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5 Secrets to a Successful Piano Performance

In this article, you'll learn the five secrets that enabled me to have a successful performance recently. You would think that after teaching piano for 45 years and performing in all sorts of different settings over the last 55 years, I would have figured out all of the secrets to a successful performance.

Guess what?

It's never too late to learn some new and important musical techniques.


1. Set a time sensitive goal

Where I live, there is a monthly Musicale. Performing at this gives me a built-in goal. Basically, I have 4 weeks to select, arrange, practice and refine two musical selections for the upcoming performance.


2. Select two songs that have different keys and rhythmic styles

If possible, make sure that at least one of the songs is familiar to the audience. It's important to connect with your audience.

When you play two songs in the same key, your audience feels an unconscious connection between both of them so that the one song almost feels like it's part of the other song.

The same is true if both songs have the same rhythmic style. For example, both songs are swing, both are waltzes, etc.


3. Experiment with your selections BEFORE make a final decision to play them.

In my preparation for my upcoming performance, I found that one of the two songs did not feel right to me in terms of how comfortable I would be in the performance situation. So I experimented with 3 other songs, went back and forth between two of them and then made my final decision. In fact, I needed to listen to a few different versions of my selection to confirm my decision. That did the trick. My selections were now definite.


4. Eliminate all of your other song review practice

This has been the biggest surprise yet. For years, I've taught my piano students how to organize their songs in an effective way so that they could continuously review their musical material. I have one teenage student who can play about 30 songs "on demand". Repertoire review DOES work. However, when you have a time-sensitive deadline, the "rules". Up until, I was scheduled for my first Musicale performance, I was practicing several different songs every day in a 45 minute practice session. Needless to say, there were days that I couldn't practice, because my schedule was full. So I probably averaged about four days of practice every week.

That all CHANGED. I never miss a day. Practicing the two songs for the upcoming performance takes 15-20 minutes per day. Now practice time is much more focused. Since the amount of practice time is much shorter, and I have a time sensitive deadline, I don't miss my practice session.


5. Build in a warm-up to your performance

This may sound strange to you. For as long as I can remember, getting up in front of an audience caused me to get nervous. Often my fingers feel stiff and the piano keys feel heavy to press down. Years ago, a well-established musician (he had recorded ten CDs of his performances at different cathedrals in Europe) told me that he got nervous before performing. He said, "if you get nervous, it means you care about your upcoming performance." So nervousness goes with the territory, but how do you handle "frozen fingers".

My secret to this is to introduce a song with some warm-up chords and improvised lines that relate to the song. Next, I play the melody of the song in a rubato style. This article tells you how:

Once you can introduce your first song with a rubato introduction, you'll be lossened up and will find it easier to play the rest of your selections up to tempo.


Here's how I applied the: 5 Secrets to a Successful Solo Piano Performance


About Diana Mascari

Diana Mascari has taught piano to hundreds of adults and children for more than 45 years. She holds two Masters of Music degrees from New England Conservatory and taught keyboard harmony to music majors while pursuing doctoral studies at Boston University. She was the music director for a multi-cultural Presbyterian Church for four decades, and her jazz and classical compositions have been performed worldwide. Diana has been performing for more than 50 years. From solo jazz piano to commercial groups touring the East Coast to leading her own jazz ensembles at many colleges and jazz clubs throughout New England.

To get Her FREE Course: Song Playing Starter Kit for Pianists, click here

To schedule your FREE 30 Minute Piano Lesson Consultation on Zoom, click here.


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