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Pianist Booking Guide – 2020 Prices, Advice and FAQs

Encore pianist

Are you hoping to hire a wedding pianist or looking for a solo pianist for hire but don’t know where to start? We’ve compiled answers to the questions we hear most often, guiding you on how much a pianist for a wedding or corporate event might cost, complete with tips and inside knowledge from some of our top pianists.

Browse all Pianists →

Pianists are the perfect way to add a touch of class to any party, wedding or special occasion. Whether you love classical music, want to hear pop hits, or think jazz will hit the spot, you can browse 360 of the most professional, versatile and accomplished pianists or discuss it with our team at [email protected].

Let’s dive right in!

Contents:

  1. The Basics
  2. Equipment & Setup
  3. Repertoire
  4. Booking

The Basics of Hiring a Pianist

What styles of music can the pianist play?

While specific pianists may specialise in particular areas of repertoire, almost any style of music – including pop, jazz, folk, classical – works on the piano. Many pianists are happy to play a wide range of repertoire during the same event, and some are even singing pianists.

Singing pianists are extremely versatile, offering you a package of vocalist and instrumentalist all in one! A singing pianist might also specialise in a certain genre so make sure to browse our list of 128 of the best singing pianists in the UK to find your favourite.

If you are looking specifically for a jazz pianist for hire to perform jazz standards at your event, make sure to ask them if they are comfortable playing this style and browse their videos and repertoire lists to help you choose the perfect pianist for your event.

What’s the difference between different types of pianos?

Pianos can be electric or acoustic. Acoustic pianos can be either grand pianos (ranging in size from five to nine feet long) or upright, which is about two feet long (but with the same size keyboard). Like a harp, a grand piano is as much a visual as a musical element, adding an elegant look to your event. However, piano movers are very expensive, so make sure your venue already has a grand piano in good condition which has been tuned within the past week.

If the venue offers a digital piano, give the make and model number to your pianist and make sure they are happy to play it.

Encore pianist, Michael Raggatt

What do I do if my venue doesn’t have a piano?

Many pianists offer a portable piano or keyboard that they will bring to an event. Some even have shells to mimic the appearance of a concert grand. Many pianists in fact prefer to bring their own keyboards as the quality of pianos at venues can be variable. Contact one of our brilliant pianists to see what they offer.

Archie Combe, Encore Pianist
“I love playing the piano for events because I like how the music creates a memorable atmosphere for the special day.” -Encore pianist, Archie Combe


Which parts of the wedding ceremony can a pianist play at?

Pianists for wedding ceremonies will usually play at the following parts of the ceremony: seating of the guests, bridal procession, signing of the registry, and the walkout. You can also find church pianists for hire but first check with your church to see if the church organist might be able to handle your requirements.

Can the pianist play at the wedding reception as well as the ceremony?

Absolutely! Pianists for wedding receptions usually follow on directly from the ceremony. However, if the reception is in a different venue from the ceremony and the pianist is bringing an instrument, make sure they have enough time to move the piano.

Encore pianist, Andrey Novikov plays with his band, Jazz Lane

Equipment & Setup

How much space does a pianist need?

Depends on the size of the piano! Grand pianos range from five to nine feet, plus another three feet for the pianist to sit and be able to move their arms. Upright and electric pianos need about five feet of length. All pianos are approximately five feet wide across the keyboard.

What equipment do I need to provide?

In addition to the piano, the pianist will also need an adjustable bench or stool. This will usually be provided with the venue’s piano, but do check.

Pianists who are bringing an electric instrument will generally need two chairs without arms and two electrical sockets.

The pianist will also need sufficient lighting to see the music and keyboard.

How long does the pianist need to set up?

Your pianist will need 15 – 30 minutes to set up, depending on what kind of amplification is required.

Encore pianist, Ross Gilmartin demonstrates his piano skills

Do I need to provide food?

Musicians will appreciate bottled water and tea/coffee/biscuits upon arrival. Meals are always welcome, though generally not required unless your event is over a mealtime.

Can a pianist play outside?

If the piano is an acoustic one which belongs to the venue, discuss with them if it can be moved outdoors. Even upright pianos, which are easier to move, are sensitive to changes in weather and humidity and will likely need retuning.

Pianists are generally happy to play electric instruments outside as long as the weather is warm enough (difficult to play in gloves!), adequate rain shelter (such as a gazebo) is provided, and they are not in direct sunlight. Many pianists can supply their own extension leads as well.

Wedding pianists may be more accustomed to performing outside. It is worth checking with the individual pianist as to whether they are comfortable perfomring outside or not.

What dress code can I expect?

Pianists can tailor their outfit to your event – white tie, tuxedo, floor-length gowns, cocktail dresses, smart casual or just all black are all possible.

Do I need a PA system?

Acoustic pianos cannot be connected to a PA system. However, if the pianist is bringing an electric instrument, they may be able to bring their own PA system or else they can hook their keyboard up to the venue’s system.

Encore singing-pianist, Cat Delphi

How long will the pianist play for?

Sets are usually 45-60 minutes long with a 15-minute break between sets.

Do I need to provide parking?

If the pianist is bringing an instrument, then they will require parking, ideally as close as possible to the entrance. If there is no parking immediately by the door, then they should be able to unload by the door and then move the car. The client should reimburse the pianist for any parking costs incurred.

Repertoire

What are the most popular piano repertoire requests?

Our top wedding piano players tell us the following pieces are guaranteed to be a hit:

  • Someday My Prince Will Come by Frank Churchill
  • Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet by Henry Mancini
  • Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy
  • Over the Rainbow
  • Beyond The Sea

Can the pianist play my favourite song?

Absolutely! Pianists love adding new pieces to their repertoire, and if they can’t find an arrangement, they will often tailor one themselves for your event. This may add an additional fee to your booking but is well worth the extra expense to hear your favourite song played in a new and exciting way.

Can the pianist take requests?

Many pianists have spent years memorising hundreds of songs, and/or can pick up tunes very quickly by ear.

A request you’d want to make sure you get right is your wedding recessional piano music, as this is the first piece of music you will hear as the newly announced married couple!

Andrey Novikov, Encore Pianist
“I was once booked to play a jazz set for a wedding reception and learned before the performance that the bride loved the band Depeche Mode. So I improvised on Enjoy the Silence as a surprise for them – which they loved!” -Encore pianist, Andrey Novikov


 

What is the most popular party/event repertoire?

Depends on the style of your event! It can be classical, pop, or a combination. All of the pieces listed above will work well as background music for a party.

Where can I go for ideas if I’m not sure what music I want?

The best ideas may come when browsing through our selection of pianists and listening to different pianists’ audio/video clips to get ideas of which styles you like most. To save you from typing, “pianist for hire near me” into your favourite search engine, you can even filter by location to find pianists that are local to you.

Can the pianist play with a singer?

Absolutely! A singer is a perfect addition to a piano, allowing you to have the full song experience. Don’t forget, some pianists can sing as well as play – we have a wonderful list of wedding singer pianists which would give you this option.

Encore pianist, LORA MUSIC

Booking

How far in advance should I book?

We advise booking as soon as possible, especially if you have special musical requests, but we handle last-minute bookings all the time at Encore and can easily find a pianist at short notice.

How much is it to hire a pianist?

Each pianist will set their own rates but expect a fee of £150 – £200 for two 60-minute sets plus travel and amplification expenses if applicable.

How much a pianist costs for a wedding will usually depend on if the wedding pianist costs are a set fee ‘per event’ or if they charge hourly.

Do I have to pay travel fees/porterage?

You may have to factor in travel costs if the pianist is not local. Most musicians have a set radius from their home (generally 15-20 miles) and charge extra for any travel outside that area. We have pianists all over the country, so we can usually find someone close to your location.

The standard rate is 47p/mile so if the pianist needs to travel 50 miles each way, that’s an additional £47 for 100 miles of travel. This amount is included as a rough guide – each musician will set their own fees.

If the pianist is bringing an instrument, there will usually be an extra cost, known as porterage, to cover the delivery and setup.

Don’t forget to browse our range of pianists and discuss their specific requirements for performing at your event.

How do I handle contracts and payment?

The easiest way to handle contracts and payment is to book through Encore. Our bookings process is extremely straightforward, and once you have confirmed a booking with your chosen pianist, contracts and payments will be handled painlessly and effortlessly by our secure payments system.

Browse all Pianists →

Hopefully, this guide answers all of your questions! If you have more questions about pianists, email us at [email protected] and we’d be more than happy to help.

 

James McAulay

Encore Co-Founder & CEO. Cellist, pianist, singer and aspiring guitarist.

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