Integrating Art to Piano Recital


Our 4th spring piano recital was a huge success! I got a lot of positive responses from parents and students alike. Many of our audiences talked about how much of a pleasure it was to have the piano performance and artworks at the same time.

Piano Performance and Artworks at the Same Time?

For the spring recital, our students created artworks that engaged with their music, and their artworks were projected on a big screen behind the piano during their performances. While our audience enjoyed listening to their music, they also enjoyed understanding each performer’s interpretation of the music through their artworks.

This is our first piano recital integrating art and I am so pleased that I got so many positive responses for it. This artwork-piano recital was planned at the beginning of the school year, although I didn’t really expect that my students would enjoy their art projects this much along with their piano study!  I have done a couple of coloring events which my students enjoyed so much, with the little art activity going along with their piano study. This actually boosted me into preparing more on this artwork-piano recital.

For last autumn’s recital, I asked my students to find images such as paintings or photos that they can relate with their pieces –  all music selections with dance titles – I’ll talk about this in next week’s blog.  And for the spring recital, I asked them to create their OWN artworks to engage with their music.



Performer: Victoria M.
Music: Moonlight Sonata
Composer: L.V. Beethoven



Art is such a great tool to express our thoughts, feelings and stories. It’s same that music is great tool to express our thoughts, feelings and stories as well. But how do we connect these two different languages? And why did I ask my students to connect these two languages? Because I strongly believe in the power of visualization. If we can see what we want to say, it becomes easier to say it. If we can see what we want to express, it becomes easier to express it.

If we can see what we want to express, it becomes easier to express it. 

-Robin Cho Piano Studio 



In our performance classes, I gave a few different guidelines to them to begin their artworks with their music.

I showed them some photos of dancers on a stage, people who were jumping on the beach, and one of a gloomy cat on a rainy day, and I asked them which they would draw if they think about their music. I also showed them photos of nature and asked if they could think about the places that they’ve visited or traveled to when they play their music.



Here are some of guidelines that I talked my students through during the classes.

1. Thinking about the Title and Words

Performer: Abby S.
Music: The Can-Can
Composer: Jacques Offenbach

The title of music often engages with the composer’s inspiration to write music, and words help to understand the composer’s mind. We don’t necessarily have to stay with the title or words of the music but it is a great starting point into seeing the composer’s inspiration and understanding the music.

 2. Engaging with Your Memory

Performer: Asha H.
Music: Sincerity
Composer: Johann F. Burgmuller

 A few years ago, in the summer, my student, Lisa, came to lesson after her weekend camping trip in Maine. After we talked briefly about beautiful Maine, she played me a piece that she had been working on. Immediately, I could feel the difference in the way she expressed her music. Her music was delivering the beautiful scenery of Maine, and I actually could see the bear that she met at the camp site!

 3. Music Sounds like_

Performer: Sita H.
Music: Minuet
Composer: Jean-Philippe Rameau

Sita’s piece was minuet by Rameau, and she drew this blooming flower. She got the idea from a painting at her place, and I thought that she was probably thinking about the phrasing of her music since her piece had many up and down phrasing. After she drew this piece, I noticed how she expressed her dynamics better, like blooming flowers. Musical elements give us different feelings. Staccatos, Legatos, musical phrases, modality, fast, slow, loud, quiet; these all make us draw music differently.

 4. Creating the Story

Performer: Michaela M.
Music: Museum piece (Mona Liza, A dash for the Timber, Reeds and Cranes)
Composer: Catherine Rollin

When we play the music, we sometimes bring our feelings and emotions to inspire us into creating a story. We’re playing the music but we are also delivering the story that we created from playing the music. Michaela played 3 shorts pieces for this recital, and instead of creating 3 different art pieces, she put together all of them to make one art piece. This made for an interesting art work.  She expressed each character from the music beautifully, but she also performed them as one piece of music beautifully. Her art piece actually left room for the audience to create their own version of the story. Why is Mona Lisa smiling at the rider? Why did the rider have to come so fast at Mona Lisa? Did the crane come to deliver any good news?  


Integrating arts into piano program has been my dream project and I am glad that this year I made my first step to achieving it.  I’ve been working as a pianist at ballet schools and dance program in colleges for several years now, and I always thought that our piano students could reap the benefits of understanding the art form of dance, and get inspirations from it also. My students have been playing Nutcracker suits in holiday seasons, and they played dance-titled pieces to bring out their imagination and create a story from it.

Next week, I’ll be posting a blog about our last autumn recital, with dance pieces and my plan to integrate dance to this project next year. If you want to know more about my piano program with integrating arts, please subscribe to my blog!

Performer: Nora S.

Music: The Wild Rider

Composer: Robert Schumann



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