Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Viewpoint: Piano performances

 repost from July 24, by Angela M. Kneale


Where can you find a guide to "ground rules" of being a pianist? Do audiences today and interested persons have any idea of how difficult the actual work is to arrange a song, write a show, improvise to the atmosphere, or even accompany someone on a demanding duo? And then, most people take pianists to be inept business people and "too nice" so they will often times, in person, jerk you around with the conditions of your participation. Once a collegue of mine at a non-profit school (who hated me and was a female over 300lbs heavier than me) tried forcing me to play a show without paying me a deposit for my time. She even left a twenty dollar check from someone I never met on the floor for me to pick up behind her. Needless to say, I showed up to the event and asked her for the deposit check (a minimum of $130 for back then) and she said no she didn't have money for me from any of her 40 students. I walked out refusing to play since they were prepared with a boom box and recordings they were familiar with. Mind that there was no rehearsal. Alot of people, even collegues will try to bend you out of shape by soaking your time and running you into poverty when you could work on something more financially solid or even fun.  If they aren't your favorite person, don't do it. I had a collegue violinist then of the Philadelphia Orchestra who brought a technically demanding, modern and rare piano accompaniment to me just for fun. We rehearsed it within a week. After the rehearsal she said to me "I gave this to you because I knew you could do it faster than anyone." I was happy to take the compliment and hear the piece aloud for the first time. Unless the person is appreciating your music and artistry, make sure you impress that you work for pay and aren't the "minority" to be walked all over. The general public doesn't "appreciate" (depreciates) such things unless they invest in it. If so, leave and find better people who will appreciate your musicianship.
Here are some general guidelines that the average Classical music professional follows as soloist:
allow minimum of 3 months time to book:
  • Piano concert (for some musicians up to 1 year) $3000+ per concert
  • Live music for a Wedding and commisioned Wedding march ($250 to $6000 average-- Special:                                   if you want a celebrity like Elton John you'll need much much more!)
  • Background music for Parties of 1.5hrs to 3 hrs max ($250-$600+)
  • Accompanist for an entire Broadway show already written (price varies- compare to accompanist price below)
  • Professional commissioned works range from $500-$16000+ on average (for 1min to 25 min. of music)
One week to 3 months
  • Accompanist Pianist- $130  to $500 per song/piece - 1 rehersal plus performance 
  • Soloist Pianist- $50- $100+ per classical solo piano  piece (ie., at a church service)
  • Piano Instructor- $20 to $500/hr - Many good studios and schools expect a student to pay tuition and commit for a Quarter up front. This spares the instructor accountant fees and the student, wasted lesson time to collect funds rather than learn. Usually @ $20 the student and/or teacher are still trying to memorize where the keys are on the instrument. $100+ is a teacher more dedicated to creating a high quality recording artist or live performer. 
Note: The above rates are not meant to be non-profit rates, where schools typically use your name/talent for a profit for themselves entirely.  Non-profit schools are financially worse to join than being a church musician. Church musicians have some financial exceptions in the United States. Concerts given at churches are usually supported by a "cover charge" ranging from $5 to $50+ for the evening's concert.
And, as an accompanist, don't feel "bad" for your vocalist. They can pay you. Vocal coach/teachers today charge on between $50 to $500/hr. Any decent recording quality professional vocal teacher/coach will be $200+.