Out of all careers, we don’t always hear enough about the role of piano players and how well such a job works as a career reinvention. For those who’ve worked at a company for years and just now found themselves a victim of downsizing, is it possible to utilize old musical skills and turn it into a career that’s sustainable? It can be, and the competition may not be as significant as you think based on far too many thinking it’s a dead-end path. But if you’re going into it for the first time, what should you expect in the surroundings where you’ll be playing?
Once you have some time to get your musical skills back in order, the professional opportunities are wider than you think.
Assimilating Hundreds of Songs to Memory
If you have a natural ability to play by ear and took the time to assimilate hundreds of songs while working elsewhere, you’ll have an advantage over others. While some working pianists may think that they’ll never be employed if they don’t memorize a thousand songs, that isn’t necessarily the case. You can apply your musical skills in other areas beyond just playing solo and taking requests. Nevertheless, the more songs you know and can play at will can open more opportunities for you to keep employment sustained.
I’ve done some performing publicly as a piano player, and I didn’t even have the ability to play songs from memory for a long time. Since then, I’ve suddenly developed the ability to instantly play from a huge bank of memorized songs based strictly on memorizing as many songs as possible over a number of years. It proves that some people are able to develop this skill later if starting a late-blooming music career.
All those years you listened to every song ever written on your iPod while working may be your new moneymaker from your subconscious.
Types of Piano Jobs Available
For those who want to play for tips in public places, your best bet is playing in a hotel or restaurant. These can sometimes be found in your local town or city by simply visiting them in person and passing on your business card. While they may be employing someone now, pianists in those places come and go. Give the hotel or restaurant your number so they’ll call you first when they need someone new.
Your chances obviously improve if you move to bigger cities across the country, especially in New York City. In the Big Apple, hundreds of piano playing jobs are usually available every week, despite competition being fiercer there.
These piano jobs are a good place to start so you can gain a solid reputation for jumpstarting you into more significant opportunities. Just remember that the dress code is usually going to mean wearing suits or even tuxedos since pianists are hired to add class to hotels and restaurants. Be sure to pick a tux that’s comfortable while you play since you’ll never be seen in a hotel or restaurant playing in casual clothes.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics points out that most musicians are making an average of $23.50 an hour as of 2012. For a new job replacing your old one, that’s more than good pay. As your reputation increases, you can move on to better jobs, even if having a successful solo recording career as a pianist has become extremely rare. Regardless, you can work as an accompanist for both obscure to famous singers. Even Broadway and touring stage shows still hire live musicians that allow for extended employment.
Other times, you may do temp jobs as fill-ins for bands or live musicians playing the pit for stage shows. If you get bored easily, jumping around to various jobs can help give you a new career that could be a real lifesaver if you’re looking to reinvent your working life out of necessity.