Keyboard Player Stage Presence | Performing with Music Keyboards

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As an artist the more musical strings you have to your bow, the better. If you’re a keyboard player, should you sing and play at the same time and how do you use it to enhance your stage presence? 

The piano is arguably the best instrument to play when you’re a singer. It’s very versatile and you can accompany yourself anytime, anywhere. As a keyboard player, stage presence is vital and can take your performance to another level. 

Whether you’re thinking of learning to play or already have keyboard skills, here’s our guide to wowing an audience by playing and singing at the same time. 

Keyboard player stage presence

Live Music Keyboard Microphone Stage

How to perform with music keyboards and sing at the same time

Performing with Music Keyboards: Normally when preparing to perform, most people only have to worry about their voice. But by including an instrument, such as music keyboard s, you have to put double the amount of work in to make sure your performance is remembered for the right reasons, and not because you played the wrong keys. 

Apart from the obvious benefit of not having to hire someone to play for you, did you know that playing the piano while singing can be extra impressive for a crowd?  

You don’t need to hide away behind the keys – some of the biggest characters in music create flamboyant performances by standing as keyboard players with stage presence (more on them later).  

This is also good for your vocals as it enables you to sing from the diaphragm. If you sit, you have to maintain good posture to play – again, this benefits your voice.  

How to practice singing with piano and stage presence

First, build up your skill on the piano. If you’re having to concentrate too hard on hitting the right notes, you may lose concentration on your singing and develop bad habits that could damage your voice.  

Is it hard to play the piano and sing at the same time?

Yes, at first. Although for some people it comes more naturally than for others. Once you’re well accustomed to ti, you might find it hard to sing without playing at the same time! Many performers are comforted by playing at the same time – Karen Carpenter was famously reticent to leave her position behind a drum kit, even though her singing voice was the main draw of the band.  

How do you sing along on the piano?

Is it hard to play the piano and sing at the same time?  

Begin by practising with simple scales. the n add in some arpeggios, before progressing to songs that are easy musically and vocally. You can then choose to lead with your vocals or the piano. That means you might take some artistic licence with the music vocally or instrumentally, extending out notes or playing with the timing.  

Often singers will lead with the singing, using the piano as accompaniment. It really depends on which skill you wish to showcase more. 

Piano songs and piano accompaniment patterns

Your left-hand plays the accompaniment of a song, while your right plays the melody. Both form patterns and understanding these help in writing your own music as well as accompanying yourself – you may want to just play with the left at points for effect. 

You must remember that your voice takes priority and playing music keyboards should be secondary. If you’re not 100% confident in playing the piano then you need to keep practising before hitting that stage. If you can’t play without having to think about the next key then this can lead to awful performance. 

Best piano-playing singers – a masterclass in keyboard player stage presence

Very many singers play and sing simultaneously. Some move around a lot and dance while playing, others use stillness for stage presence. Here are some of the best in the business.  

Lady Gaga often plays and sings. This performance with Bradley Cooper in front of Hollywood’s elite blew us all away. 


Elton John played keys before making it as a singer and he hasn’t stopped since. He’s always behind a piano on stage. And his performances are wild, proving that you can have some major stage presence while playing.  


John Legend shows what a legend he is here, by surprising passers-by at St Pancras station.  

Birdy, winner of the first-ever Open Mic UK competition, is an accomplished pianist and uses it to enhance the passionate, ethereal quality to her performances.  

Regina Spektor’s piano playing provides a playful focus for her live performance style.  

Remember that there are huge resources at your fingertips, study other performers live performance on YouTube or your favourite artist at a concert. Start to pick up what works and what doesn’t for various performances. Then try and test them out yourself. 


Good songs to sing and play the piano at the same time 

Watch and listen to these acts for tips on the best kinds of songs to simultaneously sing and play with huge presence. You’ll discover that it works with everything from rock and roll, to indie music, to power ballads – you just need to adapt your performance style and stage presence accordingly.  If you’re an inexperienced player, opt for something simple and slow, until you build up confidence and skill on the keys.   

How do you sing and play an instrument at the same time?

It can be a bit like rubbing your tummy and patting your head at the same time – or learning to drive a manual car. Your brain has to concentrate on doing different things at once. In this case, playing the right notes, remembering the lyrics and singing well.  

It is a challenge at first, but as your muscle memory picks it up, it becomes second nature over time and you go into a sort of autopilot. Initially, you may have to practice the two skills separately, till you get the hang of doing each properly. Then you can add in movement and emotion.  

Piano or guitar for singing?

How to sing and play the guitar at the same time

This is a very personal preference and there are pros and cons of each. Playing the guitar enables you to move freely around the stage, it’s also a more portable instrument if you’re travelling. It can be a little harder to breathe properly with a guitar, as it sits in front of your diaphragm, but you can work around this, and it’s only has a minor impact. 

Usually, the decision comes down to your musical style – the guitar is great for a rock or acoustic sound. Whereas piano works well for big ballads, composing your own songs and potentially a more versatile musical experience. 

How to sing and play the guitar at the same time

If you opt for guitar, or already play, use it to your advantage. Brian May is a great example of an iconic guitarist who uses the guitar in his showmanship. Sing and play at the same time, bu moving during instrumental sections and returning to your mic during the verses and chorus. Learn to breathe laterally through your lungs as well as down to the diaphragm, this compensates for any pressure that may be placed on the stomach while holding the instrument.  

Does learning piano help you sing?

Definitely! You learn how to read music and develop a better understanding of rhythm and composition, all of which contribute to your skill set as a singer. It may also help your musical ear, which in turn helps with your tuning on stage.  

How can I get better at playing the piano?

Does learning piano help you sing?  

The answer to this is the same as how to get better at singing. Practice, practice, practice. And if possible take lessons from a good teacher – or follow tutorials on YouTube. Many accomplished pianists are self-taught, but you have to be very motivated, and start with the (sometimes boring) basics. 

Singing piano warm-ups and vocal exercises

The piano is the perfect instrument to accompany your vocal exercises. You don’t need a high level of keyboard skill to learn to play scales either, so even if you don’t plan on performing with one, it’s worth learning some basics for warm-ups.  

Use a vocal piano toy. If you need something to play on which to play your scales, don’t splash out on a professional keyboard (unless you plan to take it up properly). Instead, buy one of the low price piano toys or kids’ keyboard available from the high street or online retailers. It’ll be a fraction of the price and is fine for doing your exercises home alone.  


Singing scale – solfege practice

Solfege is used to teach music theory, aural skills and pitch, using syllables attached to the notes. It’s worth using solfege scales to work on your vocals at the same time as music theory.  

Piano accompaniment for vocal warm-ups sheet music PDF

Until you learn to play without music, you can use sheet music downloads for scales and exercises.  

MM Vocal Warm Up

Female & male scales for singing: three-octave scales for singing

For more great exercises, read our article including vocal scales for men and women spanning up to three octaves. 


Tips for playing keyboard in a band – with stage presence

Get the right posture when performing. It’s very important when performing with music keyboards that you have the right posture. Whether you decide to sit or stand, you should retain a flexible feeling in your spine. 

If you do slump, your breathing and control of breathing will be affected, which will essentially impact your vocals. To stop this try not to lean forward, your rib cage should stay in its rightful position and not collapse forward. 

Do keep in mind that you don’t want to be too rigid as this will look unprofessional. Just because you have music keyboards in front of you doesn’t mean you cannot still get into the song and enjoy yourself. 

If anything the movements you make are even more crucial as it is limited. You want the audience to be on your side, and not feeling disconnected just because there’s an instrument between you.  

Learning stage presence: the best stage presence tips for bands

What will really set you apart from other performers is the way you can still communicate your message through eye contact, facial expressions and really putting your back into it, regardless if there are music keyboards between you and the audience. Here are some great tips for a band’s stage presence.  


Is it hard to sing and play the piano in a band – how do you not mess up on the piano?

The challenge as the keyboard player in a band is you can get lost in the background. Make sure you work your stage presence. For tips on this watch videos of Benny from Abba and Brian Cox from D-Ream – both famous keyboard players in bands.  

If you don’t want to mess up – practice! We say this all the time, but it can’t be emphasised enough. Know what you’re doing inside out and your chances of messing up will be diminished. Also chose a good quality instrument that won’t let you down on the night.  

How to play the piano in front of people: piano performance techniques

Use your space whilst performing with music keyboards

Usyour space whilst performing with music keyboards

Just because you may be rooted in one particular space on the stage does not mean you can’t engage the audience and get them on your side.  

You need to express the emotion in the song so if appropriate don’t be afraid to kick your chair back and stand up, the more passion you give and the more you enjoy it the better the performance.  

Performing with Music Keyboards and preparing for your performance

Keep the power in your vocal whilst performing with music keyboards. Just because you are playing music keyboards doesn’t mean your vocals should suffer. Try not to tighten your shoulders, neck, or jaw as you perform as this will tighten your throat as this can lead to poor vocals and breathing control. 

If you choose to sit when playing the keyboard, a good way to maintain power is by sitting on the edge of your seat and squeeze your bum against the seat. This way you will get as much power to your voice as if you were standing. 

How to stop being nervous playing piano

It’s normal to feel nervous before going on stage. The best way to prevent this is to prepare well. Practice your numbers over and over, so you’re well drilled. That way, if your brain forgets what you’re doing, the muscle memory in your fingers and hands should take over and find the notes automatically.  

How to overcome a fear of playing the piano in public

Fear of performing is common and can be overcome. For tips on this, read our guide to dealing with nerves on stage – this relates to singing, but the advice and techniques apply to any kind of performance. 


How do I prepare for a piano performance?

Make sure you are stage ready to perform with music keyboards and sing. The temptation is to start performing on stage too early and spend most of the time looking down at the keyboard this is not performing!”If you have to keep looking down during your performance and have nothing but a blank expression on your face then perhaps you not stageready. 

Piano recital performance tips

Once you’ve been playing for a while, your teacher may invite you to take part in a piano recital. This is an instrumental-only event and often involves classical repertoire.  

What do you wear to a piano recital?

How do you bow after a piano recital or performance? 

Wear fairly formal clothing – either trousers or a skirt, or dress, but make sure it covers your knees, as you’ll be sitting down with your legs apart. Pick shoes that are comfy and non-slidey on the pedals. If playing as part of a symphony there may be a colour code or specific dress styles, such as tuxedos or black tie. Emphasis your stage presence with an elaborate outfit. 

How do you bow after a piano recital or performance?

The difference with taking a bow after playing the piano is that you’ll need to actively stand up and move away from your stool. Walk a few steps away from the piano to the front of the stage and take a bow. You could hold your hands behind your back, or (the old fashioned way) have one arm bent in front of you and the other behind. For a formal recital, you may want to take a deeper bend – from the waist.  

Piano recital tips for teachers – should piano teachers play at the student recital?

As a teacher, you may want to take the opportunity to perform and inspire your students. The audience may really enjoy a performance from an accomplished pianist if the students are at a more basic level. Although be warned that some may view it as showing off. So stick to one piece and ensure the limelight remains on the students.  

Best professional music keyboard UK – finding the best keyboard for live performance in 2019

There’s so much choice when it comes to keyboards, it can be overwhelming to know which to pick. So here are some tips on finding the right one. 

Get a professional keyboard for gigs

Are you a gigging musician? If so, you need a professional standard of a keyboard. Why? Because it has to be fit for purpose, reliable, powerful, produce excellent quality of sound and offer versatility for difference venues. 

What is the best professional keyboard for gigging musicians

What keyboard do professional musicians use?

With such a large choice and a combination of personal preference, available budget and differing requirements, it’s tricky to select just one. Here are five of the best for 2019. But we do recommend you pay a visit to your local keyboard store, try a few out and speak to the staff – they are usually very knowledgeable and able to suggest the right fit for your needs. 

Brands that are prolifically used by pros include Yamaha, Korg, Nord and Roland. 

Roland keyboard – arguably the best small keyboard for live performance

Getting a keyboard around is a challenge and so you really need a car to gig with a keyboard. If your car is small, check out this great, small keyboard from Roland. 

Their Go range is perfect for musicians who need a decent priced portable keyboard that packs a punch. 

Your keyboard stage setup

If you’re singing while playing you’ll need a mic attached to the piano or a stand angled so you can be heard. And you’ll need to ascertain the best place for the keyboard to be so you can move around, perform and be seen. 

Making sure your mic is in the right position is paramount to making sure you keep the right posture. You want to make sure the mic is close enough to your mouth so you don’t have to lean, and high enough to make sure your spine stays tall but not covering your face so the audience can’t see you expressing the song. 

On average, singers who play an instrument earn more than theor counterparts who do not. So if you play already, consider learning to sing. And if you’re a vocalist, why not take up the keyboard to enhance your employability and stage presence! 

Related Questions

  • How long do professional singers practice?  

Anything up to several hours a day, with a day a week, or fortnight to rest. If you’re in rehearsals or a studio environment you may be singing for full days, with breaks during the sessions to rest your voice.  

  • How can I practice singing effectively?  

Make sure you balance songs with exercises and basic technique. Practising with a vocal coach is the most effective method, but you can go it alone. Set aside a little time every day if possible, or at least an hour a week. Be careful that you’re not singing on your throat.  

  • What are the four basic types of keys on a keyboard? 

The types of keys on a keyboard fall into these categories: weighted, not weighted, hammer action and graded weighting. With so many options on offer, speak to an in-store specialist to find out what’s best for your needs.  

Do you have any tips for keyboard player’s stage presence? Have you taken up an instrument to accompany yourself? Tell us what and how in the comments below.