Young piano students may feel either excitement or dread as their recital date approaches. By making the event enjoyable and festive, a piano teacher can make the event something to look forward to. Involving the students in decorating for the big night might help calm their nerves. Decorations will set the mood the instructor wants to promote and might help to produce an event that is more enjoyable for the audience.
Black and White
Take decorating cues from the ebony and ivory keys on the piano. Alternating black and white chairs in the audience will set the tone, offset by white tablecloths on the refreshment tables. A black curtain hung behind the performer’s position can be accented with white stripes or a white “Welcome” sign. Stars of the show should wear black and white formal wear, though nothing so constricting as to inhibit the performance.
A piano recital organized around a musical era might evoke the formal, privileged atmosphere of 19th Century Europe, the smoky jazz bars of postwar 52nd Street in New York City or the keyboard-based New Wave bands of the 1980s. Just a couple of visual cues are necessary, such as a bust of a classical composer placed on a marble pedestal, photos of famous jazz pianists like Duke Ellington or album covers from ’80s bands, such as The Cars or Blondie.
Organize a recital around a particular artist and decorate accordingly. Many beginning pianists are likely to study classical music, so a Mozart- or Beethoven-themed event would be appropriate. Use images and sheet music from these musical giants to dress up the recital room. Or take the same approach with a more modern composer, such as Scott Joplin or Elton John. Such artists wrote songs beyond the reach of many students, but the instructor could close the recital by performing a tune by the featured composer.
Piano as Art
Pianos themselves are often works of art — or can be with a little help. Obviously, many instruments are too nice to permanently alter, but by carefully applying decorated sheets of paper with easy-to-remove masking tape, a piano could be covered with sequins, fancy flourishes a la Louis XIV-era France, or 1960's flower power artwork similar to John Lennon’s famous Rolls-Royce automobile.
With help from Mother Nature, an outdoor recital using a portable keyboard in a park or a backyard could be memorable. Birds and flowers are appropriate for a springtime theme, or celebrate fall with pumpkins and squash atop the piano and brightly colored leaves scattered on the ground at the performer’s feet. Schedule the recital near Halloween, and decorate the piano with spider webs and a big spooky candelabra on top.