Bring Them Back: The Benefits of an Alumni Recital
By NAfME Member Doreen Fryling
There are so many good reasons to have an alumni recital that I will even list the negatives and you’ll STILL think it’s a good idea.
- Your current students will see that music making continues beyond high school.
- Your current students will see that you really do get better with more time (aka practice + life experience).
- Your current students will hear familiar repertoire performed by more mature musicians.
- Your current students will be introduced to new repertoire.
- Your current students will imagine themselves coming back to perform (thus increasing the likelihood that they pursue music making beyond high school).
- Your current students will have the opportunity to network with alumni and talk about college choices and careers (hold a reception afterwards to make this happen).
- Your alumni will have a way to return home and perform for family and friends who haven’t heard them recently.
- Your alumni will have an opportunity to perform their current repertoire for a supportive audience (it’s a great place to try out new rep or bring back favorites).
- Your alumni will have the opportunity to network and collaborate with other alumni.
- Your alumni will have an opportunity to show their thanks to their school and to their music teachers.
- Your alumni will have the opportunity to inspire the next generation.
- You will have the opportunity to reconnect with students and build stronger ties to the greater music world.
- You and your colleagues will have the opportunity to see the fruits of your labor.
- Your community will have the opportunity to come back into the school and see how the school prepares students for the future.
- Current parents of students can see that alumni have viable ways of making music beyond high school.
- Current parents of students can see that music making is the fulfillment of a passion for students and that it’s not just a passing phase of adolescence.
- Your administrators will see firsthand that music education provides students the means to make music, both professionally and avocationally, which in turn brings them great joy (and health benefits and increased psychological well-being!)
- Everyone will see that music making comes in many forms (we have everything from standard concert repertoire to original compositions, in every genre, every type of instrumentation).
- Everyone will see that you don’t have to be a music major or professional to still have a passion and means for making music.
What’s bad about running an alumni recital?
- You have to reach out (we created a Facebook group for anyone who was part of the music department in any way and then announced the recital through the page).
- You have to make sure you have a collaborative pianist that is willing to play for anyone who needs a collaborator (You could tell alumni that they have to take care of this themselves, but really, that potentially becomes a roadblock. I play for the alumni and I love getting a chance to work with them again. I’ve learned a lot from conversations with alumni about what they value from their school music experience).
- You have to organize a reception (or have a really great group of parents help you with this!)
- You have to get it on the district calendar. We did it two years in a row in January to try to catch college students during the winter break, but we have now moved it to late May.
- You have to make a program and collect performer bios (50 words that tell what they studied/are studying, where they are now, and what they did musically when they were in high school).
- You need to make posters for your school and advertise with the local paper, PTA, school website, and social media.
- It’s another thing to do (but it’s totally worth it).
The gift of a music education can be realized by our students, if we help them see their musical futures beyond their high school ensembles. Host an alumni recital and reap the benefits!
About the author:
NAfME member Doreen Fryling, Ed.D. is a 2016 Grammy Music Educator semifinalist, and had a student in our 2015 All-National Honor Choir. She is in her twentieth year as a public school music educator. She currently teaches IB Music and chorus classes at South Side High School in Rockville Centre, NY, and has previously taught K-5 general music and middle school chorus. She frequently serves as a cooperating teacher for student teachers. Doreen is a founding member of the eVoco Voice Collective, works as a professional chorister in NYC, and also maintains an active schedule as a collaborative pianist. She recently earned a Doctorate of Education in Learning and Teaching from Hofstra University. Doreen shares her love of music making with her husband, David, and their two children.
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