From Head to Toe Performance Tip #3: Communicate What to Expect



Once a piece is memorized with all the details in place it would seem a successful performance would follow. I believe there are THREE MORE ESSENTIAL elements that guarantee a positive outcome for a rookie and seasoned performer. In my opinion, these steps involving the head down to the toes are almost as important as preparing the piece itself.

To learn about the FIRST element: The 5 P's of Performing, click here. To read about the SECOND element, follow this link. Keep reading for the third element...

Communicate What to Expect

Especially for rookie performers and their parents, it's important that there are NO surprises before, during or after a performance.  Following through on the first two elements featured in prior posts helps to build a confident performing experience. Communicating clear details on what to expect about the upcoming performance is one more way to avoid anxiety for students AND parents.

Below are excerpts from emails that I've sent to parents and students prior to certain events. I attempt to include as many details as possible so that surprises are minimal. Information in print helps to eradicate miscommunication and offers a source to refer back to when questions arise.

Recital Participation Email

Thank you for making an effort to attend! Many of you are squeezing this in between various sporting events and activities. Remember this recital is also a very important “game.” Your pianist has trained for months for this opportunity. There’s usually not very many games in a season and your musician and other friends from the studio have worked hard to play with style and confidence. Grant all these champion pianists your listening ear, cheer for the team and stay until the final buzzer!

Recital Information Email



South Suburban Christian Church located

  •  on the west side of South Broadway
  •   just north of Dry Creek,
  •   just north of the YMCA.

Please enter through the main doors, the sanctuary will be to the left.The recitals will be in the main sanctuary.

The audience will be seated in the chairs and performers will be asked to move up on stage and sit "on deck" during the performance prior to his/her own.


  • All students are asked to prepare two pieces, one memorized unless we have planned otherwise. 
  • Please wear your favorite spring attire as the theme of this year's recital is SPRING!
  • Bring the books for both pieces to be performed.


There will be a reception in the Fellowship Hall after each recital.  The goodies will be my treat. However, they will be in the fashion of "grab and go."  You are welcomed to stay and enjoy, or take it with you as I know many of you must move on to the next event of the day.

There is plenty of room so please bring friends and family!

Federation of Music Clubs Local Festival 

  • Wear "professional" looking clothes that match your playing.
  • Test your shoes with the pedal and make sure your choice allows you to pedal correctly and comfortably.
  • Arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled time slot with your family and fan club.


  • Stop at the greeting table and check in.
  • Wait at the door of the room in which you will perform.
  • Once the door monitor has opened the door, enter and find a seat.
  • Have books paper-clipped open AND all measures numbered. Do not bring a photocopy of your piece, only the book.
  • Sit and listen to others in the group.
  • When your name is called bring music books up to the room monitor.
  • Ask the judges if you may warm up. Remember you are making friends with a foreign piano so as you play your warm-up routine, make sure to sink into the keys, play piano and forte and use the pedal.
  • Wait for the judges' approval to begin (be thinking of the tempo of your piece in your head and how awesome it will sound!)
  • Perform your piece and knock everyone's socks off.
  • Bow and smile and accept the wild applause.
  • Sit back down and pat yourself on the back for doing it!
  • When you know your results, please text me with the good news as I'll be busy working and may not see you at the festival!

One More Thing: About Those Heels


I was inspired to use the phrase from "head to toe" in this series of articles after talking with friend, colleague and Hal Leonard composer, Lynda Lyback Robinson. We were discussing how today's hip and dangerously high-heeled shoe styles pose a potential hazard. If the heel is too high, the leg may not fit beneath the piano, or the ball of the foot may slide off the pedal. Worse yet, the heels may turn an elegant strut across the stage into an embarrassing trip. Yes, you could demand NO heels at performance opps but at the risk of breaking a young fashion diva's heart.  A workable compromise? Require your fashion-minded performer to practice pedaling with the shoes at lessons. In addition, hold numerous "runway tests" to avoid any tipping, twisting and tripping.

And One More: Celebrate with Me

After 6+ delightful years of lessons with Kenna, she has blossomed into a lovely pianist and performer. This junior-in-high-school's dream of playing the Shostakovich's Concerto No. 2 came true last month. As you can imagine her teacher was beaming the ENTIRE performance as she performed with her school's orchestra. Fast forward to minute marker 1:28 to view her elegant entrance. Those 5 P's of Performance have paid off!