Most universities require that their music majors perform a half recital (20-30 min) their junior year and a full recital (45+ min) their senior year.  Here are some thoughts and strategies I have on programming.

Programming Strategy

Your first recital can be a nervous endeavor.  Like many of us, when nerves come in to play, our endurance suffers.  I encourage my students doing junior half recitals to pair up and share this program with another student.  I then suggest that you alternate works on the program so you get a break in between your pieces.  Plus, this is more entertaining and provides more variety for the audience.  Often the opening and/or last piece can be some kind of collaborative work with the two recitalists.

Programming Template

I like to build my recital program around one major work.  For a full recital this normally is the last piece on the first half.  I also like to represent a variety of eras or styles through the program.

Opener: There are many one-movement “Andante et Allegro”-type pieces that are musical, not terribly taxing and offer a nice way to ease in to the program.  Barat, Balay, Ropartz are some composers that come to mind.  This is also the customary place for a Baroque (piccolo trumpet) concerto.

Main Work: This is where you put your main, multi-movement work.  (I.e.The most challenging piece for you.)  Hindemith, Halsey Stevens, Haydn, Hummel are popular choices.


Experimental Work: This is where I would program the most challenging piece for the audience like unaccompanied works or 20th-21st Century pieces.

Closer: It’s nice to finish with something fun and pleasing to the audience.  Chamber music, jazz or theme and variation pieces work nicely.

Practice Strategy

Initial stage: practice one piece at a time focusing on the difficult technical spots.  Fully immerse yourself into the work until you feel like you have an understanding of the overall flow and language of the piece, then move on to the next piece.

Working stage: once you have your individual pieces “under your fingers” begin working with your accompanist.  Perform a piece or a movement on a student convocation at school or at church or in master class.  It is a VERY good idea to have performed all of your recital pieces one time or another prior to the actual recital.

Final stage: this takes place 2 weeks to a month prior to the recital.  During the final stage I run the program as often as I can.  I want to get a feel for the pacing, horn changes, energy levels, and endurance of the entire program.  Obviously, this practice session requires at least an hour so the practice times that I can only fit in less than it would take to run my program I spend on fundamentals or sight reading.  This keeps my mind and chops fresh.  My goal during this stage is to be able to eventually run my program twice-through in one sitting.  If I am strong enough to do this I feel like I will have enough “extra gas” in the event the nerves of recital day sap my resources.

The more you perform the easier performing becomes.  Don’t make the recital the be-all-end-all of your performing or college career.  Try to make it another day in the life of a performing musician.

I am compiling a repertoire list to post here at AllThingsTrumpet very soon.  Please stay tuned and stay in tune.