The Art of Describing a Pianist’s Performance: A Guide

If you are seated in a concert hall or a podium to witness a piano performance, it is a great feeling for a music enthusiast. Even you are browsing a video or music website at the comfort of your home, listening to a good piano piece by an artist, it gives a fulfilling and heart-warming experience.

A pianist performance can be described in multiple ways. You can provide feedback and your views on the melody, the presentation, artistic presence and the ambience created by the pianist. There are specific ways to express your emotions and evaluate a piano performance from the listener or audience point of view.

In this article we are going to touch all the aspects of describing a pianist’s performance to provide an accurate and worthy feedback to the player, so that he/she realizes his true potential and works on the gaps/improvements in his playing style, if any.

Parameters to evaluate a Piano Performance

There are several parameters to evaluate a good piano performance by the listener. Here are the key performance indicators (KPIs) to asses a pianist’s performance from a layman’s standpoint:

  • Piano sound quality and timbre 

    The piano sound quality matters the most. Be it a grand, acoustic, upright or a digital piano – the sound timbre chosen for the performance is a good parameter of judgement of the overall performance.

  • Piano playing skills 

    This is the actual yardstick to asses a pianist’s power and quality. The better the finger styles, playing techniques and lucidity, the higher benchmark is set for the performance. Pro level pianists are highly skilled and hence admired by the listening audience at a higher level.

  • The Melodic output 

    Melody plays an important role in the performance of a pianist. The actual tune of the song or piece needs to be maintained and must reach the listeners ears. Some players play with great melody and expression and please the listeners.

  • Presentation skills, stage presence and showmanship 

    Presentation skills are one of the major parameters of evaluation of any artist on stage. Players should be assessed based on their overall presentation skills – such as stage presence, body language, audience communication and the structuring of the performance or programme. A pianist might not be involved in an audience communication to a greater extent, however other parameters such as body language and stage presence can be assessed to describe his or her performance.

  • Engagement and eye contact with audience 

    As discussed, above audience engagement plays a pivotal role in describing a pianist’s performance. After all, the performance will be good if the audience is engaged and everybody is involved in the performance whole-heartedly.

The structure of a Piano song / performance

  • A typical piano performance begins with an introduction and opening note to the audience by the pianist.
  • The pianist choses a single music piece (either self-composed or from a composer). A medley version of multiple piano songs is also performed by many pianists to provide a holistic listening experience.
  • The player usually starts with an intro piece to build-up the atmosphere first. In this section, lesser chords, lesser progressions are usually taken care by the pianist. Note – This however, depends on the nature of the song or piece chosen by the pianist.
  • Gradually the player uses more finger techniques and plays the mid-pieces of the song or composition. Faster runs, arpeggios and intense melody lines are a part of this section usually. This is where the performance feel is impacted upon the audiences.
  • At the last part usually, the performer plays the ending verse of the song with a signature tune or an impactful closure.

How to Describe a Pianist’s Performance?

Performing artists are usually very close to our heart. They please us with their mesmerizing performances and hence leave an everlasting impact within our minds. While describing a pianist performance, as a mature critic, it is our responsibility to pass on the correct feedback to the performer so that he/she can understand the strong and weak points of the performance and improve from time to time.

Here are some of the ways to describe a pianist’s performance and provide constructive feedback to the pianist:

  • Appreciating the Pianist for a Beautiful Performance

    • Hey, that was an amazing concert, privileged to hear you out. I would like to be a part of your next show.
    • What an enjoyable music from you!! Amazed to see the depth of your music from the piano, keep it up!!!
    • Wow!!! Fabulous rendition, so happy to be a part of this concert. Great passionate work from you!!!
  • Providing Feedback on Improvement

    • It was a memorable concert from you. If you have a little eye contact with the audience, it will be even better!!! Great work.
    • Kudos for the performance!! You can get charged with a music theory training, to take it up to the next level!!!
    • Thankyou for entertaining us!!! We would love to hear from you some concert composer’s music pieces, the next time you perform!!!
    • Amazing show from you!!! You can work more on the chords and arpeggios in higher octave to even sound better!!! (This is sample feedback from a musician pianist to another)

As you can see, the critic is providing constructive feedback in a super positive note, without bluntly pointing out the shortcomings or issues in the performance.

Effect of Feedback on the performance of a Pianist

All piano artists are emotional people driven by a strong passion towards music and piano. Hence the proper feedback really matters to them. The more positive and constructive feedback, the more they would take it sportively.

The improvement of performance of a pianist also depends on the attitude of the musicians toward his/her target audience. As a player, one must receive the feedback very positively and deal with the improvement plan for any issues pointed out against the performance.

Be a good critic to the pianist performance

As a wise critic and audience, we must appreciate the strengths of the performance “FIRST HAND” and then discuss about the improvements needed for the pianist as “NICE TO HAVES”. In this way we can be good critics for the pianist performance and influence his/her mind to go for the changes that are needed to be done.

Attitude and your words matter the most when it comes to discussing about the outcomes of a performance with the artist. This needs to be understood well and kept in mind, every time we provide the feedback to any artist.


Hence, describing a pianist performance needs a good and constructive thought process and a fruitful discussion. Being a good critic is essential for boosting the morale and providing a good path of improvement for all pianists or so to say for all artists. We hope you enjoyed reading this article!!!

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