Organising A Piano Recital: Getting Bums On Seats

Avoid the awkwardness of an empty recital


How To Organise A Piano Recital: Getting Bums On Seats


Performing in front of a big crowd may be a little intimidating for your students, but it’s a whole lot better than performing in front of no crowd.

“Proper” Advertising Vs. Word Of Mouth

If you run a big music studio or school (let’s say with 100+ students), then your recital will require proper advertising. Otherwise, it could be a rather embarrassing flop. To avoid the “flop” outcome, you’ll probably want to advertise your recital with flyers, posters, emails, newsletters, social media advertising, and more.

But if you run a smaller studio, then the good news is that most of this “proper advertising” can be avoided. Instead, it just comes down to getting organised and planning ahead.

Here’s how I do it.

3-4 Months Before The Big Day

About 3 to 4 months before a Le Piano Academy recital, I begin verbally telling my students and their parents a tentative date for the big day. That way, they can begin to plan ahead, and they’ll have the upcoming recital in the back of their minds, which is exactly where you want it at this stage.

If you start telling people any earlier than this, then the date you share is more likely to change, and they’re more likely to forget. Any later, and they may not have time to plan ahead and avoid taking family holidays or being otherwise absent on recital day.

2 Months Before The Big Day

By this stage, your venue should be confirmed, and so should your date. So this is when I print and distribute formal invitations, with ticket costs, and an RSVP date one month out from the recital date. I set the recital date for a month prior so that I have plenty of time to organise appropriate catering.

Now is also the time to design and print your tickets. I prefer professional hardcopy tickets to online booking systems, as it’s more personal. And you can easily get 200 good quality tickets for $30. If you prefer online booking, you can sell tickets with systems such as trybooking. It is easier to manage the money that way. Either way, you should be selling tickets 2 months out from the recital day.

Over The Next Month

Over the next few weeks, continue to remind your students and their parents about the recital, and the RSVP date. You don’t need to be pushy, but people do forget! A friendly reminder will generally be well appreciated.

2 Weeks Before The Big Day

2 weeks before the big day, I personally hand out tickets and other information regarding the days’ events to my students.

2 weeks before is the ideal time for ticket distribution. If you hand out tickets earlier, they’re more likely to be lost, while if you hand them out only a week prior to the recital, students may be absent and not get them on time.

Organising A Recital

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Organising A Piano Recital: Using Other Professionals

Your piano recital won’t be truly professional without the help of other specialists. Here’s a who’s who of who you need…


How To Organise A Piano Recital: Using Other Professionals


You’ve probably heard the saying “you can’t have it all” before.

But I believe that when it comes to holding piano recitals for your piano studio, you can have it all. You just can’t DO it all.

One of the secrets to organising and running a professional piano recital is using the services of other professionals. This helps you to make the most of the entire event – from your marketing beforehand, to your actual recital, and through to the aftermath.

So, who do you need?

Below is a list of the professionals I always use for my piano recitals, and a few suggestions on what to look for when choosing someone to fill that category for your recital.

Professionals On The Big Day


If you’ve been following the Le Piano Academy blog at all, you’ll know about the importance of video portfolios for music students. You’ll also know that these should be filmed live whenever possible. Your piano recital provides a great opportunity for recording live student performances. These recordings aren’t just great for your portfolio – a full, Blu-ray recording of the whole concert is also a wonderful keepsake for parents, students, and friends. But for that, you’re going to need a professional videographer.

What to look for:

Before choosing a videographer, be sure to take a good look at their portfolio to make sure their videos and editing are up to the standard you’re looking for.

I always choose a videographer with 3 or more cameras at their disposal. After all, you want to be able to see the pianists’ hands, the performer themselves, and the audience. In 2014, I also had a fourth camera with a roaming videographer. We even did additional aerial shots using a drone. (You can see all these shots in my 2014 highlights video.)


All the videos you see on our website are courtesy of Imaginarium Productions.


Just remember that before publishing any videos of specific students, you will need to seek their permission, and the permission of their parents if they’re aged under 18.


A professional photographer will take great shots that you can use on your website, on social media, in brochures, etc. They will also prevent parents coming up to the stage to take photos while their children are performing – which can be very distracting to the performers.

Screenshots from your videos will never look as good as professionally-taken photos. That’s why you need a photographer in addition to your videographer.

What to look for:

Apart from the obvious requirements – a photographer with a good camera and a portfolio of (indoor) photos that you like – perhaps the main thing to be aware of is your potential photographer’s pricing structure.

Some photographers charge by the hour for shooting, and include a certain number of edited photos in their package. Others charge by the hour for shooting, and then per edited photo. Be sure to be aware of how your photographer charges so you’re not caught out.

Once again, remember to ask for appropriate permissions before publishing any photos.


I prefer to serve afternoon tea at all my recitals. (You can find out why in this blog post.) Crackers and dip from Woolworths and Coles don’t really scream professional. So if you’re going to serve refreshments, you need a good caterer.

What to look for:

You want a caterer who fits with your budget, and who will supply a chef, waiter, or waitress to assist with serving refreshments. As the piano teacher, you need to be mingling with your students and their families – not handing out napkins. So make sure you have a professional to take care of that instead.

Professionals Before The Big Day

Graphic Designer

I actually do all my graphic design myself. But if that’s not something you can do (and do well), then you’ll need a graphic designer on your team.

Your graphic designer will be able to help you create professional tickets, recital programmes, participation and awards certificates, and any other printed materials you may require. (There’ll be a blog on printed materials soon, so stay tuned or subscribe for updates.)

What to look for:

Some printers can supply graphic design services, but be sure to look at their portfolio first, so you can be sure you like their work.

I also suggest looking for someone who’s happy to design materials you can use year in year out, so you only have to outlay a larger amount of money the first time, and just a little each year for them to tweak the information appropriately.


Once you have all your materials designed, of course, you’re going to need a printer.

Certificates or tickets that you shoot out of your office printer simply won’t look professional. And getting the pages the right way up on double-sided recital programmes is a nightmare to do on your own. A professional printer can take care of all of that, and more.

What to look for:

With printing, you need to balance quality with price. Ask to see examples of your printer’s work, and discuss whether you’ll be eligible for bulk discounts.

Trophy Engraver

I like to give four special awards for the younger students at my piano recitals: Most Improved Beginner, Most Consistent Beginner, Most Consistent, and an Excellence Award. Rather than just issuing certificates, I also present the winners with engraved trophies.

If you plan on doing the same, then you’ll need a trophy engraver on your team.

What to look for:

See if you can get a trophy engraver who will engrave your studio logo, not just your studio name. You also want one who can provide appropriately music-themed trophies. To see an example, check out the trophies my students received in 2014.


Trophies and Awards

We’ve been using Awards and Trophies for a number of years for all our students’ trophies.


Your Recital

You can’t do it all, but you can have it all when it comes to organising and running a professional piano recital. Like almost anything in life, when the right people have your back, you’ve got nothing to worry about.

If you’re a piano teacher (or other music teacher), do you use other professionals to help you run a successful recital? Who do you use? Let me know in the comments below!

And for everyone, if you’ve got questions or comments, please share them below.

Organising A Recital

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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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How To Organise A Piano Recital For Your Music Studio

Piano recitals take a lot of organisation and effort. But if you do it right, the results are worth it!


Organising A Piano Recital for Your Studio


Performance opportunities are incredibly important for piano students (and other music students).

Performing in front of an audience allows piano students of all ages to prepare for piano exams, practise goal setting, and develop their confidence – both personally and as a musician. (To read a full list of performance benefits, click here.)

Annual Piano Recitals

At Le Piano Academy, one thing that sets our studio apart is the fact that our students participate in an annual studio piano recital. You can see the highlight video from our 2014 recital below.

Organising the annual recital consumes hours of my time every year, as every detail is carefully planned and executed. But it’s definitely worth it!

Organising Your Piano Recital

I’ve had a lot of questions from other music teachers and from interested parents about how I organise a piano recital. So over the next few weeks, we’ll be discussing various aspects of organising a recital, from choosing a venue, through to ensuring the program runs smoothly on the day.

As each post is written, you’ll find a link to it here:

In The Meantime

In the meantime, if you have any questions about organising a piano recital, please share them in the comments below, and I’ll be sure to get back to you. I may even answer your question with a blog post! So ask away.



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Why Student Performances Are Great For Music Teachers

Live music is a winner all round


Why Student Performances Are Great For Piano Teachers


Music students enjoy a range of benefits when they have the opportunity to perform. But student performances are also great for piano teachers. Here’s why…

(To learn about why music students need performance opportunities, read my last post.)

See How Students Perform Under Pressure

Perhaps the biggest benefit I enjoy as a piano teacher when I watch my students play live is to see how they perform under pressure.

Does their posture suffer? Do they stumble over any difficult passages? Where do they make mistakes? How do they recover from their mistakes?

Knowing this gives me the information I need to tailor their piano lessons as I work with them on their performance skills. It also highlights areas that will need improvement before they play in their piano exam. This helps me to better prepare my students – both technically and psychologically – for sitting their next AMEB exam.

See Which Students Need More Psychological Preparation

Many of my students play perfectly in their lessons and at home. But when it comes to performance time, even if it’s a crowd of two people, they crumble.

By watching my students perform live, I can identify which students need help developing their confidence in performing. This allows me to tailor my approach to their lessons. This will usually involve words of encouragement, and teaching them simple techniques such as breathing and staying calm and relaxed under pressure. If I had never seen them perform live, I would never know that they needed this additional support.


There’s really nothing better than watching your students playing live in front of their parents, grandparents, siblings, and friends. It’s even more rewarding than a string of “A” grade AMEB exams.

As a teacher you know how much work both you and your students put in to learning a new piece of music. So it’s very rewarding to see them shine as they perform live.

[Tweet “It’s very rewarding to see them shine as they perform live. #piano #pianist”]


Video Portfolios

If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know all about the importance of a video portfolio. You’ll also know that video portfolios should always be filmed live.

Student performances provide a great opportunity for a music teacher to work on their video portfolio. It’s said that a picture paints a thousand words, and I’m pretty sure a good video paints at least ten thousand words! The videos are also a wonderful lasting memento for students, who can be rightfully proud of their achievements.

[Tweet “A good #piano performance video paints at least ten thousand words! #youtube #vimeo”]


Live Music’s A Winner

As you can see, live music’s a winner all round – for students, parents and family, and teachers alike!

If you’re a piano teacher, do you value watching your students play live? If so, why?

For parents, how do you feel watching your son or daughter perform? Let me know in the comments!

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Why Music Students Need Performance Opportunities

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Why Music Students Need Performance Opportunities

Composers have always intended for their music to be performed live


Performance Opportunies are a must for music students


In the days before we had smart phones, computers, TVs, or radios, a common form of family entertainment was to spend time around the piano performing and singing with one another and with guests.

Even today, people will spend hundreds of dollars to see a music artist perform songs live, when they could have spent twenty dollars buying their album and listening to the recordings.

Why do they do it? Because there’s just something magical about listening to live music. And there’s also something magical about performing it.

Every year at Le Piano Academy, my students participate in an annual piano recital. I hold these recitals because I firmly believe music students need live performance opportunities. Here’s why…

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Developing Confidence

As parents, we want our children to be confident. Performance opportunities help your child to develop confidence in themselves both as a musician, and as a person.

When a child plays in front of an audience, their confidence will grow. And it will get an additional boost when they receive applause at the end of their performance. Don’t believe me? Just look at the smile of this student’s face when she receives applause from the audience. It’s a magical moment.

These confidence benefits also apply to teen and adult piano students.

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Practicing Goal Setting & Preparation

You can’t perform in front of an audience without doing some preparation first!

Knowing that they’ll be performing in front of an audience tends to give children, teens, and adults the motivation they need to prepare for the big day. (Particularly when the audience will be full of 100+ people as it is at our annual recital.) This means your child will be more likely to develop good habits of goal setting and preparation as they practice to perform – habits that they can carry with them into other areas of their life at home and at school.

Preparing For Piano Exams

Performance opportunities are also great preparation for piano exams. After all, if your child can play in front of a crowd, it will be a lot easier for them to play in front of a single examiner.

The preparation skills your child will learn when preparing for their performance are also similar to those they need when preparing for a music exam. For example, you don’t leave your practice to the last minute in either situation.

Helping Shy Students

One of the things I love about seeing my students perform live is getting to see my shy students come out of their shells and shine. There are no opportunities to be shy when you’re performing.

Of course, in order to ensure that a student enjoys this benefit, it’s important that their teacher and parents help them to mentally prepare for the big day with plenty of encouragement and psychological preparation.

Special Family Moments

Live student performances also create beautiful family moments. Little kids in particular love showing off their skills to their family and friends, and parents and grandparents love watching their child share their talents with an audience. If you film your piano recital, you also have a great memento for a family to treasure.

Why Recitals?

There aren’t many performance opportunities out there for children, teens, and adults who are learning to play the piano. Although some of my students have the opportunity to perform in competitions, most do not. That’s why I hold a piano recital each year – so my students can all enjoy the benefits of performing live.

Your Say

Have you or your child ever performed the piano live? Was it a good experience? Share your story in the comments below.

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