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Piano Recital Etiquette for Musicians

Dos & Don’ts of Interacting With Your Audience and Performing With Others


There are some universal rules of etiquette you’ll want to know if you plan on performing at a piano recital. Learn how to interact with your audience, perform with other musicians, and avoid on-stage faux pas.

Affecting Your Fellow Musician

Piano recital etiquette for performers.
Image © Brandy Kraemer

  • Do stay in tempo, even if you miss a beat.

    1. When playing ensemble, mind your rubatos (unless you’ve rehearsed them or have a very skilled improvisational group backing you).

    2. If you forget a bar or lose your rhythm, don’t try to play catch-up. Listen to the other musicians, and slide back into place as soon as you can.
  • Do keep hands clean!
    Dirty, sticky, or oily fingers can hurt your performance and bother the next pianist. If you complete a long piece and notice some keys are slippery with sweat (a very common issue), notify a stagehand or instructor so they can clean the keyboard before the next performer’s time slot.

  • Do arrive on time.
    It’s respectful to your audience and to your fellow musicians.

  • Don’t go crazy with fragrances.
    Your perfume or cologne will linger around the piano after you leave the stage (especially under hot lights), and it might give the next pianist some sinus or eye irritation; or, at the very least, create a distraction that can prevent them from getting “in the zone.”

Interacting With Your Audience

Audience interaction at your piano recital.
Image © Brandy Kraemer

  • Do prepare a brief introduction, just in case.

  • Do greet your audience and thank them at the end of your song with a bow or curtsey.

  • Do carry yourself with humility; conceit is a turn off for most people, and it doesn’t help your performance in any way.

  • Don’t let bashfulness prevent you from being yourself; you’re on stage because you have something to share, and your audience wants to hear it!

► More on Recital Etiquette:
 ○ Etiquette for Audience Members
 ○ Recital Dress Codes

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