What makes a city a great destination for piano players? It depends—are you looking for college, career, or performance opportunities? Maybe you are simply looking to take piano lessons with a fantastic teacher. Whatever your reason, there are nine cities that stand out when it comes to playing piano. Read on to find out what makes each unique.
The Northwest—a gray place that loves to pick itself up with music. Many incredible bands got their start in Portland, such as The Decemberists, The Dandy Warhols, and Everclear. Plus, there are tons of music festivals throughout the year, including one of the largest blues festivals in the country, and a lengthy list of amazing music venues and concert halls to check out. Whether you’re looking for an open mic night or other musicians to jam with, it’s easy to find musical groups and performers looking for keyboardists or piano players to join in.
Portland’s Northwest counterpart, Seattle, is well-known as the grunge capital of the U.S.—but it also boasts a bustling indie rock scene, home to record labels such as Sub Pop and Barsuk Records, as well as a growing underground hip-hop community. You can also find inspiration at one of the many jazz clubs, connect with other piano players via Meetup groups, and learn about music history at the iconic Experience Music Project museum. When you’re ready to take on the keys yourself, there are piano instructors waiting to teach you in just about every neighborhood!
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San Francisco, California
San Francisco is known for its counterculture scene, particularly in regard to the rock music of the 60s and 70s—think Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead. Now, the music scene is eclectic as ever, hosting everything from metal shows to world-renowned DJs to classical music at the San Francisco Symphony. With such a strong music scene, there’s no shortage of opportunities for playing piano at gigs and events, or finding a qualified piano teacher to learn from.
You might be saying, “huh?” at this point. Ohio? Cincinnati? For those interested in a strong education in piano, the University of Cincinnati has several programs for playing piano professionally. It also offers a strong music preparatory program for budding classical fans. A favorite summer course is the Art of Piano, a nationally-known program that helps students work toward piano playing excellence.
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is steeped in music. Its deep roots include jazz, blues, soul, bluegrass, and ragtime. You’re hard-pressed to find any nook or cranny in the city that doesn’t celebrate music and musicians! You can find street musicians playing piano and other instruments, well-known performers gracing the stages at the many music venues, and professionals available to teach you how to play in practically every style you’re interested in.
If you’ve ever watched the TV show Nashville, you know about the heavy country influence in this city. However, Nashville also boasts a vibrant scene for jazz, Christian pop and rock, and gospel music. Nashville has over 300 recording studios within 25 miles of the city, approximately 130 music publishers, more than 120 live music venues, and around 80 record labels. No wonder its official nickname is The Music City!
Want to play piano professionally? Berklee College of Music is one of the best music schools in the country, and is an excellent place to connect with other like-minded performers and composers, as well as learn about the business side of the industry. The Boston Conservatory is another great option, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in music, dance, and theater. Younger students can also take advantage of the many summer intensive programs to improve their skills. Bottom line, Boston has options for any type of piano playing interest!
New York, New York
It’s hard to find a city list involving music that doesn’t mention New York! The Big Apple pretty much has it all—Broadway, off-Broadway, Juilliard, performers looking for accompanists, and bands looking for new members all across town—it’s a world of music that operates 24/7. Artists, musicians, and actors flock to this land of inspiration and creativity.
The list of careers and opportunities to play piano is practically endless. There are concert pianists, accompanists for events, studio musicians, touring musicians, keyboardists, dueling piano players, teachers, professors, and many more possible paths to take. And that doesn’t even take into account those who are involved in degree programs, private lessons, or those who simply enjoy playing piano at home as a hobby. The chance to play piano presents itself everywhere—look around the next time you’re walking by a ballet class or attending church. Although these are some of the top cities for musicians, every town, city, and state is likely to have wonderful ways to play regularly if the piano is your calling.