Get The Most Out Of Your Big Day

Piano Recital Preparation – Three Bullet Points for a Better Performance

This article is geared towards students who are preparing for a performance. However, instead of focusing on advance preparation, this article details some ways to have a great mindset in the moments before the performance actually occurs.

Piano Recital Preparation
A mindset for performance!

In preparing my students for an upcoming piano recital this week, I’ve been thinking a lot about what goes on during the actual performance setting and how little details of mindset and concentration can affect a performance. With my students this week, I’ve gone back to a few ideas my own piano teachers shared with me to help on the day of the recital and in the moments that occur before you actually start playing.

Developing a List of 3 Points to Think Through Before Playing

The idea of having a list of three points to remember before playing is very advantageous. It guarantees that you as a performer are focusing in on the most important details that can give you a great start to your piece and that you are eliminating environmental distractions.
To apply this to a scenario when it can be used, imagine that you are about to perform, you see your name next on the program, and you are about to approach the stage to take the first bow and be seated. In the moment when you sit down on the bench and adjust for comfort, there is the time (just a few seconds usually) between when you are sitting and have not commenced your piece. This is the time when the three points should be thought through.

What Types of “Points” are Useful?

The types of bullet points that are most useful usually have to do with setting an appropriate tempo, starting at the correct dynamic level, remembering any tough points that have been revealed during practice, etc. They should be personalized, but it’s a quick run through that should take about 5 to 10 seconds. One that I love to add to the list for all students is to imagine what the first two or three bars sound like before playing.

So here is an example using a piano arrangement of Vivaldi’s “Spring”:


  1. Imagining the first 2 bars at a quick, upbeat tempo
  2. Crisp up-touch on staccato notes
  3. Forward motion directed to the long notes of each phrase

And that’s it! This quick list will help in giving a great start to the piece, and since it is allegro, focusing on points like tempo and forward motion ensure energy from the onset of the performance.

Does Thinking Through Points Take Too Much Time?

This is a question a lot of students have. When I ask them to think through the points before performing, many times, they feel that they are sitting too long before playing. I like to add the disclaimer frequently that their perception of the amount of time this takes is skewed because they are in front of an audience. It’s customary for a pianist to take a little time before performing to clear their mind, so though 5 to 10 seconds may feel like an eternity, the audience does not feel the same amount of time passing.

Piano Recital Preparation – Mindset Matters!

Mindset matters when it comes to piano performances. In a recital setting, give yourself the time to reflect on the points you would like to remember as the most important starting details beforehand, and you will ensure that your focus and concentration have been engaged. Also, this give you time as the performer to become immersed in what you are about to deliver, and at any level, this strategy is very successful.

Piano Recital Preparation

Leave a Reply