An Exciting, Affirming and Empowering Idea: The Recital Compliment Exchange

Swan Kiezebrink by Wallace Studios on the Recital Compliment ExchangeI am so excited to share a brilliant idea for making your recitals more interesting and meaningful. This idea comes from a dear long time ComposeCreate supporter, Swan Kiezebrink.

Let’s face it. It’s too easy for parents and students to come to your recital and just care about their own piece or their child’s piece. It’s too easy for them to just sit back and think about the upcoming soccer game when their child is not playing. For that matter, some even try to leave early, not giving any thought to the negative message this can send to other performers!

The Recital Compliment Exchange - a great way to encourage piano students at a recital from

Swan’s Recital Compliment Exchange idea can help!

Swan has a wonderful solution to this that solves more than just these issues! Imagine this scenario:

Judy and Randy walk into Swan’s recital with their 10 year old son, Bryce. Swan hands them not only a program, but a pencil and paper with the names of all of the performers in order. Judy and Randy sit down with all the other parents and Swan goes to the front to explain that during each piece, audience members should write down one thing on which they would like to compliment the performer. She gives examples like:

  • Posture and artistry at the piano
  • Dynamics
  • Energy or feeling
  • Technique like hand shape
  • How the piece affects positively them
  • Anything positive!

She also tells the audience to place the papers on a chair at the front of the venue after the recital where she will collect them later.

When the recital is over, Swan then does one of two things. She explains it this way:

If it is a large recital, I take each paper and cut it into strips and assign a pile to each student. I then clip those together and give to the student at their next lesson and we read through them together

If it is a smaller recital, I take the time to type up each remark from each person on some pretty paper and give that at the next lesson as above.

What can the Recital Compliment Exchange do for your students and recitals?

Imagine how much more involved Judy, Randy, Bryce and the entire audience are at Swan’s recital! Imagine all the benefits to a Recital Compliment Exchange:

  1. It validates and encourages students.
  2. It develops listening and observing skills in the students and parents.
  3. It teaches the audience what to listen for.
  4. It gets the audience more involved.
  5. It builds music community (which is one of Swan’s personal goals for her studio).
  6. It reinforces what you as a teacher have been teaching.
  7. It gives a reason to listen to each performance.
  8. It builds up the character and musicality of each student.
  9. It allows another opportunity for the teacher to wholeheartedly agree with what was written and give compliments as well!

Swan’s comment here is enough to make any piano teacher want to do this:

The younger ones really pay special attention to what the teens tell them, and I always encourage the teens to think carefully and be thoughtful with their comments. And as a by-product, the reluctant families start to see value in piano lessons! 🙂

Plus, can you imagine how beautiful this is for each student? I love what Swan told me here:

I have seen absolutely beautiful remarks given to students from their peers and a few from parents to their own child that make me tear up!

Variations on the Recital Compliment Exchange

Swan describes another fun variation to the Recital Compliment Exchange:

Swan's Recital Compliment Exchange - A great idea for keeping the audience involved in a piano recital!Another variation (takes time!) that I have done is to cut hearts out with a scrap book template in various colours, gather valentine stickers and coloured marking pens and fancy scissors, and hand each child x amount of hearts (as many as are performing). They are instructed to give compliments in my opening remarks again with ideas (like on the sheet) during performances.

After that, I have the stickers, scissors and pens on a table and they can decorate them before giving to the performers. I also have a bowl of candy heart chocolates they give with it if they want to.

Examples of the Recital Compliment Exchange

Here is the Recital Compliment Exchange document that Swan uses. And here is a picture of what she gives her student (if she types them up vs. just cutting up the compliments and giving them a stack):

Swans recital compliment exchange example

Click to enlarge

Complete Spring Recital Package Available

Recital Compliment Exchange - Spring recital template from | Includes recital compliment cards, editable program, editable invitationStudents will be impressed with all the lovely compliments that they receive. But don’t be surprised if you also get some compliments from parents! One of the ways we retain our students is by demonstrating to parents that we are committed to excellence in our teaching. But our printed materials should reflect this excellence as well.

Yes, we can paste a nice picture in our program, but that’s not the same thing as an artistically designed theme that is consistent in all your recital materials.

We now have a complete recital template package for your spring recital that’s designed by an artist that includes:

  • An editable program (comes as a Word doc, Pages doc, or editable PDF)
  • An editable invitation
  • Recital compliment cards

Learn more or get the 2017 Spring Recital Package here.

Need more recital ideas?

If you’d like even more recital ideas, you may want to download the FREE 44 Recital Themes!

I’d love to hear what you think of Swan’s idea! I’m sure she could answer questions too if you have any. Just leave a comment below!

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