Piano Recital Showdown: Zoom recital vs. Playlist recital vs. In-person recital

Tired of zoom sound in your recitals?

Not sure if your audience is watching your entire Playlist recital?

Worried about in-person recitals because of COVID-19?

This blog post weighs in on the pros and cons of each type of recital and offers solutions and even hybrid recital ideas to keep the quality up and everyone safe. (**Spoiler — I’m advising against in-person recitals at this time. The purpose of this post is simply to offer a comparison.)

Zoom Recital

Pro — Audience engagement

Like an in-person recital, the audience is present for every child, from beginning to end.

Con — Sound quality

The sound quality depends in part on the internet connection, and can be passible or sketchy. Sound quality can be improved if everyone keeps their sound and cameras off (increasing the bandwidth for improved sound).

Pro — Real-time action

A zoom recital gives children the experience of playing for a live audience, the skills to navigate being nervous and overcome the feelings associated with stage fright and, ultimately, the buzz of a performance. The child gets instant feedback — real-time applause.

Con — Instrument quality

Some kids have lovely instruments at home but others don’t. When it’s recital time and zoom is the stage, the only instrument available is the practice instrument. This could also be a factor in Playlist recitals, if children are uploading music videos performed on their home instruments.

Pro — Global accessibility

Loved ones can join, watch and listen from around the world. It’s heartwarming to hear the friendly greetings from folks who don’t get to see their favourite children’s faces very often, let alone hear them play the piano.

Con — Duets

With children performing at home, it isn’t possible to play student-teacher duets over Zoom.

Zoom Recital Summary

While the quality of sound and instrument can be of lower quality, a zoom recital offers an engaged audience and the real-time experience and excitement of an in-person recital.

Run your Zoom recital like a pro! Here’s a blog post with 7 ideas to get you started! How to invite your audience, how to distribute your program, how to include video performances and more!

Playlist Recital

Pro — Sound quality

Typically, video recordings can have better sound quality. When compared to zoom, there’s no clipping of sound and overall, listeners can hear more of the performer’s expression.

Pro — Do-overs

If your student makes a mistake, you can record again to capture their best performance. This isn’t cheating. Even concert pianists get do-overs when they’re recording.

Con — No audience guarantee

Some listeners will only listen to their own kid.

If your playlist recital is on YouTube, there are several ways to check how many people are actually watching, and how much they are or are not watching. This can help you decide whether this is an effective platform for future recitals. Here’s how to check your stats:

  • In your YouTube account, go to “YouTube Studio.”
  • On the left of your screen, click on “Playlists.”
  • In the Playlist screen, find your recital playlist.
  • Hover your mouse over the little pencil icon to enter the edit window.
  • In the edit window, you’ll see how many views your playlist has had.

You might think, “YAY! The recital has had 111 views!” Not so fast! Now check the stats of each individual uploaded video. There are two ways to check.

  • Back in YouTube Studio, now click on “Content.”

You’ll see your videos listed and the number of times each video has been viewed. If every video has the same number of views, it’s possible that your audience is watching the whole recital. However, if there’s a different count for each video, your audience is only zoning in on some performers.

There’s one more way to check on audience retention that’s even more telling, and that’s how much of each video they’re watching.

  • In the same screen, hover your mouse over the title of each video, and options will appear. Click on “Analytics.”
  • Scroll down and you’ll see a graph of audience retention. Dropping from 100% to 66% throughout the video is actually very good retention. But it does mean that 33% of viewers are opting out of the performance early, and shows you when.
  • If your retention drops from 100% to 33% (or lower) throughout the video, fully two-thirds of your audience is opting out early, and your child performers aren’t being heard.

Only you can decide if Playlist recitals are right for your studio. It would be wise to base your decision on your audience retention.

Playlist Recital Summary

While there is no guarantee of audience retention, Playlist recitals offer do-overs and typically, better sound.

In-person Recital

Con — COVID-19

Until vaccines are universally approved for children, this young segment of our population is vulnerable. Not every adult is vaccinated and in the future, not every child will be vaccinated. While COVID-19 remains a factor, this must be taken into consideration by caring, professional piano teachers. At this time it still may be too soon to host In-person recitals, according to the vaccine roll-out for children.

Pro — Instrument quality

Our wish is to host our recitals in a venue that has a top-quality instrument. It’s enriching for young performers to have the opportunity to play on an excellent piano.

Con — Limited audience

Unless you stream, relatives who live further away won’t be able to watch. One work-around is for families to take videos of their own child performing and then share with relatives after the recital.

Pro — Audience engagement

The audience is present for the whole recital. Socially, it is frowned upon to leave early and most people stay.

Pro — Duets

In In-person recitals it’s possible to play duets, one of the best aspects of recitals for beginners.

In-person Recital Summary

Although it is our preference to perform on a quality instrument before a live, responsive audience, there is a risk of children catching COVID-19 at this time.

Hybrid Recital Idea

Last year, I tried a combination of Zoom and Playlist recitals all in one. Here’s how:

I prepared everyone for a Zoom recital at a set date and time.

I was teaching in person (with a modified studio design and wearing masks). During piano lessons the week before the Zoom recital, I filmed student solos and recorded student-teacher duets.

This plan gave all the benefits of both kinds of recitals and mitigated the drawbacks.

  • The audience was present for every child in the Zoom recital and students felt the buzz of a live audience.
  • After the live recital, I shared playlists of the recorded videos with parents. This offered higher-quality sound and duets. Parents were encouraged to share their child’s performance on social media. This widened the audience further.

Future Recitals

I foresee hybrid recitals in the future. Now that we’ve experienced how amazing it is for relatives around the globe to join the recital audience (which we hadn’t experienced before), and have seen how much joy families get when sharing YouTube performance videos on social media, we may never want to go back to In-person-only recitals. Just imagine…

  • In-person recitals that are also streamed.
  • Zoom recitals with an extra keepsake video duet (from a playlist).

One thing is certain, when we share our music, we spread joy!

What have your experiences been? Do you have any hints or suggestions that have worked for you? Please leave a comment below!

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I appreciate shares, comments and likes. Happy teaching! ❤

Rebekah Maxner, composer, blogger, piano teacher. Follow my blog for great tips!

Video of the Week

Once Upon a Christmas Star. A note-and-rote Christmas gem! Comes with lyrics for three verses (included on the eSheet) about a Christmas star, a Christmas tree and a Christmas Eve. It has all the Christmas ‘feels’ kids love! Steps, skips, playing across the keyboard. Early Elementary, Primer Level. Check out the studio-licensed eSheet Once Upon a Christmas Star in my shop!

Watch Once Upon a Christmas Star on YouTube!
Listen to a sound clip of White Drift!

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