Meri’s Musical Musings

Why it pays (sometimes literally!) to play the piano well

Posted on: October 29, 2011

It it often quoted in the music world that 80% of piano students quit lessons within the first two years, and most often within the first 6 months of study. It is also known that many piano students quit at the time they reach middle school or early high school. Some of them return to lessons later in life. But there are reasons why it pays, sometimes literally, to stick with it and learn to play the piano well!

First, students who play the piano well can be hired, sometimes paid for it, to play piano accompaniments for the school choir or the piano parts for students who study other instruments. The latter may at first be a few students at school or family who play other instruments; as they gain more experience, they can make $25-$40 an hour, depending on the going rate for professional accompanists, which they would be available as alternatives to people unwilling or unable to pay the fees of professional accompanists. Not only that, there are usually standard pieces that are played regularly at the different levels, so within a few years, it becomes a matter of polishing up the piano parts that were learned in the past.

Second, students who have fairly advanced study on the piano often do well in theory lessons, especially beyond the rudiments level.

Third, students who play the piano well can be hired by family or friends to play for various functions, usually weddings, if they can play at least a mid-intermediate versions of standard pieces requested at weddings. Occasionally they may be asked to play at funerals or dinner parties.

Fourth, IF there is high demand for piano teachers and insufficient supply (most likely to happen in small towns and small cities), teaching piano can pay significantly better than retail or fast food joints.

Fifth, if a student decides to study music after high school, and majors on another instrument, having piano training to a late intermediate or early advanced level almost always means an exemption from keyboard skills classes required of music majors at most places of study.

Sixth, for families that attend church, churches often hire guest musicians, and although they typically hire non-keyboard guest musicians, they will once in a while hire a young keyboard player who is playing very well for their age and length of study. Be prepared to audition for the music director, however.

The last reason that it is good to be able to play the piano well is that many churches hire pianists who can lead choirs and play the organ to serve as music directors for congregations. In many towns and cities, there are more positions available than there are people willing to take them, and the pay for music directors has substantially increased the past few years, and it’s very good pay for the amount of time worked per week.


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  • V V: Wish I had read this before I fell for their scheme ! Oh well - have posted my experience on Yelp and N49 and hoping others can avoid the pain of fal
  • clariniano: Thanks for the additional information. It was actually Yelp that deleted my reviews, because of so-called bias. I too have seen the horrible technique
  • No Thanks: Former Teacher at the Ontario Conservatory of Music I took lessons at the Ontario Conservatory and when I left for private lessons from another tea
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