How a Teacher Empowered her Piano Students to Plan a Fund-Raising Studio Recital

Renée Holliman is a fine teacher who lives close to Atlanta, Georgia who came up with a brilliant idea for a studio recital. I know she’s a fine teacher because I saw her in action at the Savvy Musician in Action. You can read all about our experience here but, in a nutshell, Savvy Musician in Action is David Cutler’s immersive event for wanna-be entrepreneurs in the arts.

Posing with new life-long friends and fellow piano teachers. We survived SAVVY! BUT, the pic is missing dear Becky who got sick and had to return home :-(

Posing with new life-long friends and fellow piano teachers: Renée is in the white, Marie is in the middle. Sadly, the pic is missing dear Becky who got sick and had to return home 🙁

Renée, along with Marie Lee and Becky Cappelli went with me on this venture and we all came back with input overload and memories for a life time. Renée was the captain of my team during the event and boy, did she keep us on track.

What you’ll read below is all about “Ms Holliman” in action with her own very fortunate students. I’m so eager to implement this plan for my studio recital this spring. I think you will be, too.

Take it away, Renée–oops, I mean Ms Holliman…


The idea of a student produced and performed concert occurred to me around April or May of 2016. I announced the idea to everyone who attended my student “Almost Summer Recital.”

I called the first meeting in July and three students attended:

a 1st grader,

a 3rd grader

a 5th grader.

They were very quiet but, with my prompting they were able to come up with

a date of September 11th,

a venue,

the possible cost of the venue,

and what we should charge for tickets – as this was going to also be a fundraiser.

I had them figure out what job they would like to take on.

“A” likes to chat and is real good with people so I suggested she be the publicist and she took care of emails and social media.

“E” and “H” are siblings, I suggested they be the marketing team. They were VERY apprehensive.

“H” was to design the logo – he’d never really touched a computer other than playing games on it. He said, “I don’t know how to do that”……below is what was emailed to me 2 days later, I was so impressed!

poster

Next, I set up a meeting with Mr. Mills, the V.P of our local Steinway Piano Galleries so that E, H and A could reserve the date and discuss the fee for the venue. E, H and A got spiffed up and I had them rehearse what to say and how to conduct themselves. We practiced shaking hands, greeting, looking the person in the eye and being respectful. We also practiced what to say and how to negotiate. They got all spiffed up, I met them there, gave them a pep talk and sent them in and I waited outside.

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A, E and H meeting with Mr. Mills

After the meeting A, E and H were beaming from ear to ear and so proud of themselves and their accomplishment of meeting with the V.P. of Steinway Piano Galleries of Atlanta! Mr. Mills was so impressed and said they did a great job. They negotiated the date, time and rental cost of the recital hall (which was $0.00.)

Our next team meeting was well attended and I set up a table and chairs boardroom style. They sat quiet and wide-eyed. Again, I asked them lots of questions to get their creative juices flowing about

ticket price and design,

charity to donate the proceeds,

and who would do what.

They each wrote down ideas for a name for their concert. I emailed many people with these names to vote on their favorite. With all the votes tallied, the name evolved and became…

Holliman’s Student Extravaganza

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The photo above shows some of the names they came up with. You’ll notice the team members are all pretty young by their penmanship.  In the other photo is the team discussing ideas and planning.

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Above are the tickets that were to be sold and the poster–totally designed by the marketing team.

I attended the Savvy Musician In Action Conference this past summer and learned a ton on how to make “it” happen. The “it” in this case was the concert. At Savvy we used large Post-It paper on the walls to keep us organized…..well, I had the concert team do the same. It was great for figuring things out and brainstorming. The kids LOVED writing on the Post-It paper and they all begged to get a turn to do so. Below is an example of the Post-It paper.

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Above left is a worksheet where they were figuring out their possible income from ticket sales and donations.

The other is a photo of the math of the treasurer who is a 13-year-old math genius. They found out that the recital hall fit 90 people comfortably and 100–not so comfortably. Our treasurers figured they could bring in at least $470 as they were also going to sell tickets at the door for $7.00.
At the next meeting I handed the team a computer and an iPad to find an organization to which they would donate the proceeds of their concert. Again, most of them hadn’t really done much research on a computer. They found quite a few but, selected the organization called Tuesday’s Children.

Tuesday’s Children was formed after 9/11 to take care of the needs of the children that lost their parents in the terrorist attack of 9/11 and the 300 unborn babies who lost their fathers.

I called the organization, talked to them and learned so much. They are evolving since the children are now getting older. The unborn children are now 15 years old. Now they offer help to people who have been impacted by any terrorist attack and other acts of violence.

The tasks that the students assigned themselves were all suited to their strengths; for example, the marketing team went gangbusters and sold the most tickets and asked everyone in their circle to come.

There was a job for everyone. My newer student, “T”(2nd grader), is very quiet and shy so I asked if she would like to design a Tuesday’s Children Donation Box. She did a wonderful job and put a lot of thought into it.

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Four students wanted to host the recital as they liked to speak in front of an audience. I wrote the script and handed it to them to figure out who would say what and when. They did an awesome job and owned it by memorizing their parts and making little note cards just in case they had a memory slip.

We had one dress rehearsal two days before. H’s Dad offered to run the recorded music prior to the concert and videos of snippets from Tuesday’s Children. He then handed all the information to his son and said “this is for you to figure out how it’s going to happen and I’ll help you” (loved that.)

On Holliman’s Student Extravaganza rehearsal day everyone was excited!

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September 11, 2016 arrived and the concert went off without a hitch. The students decided to enter the recital hall as a processional at show time carrying an American flag with the national anthem playing. What was so unexpected and moving was the audience all stood and sang the National anthem.

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In the photo above, you see a TV that we used to show the snippets of Tuesday ‘s Children videos for the audience to get a better understanding of the organization.

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After the concert the marketing team approached the audience as they were leaving to donate to Tuesday’s Children with the donation box and they were quite successful at it.

The following week the Finance Team went to work. I wanted to give the performers a stipend from the ticket sales for all of their hard work. The Finance Team met and did the math to see if this would be possible as they could only use the money from ticket sales. Over 57 tickets were sold plus they had many buy tickets at the door.

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They were able to give each performer a $6.00 stipend but most of the performers donated their stipend to Tuesday’s Children. The projected donation to Tuesday’s Children through ticket sales and donations was exceeded! Our extravaganza made a donation of almost $500!! Tuesday’s Children was so pleased and they have asked the team if they would do this again next year.
What I noticed after this experience, is that my students have exceeded their musical benchmarks. This concert was such an enriching experience and I have seen my their musical skills grow and their level of playing increase. Because I put the responsibility on them, they now understand the wonderful results that occur with planning, practice, diligence and teamwork.

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Some of the Holliman’s Student Extravaganza performers and team.

Thank you, Renée, for such an inspiring project and post. Please thank all your industrious and dedicated students, too!

-Leila

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Leila Viss

Creative Pianist, Piano Teacher, Organist, Blogger and Author of The iPad Piano Studio

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