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How to Guarantee a Successful Solo Piano Performance in Five Easy Steps

Piano Lessons for Adults with Diana Mascari
Diana Mascari-Piano Teacher

In this article, you'll learn how to guarantee a successful solo piano performance in five easy steps. Watch how Diana plays her samba style arrangement of the standard It Might As Well Be Spring

How to Guarantee a Successful Solo Piano Performance by following these five easy steps.

Step No. 1

Consider your audience.

When selecting your song (s), you need to think about the demographics of your audience. There is a big difference between playing for high school students or for a church choir party or for a group of senior citizens. Even though musical tastes within each group can vary quite a bit, it's a good idea to at least consider the basic repertoire from which each of these groups does their listening. Is it the latest music on the radio, old revival hymns, music from Broadway shows or perhaps selections from the Great American Songbook?

Step No. 2

Select some possible songs and listen to different versions of each of them on YouTube, iTunes, Spotify, etc.

When you hear how different artists perform a song you're considering, you'll get some ideas about style, tempo, feeling and more. This doesn't guarantee that you can or will even want to play the songs in the way that you hear on the recordings. However, this process will get your creative juices flowing.

Step No. 3

Narrow down your potential performance list to about five songs.

This process provides you with options. If you are trying to select your performance song(s) by skimming through the Real Book, you'll have a difficult and (dare I say) impossible time figuring out what songs you want to perform. You need to limit this process to about five songs. This way, you'll have the time to make an informed decision about what you want to play.

Step No. 4

Try out each of the five songs on the piano and experiment with different styles and tempos.

Here's where you respond to how you feel when playing the song. Is it boring? Perhaps try it in another style or tempo. Do you remember hearing it played as a samba on one of the recordings? Try it out.

Put your metronome on and adjust the speed each time you play the song. Does it sound better slower or faster? Your main objective here is to play each of the five pieces enough times, and in enough ways, so that you can narrow down the list of five songs to two selections for your performance. Choose the two songs that you want to perform. Once you have resolved your choice of musical selections, you can move on to step 5.

Step No. 5

Practice your selected song(s) each day AS IF YOU WERE ON STAGE for your performance

Usually, it takes a week or so to narrow down your arrangement including introductions and endings. However, after that you need to focus of the actual performance preparation. A big mistake that pianists make is to play songs casually. For example, if you are just playing through ten songs in a day, you normally focus on accuracy, tempo, etc. However, if you got on stage to play your musical selections that way, you'd be in serious trouble and would probably get very nervous, because you'd be encountering a situation which needed a very different type of performance energy.

To Summarize

When you have the opportunity to perform in front of an audience, there are five steps that will ensure your successful performance.

  1. Consider your audience-once you know who they are, tailor your musical selections to songs to which they can relate

  2. Select several possible songs and listen to different versions of each one on YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, etc

  3. Narrow down your list of selections to no more than five songs. This will allow you to focus on the character of each tune and possible styles for each

  4. Play each of the five songs in a few different ways and at different speeds. Eliminate to ones that feel boring or uncomfortable and select your TWO chosen selections.

  5. Practice your two songs enough so that you can narrow down the style and tempo. Spend the next week polishing your arrangements as well as adding introductions, transitions and endings. Make sure that you practice with the performance goal in mind. Always play the songs the way you plan to play them in performance. This way you'll be ready for the kind of energy performing needs, and also be able to handle performance anxiety and adrenaline rushes.


Watch Diana perform her samba style arrangement of

It Might As Well Be Spring.

This video was filmed with her overhead camera so you can watch her hands as she plays.


About Diana Mascari

Piano Lessons with Diana Mascari
Diana Mascari-Piano Teacher

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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