Planning a Digital Recital for Elementary Music

Digital Recitals are a fantastic way to showcase what your music students are learning. We did not have any concerts last year due to COVID, but I did find a great workaround that is less stressful than a concert, and more personal. I used Padlet for my recital, but you could use other tools, like Flipgrid, SeeSaw, or Edublogs. This was such a fun project that I will continue doing it in the future. It’s also a great way to create digital student portfolios! Here’s how I did it…


First, you will need to decide what kind of recital you would like to share with families. It could be a showcase of your student’s best work, or it could resemble an informance where students show what they do on a day-to-day basis in your music classroom. Another fun idea would be to record your students at the beginning of the year, and again at the end of the year to show the progress they have made. I would love to do this every year for my students. Not only will they see how far they’ve come, but they will have a keepsake they can carry on into adulthood.

Where and When

Next, you can start thinking about how you will display the recital. Will you email parents a link? Will you play the videos at an assembly or concert for parents as an add-on to your regular in-person performances? Our Kindergarten had an Art Show in their classroom for families to attend. Students led their families around to themed stations of their artwork, but one of the stations was music. This station used a projector and students were able to click their name on the computer and display a video of them performing a solo song or activity. Everyone watched the videos together rather than at a station in order to be less of a distraction.

Student Voice

Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey have created a Spectrum of Voice chart. As you can see, the highest level of student voice is achieved when projects are learner-driven. I’m doing this recital with Kindergarten students, so I will be more on the participation and collaboration part of the spectrum, which is not learner-driven, but still learner-centered. Students were able to collaborate with me by choosing what to perform for their recital. They were allowed to select from something we’ve done in class, or base it on something we’ve learned. Several of them put their own twist on the songs they’ve chosen. A couple of students decided to create their own songs (these are short, about 30 seconds).

I Made Mistakes

There are issues that I ran into while doing this project. My biggest mistake was that I jumped into the collaborative phase too quickly. I had to backtrack. Rather than picking anything we’ve done that year, I wrote a list of good examples to choose from. Then I modeled each of the choices. I then had to deal with the issue of many kids picking the same thing (further explained in the next paragraph). I had to go back, delete the entries, and have everyone then perform the same song. Once they had played and sang “Happy Ukulele” by Ukubebe on the ukulele, they were allowed to choose anything from the list (or related to the list) for a second recording.

When I let students record their activities one-by-one without practicing, most of them ended up picking the same activity as the child before them. Some of the activities they chose were ones that we did just for fun, like “The Goldfish Song” by the Laurie Berkner Band which weren’t appropriate for a recital. From now on I will definitely have students perform the same song, then slowly start to give them more freedom in terms of choices. I will also try recording children with different selections on the same day.

Final Tips

  • Don’t delete an entry if a child wants to change theirs. Start a new entry just in case their new chosen activity isn’t a winner. You can always keep the original entry to show the parents.
  • Prepare to record over the course of several lessons, but try to get something from every student when you can. We had a lot of absences from week to week due to the pandemic, so even though some students choose to revise their submissions, there were other students that were only present for the very first week. I’m glad we had something to include on their behalf.
  • Use consent forms for recording students. Here’s a sample permission slip from Flipgrid in English and Spanish.
  • Consider having a group entry where the students perform a song or dance as a class.
  • Add an introduction entry if you are not able to introduce the recital in person.
  • The recording process went by quickly, it was presented casually and the students were eager to be recorded. I was able to get through the whole class with plenty of time left over for other activities.

Changing things up with a digital recital was exciting for me and my students. They loved choosing and recording their selections. Even though we spent significant time recording students individually, the class was interested in what was going on and were good audience members. They would even erupt into applause after a well done performance. All in all, this was a lot of fun and I hope you try it out!

Digital Recitals are a fantastic way to showcase what your elementary, middle and high school music students are learning. For Kindergarten, I used Padlet, but you could use other tools, like Flipgrid, SeeSaw, or Edublogs. This was such a fun project that I will continue doing it in the future. It's also a great way to create digital student portfolios! Here's how!
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