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Topic: piano majors  (Read 1414 times)

Offline walking_encyclopedia

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piano majors
on: May 15, 2006, 06:06:50 PM
hey what are you guys's thoughts on a college piano major? is it worth it? i mean, making a living off piano as opposed to playing piano as something to do for fun.

i'm going to be a highschool senior next year and i can't decide. i'm crazy about piano but i've heard that it's impossible to make a living with piano. clarinet maybe but not piano.

maybe some of you that are majoring in piano performance in college could comment, as well as those of you who decided not to and those who have yet to decide like me

thanks!

Offline pianistimo

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Re: piano majors
Reply #1 on: May 15, 2006, 06:09:52 PM
clarinet maybe?  look, there's only one oboe concerto that i know of - and it's written by a baroque composer.  are you going to compose your own music, too?

as i see it - diversify.  get a double major.

Offline jason2711

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Re: piano majors
Reply #2 on: May 15, 2006, 08:49:27 PM
It depends what you're considering as earning a living.  If you want to be a concert performer (soloist), it's tough on any instrument, especially piano and clarinet.  Clarinet would allow you more opportunities to play in an orchestra, but it is one of the more oversubscribed orchestral instruments. 

As a teacher, a pianist would have better luck going freelance, whereas a clarinettist would have to work mostly with a school/ music board.  I think both instruments would be of a similar prosperity here.  Much more people learn the piano, which is both a good and a bad thing in this respect.

However, there are more varied opportunities outside of orchestral work with piano... accompaniment, backgroun function/restaurant music (a summer or two on board a cruise liner doesn't sound so bad :P) and the like (plus you could always turn to the pop/jazz spheres for work if you're not picky)

Both have interesting chamber music possibilities, piano duets, piano trios, accompanying groups in general v clarinet duets, woodwinds trios/quartets, wind quintets.

As for me, I've been going through a similar dilemma.  Playing piano and bassoon to roughly a similar standard (piano is higher, but I've got performance diplomas in both).  I know I'd have a much better chance getting a job with the bassoon (hell, I've almost been offered one with a local music centre next year), I don't think I could spend the rest of my life with it.  It would be much easier to get a stable income out of, but the piano is where my true music passion lies.  It is much easier to hold a piano recital than a bassoon one (let's face it, how many concert bassoon soloists are there about? ::)).  Saying that, there are a LOT more pianists.

For me, the issue is between studying piano (with bassoon second study) or doing a more scientific (and stable, in terms of jobs) degree such as medicine.  I would love to be a pianist, but the instability is the one thing that stops me from really going for it (as well as my parents ::))

Pianistimo... there are probably more oboe/ clarinet concertos than you know of.  How many bassoon concertos do you know?  I've played 5 myself (Vivaldi, who wrote about 20, Mozart, Hummel, Weber, Jacob), including one which I was lucky enough to play with my youth orchestra (Weber).  The only one that's ever really heard that much is the Mozart, but there are quite a number, and by relatively unobscure composers.

Offline krittyot

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Re: piano majors
Reply #3 on: May 16, 2006, 01:18:15 AM
In your case, it depends on how talented you are.

Becoming a piano teacher is quite respectable career as well.
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Offline pianistimo

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Re: piano majors
Reply #4 on: May 16, 2006, 01:35:07 AM
dear jason2711, i defer to your knowledge of instruments of the orchestra and the potential to make money teaching them or professionally playing.  maybe i have an elitest attitude toward piano that i shouldn't.  somehow it seems the more widely recognized - but maybe it's not the best.  just because it seems (seems) like there is more music written for it doesn't mean that there isn't music out there for many instruments and a wide variety of venues.

guess that whatever you have a passion for, you'll enjoy (and find music for) - but the problem has been for us in the past, self-employment.  that is definately a very hard road.  there are little to no benefits (health, insurance, etc) in usa. whereas when you have a typical job (medicine, whatever) you work for a large company that provides a lot of these services.  it's very VERY very VERY difficult to raise a family on a musicians income.  and, yet, that said - there are some really successful musicians that probably could afford to raise a family (though they are probably in their 30's -40's).  it just takes time and energy to get a career going and a lot of energy to do what is already done for you at an 8-5 job.  you end up doing a lot of UNPAID things simply because you love music.  it's fun and all - but it doesn't PAY THE BILLS.  that's the only sad thing. 

i think my parents were right, too, even though i went ahead and got the music degree.  i could have gotten both it and a nursing degree or anything else (interior design, whatever) and made a career of both.  funny, though - i had three children and have basically been either taking piano lessons myself, or teaching and raising three children. that's not a paid job either - but i love what i do.  i just couldn't afford to stay home one my income alone.  imo, if you make good money - you can have the luxury of one parent at home more with your children - and it's nice because the cost of childcare these days is really high too - and kids seems to prefer their parents anyway!  you know when each stage of development is happening, what's going on in their lives, and day to day stuff that always happens (say if they are sick - you don't have to call in and make a big deal of it - or always be looking for babysitters since they are not always reliable anyway).  and, homemade meals are healthier unless you want to spend a lot of money eating out.

guess that you have to analyze what lifestyle you want.  i knew i always wanted to have children even though i also wanted a piano career.  i've been taking it in little chunks and just going for it when i have the time (between kids in school).  it's hard to practice with a newborn baby - but when they are school age - it's much easier.  i'd like to see what kind of money is here in pa for music, myself.  ps i find practicing the piano a great stress reliever even when children are small.  it kind of helps you balance yourself and find time for yourself to do something in the evening apart from them.

Offline instromp

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Re: piano majors
Reply #5 on: May 16, 2006, 02:34:09 AM
Well im a sophomore in high school and ive decided to become a piano major myself ;D

From what my teacher told me,dont major in piano performance 1st, major in piano education since it gives you a degree in teaching which have knowledge and so on...I guees with that you could get a job at a unviversity or something and then go back have another major in piano performance.But im still undecided about that as i want to do piano performance first.Well thats my 2 cents

Instromp
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Offline kriskicksass

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Re: piano majors
Reply #6 on: May 16, 2006, 02:54:37 AM
I've never had anyone tell me not to get my teaching credentials along with my performance degree (which I intend to get along with a degree in Classics). All you need to make sure of is that you find a school where the teaching degree is as focused on performance as the actual performance degree. I'm in the middle of such a search right now, being a junior preparing to audition for college inthe fall, and the only such school I've found is Peabody. I really hope there are others that I might be able to actually get into.

Anyone know of any?

Offline walking_encyclopedia

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Re: piano majors
Reply #7 on: May 16, 2006, 02:59:29 AM
thanks for your replies. sorry i confused things; i was only using clarinet as an example and as a contrast against the extremely popular piano. I don't play clarinet.

i agree with pianistimo that it's hard to PAY THE BILLS while living on a musicians income but i'm starting to realize more and more that i would gladly give up an engineer's job of hunching over a computer all day and earning a fat paycheck to playing and teaching piano for my life and living on a pittance.

seriously it sounds weird but i'm starting to believe that i wouldn't care! maybe i should have my head examined.

and like krittyot said i probably would become a piano teacher. of course i would rather be a performer but there are so few that (as my piano teacher says) "make it".

how hard would it be to get a professorship at a university? and i wonder how much a piano professor would make?

just wonder if, if i did major in piano, when i graduated and started trying to scrape together enough money to pay my bills if i'd wake up to reality and wish i'd done something else.

i have too many questions  :)

thanx guys

Offline Tash

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Re: piano majors
Reply #8 on: May 16, 2006, 10:24:21 AM
man i'm a piano major and barely think about it- doing music ed so i'm more concerned with teaching than being able to play the piano super well. you could also just marry someone with a well-payed job and let them worry about it. uni professors are freaks, i love them all, have no idea what they get paid but i hardly think they make a huge profit (who makes a profit in (classical) music?!!)
'J'aime presque autant les images que la musique' Debussy
 

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