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The Complete Pianist Booking Guide for 2021: Tips, Guide Prices and FAQs

The Complete Pianist Booking Guide for 2021: Tips, Guide Prices and FAQs

Are you looking to add an extra sparkle to your wedding, party, corporate function or special occasion? There are, of course, a musical mountain of options to choose from, but nothing quite as classic and classy as hiring a pianist.

At Bands For Hire, we receive many requests and questions about what hiring a piano player actually entails and what options are available. That's why we've put together this booking guide to bring you up to speed on everything you need to know.

Whether it's classical, jazz, pop or Hungarian folk (not a common request), it's 2021, and musically anything is possible.

How long do pianists usually perform for?

Pianists tend to play different roles depending on the event and occasion. A general time frame of a piano player is up to 2 hours of playing over a 3 or 4 hour window, although many pianists do offer longer performance times if required.

Your musician will usually arrive about an hour prior to performance to set up and prepare, but again, set up times can be tailored to suit your specific schedule.

When do pianists usually perform?

Weddings:

With such versatility, pianists are suitable for every part of your big day, including the wedding ceremony, drinks reception and wedding breakfast. However, most couples will hire a pianist for either the ceremony and drinks reception, or the wedding breakfast.

For wedding ceremonies and daytime music, a typical example of the performance schedule might be as follows:

  • 20 minutes playing as guests arrive
  • 1 song: Bridal entrance
  • 2 songs: Signing of the register
  • 1 song: Bride and Groom exit
  • Pianist continues to play as guests leave the room

It's then quite common for the pianist to continue playing for a further hour to entertain guests during the drinks reception.

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Corporate Functions/Dinner Parties:

Corporate functions tend to be fairly straight forward. Your pianist will set up in a suitable designated space and perform for approximately 2 hours as required, often as guests arrive or during dinner.

Musicians are used to working around public speeches and other featured activities that arise at functions. Do keep these in mind when planning the performance schedule and be sure to keep your musician in the loop.

How much does it cost to hire a pianist?

As with all musicians, the price of a pianist can vary, but on average you can expect to pay somewhere between £250 and £350 for up to two hours of performance.

There are a number of factors that can increase the price of a pianist including travel costs, extended performance times, and longer periods of time at the venue.

What type of music do pianists play?

Our professional pianists are versatile musicians and capable of an array of musical genres including classical, jazz and contemporary. However, most pianists have a style that they favour and is their forte (musical pun intended).

Below you'll find a breakdown of some of the most popular piano styles, along with some of our top song picks.

Modern pianists

From folk bands covering Metallica to 1920s acts playing Taylor Swift, there are no longer rules as to what a pianist should play. In fact, lounge arrangements of The Killers and Ed Sheeran can be refreshing and breathe new life into such well known popular songs. Pop music is guaranteed to resonate with all age groups and musical walks of life. We have pianists that specialise in contemporary and indie-pop spanning the decades.

Top 10 Modern Piano Songs:
  • A Thousand Years - Christina Perri
  • I Will Wait - Mumford & Sons
  • I Giorni - Ludovico Einaudi
  • All Of Me - John Legend
  • Your Song - Elton John
  • Perfect - Ed Sheeran
  • Always A Woman - Billy Joel
  • Here Comes The Sun - The Beatles
  • Make You Feel My Love - Adele
  • Can't Help Falling In Love - Elvis Presley

Read more: 40+ Popular Piano Wedding Songs to Compliment Your Day

Jazz Pianists

Jazz piano began at the turn of the 20th century with the birth of ragtime with Scott Joplin as the pioneer. The genre evolved remarkably quickly into blues, boogie-woogie, swing, bebop, cool jazz, modern and Latin jazz.

In the 1920s, the style grew in popularity and entertained all walks of life from the high flyers on Wall St to the street musicians of Harlem. It has continued to entertain listeners ever since and has maintained an element of mystery and excitement along every step of the way.

Jazz piano will give a relaxed, laid back and sophisticated vibe for any event, and it's easy to forget just how many hit singles and standards the genre has produced. As Duke Ellington wrote "It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing".

Top 10 Jazz Piano Songs
  • Autumn Leaves - Johnny Mercer
  • Fly Me To The Moon - Frank Sinatra
  • Summertime - George Gershwin
  • Moon River - Henry Mancini
  • Girl From Ipanema - Stan Getz
  • Satin Doll - Duke Ellington
  • Ain't Misbehavin' -Fats Waller
  • Misty - Errol Garner
  • Maple Leaf Rag - Scott Joplin
  • Blue Moon - Billie Holiday

Read more: 40+ Popular Piano Wedding Songs to Compliment Your Day

Classical Pianists

The quintessential soundtrack to a traditional wedding. Classical music has been performed and enjoyed at weddings and social events for centuries. Classical piano shouldn't really be pigeon-holed into one genre as it contains a multitude of different styles within. Pachelbel's Canon was composed in 1680 and is arguably the most popular romantic piece of all time.

More recently, however, composers such as Ludovico Einaudi and Yiruma have brought minimalist classical music back to the forefront with the vast amount of adverts and movie soundtracks they've scored. Classical piano often serves as peaceful background music to maintain a calm yet sociable atmosphere.

Top 10 Classical Piano Pieces:
  • I Giorni - Ludovico Einaudi
  • River Flows In You - Yiruma
  • Pachelbel’s Canon - Johann Pachelbel
  • Clair de Lune - Claude Debussy
  • Comptine d’un Autre Été Apres-Midi - Yann Tierson
  • Ave Maria - Franz Schubert
  • Gymnopedie No. 1 - Erik Satie
  • Cavatina - John Williams
  • Nuvole Bianche - Ludovico Einaudi
  • Pie Jesu - Andrew Lloyd Webber

Read more: 40+ Popular Piano Wedding Songs to Compliment Your Day

Can my pianist also sing?

The majority of pianists provide a purely instrumental set; however, you will find a number of piano players that also sing. If your pianist offers vocals, you'll usually find this mentioned on their profile page or website.

Your pianist may also be comfortable accompanying a vocalist should you have a guest who'd like to join them for a special song or two. Always liaise with your musician or agency beforehand to confirm and arrange the details.

Can I choose the songs my pianist plays?

Through years of playing and experience, most pianists have a huge repertoire, therefore, it's a good idea to liaise with them in advance to advise them of your song preferences.

It's worth keeping in mind that a pianist's set list has been tried and tested through years of live performance. You can trust your musician to play their favourite arrangements and the songs they know to go down well with the crowd.

For a wedding ceremony, pianists are often happy to take one or two song requests that don't feature in their repertoire. It's always worth speaking to your pianist or entertainment agency before booking to check the pianist is able to accommodate your requests.

Will I need to provide a piano at the venue?

Many venues will have an acoustic piano on site. 'Acoustic' means it isn't plugged in, for example, a grand piano (with a wide back), or an upright piano (straight back). Always check in with your venue to see if they have a piano in-house and what they can provide.

Difference between grand piano and upright piano

Acoustic Piano vs Digital Piano

Musicians and clients often favour acoustic pianos due to their grandiose appearance and traditional nature. However, due to their size and weight, it's rarely feasible to transport an acoustic piano without professional piano movers. As such, most pianists will be able to provide a professional digital piano and suitable amplification.

The benefits of a digital piano are the portability, the manual control of the volume, guaranteed perfect tuning and the efficiency of space in smaller venues.

It's not unusual for a venue to have an acoustic piano in the same room as the ceremony and for the musician to have their own digital piano set up in a separate room. This type of set up is ideal, as it means the pianist is ready to perform when guests transition into the next room.

If an acoustic piano is supplied, always check with your venue to ensure that all the notes are in working order, it's in good condition and has been recently tuned. Also, check that the noise from the pedals are subtle and don't squeak - nobody wants a squeaky mouse sound whilst walking down the aisle!

Lastly, it's worth checking that there's an adjustable piano stool and adequate lighting in case your player is sight-reading.

Can my pianist play outside?

Contrary to popular belief, pianists don't explode in sunlight and are generally happy to play outside. You can, however, make it more comfortable for your musician by:

  • Supplying shelter in case of a change in weather. With a digital set-up, there is a risk of electrical danger should it begin to rain.
  • Offering an inside option if the temperature is too low. Playing the piano with cold hands is never an enjoyable experience and gloves will make playing difficult.
  • If the pianist is playing an acoustic piano supplied by the venue, be sure to check with the venue that it can be moved outdoors prior to the event. Acoustic pianos are sensitive to changes in temperature, humidity and movement, which can affect the tuning and overall performance.
piano plater outside

How far in advance should I book a pianist?

As an agency that deals with thousands of events every year, we highly recommend booking as far in advance as possible. Choosing a musician can be a very personal thing, so if you find the perfect pianist, it would be wise to confirm the date asap - bearing in mind that peak dates are often booked 18 months or more in advance.

With the backlog of weddings and events post Covid-19, bands, musicians and entertainers are in high demand. Once a contract is signed, you know you're in safe hands. It's always worth enquiring though, as we can always cater for last-minute events.

Is there anything else I should know?

Here are a few tips that might help things run smoothly for your pianist:

Speak to your musician before the date.

Feel free to call or email them and say hello. It will help make the event more personable and ensure you're all on the same page with expectations.

Clear directions.

If your venue is off the beaten track or difficult to find, make sure your musician has any direction details that Google Maps might not have.

Contact numbers.

Ideally two phone numbers - a planner/organiser and/or a best man or somebody close to the event.

The schedule of events.

It's good for the musician to know the order of events so they properly understand their role in the day.

Erm, I still have questions…

No problem, we'd love to hear from you. Simply drop us a message through our contact page or give us a call on 0845 073 9440.