve shrimp (cooked, shelled, chilled, served with red seafood sauce). They'll take one bite of a shrimp and put it down. Shrimpers are expensive little critters, so save these for the adult recital and the people who will appreciate them.
- Tip your hat to the low-carb crowd with some non-carb food. An easy one: spread slices of good quality ham or chicken with softened cream cheese mixed with some herbs and maybe a tad of horseradish. Roll up and cut crosswise. You probably will have to stick a toothpick all the was through each one to keep it rolled up. (Gee! Now they look like perfect time and imperfect prolation!) For adult recitals, consider bits of baked chicken on toothpicks. You can even buy chickens pre-cooked and cut up the breast and thighs.
- Cookies are the mainstay for kids and teens, though adults will eat sophisticated cookies. I like
- Veggies and especially fruit are popular.
- Crackers are necessary for spreads (thicker than a dip).
- Dips are bad news. They drip all the way from the bowl, across the tablecloth, and the carpet before the dipped item finds its way into the child's mouth. You know the level of messiness of your students, so give a dip a try one year if you like!
- A spread should be based on cream cheese (I use low-fat Neufchatel) because it has enough body not to be drippy/messy.
- Go with a plain punch. Pass by those recipes that call for ice cream floating on top and things that complicate serving and increase the chance for a mess once served.
- Avoid peanuts and peanut oil on account of allergies. Before "dismissing" everyone to the party, tell them that there are no peanut products in the food and that you used walnuts or pecans (or whatever) in the cookies, in case there are allergies. Sometimes non-peanut nuts are processed at plants that also process peanuts. Look on the container to see. If the brand you pick up has been packed in such a plant, see if you can find some that have not. Even so, those with peanut allergy have learned where suspicious allergens might lurk and probably won't eat your cookies. You should have some cookies without nuts. Sugar cookies are always a hit.
- Avoid coconut in everything, even if you like it. Most people don't like it and can ferret out the least little bit (say, in a cookie) after taking a bite. Then they'll waste the rest by dropping it in the trash.
- Make as much as you can ahead of time and freeze. Cookies, spreads, and dips freeze wonderfully. Ditto with punch "base." If the finished punch has something fizzy in it, such as ginger ale, don't add that and then freeze. Just freeze the base. Things can be frozen up to a couple of months with no ill effects, I have found, but you should check your own cookbooks and freezer instructions for specific instructions.
- What folks really go for depends on what part of the country you live in. Also: age of the guests and what season it is.
- Clean your carpets -after- the recital.
Some specifics from my own menu:
- Cookies: These days, I make chocolate chip and sugarcookies only. (Recipes here for cookies and a lot of other things.) Oatmeal raisin cookies don't move very well with my students for some reason, which is fine by my sons!, but this is a good recipe! I don't recommend peanut butter cookies because of allergies (more on allergies below).
- Chocolate chip cookies: If you like them one one or the other (soft or crisp) and would like them all to turn out that way always, the secret is in the sugar. Since I double the recipe on the chocolate chip bag for the dough (but not the chips), I'm working with 3/4 c regular sugar and 3/4 c brown sugar, for a total of 1 1/2 c. Here's the trick. For crisp cookies, use 1 c sugar and 1/2 c brown sugar. For soft cookies, use 1 c brown sugar and 1/2 sugar. Works every time!
- Rice Krispie Treats (cereal plus melted marshmallows) didn't go over at all with my kids and teens, even cut small. I don't know why. I thought they would.
- Stay away from brownies. They are either crumbly or sticky.
- For my adult recital, I always make one of my family's favorite Christmas cookies. They're called chewey noels and are from a recipe in the famous Fanny Farmer Cookbook. If it's a sizeable adult crowd, I also make lemon squares. Both are popular with adults, but kids and teens think they're weird....
- Candy: In the candy department, I serve only M&Ms and Gummi Bears/Worms. I set aside x number of bags of worms and bears, and when they're gone, that's it. I could have infinite number of these candies and still not have enough! For 25 students, I use four bags of Gummi Worms and six bags of Gummi Bears. And, yes, they're always all gone! Usually one gigantic-large bag of M&Ms is plenty for one recital. Put spoons out to serve the bears and M&Ms, but let the kids take the worms with their fingers (you could try tongs, of course.....).
- Nuts: I also serve salted nuts (not peanuts of any kind). I use mixed nuts (with no peanuts) for the kids and teens and cashews for the adult recital.
- Fruits and Vegetables: For fruits and veggies, make one-bite pieces. Either put a toothpick in each one before service or put toothpicks adjacent and let everyone spear his/her own.
- Fruit: Melon, strawberries (which I serve from a separate dish), pineapple, etc. I don't use bananas, peaches/nectarines, or apples because they turn brown, and I must prep all food in advance of the playing. Remove rind from melons, of course!
- Veggies: carrots (most popular) and celery may be all you need. I put out a little broccoli, cauliflower, red bell pepper, and zucchini, too; not too much. Jicama was only moderately popular, so I don't serve that any more. Sometimes I put out red radishes if I can find small ones, as the larger ones tend to be too peppery. Again, these don't sell well, but the color is great. Remember to cut small pieces. For example, carrot sticks should be no longer than 3". The pre-prepared "baby carrots" are excellent for recital use.
(These really are just the odds and ends from the production line, as real baby carrots are very slim.)
- Dips and Spreads:
- If you do want to serve a dip for veggies, something very pedestrian is best: Ranch dressing, either bottled (but it's thin) or made from a packet using sour cream/mayonnaise (don't use non-fat mayo; the texture isn't right). Adults are more adventurous, of course, but I keep the children's/teens' recitals pretty basic in tastes. They'll enjoy themselves, and I won't have a load of leftovers (which I'm temped to eat!!).
- A spread should be based on cream cheese (I use low-fat Neufchatel) because it has enough body not to be drippy/messy. Remember to put out both spreaders and spoons for service.
- Crackers and Breadstuffs:
- Crackers: Wheat Thins are most popular with my crowd, though I do put out a small platter of Triscuits (one small box per adult recital, one for both the kids and teens combined). I choose low-salt and low-fat, where available. Sometimes I put out some rye crackers and "water crackers" for the adults, but not often. They tend not to get eaten! I found the cute little squares of pumpernickel didn't sell, despite my fond memories of eating onion and butter sandwiches on pumpernickel with my German grandfather.
- I make croutons by taking a narrow loaf of French bread (baguette) and slicing it about 1/2" thick. I bake the rounds about 10 min. per side in a 250-degree oven until they are dry throughout. These are especially good for the adult recital in place of or in addition to crackers. One baguette is plenty for the adult recital. One is plenty for both the kids' and teens' recitals. Even so, there are lots of salad croutons left!
- Purchased breadsticks can also work for dips, but they tend to be very salty, full of trans fats, and usually come "flavored," which may clash with the dip.
- Crisp bagel slices might work for spreads, but I've not tried them, so you're on your own!
- Pretzels (the tiny bite-sized twisted ones) are good finger food.
- Goldfish crackers also usually sell with the kids. Stick with the small ones, not the big "sandwich" ones.
- Ripe olives are popular mainly with the adults, but a lot of children like them, so I serve them.
- Pizza is popular with the kids (I don't serve it at the adult recital). Cut in pieces about 1.5" square. Plain sauce (I use jarred spaghetti sauce because it's bland and sort of a universal baseline sauce; no mushroom chunks, etc. Nothing weird!) and shredded mozzarella (or jack) cheese only. No pepperoni, no mushrooms, no onions, no garlic, no anchovies. Nothing weird! I use Boboli crusts now, although in the past I made my crusts from scratch with yeast.
- I serve several fancy cheeses at the adult recital, but these would be entirely too weird for the younger crowd.
- Don't serve pie or quiche. These need to be eaten with a fork, something kids and teens would never be able to handle and something which many adults find tricky to pull off while also holding something to drink. If you insist on serving quiche, bake it in a square or rectangular pan so you can cut pieces that have straight edges on all sides. Cut in 1" squares and put a toothpick in each one. Serve room temperature for more successful eating, as the filling will be firmer than it is when warm (or, heaven help us!, hot!).
- Don't serve cake or cupcakes. Too crumbly. Fork needed.
You must have something for people to drink. Specific advice:
- For kids' and teens' recitals, you want punch. Only. Regardless of how many adults are also attending.
- For adult recitals, you need more variety. I generally serve wine, club soda and plain water with lemon and lime slices on the side (remember you might have students or guests who don't like alcoholic drinks or who are recovering alcoholics and won't choose them), and soda pop (regular and diet - - get cans so you won't get stuck with an opened two-liter bottle with 8 oz. used from it - - leftover cans are easier to store, too).
- After several years of having gobs of leftover coffee at both young peoples' and adults' recitals, I finally figured out that nobody is much interested in drinking coffee (or hot tea) at recitals, so I no longer offer this. It may very well be different for you, perhaps depending on where you live, community tastes and traditions, and how cold it is at recital time. If you serve coffee/tea, don't forget the sidearms, including several kinds of artificial sweeteners.
- Punch should not be sickeningly-sweet. Here's my recipe for recital punch. I always get compliments on it and requests for the recipe. You also can search on the Web for recipe archives and find plenty of info there. Look for a recipe with a little zap of lemon juice to cut the sweetness. No weird stuff such as papaya juice! And NO alcoholic punch for the parents at the kids' and teens' recitals.
- I suggest you either ladle out the punch yourself or have another adult or your kitchen assistant (more below on the assistant) do the duty. This minimizes the mess. Children, and even teens, have trouble pouring punch into 6-oz. cups, particularly from a ladle.
- Have only one "source" for punch so someone responsible can monitor service. Otherwise, kids will pour for themselves, which always makes a mess. If the punch has anything in it that might stain, you also will risk having a laundry and/or carpet/tablecloth disaster. Punch is the messiest thing you'll have at the recital, so plan service to minimize accidents.
- If there is a "base" to your punch (such as the simple syrup, grenadine, and lemon juice in my recital punch recipe), put that in the punch bowl during initial table prep. Add frozen and fizzy stuff right before service.
- At the recital, use an ice ring in the punch to keep it cold. Don't use ice cubes. Put the ring in at the very last moment. Use a large Jell-o mold to make the ring. (It doesn't have to be a ring literally. Any large Jell-o mold will do the job. Or an angel food cake pan. Or a plastic or metal or Pyrex bowl.) Keep the molded ice in the freezer in the mold or tap it out and place it in a heavy zipper bag. For each recital, make an extra ring to have on hand when you refill or "top up" the punch bowl. Skip the cherries, mint leaves, citrus slices, and edible flowers in the ice ring. Nothing weird!
- Chill punch ingredients beforehand. Depending on how many people you'll serve (or how many back-to-back recitals you'll have on one day), you may need to keep punch ingredients cold in an ice chest. Plan ahead and bag up ice you make yourself. Even so, you may need to purchase ice. Cubes are better for this purpose than a chunk unless you like working with an ice pick.
Printed programs are always better, I feel, than having the teacher announce the names of the pieces (or having the student do it - - they usually feel very self-conscious and would rather not). Having printed programs also means there's a keepsake for the student and something to mail to Grandma.
I print two per student (four if two students study, for example) and add 10% to the total, just for insurance.
Stay away from a bevy of fonts. Just because you can doesn't mean you should! Choose one fancy font for Studio Recital, your name, and date. Use good old Times Roman for the body of the program. Choose the fancy font with care, however. Stay away from those that look like old-fashioned handwriting with lots of curlecues. You want your guests to be able to read the program rather than shaking their heads in puzzlement over what's written.
You probably will need help. In particular, to help you set the table and arrange food, keep an eye on the plates and platters, refill the punch bowl, and clean up.
If you don't have a family member to help you, enlist a good friend. "Pay" this person with a lunch out or some other thing or activity you know will be welcome, as it's unlikely your friend will accept money. Make it clear from the beginning that you want to take her to lunch/whatever later in exchange for her help. Even if she says she doesn't need any "pay," give her something anyway, such as flowers or a potted plant.
If you prefer, hire someone. (This is what I do when family isn't around to help.) It's a tidy arrangement, and there will be no ruffled feathers when you state you want something done "this way, not that way."
A good place to start looking for hired help is with the foods teachers at your local high schools. Also try high schools which offer specialized foods training. My town has special courses of study for areas such as cooking, auto mechanics, and so on. The coursework in these programs is geared toward immediate, post-graduation employment in that field, and the curriculum is tailored to that end.
More experienced serving help can be found at junior colleges with specialized culinary certificate programs that lead to hospitality industry employment. These people have training in table presentation and other things that will help your table look wonderful and table service flowing smoothly.
If you live near an exclusive institute that is only for high-level culinary study (master chef preparation), lucky you. But rich you because these people won't come cheap! On the other hand, they can help you with actually making food, as well as watching the table and arranging plates and platters artfully.
I have had excellent success with the culinary specialty programs at high schools. I tell the teacher the event I am having, how long it will last, what I expect the help to do, and what I will pay for the entire time. I ask for someone who is reliable, will present her-/himself professionally, and who can get to the recital site on his/her own. If this person has garde manger experience - - hors d'ouevres and buffet table skill and experience - - so much the better. Usually, I can't find a garde manger high school student, but I always ask because sometimes one of them will have a particular interest in it and will have done some individual study in it. (Junior college-level programs definitely have someone with garde manger experience.) When I have a name, I contact the parents and tell them exactly what I am doing, including length of time, pay, where the recitals will be, what I'd like the student to do, who I am, transportation to the recital venue, request for a chef's jacket if one is available, and so on. I also ask to meet with the student and welcome the parents to attend.
I know you're wondering what I pay. I figure I will need the student for nine hours because I have two recitals, all in one afternoon and evening. I use my church sanctuary for the playing and a small social hall for the reception. This time covers carrying things in from my car, unpacking them, initial table set up, reception monitoring, clean-up after the first recital and re-doing the table, final clean-up, repacking, and loading my car. For a 2 p.m. curtain for the first recital, I arrive at church at noon and want my assistant there, too. How long my families party after the last (teen) recital determines how late final clean-up will end. Sometimes it's 9 p.m. before I lock the door. That's a long stint with not a lot of down-time! I paid $150 - $200 for the event in 2004. (That's probably too much, I know....) Depending on where you live, you might pay $10 an hour or some flat fee to a high school student, based on how long you need help, what you want the person to do, what the prevailing rates for baby-sitting, dog-walking, and car-washing are, and so on.
While I think that the "main recital" of the year should be entirely at my expense, I handle the food at the Halloween recital differently because only the young children play.
For Halloween, I ask each family to bring a treat to share. I specifically list the "finger foods" among which I'd like the families to choose: cookies, candy, cheese, fruits, veggies, crackers. I make a point of asking for no brownies, pie, or cake, mentioning the need for forks and children's likely inability to juggle it all. The parents are savvy enough to imagine the scenario I am trying to avoid!
I supply the punch, candy, and table service. This seems to suit everyone. The families like to contribute something, and it makes this recital easier on me, I have to admit!
Of course, you don't have to do your recitals my way at all! You may want everyone to contribute to all the recitals, or you may want to do them all yourself.
You perhaps will base this decision on how many students are involved in the recital and how often you have recitals. Teachers with monthly "workshop recitals" probably aren't going to want to serve much beyond punch and one type of cookie, if that, since the recitals occur every 30 days! If you have a recital once a quarter, you might want to ask some families to bring something to share, rotating among everyone. (I'd still suggest you take care of the punch and table service.)
Yes, recital planning and execution are complex, but the longer you teach, the more adept you'll become at planning and giving recitals, both food and music. Take some notes and be methodical, and it will be easier every year! (I keep all my recital notes and recipes in a three-ring binder. Of course, you could go high-tech....) I hope you have found this dissertaion on all-things-recital helpful, as it is a distillation of several decades of giving recitals. (Do not ask how many decades, please!)
You can link to other recital topics from my business and pedagogy pages, as well as peruse reader questions on my business question-and-answer page. Search on the word recital. Also see a general file on successful recitals and links to others such as recital attire, bowing, etc. on my consumer page.
Read questions and answers about pedagogy, interpretation or performance practice, music theory, or parents'/students' concerns about piano study.
copyright 2004, Martha Beth Lewis, Ph.D.
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