Clever Ideas for Halloween Fun
Can’t say I’ve ever hosted a street recital and for that matter, a Halloween recital! It’s not surprising, though, that Marie Lee hosts a Halloween Street Recital every year on her driveway. Why? Because Marie never misses an opportunity to think outside the box and beyond the boundaries of most teachers.
If you’ve read her Group Teaching Blueprint, you’ll know that she’s an expert on how to run a mutli-teacher studio, plan rockin’ recitals, train teachers, market to potential students and…all with a smile and a "can-do” attitude.
In this post, Marie shares how she runs her Street Recital as well her Bring a Parent week. Just in time for the season, she’s added a Halloween twist to both events. Even if you won’t be throwing a Halloween bash, you’ll gather terrific ideas for your future recitals or parent events.
Halloween Street Recital
This is our students’ favorite activity of the year!
We teach Halloween pieces to all our students in September/October and invite students to come in costume to my driveway on October 31st between 6-8pm and play their solo for the trick-or-treaters.
I've had some students enjoy it so much that they stay the full two hours, playing over and over again. We live in Las Vegas so the weather is usually perfect this time of year. Also, our street is very popular for trick-or-treaters so there are always crowds gathered in our driveway.
We set up a digital piano in my driveway, hooked up to an amplifier, decorate the garage doors, add a few Halloween inflatables, and put up orange and purple lights in the yard.
Students count the number of people they play for and add it to their 100 Performances Medal record sheet (perform for 100 people and earn a medal at our spring recital.) Some students have even earned their medal that night by just performing 2-3 times.
A fun thing I’ve tried the past two years is hooking up my iPad to the speaker and running the Halloween songs off of Piano Maestro. This gives my students something to play, if they choose. I’ve even had children and adults from the crowd who play the piano come up and want to try. The app has such cool backing tracks that it really captures the audience’s attention. Monster Mash is particularly easy and fun to play.
If one of my students shows up to perform and isn’t comfortable playing solo, or if a trick-or-treating child without piano experience wants to play, we use this Halloween Improv duet from Teach Piano Today and the new student plays a D or C-D along with my accompaniment.
This event is a great marketing tool -- it gives me a chance to meet other families in the area with children. I let them know about the studio, and hand out a treat with a small card inviting them to a free class. In all honesty, I’ve only gotten two calls about coming in for a free class and neither have resulted in a new student. I think the card/treat goes right into the children’s trick-or-treat bag never to be looked at again.
This year I’m just keeping my business cards on hand, along with a notepad and pen. If an adult asks more about piano classes, I’ll give them my card and ask for their email address so I can send them more information about our school and a schedule to come in for a free trial class.
Sneak Attack is hands-down our students’ favorite Halloween piece year after year. Once they get advanced enough, I teach our intermediate students the teacher duet so they can play along with the younger students. Be sure and check this out if you haven’t yet!
I’m also excited about teaching Halloween rote pieces this year from Samantha Coates’ BlitzBooks Repertoire! We’re trying out Spooky Island and Zombies as there are 3 different levels for a range of skill levels. So far they’ve been a huge hit and easy to teach in just one class.
If the weather in your area doesn’t work for an outdoor street recital, consider having students perform Halloween pieces at a nursing home or senior center, school or church fall carnival, or community center. Nothing is cuter than kids dressed up in costume performing spooky music!
Bring a Parent Week
We usually hold this in October and use this as a time to educate new parents on our studio values and philosophies, along with show them how much fun their student is having in class. Parents make music right along with us, which their kids love.
Here’s a sample outline, with more than enough activities for a 45 minute class:
Families sit together on a piano bench (parent/student.)
Welcome/Introduce our philosophy.
Candy Bar Rhythm Rap w/paper plates, inspired by Leila Viss’ activity idea.
Go over Lesson Binder, weekly assignments, incentives.
Sneak Attack from Supersonics Piano.
Pass out numbered sheet music, one per piano.
Listen to recording, track fingers along music and find areas of silence #1-6.
Pass out sound cards, 1 per family (boo, wolf howl, ghost, witches cackle, etc.)
Play recording again, sound cards “perform” on their numbered section.
Ding, Dong! Trick or Treat duet from Teach Piano Today monthly book club.
Halloween Improv activity from Teach Piano Today.
Piano Maestro— Monster Mash simplified or just pick a Journey #1 song that plays on a C key.
Play a Halloween theory game together. Nicola Cantan’s Vibrant Music Teaching. Her library has a lot of to choose from, but I especially love her Spooky Sound Cards and Witches Brew Dynamic Dialogue activities.
Pass out a Parent Practice Tips sheet and thank everyone for coming.
It’s an honor and a pleasure to belong to Marie’s private Facebook group for those who purchase her resource and proudly call themselves "Blueprinters!”
Marie shares tons of tips, bargains, sheet music that works in group settings, and unique insight all coming from her vast experience as a long-time group piano teacher. If you are considering group teaching or already teach in groups you’ll value her Group Teaching Blueprint and its wealth of wisdom!