How to survive your final recital


Well it’s that time of year again! Final recitals have always seemed so far away, like stormy clouds in the distance, but now you’ve looked out the window and it’s about to start chucking it down.

I remember being there. It 100% can be a time where you can struggle, and even seem like life on the other side is a distant fantasy.

The good news is that I’m now on the other side of it and totally survived. So here are some tiny tips on how to survive your final recital… and maybe even enjoy it.

Get it planned early


Working out what you’re going to play seems like a pretty obvious thing to start with… so let’s start with it. Work out what you want to play, talk to your teacher about, and get it decided as early as you can. This leads on to step 2…

Get your practise planed. Work out what your practise routine for it would be… or if you’re like I was work out what your practise routine is full stop. As well as working out the when and how of practise, work out when you want to be performance ready. A time that’s enough before your exam day that means you’ll be polished, but also not too early you get bored to tears of what you’re playing.


Yea… seems like a weird thing to suggest right? Let’s face it. You’re probably going to be a little be stressed about your recital (I know I bloody was). So making sure you get out of a practise room, speak to other real life people and switch off a little is actually going to make sure that you’re not becoming over anxious about things. It’s all to easy to lock yourself away and have a lonely experience at this time of year.

Sometimes it can be nice to have people to talk to about music and your final recital stress (who doesn’t love a collective moan? It’s why everyone bitches about the weather), and likewise maybe have time when you talk about anything but music… find a balance that works for you.

Look after yourself

Pretty related to the last point. You might not feel like it, but in many ways you’re an elite athlete coming up to a big performance. And elite athletes need to be in tip top condition to perform.

Now… I’m not asking anyone to go crazy and become a lycra clad marathon runner. But two things will massively help your brain function better and decrease stress.

Move a bit more. Eat a bit better.



Moving more will also help with any aches and pains your get from inevitably upping your practise. I found swimming incredibly helpful (despite being a crap swimmer) as it loosened off all the muscles I used playing cello… and gave me an excuse to chill in a hot tub afterwards.

You don’t have to be amazing at it… just like my appalling swimming. Just find something that works for you… cycling, tennis, running, yoga… ultimate frisbee… I dunno… muggle quidditch? You do you.



Do a run through concert

Until you play your repertoire all in one go in a performance, there will be an element of uncertainty. There’s always something that goes awry that you never expected. That shift you thought was fine, some text your find you get your tongue in a twist… or more likely you find that most 30 mins of playing and concentrating you’re tired and it becomes harder.


It doesn’t have to be a huge concert. Arrange to do it with a group of friends where you all play to each other (you’re all in this together). This will either highlight some stuff to tweak and make it better, or will give you confidence going forwards. Win win.


Full disclosure… I didn’t do this, and really wish I had



Start planning for a life after your final recital

Good news! There is life after your final recital! It’s always good to have a carrot of something to look forward to. Either plan that holiday you want to go on, find cool projects to work with, work out what repertoire or courses you want to go on. Having that sense of excitement of something happening after will help drive you on and put things in context.


Have your final recital as a celebration

You know what? You’re bloody awesome. 


You’ve been at music college for a long time. There have been ups, and there have been downs. But whatever has happened, you’re both a better person and a better musician now than when you first started.


Whether you’ve had a good or bumpy time at music college, it 100% is worth celebrating all the work that you have done in this time, and celebrating you.


So, invite your friends, invite your teachers, invite your family… even that weird uncle. If you want to, buy a new outfit, plan where you’ll go for dinner afterwards… whatever makes you smile.


Ultimately, you chose to do music because you enjoy music. It seems crazy suggesting that an exam should be enjoyable, but why not use this as a chance to really enjoy your performance, remember why it is that you decide to do music and celebrate you.


Oh and coffee… lots of coffee.