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The Pollini Project – charting the development of piano music from Bach to Boulez

Maurizio Pollini, appearing as part of the International Piano Series at London’s South Bank, will perform five recitals between January and May of music from Bach to modernism, described as “personal journey through four centuries of piano repertoire”. Read more >>

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Author Topic: Being a Professional Pianist  (Read 305 times)
esoteric
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« on: August 18, 2017, 06:03:04 PM »

What's it like? I am considering entering this field (not really sure what else to do; piano is a passion of mine so I figure why not make it a profession too), and would like some feedback from those already in it.

Thanks!
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rachmaninoff_forever
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« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2017, 07:30:11 PM »

What kind?

Professionals accompanist? Teacher?  Superstar like Kissin and everyone else?  None of the above or all of the above?
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esoteric
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« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2017, 10:08:24 AM »

Hi,

Ideally a solo pianist I think
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vaniii
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« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2017, 01:02:43 PM »

Hi,

Ideally a solo pianist I think

I would need more information to answer that in a detailed manner, but I can give you a general idea.

Generally speaking, breaking out as a Solo pianist in the traditional sense is extremely difficult.  By traditional sense, I mean as a household named concert pianist.

Without intending to deter you, if you have not been performing regularly, developing a name, reputation and portfolio, this will be extremely difficult.

It is miss leading to think of being a solo concert pianist as a profession; simply put, Pianists are not made, they are bread. 

There was an interview by Melanie Spanswick with Vanessa Latarche (Head of Keyboard at RCM), discussing how the world has changed musically for Piano over the twentieth century, and now into the twenty-first. 

She was asked, what are you looking for when a young student comes for an audition:

https://youtu.be/pau1mdKVVm4?t=14m50s

She simply states:

“Potential … now, how do you judge that?”
“[It’s] Really Hard!”
“I have thought about that long and hard for many, many years.”
“I still sit in an audition, and think, goodness me, how far are they doing to go.”

She continues:

“Of course, however, we are looking for at least a basic level of foundation”

Meaning at least fundamental competency.

If you have not developed at least a fundamental technique by your teenage years, it is unlikely that you will be able to make a career as a solo pianist.  Unlikely, not impossible.

There are alternatives; the typical image conjured when a person says concert pianist makes up 1% of the professional concert pianists out there.

They are considered ivory tower musicians.  The other 99% are the musicians who work as accompanists, teachers, musical directors, the key point is versatility.

There is nothing wrong with doing something else to make money, and being a concert pianist when the opportunity arises. 

To answer you needs and question specifically:

How old are you?
What country do you live in?
Have you studied at pre-graduate, undergraduate or post-graduate levels?
Why do you want to be a concert pianist?
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esoteric
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« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2017, 02:20:59 PM »

Thank you for that illuminating information vaniii.

As for your questions, I am 19 years of age, live in the UK, have not yet studied musically, and want to become a pianist because I have no other ideas and piano was a passion of mine in former years.
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lostinidlewonder
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« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2017, 02:46:53 PM »

You want to be a solo pianist as a profession? Do you really know how much work this requires? Go try to organise a piano solo concert right now and see how you go. Don't dream of winning large competitions to get fast tracked into a performance career. If you want to build your career as a soloist you better start now, it's hard work, I'd say do something else because a passion for piano will not get you far enough, not even an inch of the way.

You have to travel constantly, you have to be a good businessman/woman you have to know how to sell, set up and manage concerts yourself, you need to have very strong people skills, you need to have a large repertoire, you need to offer a product that people didnt know that they needed otherwise why would they bother going to see you perform? It is not about just playing the piano, it is a lot more about business.

My advice, go and do something else, dont even bother trying. If you are stubborn enough or have a great amount of hunger to do it all you wont listen to me, I suspect you don't have what it takes because you are asking here and not getting busy doing it.
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