As a music major at the university, an end-of-year recital usually represents the culmination of all the hard work and dedication it takes to get to the feeling of accomplishment that the final recital brings. It involves building a repertoire, working on an instrument or music-related skill and training with a professor or graduate student, all to perform a 45 minute to one hour-long recital. The contents of a recital may be different depending on one’s major: vocal students perform songs with an accompanist, instrumental students perform on their instrument and composition students have their original music performed. However, the cost of these culminating performances may cause the recital to be an overwhelming experience.
Although the university provides free use of performance halls on campus, the other financial responsibilities that come with setting up cumulative performances can be intense. Hayley Collins, a senior music major with a vocal concentration, disclosed the extensive list of costs associated with recitals for most music students:
First, there is the cost of buying multiple copies of sheet music for each song. Students need one copy for themselves, one for their accompanist and one for their voice teacher. Then, there are the fees performers normally pay their accompanist that works with them, which can be upwards of $250 per semester, with additional recital fees that are upwards of $150 per recital. If performers collaborate with other artists during their recital, those fees also factor in. If performers do not turn in their program information on time, they have to design and print all of their programs personally, as opposed to the university doing it. This can end up being very costly, especially if visually pleasing programs are desired. If performers want to have their recital off-campus at their church or other local venue, they will have another fee to add to the list.
Additionally, performers usually purchase an extremely nice outfit — a formal gown or suit — and spend lots of money on hair, makeup, nails and jewelry. It is also a tradition to purchase gifts for their accompanist and voice teacher, which can be costly. There even seem to be additional costs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I paid for a live stream video and audio recording as well as the master mixing of everything,” Collins says. “And I think that was a little bit under $300.”
The cost of putting together a senior recital can be overwhelming to most students when everything is added up. University students are usually in tight financial situations to begin with. Some may not have income from jobs or money saved up to afford senior recitals, but completing their college degree still remains important to them.
“The idea of having a recital, like I said, is a combination of your instrument over your years of study,” Collins says. “If you’re a music ed student, how are you going to be able to teach your students how to do these things if you’re not proficient in your own instrument? And if you’re a performer, I mean, that’s self explanatory. For composition, how can you accurately write things for musicians if you’re not knowledgeable or experienced?”
As Collins discusses, the importance of completing this capstone assignment as a music major is a huge step towards performing or utilizing their degree in a career. Since senior recitals are regarded as real-world experience in a performer’s chosen musical field, the amount of work performers do leading up to and on the day of senior recitals is significant.
“It’s definitely something to be proud of,” Collins says. “It’s not a small thing. It’s not a small accomplishment. It is very, very large. Pulling it off says a lot about your musicianship and your strength as a person.”