Organising A Piano Recital: Choosing The Venue

You can’t hold your piano recital just anywhere. Here’s what to look for when selecting a venue…


How To Organise A Piano Recital: Choosing The Venue


Picture this:

It’s the day of your studio’s first piano recital. The tickets are sold out, your professionally-printed programs are hot off the press, and your students have been practising for weeks. The standard has been set. And it’s high.

The anticipation brews as your pianists mingle with their families in the foyer, waiting for the doors to open so they can take their seats. Finally, with well-practiced fanfare, you sweep open the doors.

The crowd surges forward. Yet as they enter the room, their faces drop. Confusion and disappointment replace the excitement and expectation. For before them they see a room of creaky floorboards and worn, mismatched chairs. At its centre: a spindly, dented upright piano.

Why Your Venue Matters

When it comes to cultivating the tone and ambience for your piano recital, one single factor has a greater influence than any other: the venue. So it’s important you make the right decision.

When choosing your venue, you need to consider factors such as size, cost, and facilities. For your recital to reflect favourably on your studio’s professionalism, you also want the venue to be professional.

The Right Size

You want a venue that can comfortably hold your students’ families and friends. A venue that’s too big will look awkward, with empty seats and space. It may also be too expensive. But a venue that’s too small won’t fit all your guests, and will be too cramped to create a great atmosphere.


Goethe-Institut Sydney


To calculate the size of the venue you will need, use the following simple formula: number of students x 4.

So, if you have 20-25 students, you’ll want a venue that can fit 80-100 people. If you have 35-40 students, you’ll want a venue that can hold an audience of 140-160 people. This formula works well, because some students will need only 3 tickets (2 parents + 1 student), others will need 2 (for themselves and their partner), and others will need 10+ because they’re bringing everyone (parents, siblings, grandparents, pet goldfish, etc.).

The Piano

Many venues such as RSLs, school halls, and church halls would be great places to hold a recital, except for one not-so-small detail: the piano. And when it comes to organising a piano recital, that’s something you can never compromise on.


Grand Piano

Kawai Grand Piano at the Goethe-Institut Sydney


You can’t hold a recital where your students are playing on an electronic keyboard, or even an upright piano. The quality of the sound suffers, and it cheapens the entire experience.

I will only hold recitals at a venue where there is a grand piano. That’s one reason why I choose to hold the Le Piano Academy recitals at the Goethe-Institut in Sydney. It’s a good size, they have a wonderful piano, and it ticks all my other recital venue boxes.

To Kitchen Or Not To Kitchen?

I always hold an afternoon tea with light finger food and drinks after a recital. Many schools don’t offer this, presumably because of the cost. But there are many pros to holding an afternoon tea after your recital.

To begin with, an after-recital afternoon tea provides an occasion for your students and their families to get to know one another in a social setting. There aren’t usually many opportunities to do this, so a get together is a great way to facilitate it. But if you’re going to have a get together, you need food and drinks!


Drinks During Intermission

Serving drinks during intermission break to keep the punters happy 


Another reason to hold an afternoon tea is that it helps to ensure that your students and their families will stay for the full event, so you’ll have a full audience throughout. This also means that your students will be present for the awards presentation at the end.

Costs vary, but if you hold a recital for 150-160 people like I did last year, you’re looking at $800-1200 for food, and about $300 for drinks. The cost will depend on the type of food you get and the number catering staff you hire, but this is a good indicator. I use All Suburbs Catering Service for my catering.

Easily-Forgotten Necessities

This one doesn’t really require elaboration, but you’d be surprised how many venues don’t have bathroom facilities. Be sure to check that yours does!

You also want a venue with a foyer area. Babies cry, kids get fidgety, and every now and then there’s a phone call that just can’t wait. By choosing a venue with a foyer, you’ll be able to ensure that your recital runs more smoothly, with limited interruptions.

Your Recital

The secret’s out – if you want to hold a professional piano recital for your studio, then you need a venue that’s not too big or too small, that has a quality grand piano, and that includes facilities such as a kitchen, bathrooms, and a foyer.

Do you hold piano recitals for your piano studio? What do you look for in a potential recital venue?

Have you been to a music school’s piano recital? What did you like about the venue? What didn’t you like? Let me know in the comments below!

Organising A Recital

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Which Piano Should I Buy? A Guide for Beginners

Are you in the market for a piano to learn on (or for your child to learn on)? Then this is the blog post for you.


Keyboard and Piano Buyer Guide for Beginners


It may seem a bit obvious, but you can’t learn to play the piano unless you have one to practice on.

Ideally, every beginner pianist should be able to practice at home on a regular acoustic piano from day one. But in the real world, this is not always a realistic option.

While an acoustic piano is my preferred answer to the question “which piano should I buy”, it’s not the only option. So if you want to know what to look for when choosing a beginner keyboard, an electric piano, or an acoustic piano, read on.

(Please note: these recommendations are for beginners only. They do not apply to late-intermediate and advanced students.)

Beginner Keyboards

If you can’t afford a piano just yet, then a beginner keyboard is still an acceptable option. When you go out shopping, be sure to choose a beginner keyboard with the following features:

  • 61 keys (not 49)
  • Touch response
  • Piano key width that matches the width of an acoustic piano’s keys (some toy keyboards have narrower keys, which means students will learn to play on the wrong-sized instrument)

If you’re getting a beginner keyboard, I recommend buying a Yamaha or Casio, and spending no more than $200-300. Salespeople may try to talk you up, but there’s no point spending more on bells and whistles like light-up keys. If you’re going to spend more, spend it on an electric piano instead.


Casio CTK-3200 Keyboard

Photo Credit: Casio


A beginner keyboard will keep you or your child going for about a year of learning. After that, you’ll need to upgrade your instrument in order to continue to progress. However, thanks to its cheaper price, a beginner keyboard may be a better option for families with beginner children, as the drop-out rates for kids learning the piano is 80% after 2 years of lessons. And a keyboard is certainly more disposable than a grand piano!

Electric Pianos

If you’re after an electric piano, I recommend the Casio “Privia” range. Yamaha, Roland and Korg aren’t bad brands either, but in my opinion, Casio is the best.

My favourite Casio piano is the PX-750, which I tend to recommend to my beginner adult students if they can’t afford an acoustic. Despite being electronic, it sounds almost the same as a real piano, and the touch is better than most other electric pianos. (However, despite all the advances in technology, no electric piano is yet to match an acoustic for sound or touch.)


Casio Privia-PX750BK

Photo Credit: Casio


A Casio electric piano will set you back around $800-1200, and has a lifespan up to about AMEB Grade 2. After that, you will need to upgrade.

Acoustic (Regular) Pianos

I always suggest that new students buy a second-hand piano. If that’s what you want to do, then I recommend the Yamaha U-series or Kawai K-series – in particular, the U1 and K3.

When choosing an acoustic piano, make sure it’s at least 121cms tall. The reason for this is that the greater the piano’s height, the longer the strings. And the longer the strings, the better the sound. 121cm+ is considered a “professional” height.

It’s also a good idea to choose a piano that’s ebony or black in colour, simply because that’s the easiest colour to re-sell. And be sure to buy a second-hand piano from a reputable piano store. This way you’ll get a safer deal.


Yamaha U1 Piano

Photo Credit: Yamaha


You can expect to spend anywhere between $3000-5000 on a good second-hand acoustic piano. This is definitely a worthwhile investment if you can afford to make it, because a good second-hand acoustic piano will keep you or your child going until AMEB Grade 7.

Perhaps you’re wondering why I haven’t suggested that you buy a new piano? The main reason I advise against buying a new piano if you’re a beginner is that new pianos take two or three years to settle, and you’ll lose a lot of money if you choose to re-sell one. Second-hand pianos are already a big enough investment, and will keep you going for years, so there’s really no point in buying a brand new piano if you’re a beginner.

The Best Way to Buy an Acoustic Piano

If you’re going to buy an acoustic piano – new or old – then my top tip is to go to the music store with a piano teacher.

Going with a piano teacher help ensure that you’re taken seriously, and that you’re not taken advantage of. Your piano teacher can also advise you on what instrument to choose, and may even be able to help secure you a preferential deal. That’s certainly what I do! I love helping my students choose a new piano.


Now you’re ready to go out and get piano shopping. But before you do, don’t forget to give this post a share on Facebook or Twitter, so all your friends can learn which piano they should buy.

Got more questions about choosing a piano to buy? Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

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