Exciting Recitals #1 – Stache Bash!

Exciting Recitals - Learn how to have a Stache Bash at your piano recital! Great recital theme | composecreate.com

Do Sports Games Have to be More Exciting Than Piano Recitals?

What is it with sports!? Why is it that so many parents commit their children to sports instead of piano? Why is it that soccer games frequently trump piano recitals? Why do some parents and students drop piano before sports?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot and I really think one of the reasons that people like sports events better than piano recitals is that they are honestly just more fun! But…

I don’t think so and I’m here to write a series of posts about how other teachers are bringing much more excitement to the same old, same old. You know the drill:

Do away with the same old, same old and create an exciting piano recital with stache bash! | composecreate.comStudent plays.

Audience claps.

[Extremely quiet pause while the next student walks to the stage and bows.]

Student adjusts bench.

Student plays.

Audience claps.

[Extremely quiet pause…]  Etc.

Now, I’m all for enjoying beautiful music, no matter how slow or melancholy (bread is delicious, by the way). I’m not suggesting that anyone jazz up Mozart or eliminate Brahms, Bach, or Schumann.  But couldn’t there be a BIG benefit in making a portion of the recital exciting, fun, surprising, and something to look forward to for everyone, including the audience?

Well, if I haven’t lost you yet and you haven’t yet incorrectly assumed that I want to ditch the piano recital completely (because I don’t), then read on for one (of several I will share) super fun way to liven up your recitals.

Mustache Bash Exciting Recital Surprise!

Karri Michelson wrote me about the recent surprise she inserted at the end of her recital. She called it the “Mustache Bash” and here’s how she did it:

Creating exciting recitals! Stache Bash | composecreate.comMy students had really been enjoying the “Rhythm Cup Explorations” work we’d been doing during lessons, so I decided to incorporate that into our recital as a surprise grand finale for my whole studio to perform.
As an added surprise for our grand finale – and to complement our ” ‘Stache Bash” theme – I bought a variety of colored fake mustaches for all my students to put on right before our grand finale, and then we used fun plastic mustache cups from Oriental Trading to tap for our routine. I let the kids keep the cups as a fun little memento from the recital. 🙂
Lastly, after my students were done with their routine, I allowed the entire audience to have a chance to do it as well! I enlarged our entire rhythm cup routine (one measure per 8.5×11-inch sheet of paper) and mounted it on a very large chalkboard ahead of time, so that all I had to do was roll it in front of the audience, give them a few instructions (I had them tap their laps instead of tapping cups), and let them do it with me too!

She made just a few adjustments to the Rhythm Cup Explorations pages which she describes here:

Mustache Bash picTo accommodate my younger, beginner students, I combined two lines from unit 1 and two lines from unit 2 of RCE, then let all of my students vote on which accompaniment beat track I should use for the recital. Also, because all my students were lined up across 3 long tables to perform the routine, I had to modify the end of each line of our rhythm routine so that the students tapped their noses instead of passing the cups to the next person.

So how did the audience like it?

We want moreThey had a blast, and I received so many comments afterward telling me how much fun it was for everyone.

Now that we do something surprising at every recital, I too have parents telling what fun it was to come to a “piano recital that is actually fun!” 

Comments like that tell me that we could use a little more audience involvement these days! Sports are good for their own reason, but we all know that learning to play the piano can mean a lifetime of enjoyment!

[p.s. If I were going to do this, I’m pretty sure my students would insist on calling it the “Mustache Cup Bash” and also insist on smashing their cups at the end of their routine…they love to smash!]

Great idea, Karri! Send me an email or leave a comment below letting me know what you’ve done to create exciting recitals!


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  1. Laura June 3, 2015 at 9:06 am

    I agree that recitals should be fun! At my recital, in addition to incorporating a student doing a Rhythm Cup routine and a crowd-pleasing presentation of Mob Bob, I did Piano Trivia and gave away prizes. For instance, before the first performer, I asked all of the students to consider the answer to this question, “What year was the piano invented?” (No smartphone lookups allowed!) After a couple of performances, I took guesses. The closest answer got a small prize – music erasers, pencils, etc. – and I talked very briefly about it. Then, I asked a new question and continued the process throughout the recital. Several parents later commented that they enjoyed it!

  2. Wendy Stevens June 3, 2015 at 8:24 pm

    I love it, Laura! Great idea and again it makes it much more engaging for the audience as well. Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. Beth June 10, 2015 at 9:47 am

    One idea I will be using soon (similar to Laura’s) is to have a theory quiz for parents that would cover a lot of what the students have learned during the year, then have the students provide the answers. This not only involves the parents but also shows them how much their children have learned in piano class.

  4. Ann Webster June 14, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    I ordered and got Mop Bop, but on the site you advertised another piece besides theIrish Jig, I can’t find it, can you help me?

  5. Wendy Stevens June 14, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    Hi Ann,

    Thanks for your interest! You are probably referring to the Celtic Hymn Arrangement #1 which was an arrangement of “Be Thou My Vision.” You can see, hear, and order it here: https://composecreate.com/store/music/be-thou-my-vision/

    Let me know if you need anything else! I’m happy to help!

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