Countless hours of rehearsal and preparation lead up to one moment in front of the audience, one moment for a musician to show off everything they have, after planning, advertising and practicing over and over again.
The audience never really sees the extensive amounts of work that go into a recital. Kevin Phillips, fifth-year music education major, is in the process of preparing for his spring voice recital.
Phillips said usually recitals are solo work, so a lot of time goes into the planning and performing process.
“I think the most important part is that realistically being a recitalist is a valid career option that musician can go into and preparing one can be a lot more difficult than they think it is,” Phillips said. “It’s a good time to show your peers what you’ve done throughout your college career so that way they can look into things.”
The purpose of a recital is for a music student to showcase what they’ve learned in their musical studies. In addition to the actual performance, these students also learn how to go about planning, preparing, rehearsing, marketing and ultimately performing a recital.
Every musician goes about preparing for a recital differently, but in general, they follow some sort of formula. First, the process starts with the studio teacher, who helps the student learn and develop technique, musicianship and what literature fits their instrument or voice best. From there, the musician selects their repertoire and practices it as much as possible.
Phillips said he picked his music by coming up with a theme, which is a journey through life including love, death, spirituality and finding oneself.
Phillips is preparing 14 pieces for his recital coming up in March and said the best time to start planning is at least a semester in advance.
“At any moment, your memory could drop and it’s just you,” Phillips said. “So something I always like to remember is preparation is key, because when your nerves get in the way, you want to make sure you’re prepared better than you want to perform.”
Junior vocal performance major Bailey Quade is also preparing for a recital in February. Recitals are one of the graduation requirements for music majors and Quade said she is looking forward to her first one.
“Planning and giving a recital is really good experience because as we move on in our career we will more than likely be the one planning our recitals,” Quade said. “Up until this point I had no idea what happened behind the scenes of a recital so I’m really thankful I get the chance to learn all of this before I’m out on my own. It’s also really awesome being able to perform things I’m proud of.”
Quade will be performing her recital alongside junior Mikayla Trenhaile on Feb. 23.
After mastering the music, the student has just a few weeks before the recital. This time is usually used for polishing any troublesome passages in the music and performing in front of anyone and everyone who will listen.
USD choir director David Holdhusen said requiring music students to give recitals offers several benefits.
“Regardless of future plans, a public performance better prepares the student to enter the professional music world,” Holdhusen said. “As a performance major, these students will be presenting concerts the rest of their lives. Aside from the performance aspects, this capstone event also provides students with self-confidence, an opportunity to demonstrate concepts, hone personal time management skills and provide an experience for younger students to learn from.”
Once the music is learned, the posters are put up and the stage is set up, it’s only a matter of time before the recital begins.
Phillips said he always gets nervous before a performance but thrives from the high-stress situation.
“A lot of people get stage fright,” Phillips said. “But for me, I’m an adrenaline junkie. So when you’re about to go down the hill of a rollercoaster, that’s me walking on stage. I love the adrenaline of it being live and in-person and something can go wrong, but if you’re prepared it shouldn’t.”
Holdhusen said the more prepared a student is for their recital, the more comfortable they will be during the performance.
“A music major should enjoy the music learning process,” Holdhusen said. “This is what you hope to do for the rest of your life. Learn to love it.”
In the future, Phillips said he wants to be a professor of voice, so learning the recital process has a variety of benefits.
“It helps me learn about new music that I maybe haven’t seen before,” Phillips said. “If nothing else, what we can take from it is, it’s an experience of culture that we’re not always used to and it’s also the ability of giving what I’ve learned to students.”