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Joined: Jul 2009
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Don't misunderstand - I'm a hard-core amateur without any musical education. Throughout the years, however, I have made a few public performances - mostly as a accompanist. Either with solo voices or with choirs. In addition I have frequently played the organ for church services, and this is paid work here. During the last couple of years, however, I hardly had job at all, neither as an accompanist or an organist. One particular reason may be that I didn't play very well during a concert two years ago. This was with a choir, and some pretty prominent musicians from the local community present. Since then the choir has been using another pianist, in fact a professional, who definitely plays much better than me. When comes to the church services, the reason may be that the last few years three of the local organists retired. They are all merited and educated musicians, and I think that they are very glad to take the jobs when the working organists take a Sunday off. The few times I have been asked to play the last year are at locations far away, awkward to get to and with rather bad instruments.

So I'm actually experiencing that professionals take over even the "amateur jobs". I think that I get much of the same feeling as a professional musician who has to compete with others to get the few jobs available. For me, however, this is not a question of money, and I can imagine that the professionals have a much tougher life. It is sad to face the fact that you are not good enough, but after all it is not the end of the world.

Actually there are many advantages being an amateur. You are free to chose what music you work on, and you don't need to think about tough schedules and deadlines. But on the negative side you have the fact that you play only for yourself, and I think that most of us have a desire so share our music with others. Still I'm glad that I'm a non-professional. Competition is very hard today.

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I have sometimes been asked to fill in at church too, but I expect I won't be when someone better comes along. For a while we had a very skilled professional pianist who was generous in volunteering his time--I didn't play then!

If opportunities to share music do dry up, I think I'll get involved with an amateur group. Some places have established ones that meet periodically to play for and/or with each other. Or, one could start one's own piano/chamber music group--just need to find a few like-minded folks.


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Yes, Ganddalf, you are right. Have a look at the situation from the professionals' perspective: they worked so hard to become professional pianists and all they get is amateur jobs. I know why I did not study music.

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I'll add that I'm lucky to be in a church that is open to incidental music from amateurs during the service, even when a professional is doing the heavy lifting. So I can sometimes do a prelude or offertory if I have a piece that is appropriate to the theme of the day. This congregation loves the variety--but I know some churches are more formal.

We also have enough talented amateur performers that we have sometimes organized a concert outside the service, in an afternoon or evening. We've even raised some funds for the church that way.




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I emphasize with you entirely. I think my biggest problem is consistency, or more accurately, the lack of consistency. So sometimes I play really well, and sometimes not. And if someone's experience of my playing is the "not", then, well, skip that birthday party!

But I play anyway, like you. And occasionally I actually try to be more "on" each time I perform, and it does me good, and my audiences good, and maybe in the long run it'll "pay off" with a wider set of audiences.

But good for you for playing anyway and still playing out!


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Wow, I'm nowhere even close to ready to perform publicly in such a fashion. I could muster up 2-4 things I'm working now, but that's it. Reading sheet and performing church songs to be accompanied by a choir or other instruments? Forget it! Not for a very long time.


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Ganddalf, there may still be opportunities for you to perform for others. Retirement homes are usually eager to book musicians. And check out your local hospital. Here in Lexington, they have pianos in the lobbies of a couple of the medical centers, and they actively recruit volunteers to play regular shifts.

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Originally Posted by Ganddalf


So I'm actually experiencing that professionals take over even the "amateur jobs". I think that I get much of the same feeling as a professional musician who has to compete with others to get the few jobs available. For me, however, this is not a question of money, and I can imagine that the professionals have a much tougher life.

Knowing a few professional musicians myself, I'd never take on any performing job that pays, however little. I believe that they should all go to professionals who rely on them for their living, which I don't, as I already have a good full-time job which pays all my bills, and then some. Whereas the professional classical musicians I know would take on almost any job that pays, as long as the expense involved to get there isn't too high. Even if they have to play music they don't care for.

So, I'm not sure how you would define an 'amateur job' - after all, an amateur does things for the love of it, not for the money.....

I've done one or two subs - as accompanist - at short notice (as at last Christmas) when the regular pianist fell ill and they couldn't find a replacement, but otherwise, all my recitals are free and purely for my own interest (and hopefully, others' pleasure) and in a proselytizing role. Where I play now, there never used to be music (except during the annual concert by a local school, and at Christmas), only lectures; now, there are both, and the piano gets a regular tuning too. It's a win-win situation for everyone - I get to perform and 'promote' the cause of classical music, and I can play anything I like, while the educational lectures (not music-related) which take place immediately after my recitals get a bigger, more regular audience because some come specially to hear me play.


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"Real Musicians Have Day Gigs." What's left after the djs and digitals is chicken scraps. And, paradoxically, digital opened the door not only to the amateur, but also the tone deaf and rhythm free to put musicians out of business - to Uber them. Young people don't learn instruments, as they are horse and buggy to them. All they need is a laptop. Rap/Hip Hop is now #1, Spotify pays 1/1800 pennies per play, etc., blah. "This supports That," with "this" being day gig (law) and "That" being music. I'm not an amateur, I don't play music for free at ALL. And the most available gig is in the street, just like it all started. Pays well, too, but I'm looking for club and festival gigs as well. The former suck on money though, since young people play for peanuts or zip or, in LA, it's pay to play.


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I did the gigging musician thing for a few years, and will never do it again. I still play, and occasionally perform, but it's been for free for things like benefits or with church bands.

I don't know about the classical aspect, but I know with rock/pop it's a lot harder now. As mentioned with DJs and KJs and a growing 'pay to play' (for exposure) and new clubs being things like sports bars instead of dance clubs, it's just not really there.

I'll leave it to the young kids to figure it out. laugh

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I think that the professional musician I have in mind does the accompanist job for free. The choir in question can hardly afford to pay anything. This is probably the reason why they hired me over a 20 year period.

My main point is actually that I'm really glad that I don't need to fight for the jobs to earn for a living. This must be very tough, and I'm convinced that quite a few pretty good and well educated people experience that other musicians get the jobs before them.

My only reason for soaking and complaining is therefore that I get little opportunity to play for an audience any more. I got a few good ideas from the contributors of this thread. I'm definitely going to try to find other amateur players and see if we can arrange local events. And perhaps find a new vocalist to work with. Playing on retirement homes may also be something to think about.


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