3 Powerful Alternatives to Traditional Piano Recitals

This post about traditional piano recital alternatives was written by Joanna Shiel. Joanna is an online piano teacher with over 15 years of teaching experience. She’s always looking for innovative and creative ways to teach the piano that are up-to-date with modern teaching methodologies. In her spare time, Joanna enjoys hiking in nature and travelling to new destinations.

Have you ever wondered if sticking to the grand, once- or twice-a-year live piano recital showcase is the best way to develop your students’ performance skills? Or perhaps you’re a bit bored with that model and are looking to change things up this year.

If either situation sounds like you, consider these 3 alternatives to the typical run-of-the-mill traditional piano recital.

Getting students ready for that big music studio recital can foster many important skills, including:

  • Memorisation 
  • Successfully working through performance anxiety
  • Playing with musicality 
  • Practising and polishing a piece to near perfection
  • Creativity

Recitals can also be a powerful motivator and mark of achievement – a proud event for students and their families to look forward to and look back on. With that in mind, does a recital have to look like a solo kid sitting at the piano on a big stage?


We can still keep all the benefits of recitals, albeit in a different form.

Any one of these 3 powerful alternatives allows your students to reap the rewards of performance but with a fun, exciting twist that a traditional piano recital doesn’t provide.

Powerful Alternative No. 1: Online Showcase or Recital

When I first started teaching online during the pandemic, I wanted recitals to still be “a thing” in my studio. I was just seeking something a little more flexible that parents and students could work on together. So I decided to have my students record a video of their performance piece and send it to me before a set deadline. We then showcased their performances through virtual venues.

You can employ this same concept in a couple of ways via your platform of choice, either over a series of days or in one “live” event.

Members of Vibrant Music Teaching will love this Piano Performance Recording Guide for Parents, downloadable from the Member Library. Not a member? What are you waiting for?! Visit vibrantmusicteaching.com to learn more and join today.

Social Media

Social media platforms can make great replacements for the recital hall. 


Encourage students to create their own YouTube channels. You can write a brief summary of how students can set this up with their parents, or simply send out a link to a YouTube tutorial.

Pro tip: Be sure to provide guidance about making their channel private or public.

Work with students and parents to come up with performance videos at a frequency that works well for both of you, and encourage them to share their work on the channel they set up. You can then share your students’ YouTube channels within your studio and encourage them to support each other by watching the videos.


Create a live event on your studio Facebook page, then post one video a day. Invite students and families to view, and encourage them to leave complimentary comments.

Don’t forget to tag families as this increases the likelihood that people will see the videos on their newsfeed. What a fantastic way to market your studio!

Live Studio-Wide Online Viewing Event

We live in a technological world, so use that to your advantage! Create a live recital event online using a meeting platform such as Zoom or RockOutLoud Live.

Screen Share Recordings

Gather recordings of your students’ performances, then invite families to log in at concert time so they can watch live as you screen-share each video

Live Participation

If you prefer the true “live” experience, you could coordinate it so each student plays their piece live from their own home. This option is best done with students who are very familiar with online lessons, so there aren’t problems with setup and connection etc.

Pro tip: Use platform functions such as “applause” between videos or performances so everyone can show their appreciation. Vibrant Music Teachers can take this a step further by using Online Lesson Ovations from the member library.

Powerful Alternative No. 2: Ensemble Recording Project

Why not try a recording project? I love to use sheet music designed for small orchestras, choirs or small ensembles, and then adapt it into something that would work with piano.

Get creative! Give your students a percussion or vocal part, or let them play that part on the piano. Encourage them to create supplemental material, too, such as a poetry reading, images or interpretive dance. You could even include some of their other talents like juggling or gymnastics! 🤸

Record videos or the audio of each student performing their part. Then stitch them together into one epic showcase. (This concept could also work for a live performance if that’s the direction you’ve decided to go, although there would be a heightened risk of technical difficulties.)

Pro tip: Ask parents to tune their pianos before recording the videos!🤪

If this is an idea you’d like to try, I suggest:

  • Tapestry of Tales: 8 Musical Stories From Around the World by Jennifer Bennett and Cristi Cary Miller. I love this book as it not only shares motifs and folk stories from around the world, it also encourages children to get creative. Plus it’s perfect for younger students.
  • The various Trios Collections from Susan Staples Bell. These pieces are designed for six hands and work well for beginners to intermediates.

Powerful Alternative No. 3: Performance Parties & Workshops

Performing in front of parents and families can be nerve-wracking and intimidating. Why not turn the show into a fun event with a more casual vibe?

Some great ideas I’ve seen are:

  • Pizza parties where students play while the audience enjoys the food.
  • “Living Room Concerts” at the teacher’s (or a studio family’s) house 
  • Group workshops as stand-alone small performance events, or as practice for an upcoming recital

There are loads of ways to give your students the benefit of a recital that don’t include renting a recital hall and wearing fancy clothes.

Psst! Don’t Forget…

Studio performances almost always include taking pictures and plastering your pride on all your social media outlets. But remember, whenever you involve students in social media, it’s super important to have written permission from parents and students first. 

Pro Tip: Discuss this with your studio families from the very first interview. Get written permission every year with your registration forms, and ask again verbally before posting anything online.

Have you tried alternatives to traditional recitals in your piano studio?

Let me know in the comments below.

And for more advice and resources about performance opportunities, check out the ‘Recitals’ section of our Music Studio Business page.

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