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The Purple Piano Project is the first episode of Glee's third season and the forty-fifth episode overall. It premiered on September 20, 2011.

The season premiere opens, revealing that for some members of New Directions, it's their senior year. As New Directions prepare to recruit members after losing Quinn and Lauren, Will thinks of "The Purple Piano Project," in which Al Motta, a rich business man, invests in the arts and gives purple pianos to the Glee Club. With the purple pianos scattered around the school, the New Directions have to sing a song if they spot one. With the seniors questioning their futures beyond high school, Rachel and Kurt attempt to find a college in New York after learning that Juilliard does not offer a musical theater program while Finn is lost and confused about his future plans.

The episode was directed by Eric Stoltz and written by Brad Falchuk


The episode opens with Jacob interviewing the New Directions, heavily emphasizing that for many of the students, this is their senior year.

Finn is the first to be interviewed. Jacob refers to him as both a "mediocre quarterback" and "mediocre glee club lead." Jacob asks Finn about his future plans, but Finn is unable to respond as he has no idea what he wants to do in the future. Mike is next, and he says that his mother has not yet decided whether he will attend Harvard or Stanford after high school. Tina reveals that she is not applying for any colleges because she is a junior, like Artie, while Mike is a senior. Kurt and Rachel are interviewed together in the choir room, and are both very confident that they're going to a performing arts college in New York. The pair are both very clear about their future plans.


Jacob then interviews Mercedes, and asks her if the rumor that she is dating Sam is true. Mercedes confirms the rumor, but explains that since Sam's father found a job based outside of Ohio, the two are not together any more. Mercedes then "exclusively" introduces Jacob to Shane, her new boyfriend. Shane is very encouraging of his girlfriend, insisting that after school she is going to be a star. Santana is next, and she says that her senior year is all about getting on top of the Cheerios. Brittany then hurries to Santana's side, and Jacob quickly asks her about her future plans, to which she responds, "Are you building a time machine, too?" Finn then told Jacob that he is very excited for this year, but, in fact, he doesn't know what his plans for the future are. He also says that he didn't even know who he was anymore. He was then slushied by Scott Cooper and the rest of the Hockey Team and he said, "Now I remember".

Will wakes up at Emma's side and attempts to kiss her, revealing the two are now in a relationship and living together. Later, in the choir room, Will tells the glee club that they will need to try much harder this year to win the 2012 National Championship. Will says that he will not allow anyone or anything to stand in their way of victory, admitting that he lost focus last year due to his Broadway dream. Mercedes says that because of Finn and Rachel's kiss during their performance last year, the New Directions are considered the "laughing stock of the show choir world." Will tells the kids that they will need to do everything they can to recruit new members this year, as they are already one member short of the required twelve due to departure of Quinn and Lauren from the group. The scene then cuts to Puck and Lauren in the school hallway, where Lauren tells him that the debacle at Nationals resulted in the glee club no longer being in her "cool factor," and she breaks up with him. Will tells the kids that all they need is some inspiration, and he brings in several pianos which have been donated by Al Motta. Will, who has painted the pianos purple, says that he will be placing these pianos randomly throughout the school. He challenges the kids to perform a musical number whenever they see one of them, in order to inspire others.


Kurt and Rachel sit in Emma's office, and Rachel tells her that she has an announcement to make. Emma assumes that Kurt and Rachel have started dating, comments that they "are the only couple the glee club hasn't tried," and hands them a pamphlet entitled "Me and My Hag." Kurt denies this, and Rachel explains that they have decided that they are both heading to Juilliard after the conclusion of this school year. Emma then tells them that Juilliard doesn't have a musical theater department, and that it might be better if they try to find a college closer to home in Ohio. Kurt and Rachel remain adamant that they are heading to New York, and Emma then gives them brochures for the New York Academy of the Dramatic Arts, or NYADA, the number one school in the nation for musical theater. However, Emma makes it clear that it is a very competitive college, and they only accept approximately twenty students each year. She tells them that the school holds regular mixers for prospective students, and that this year, that Midwest mixer is based in Ohio and one will be occurring later that week. Kurt and Rachel are excited to go and check out the competition.

Becky brings Sue the results of the latest political poll for the upcoming congressional election, in which Sue is in 9th place with 6% of the votes. With only two months left before the election, Sue sets out to appeal to more people by fighting against something. Becky suggest that she fight against toast, but Sue hears Tina and Mike playing "Chopsticks" on a purple piano outside her office. Annoyed, Sue destroys the piano with a large pair of scissors. She explains that she thought the song was "the national anthem of whatever country you're from." An elderly geometry teacher thanks Sue for her action and tells of her annoyance at artists. Sue makes this her position for the election.

While having coffee at The Lima Bean, Kurt gives Blaine one last sales pitch for transferring to McKinley. He jokes that he doesn't want to beat Blaine at Sectionals, but admits that he just wants to see Blaine more.

Quinn's red dye hair.jpg

Quinn walks down the halls of McKinley with her new look; pink hair, nose ring, and a tattoo of Ryan Seacrest. She is sure that she is not going back to what she was. Santana and Brittany try to get Quinn to rejoin the Cheerios, but Quinn declines, saying she has found new friends. Quinn has joined "The Skanks," a group of girls who spend their time smoking under the bleachers. Rachel attempts to confront her about her departure from the club and to persuade her to return, but ultimately has little success.

Sue records a new Sue's Corner in which she states her new vendetta against the arts in public schools. She promises to cut all arts programs from public schools in Western Ohio if she wins. Will and Emma are horrified as they watch this. Will goes into Figgins' office to confront Sue, but she promises to destroy him if he gets in her way.

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Sue appoints Becky and Santana as co-captains of the Cheerios, much to their dismay. She tells them to destroy the Glee club's purple pianos, and make it look like an accident. She also pointedly asks Santana which side she will be playing on, to which Santana replies, "Team Sue." In the lunchroom, all the New Directions members, with the exception of Rachel, are eating lunch. Rachel walks up and accuses them of ignoring the purple piano in the cafeteria. The kids are reluctant to do their recruitment number, but Finn eventually helps Rachel convince them, and they perform We Got the Beat. During the number, Sugar Motta can be seen while Puck does push-ups in front of her. When they are finished, the cafeteria is silent until Becky throws peas at them, and someone else throws spaghetti. Jacob yells "Food Fight!" and the cafeteria descends into chaos.

Back in the choir room, the glee members are a little depressed about their latest recruiting fiasco, but Sugar Motta, the daughter of the man who provided the pianos, comes to audition, saying she is "so much better" than them. However, she sings Big Spender so badly that even Mr. Schue is unsure about his policy of letting anyone into the club. The other members immediately reject her, because she will kill their chances in competition. Will talks to Coach Beiste, who advises him that he has to be prepared to crush a kid's dream if he wants his team to win.

Meanwhile, Rachel and Kurt are extremely confident of their success at the NYADA mixer. They perform Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead as practice for their performance which they believe will outdistance the other applicants.

Sue is holding Cheerios tryouts with Santana and Becky, and training them to be just as ruthless as she is. Will and Emma come in, Emma holding a video camera. Will "glitterbombs" Sue, saying that cutting the arts from public schools will only make things worse for students.

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Blaine meets Kurt at his locker, uncharacteristically out of his Dalton uniform. Kurt doesn't appear to notice his change in wardrobe until Blaine points it out. Kurt is overjoyed that Blaine will be coming to McKinley. He anxiously asks if Blaine did it for him, because that could cause problems for them, but Blaine assures him that he couldn't stand to be apart from the person he loves. As an audition song/purple piano project/introducing himself to McKinley, Blaine sings It's Not Unusual with the Cheerios doing background singing and dancing. During the number, Santana jumps up and dances with Blaine, seeming friendly, but then leads the Cheerios in dousing the purple piano with lighter fluid. Quinn then tosses her cigarette onto the piano, and it bursts into flames. Unlike when New Directions performed Empire State of Mind in season 2, the students appear to be watching Blaine and the Cheerios with interest.


Rachel and Kurt go to the NYADA social, and are confident that their performance will make the other applicants give up in despair. They are shocked to find that their competitors look like them, dress like them, and act like them. A student named Harmony introduces herself and says she has been acting since she was a fetus. Rachel and Kurt's confidence is shaken, but it is completely shattered when the NYADA applicants perform Anything Goes/Anything You Can Do.

Later on, they are in the car together crying, saying they have never been more humiliated in their lives. When once they thought they were uniquely talented, they have just met people exactly like them—only more talented and with more experience. It seems as if they are about to sink into depression, when Kurt decides to reassure Rachel. He says he will not let her give up, and that she will get into the school, because she wants it more than anyone else. Rachel is inspired by this, and even says that Kurt makes her want to be his boyfriend. She tells him that he too will get into the school. With their hope restored, they laugh and do a "gay high five" (a pinky link followed by spirit fingers).

Will tells Emma that he feels awful crushing a student's dream, but he knows that it is something he needs to do. He tells Sugar that she cannot sing and she will not be allowed into the Glee club. Angry, she walks away. Sue comes up to Will, and informs him that thanks to his glitterbombing, she has risen in popularity in the congressional polls.

You Can't Stop the Beat.jpg

New Directions welcomes Blaine into their club, but Finn reminds him that they are not the Warblers. The conversation turns to the piano being lit on fire during Blaine's performance. Will accuses Santana of being a traitor to the club, and bans her from glee.

Mercedes says that it was about time Santana got what she deserved. Rachel announces that she would like the glee club to do West Side Story as their musical, with her as Maria, of course. Kurt also announces that he is running for class president. Rachel then performs You Can't Stop the Beat with the rest of the club. Quinn can be seen watching, looking extremely envious of the club.


Song Title Original Artist Performer(s)
We Got the Beat The Go-Go's New Directions
Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead Cast of The Wizard of Oz
(Barbra Streisand and Harold Arlen version)
Rachel Berry and Kurt Hummel
It's Not Unusual Tom Jones Blaine Anderson with the Cheerios
Anything Goes/Anything You Can Do

Cast of Anything Goes/Annie Get Your Gun

Harmony with NYADA Hopefuls
You Can't Stop the Beat Cast of Hairspray New Directions

Unreleased Songs

Guest Cast

Guest Stars



  • From this episode onward, Lauren Potter (Becky) appears in the opening credits under "guest starring."
  • This episode marks the first time since Hell-O, 31 episodes prior, that all credited cast members appear.
  • Harmony and Rachel are both wearing the same 'Star' necklace in Anything Goes/Anything You Can Do.
  • All of the NYADA Hopefuls are clones of either Kurt or Rachel, and they all seem to be wearing bits and pieces of the characters' previous outfits.
  • As the filming of Harmony's scene occurred before the announcement of the winners of The Glee Project (due to Ryan Murphy having decided she suited the already-written role), special measures were taken to ensure that her presence in the episode wouldn't spoil the finale. As a result, Lindsay Pearce was rushed onto the set with a blanket over her head, and the FOX press release for this episode omitted her guest star credit.
  • In this episode, one person joins New Directions, two members resign, one member transfers out of McKinley, and one is kicked out of New Directions. Blaine joins after transferring to McKinley, Lauren and Quinn quit, Sam transfers to another out-of-state school (therefore leaving New Directions), and Santana is kicked out.
  • Harry Shum Jr. (Mike) and Darren Criss (Blaine) have been promoted to the main cast, while Jessalyn Gilsig (Terri) and Mike O'Malley (Burt) have been removed. O'Malley has been demoted back to a recurring character, while Gilsig left the show in Funeral (she made a guest appearance afterwards in Season Four episode Glee, Actually and the 2-part series finale 2009 and Dreams Come TrueChord Overstreet (another recurring guest star in Season 2) has also left the show, having decided to do so in order to dedicate himself to his music career. However, he returns in Hold on to Sixteen, remaining a recurring character, then he was promoted to the main cast for the rest of the show.
  • This is the first time that Tina doesn't sing an unreleased song in a first episode of a season.
  • This is the first time that Rachel doesn't sing a solo in the first episode of a season.
  • This episode marks the first time that a contestant from The Glee Project has been featured on Glee.
  • The word 'Gleeatch' is used in this episode. This word was originally said by Emily Vasquez, a contestant of The Glee Project, in TGP's episode finale, Glee-ality.
  • This is the first season premiere to not have a male singing in the shower. (Finn in Pilot for Season 1, Sam in Auditions for Season 2, and Brody in The New Rachel for Season 4). The second is in Season 5, and the third time is Season 6.
  • In Cory Monteith/Finn Hudson's Season Five tribute, The Quarterback, a picture of Finn and Rachel kissing in The Choir Room in this episode can be seen in Finn's room as Burt, Kurt and Carole sort through his belongings. 
  • This is the second time in a row that Rachel and Kurt have sung a duet revolving around the world of The Wizard of Oz/Wicked. The first time was in New York when they sang For Good together. 


  • While Blaine and Kurt are by Kurt's locker, Kurt has a book in his hands. While he and Blaine are walking down the hall he doesn't have a book, but when they hug, Kurt has the book in his hand again.
  • When Coach Beiste and Will are talking in the teacher's lounge at first Coach Beiste does not have any lipstick on then magically she has red lipstick on after Emma walks in and switches on and off in the clips following.
  • When Kurt and Rachel are in the car after the NYADA mixer its not raining outside of Rachel's window then suddenly it is raining and her window is wet. Then when you see Kurt's window it isn't raining out or wet despite Rachel's being drenched and hearing rain noises. Then in the next shot Kurt's window is suddenly wet.
  • During It's Not Unusual, the purple piano can still be heard near the end of the song. Despite the fact that the pianist playing it has mysteriously disappeared.


Jacob: Ooh, Brittany, what are your plans for the future?
Brittany: Wait. Are you working on a time machine, too?

Jacob and Brittany

I worked that song like a hooker pole.





Behind The Scenes - Glee - The Food Fight!


v - e - d

Glee Episodes

Season One
PilotShowmanceAcafellasPreggersThe Rhodes Not TakenVitamin DThrowdownMash-UpWheelsBalladHairographyMattressSectionalsHell-OThe Power of MadonnaHomeBad ReputationLaryngitisDream OnTheatricalityFunkJourney

Season Two
AuditionBritney/BrittanyGrilled CheesusDuetsThe Rocky Horror Glee ShowNever Been KissedThe SubstituteFurtSpecial EducationA Very Glee ChristmasThe Sue Sylvester ShuffleSilly Love SongsComebackBlame It on the AlcoholSexyOriginal SongA Night of NeglectBorn This WayRumoursProm QueenFuneralNew York

Season Three
The Purple Piano ProjectI Am UnicornAsian FPot o' GoldThe First TimeMash OffI Kissed a GirlHold on to SixteenExtraordinary Merry ChristmasYes/NoMichaelThe Spanish TeacherHeartOn My WayBig BrotherSaturday Night Glee-verDance with SomebodyChokeProm-asaurusPropsNationalsGoodbye

Season Four
The New RachelBritney 2.0MakeoverThe Break-UpThe Role You Were Born to PlayGleaseDynamic DuetsThanksgivingSwan SongGlee, ActuallySadie HawkinsNakedDivaI DoGirls (and Boys) on FilmFeudGuilty PleasuresShooting StarSweet DreamsLights OutWonder-fulAll or Nothing

Season Five
Love, Love, LoveTina in the Sky with DiamondsThe QuarterbackA Katy or A GagaThe End of TwerkMovin' OutPuppet MasterPreviously Unaired ChristmasFrenemiesTrioCity of Angels100New DirectionsNew New YorkBashTestedOpening NightThe Back-Up PlanOld Dog, New TricksThe Untitled Rachel Berry Project

Season Six
Loser Like MeHomecomingJagged Little TapestryThe Hurt Locker, Part OneThe Hurt Locker, Part TwoWhat the World Needs NowTransitioningA WeddingChild StarThe Rise and Fall of Sue SylvesterWe Built This Glee Club2009Dreams Come True