Senior Handbook Contents 


Guidelines for a Recital

The information presented below will serve as a guide for your senior recital, including procedures, requirements and deadlines, as well as recommendations to make your recital run more smoothly.

  1. Come up with an interesting, challenging, and varied program (in consultation with your private instructor). Plan a timetable for getting this program ready on time. Most people plan their senior recital 9-12 months in advance.
  2. Submit the Senior Project Form, Recital Form and Request for Recording Form to the Senior Project Coordinator once you have chosen a program, performers, and a timetable. Your program must be approved by the coordinator, with faculty consultation and concurrence. When your senior recital (and date) is approved, a pre-recital date will be scheduled (at least 4-6 weeks prior to your recital date).
  3. Register for MU 461-Senior Project (3-units) one quarter before you plan on presenting your recital. Students normally register for the Senior Project section assigned to their faculty advisor. However, if your senior recital involves working more closely with a different full-time faculty member, you will sign up for his/her appropriate section. If your applied teacher is a part-time instructor, you may have the current Senior Project Coordinator act as your advisor.
  4. Register for MU 400-Special Problems (1-unit for program notes) one quarter before you plan on presenting your recital. Prior to registration, find a faculty music historian who will agree to supervise your notes. Fill out the Request for Enrollment in MU 400 Form and have your program notes supervisor sign it. Program notes must be completed and approved by your advisor one week before before your scheduled pre-recital. If you do not meet this deadline, you will lose your pre-recital date and may susbsequently lose your recital date.
  5. Pre-Recital. You must be prepared to perform your complete program at a pre-recital for an evaluation committee (similar to a jury committee) four weeks before your proposed recital date. Payment of fees associated with your recital is due to the Music Department one week before your pre-recital.
  6. Programs and publicity flyers will be printed in a standard departmental format, and all information must be sent via e-mail (in Microsoft Word, file name should end in ".doc") to the Music Department. A print-out of the program should be given to the evaluation committee when you perform your pre-recital. In addition to the ordered list of works and movements to be performed, include composers’ first and last names, their birth and death dates, complete titles of works and movements, full names and instruments of assisting performers, special acknowledgments, and program notes (not required of junior/minor recitalists). All program notes must be approved prior to this step by an appropriate faculty member. Except for formatting, the text should be print-ready. There must not be any capitalization, punctuation, spelling, or any other errors.
    • Acknowledgments—an acknowledgment page is optional, but is a way to extend gratitude to anyone who has been helpful in the completion of your recital. A simple, short statement thanking faculty, friends, relatives, etc., is sufficient. Acknowledgments are considered part of the program, and therefore must be completed and submitted for approval at the time of the pre-recital.

  7. An accompanist (if applicable) is a very important contributing factor to the success of your recital. The Music Department maintains a list of approved professional accompanists from which you should choose. If you want to employ someone else, including a student, you must first obtain the approval of your MU 461 advisor.
  8. You may want to delegate someone to act as a “house manager” for you (someone to pass out programs, open the door for you as you enter and exit, and in general look after you). As the proctor is responsible for monitoring latecomers, it is best to choose an additional person to be house manager. You may also want this person to make sure the room is set up appropriately (chairs, music stands, etc.).
  9. Submission of project to the library—all senior projects are sent to Kennedy Library to be microfiched and are kept on file.


Scheduling Procedures

All completed paperwork (e.g. Senior Project Form, Recital Form, and Request for Recording Services Form) must be turned in - and your project approved by the faculty - before you can schedule a proposed recital date. Dates cannot be held for you until your project is approved; date scheduling is done on a first-come, first-served basis. Once you have turned this paperwork in and had your proposal approved by the faculty, your proposed recital date may be entered in the Music Department master calendar. You will be notified at this time of your pre-recital date as well.

Scheduling of Pre-Recital

The Pre-Recital date will be scheduled by the faculty upon approval of your Senior Recital, four weeks prior to the proposed recital date. Typically Thursdays (late mornings/early afternoons) and Fridays (afternoons) are preferrable days and times to schedule a pre-recital. You’ll need to confirm with the Senior Project Coordinator, your advisor, accompanist and guest performers that they will be able to perform/attend on that date (and time).

Scheduling of Senior Recital

Not only do you need to coordinate the recital date with the Senior Project Coordinator, your advisor, accompanist and guest performers; but you will also need to check the Music Department’s master calendar to avoid any conflicts. The Music Department will allow you to use Room 218 free of charge for your recital, but you must check the room’s availability. If you choose, however, to perform in an off-campus location, you must still check the date with the department to ensure that it does not conflict with other departmental events. The off-campus location must be within a reasonable proximity of Cal Poly, and is subject to faculty approval. Please be aware that this may result in higher expenses — hall rental, a larger recording fee, and so on. All arrangements for off-campus venues must be handled by you. Once you have chosen a suitable date, you must complete both a “Recital Form” and a “Pre-Recital Form,” as well as a “Request for Recording Services” form, and procure the appropriate signatures.

Scheduling a Reception (optional)

If you want to host an on-campus reception, you may use Room 126, but please confirm its availability. Please delegate a ‘clean-up crew’ of reliable friends or family, for you are responsible for returning the room to its pre-reception condition. There is a $50 key deposit which will be returned upon return of the key and confirmation that the room was left in the same condition in which it was found.

Recital Etiquette

There are a number of ‘etiquette’ issues to consider. Practice entering and leaving the hall, and your bowing. Your attire should be planned well in advance - is it comfortable, yet professional looking? If you plan to address the audience, rehearse what you want to say. Try not to intersperse your remarks with ‘uhs’ or nervous giggles. Remember, aferwards, to send thank-you messages to all those people who helped your recital take place - especially your teacher and your accompanist.

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The pre-recital is a performance examination which must be passed for a recital to be presented. The entire recital program must be ready at least four weeks before the requested recital date. Which pieces will be heard at the pre-recital, and how much of those pieces, will be left to the discretion of the examination jury. It may not be possible to gather an ensemble at the assigned jury time; this problem will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis by the senior project coordinator together with the student’s senior project advisor.

The program must be performance ready to pass the pre-recital examination. One week prior to the pre-recital, students must present a final version, along with a signed Program Completion Verification form, to their Program Advisor. Failure to do so will result in cancellation of the pre-recital. Unprepared programs or assisting artists can cause a pre-recital to fail. If the examination is failed, the student will be given another chance to take the pre-recital (see pages 9-10 for more detail). If this second chance is also failed, the student will forfeit the recital date, and must wait until the next quarter to try again.

Recital Information—Upon favorable completion of your pre-recital, you must e-mail your program to the department office. There should be a separate Word file (.doc) for each part of the program:

  • ordered list of pieces, with pause or intermission indicated if applicable
  • composers' full names and dates
  • any assisting performers, including accompanist
  • texts/translations if applicable
  • acknowledgments

Performance Attire—For your pre-recital it is strongly recommended that your attire be similar in nature to what you plan on wearing for your actual recital, both for comfort’s sake and to ensure that your pre-recital is as professional as possible.

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Date Change

Failure to Pass Pre-Recital or Date Change—If you cancel or do not pass your pre-recital, you must retake it at a date which meets the approval of the evaluation committee. You will also have to reschedule your recital date if the second pre-recital date is less then four weeks prior to the original recital date. A second failure will necessitate postponement or cancellation of your recital. Do not send out invitations prior to passing your pre-recital.

Recital Fees

All fees noted below are payable to the “Cal Poly Music Department,” with the exception of piano tuning, and due one week before your pre-recital. Payment of department fees must be made at the University Cashier in the Administratin Building (building 01) and a receipt turned in to the Music Department office one week before your pre-recital. You will be proviced with the payment details prio to this deadline. Failure to do this will result in the loss of your recital date. Not all fees will apply to your particular case. It is your responsibility to make sure that all fees due to your accompanist, off-campus facilities, etc. are paid in a timely manner.

  • PIANO TUNING $ 90.00: Student must make tuning and payment arrangements directly with the piano tuner. The department office has names and phone numbers of authorized tuners.
  • ACCOMPANIST ~$250.00: Student must make accompanist arrangements directly with the accompanist. The department office has names and phone numbers of staff accompanists.
  • PRINTING (PROGRAM, ETC.) $50.00: Will include 15 color flyers and up to 100 programs (depending on number of pages). If additional programs are desired, the student must request the Music Department staff to obtain an estimate from the printer, and the student will be required to pay any additional costs.
  • LIGHTING: No charge--special requests must made made of the department technician.
  • VIDEORECORDING is supplied--performer will be provided a DVD along with the audio CD.

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Recording Services Information

General Information & Fees—The recording arts program attempts to provide recording assistants and equipment for concerts, events, and recitals sponsored by the Music Department. To insure high quality recordings and to offer these services efficiently, it is necessary for you to complete the Request for Recording Services Form as accurately and fully as possible. The form should be submitted at the same time that you submit the forms for senior project approval.

Music Majors are required to have recitals and performance-related senior projects recorded. Though you are not required to utilize the Music Department’s services, it is expected, and in your best interest, that your recordings be of professional quality. Minimum fees are charged for our services. These fees cover the costs of personnel to record the concert, equipment, recording medium, and a master copy of the recording. The minimum charge for the recording is $75 for a typical recital. Minor tape editing is included in this fee, however, if more extensive editing is requested, then there will be an additional charge for extended editing.

Scheduling—The Request for Recording Services form should be submitted to the Music Department office along with the recital or project forms. Fees must be paid promptly—junior & senior recitalists are expected to pay within one week of successfully passing the pre-recital. All others should make payments within five working days. Concerts, performance projects, and recitals are always scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis. Therefore, planning in advance is recommended.

As the date of your event approaches, you may be asked for additional information such as repertoire, accurate timings, and information about special performance arrangements.

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Program Notes

The purpose of the “program notes” portion of a senior recital is threefold:

  1. Because it is a senior project, the program notes allow you to display your mastery of research and analytic techniques learned in history and theory courses;
  2. Knowing the structure and history of your pieces (and the background of their composers) often improves your understanding of the works themselves—which can result in improved performance of those pieces; and
  3. A set of well-written program notes can be invaluable in guiding your audience and helping them to enjoy your program to the greatest extent; the notes prepare your audience to understand challenging work and build their anticipation of the musical treats in store for them. An enthusiastic audience also helps your
    performance; the notes can help to cultivate that enthusiasm.

There are two (or three) components to program notes that should be submitted for review:

  1. The actual program (listing of repertory, composers, composers’ dates, and assisting performers) - in performance order.
  2. The program notes themselves.
  3. For a vocal recital: The original texts and translations for the selections. (Note—for works in English: if the work is “art” music, based on poetry, we would like you to include the text. If the piece is more popular in nature, such as an excerpt from musical theater, the text does not need to be included in the program.)

When starting to work on the program notes, we recommend that for each piece on your program, you begin by answering the following questions:

  1. What is the background of the piece and its composer?
    Why (and when) did the composer write it? What was happening in his/her life at the time? Are there interesting aspects to the composer’s biography that you think an audience would like to know?
  2. What is the musical structure of the piece? What form is it? Does the form influence how you perform it? How does the accompaniment (if any) function within the piece? Are there particular musical elements (i.e. dissonance, syncopation, wide range, ostinato) that distinguish this work?
  3. What sells you on this piece? What do you like best about it? What would you particularly like a listener to go away remembering about the piece?

After you have answered all these questions for every work, then you can take a step back and decide what are the most interesting things about each work—sometimes it will be historical aspects, while other times it may be a particularly beautiful accompaniment or melodic line. You can then write an effective paragraph that discusses the piece and makes the audience glad that they’re going to get to hear it performed.

The actual organization of the program notes will vary, depending on your program. In some cases, it will make sense to group the works together by composer. Sometimes, there’s a “theme” to a group of pieces—they might all be works from Italy, or love songs, or humorous pieces—which would justify them as a group. Consult with your advisor for ideas on this issue.

  1. Sign up for a Special Problems unit (MU 400) with the faculty historian who has agreed to “supervise” your notes. (We recommend that you sign up for MU 400 the quarter before your recital).
  2. Plan to give a full first draft of your notes to your notes advisor one month before your pre-recital.
  3. Double-space each draft (and no handwritten notes, please).
  4. Keep the copies of the early drafts (and the edits) until your
    program goes to press; sometimes you will want to retrieve or clarify material.
  5. One week prior to your pre-recital, you must submit a final version of your program, along with a Program Completion Verification form, to your Program Advisor. Failure to submit materials by this deadline will result in the cancellation of your pre-recital.
  6. Final draft should be submitted on disk to the Music Department office (see p. 4, #6) after it has received final approval by your program notes advisor.

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