If you’re looking to earn extra money over the summer, it may be time to consider putting your skills as a pianist to good use. With a little imagination and the right network, you can find several piano jobs that will give you a taste of what it’s like to earn a living as a musician.
Teaching Private Lessons
Are you an intermediate- to advanced-level pianist? Do you like showing friends and family how to play songs or piano exercises? The summer is the perfect time to try your hand at teaching! You can start small – if you know of any younger family friends or siblings of friends that are interested in learning piano, consider teaching pro bono or for a small fee. As you become more experienced, you can try advertising locally or listing your services on TakeLessons.com. Teaching will not only help you pass the gift of playing the piano onto others, but it can show you a great deal about your own development as a pianist and musician – you may even discover you have a real aptitude for it!
Teaching at a Music Summer School
The main teaching positions at summer schools, camps, and music programs will be filled by experienced, professional teachers. However, there is often a marked shortage of student accompanists and repetiteurs, as well as junior members of teaching staff. Look for summer schools both home and abroad, and think about maximizing your chances of acceptance by applying with a singer or instrumentalist to form a duo partnership, especially if there is a large chamber music element to the course. Some summer schools offer generous scholarships for student pianists to attend, so you may find that in the short term, this is a more of an investment in your future as a musician rather than an addition to your list of piano jobs.
Playing at Weddings
More couples choose the summer months to get married than any other time of year. Performing at weddings can be one of the most lucrative piano jobs for a reasonably advanced student, and once you play your first, it’s easy for word to spread about your skills! To prepare for this kind of piano job, spend time practicing both religious and secular works that are popular at weddings. Also, make sure that you know works such as Ave Maria – for which you may be asked to accompany a singer – in several keys, as there’s nothing worse than mastering your part in C major, then suddenly needing to play in five flats to accommodate the singer! Ask local bridal shops or churches if you can advertise your services or if they can recommend you to brides-to-be, and make sure that popular local wedding venues are aware that you are available to play.
Playing at a Restaurant or Hotel
Although this is traditionally a job for a professional pianist, you may be able to step in on occasion for a regular artist during the summer season. It’s likely that your own piano teacher does this kind of work during holiday season, so it’s worth asking them if you could step in from time to time, on quieter evenings, or perhaps to do a short set of your own during their regular stint. This isn’t one of those piano jobs where you can practice your Bach preludes, so be prepared with a repertoire of Broadway hits, jazz standards, and classic pop to cater to a wide range of tastes.
Working on a Cruise Ship
Possibly the pinnacle of all summer piano jobs, this really is the preserve of the college-level student or young professional. This is much more than just a side job, as you’ll be residing on the ship for the majority of the season. Again, you will need to know a wide repertoire of popular material, and don’t be surprised if you’re also asked for the classics for background music.
If you’re taking your piano lessons seriously and working toward a career in music, make sure your teacher is aware of your goals. He or she likely has spent many years in exactly the same position as you, and will have valuable advice to give. And don’t forget – everyone starts small. Don’t be above playing open mic nights for a while to get your foot in the door somewhere. Most of all, enjoy the journey!