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Joined: Feb 2008
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I was hoping to get some advice on what is typically done when a pianist invites other instrumentalists to play with them for a college recital. Do you typically pay them or give them some type of gift. My daughter is having some of her friends play with her and they have spent a lot of time practicing with her. She has not played with them for their recitals but has been paid as a piano accompanist for other students that she did not know. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you!

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Please don't go by what I'm saying, because my college knowledge is 50 years out of date ha ....gulp -- yeah, that's how long it's been.... wow

From whatever I knew, I'd say no, they don't need to get paid. I'd guess that those people would just be glad and thrilled to have the chance to play in such a recital.

But maybe the best way for her to find out would be to ask any music professor who she knows at the school. If she has a piano teacher who's on the faculty, that person would be ideal; I'm guessing she doesn't, because then she probably would already have the answer.
If she doesn't particularly know anyone on the faculty, I would think she could still get a good answer by asking anyone who works in the office of the music department.

If this was at the time I was in school, I'm pretty sure the answer would have been no -- no need to think of paying them.
But in any event, nice of her and you to be thinking of it!!

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Hey folks, please don't let the only answer be from deep in the last millennium! grin

(I mean heck, I wasn't even sure how to spell that word....)

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bump.....

I know that some of you younger folk know something about this...
(and I'm interested to know too!)

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sorry--my knowledge is also from 50 years ago, but it's hard to believe that things have changed much.

I never had my own recital, but often played/sang in others'. Nobody offered money and I doubt I would have taken any, nor would I have asked others to pay me. And these pieces took some time to learn.

It was all based on relationships. This may not be doable if the music school is huge and the daughter is brand-new there, but still...

I was even asked to write a piece, and did so happily. For nothing but friendship.

Playing with others is part of the education, as is relationship building.

Sorry to say, but I would have looked askance at someone who asked to be paid, or worse, refused to play for free.

I did wonder how conducting students got a whole orchestra, but I knew some of the players and they didn't get paid.

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When I was a kid (a few millennia ago), I got together with others (a violinist and a pianist) to play duets. We were just playing for our own pleasure, so of course, no money or 'reward' was involved, nor did the thought ever crossed our minds.

However, we had a budding concert pianist in our midst (who subsequently won the Tchaikovsky Competition), and he formed a piano trio to play chamber concerts at our high school. The trio gave two concerts in which the public paid to attend - I especially remember a brilliant performance of Brahms's Piano Trio No.2. The concerts were organized to help raise funds to pay for the new Yamaha grand that replaced the upright in the school chapel, which doubled as a concert hall.

But even there, no money was involved among the young performers (all in their teens): they regarded playing in the trio as valuable learning experience for their intended career.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
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It differs from country to country. During my masters studies in the US (2012-2014), it was something like this: for chamber music projects or recitals (trios, quartets, quintets, etc), people mostly never offered or expected money. It was considered a learning experience for everyone, and if you played for someone's recital, you knew that you could count on them for your recital or for future projects. I did not offer money to people who played in my chamber music recital, although the time investment was a big one. But a semester later, I returned the favor- I played with the cellist for a competition and with the clarinettist for a sonata for his lessons. But I had made sure I chose people whom I would gladly play with again. No gifts were exchanged at the time.

For some reason, two-people projects were treated differently than chamber music. If two people were not friends, a student paid the other instrumentalist (usually the pianist) for exams, auditions, competitions, recordings. I paid a singer to record a pre-screening video with me and later to sing on an audition. It really depended on the relationship. If one was good friends with the person, or if one knew that one really wanted to work with them again, or if one was excited about the repertoire, one didn't pay or expect money. Is your daughter friends with those people? How did she come to ask them to play with her? It also depends on where you are in your studies- if a bachelor's degree student asked a busy DMA or AD student to play with them, they might expect to pay. One usually asked- some would say of course not, don't worry about it, and some would give their price (but again, this was mostly when only two people were involved, and mostly if it was not a friend). Which is why investing in good friendships and playing for other people goes a long way. A good friend of mine was on good terms with so many people that he was able to put together a small orchestra to play a Beethoven concerto with him conducting from the keyboard, as an individual project. He got everyone pizza afterwards. But everyone was happy to say yes. During my studies I was on a scholarship and was happy to play as much as I could for free, as long as I was excited about the repertoire and the partners I'm playing with. My strategy was going to as many recitals as possible of all other instruments and taking note of people whom I thought were good or that I would click with musically. Then I would go to this person and offer to sight-read together or to learn a sonata, and if things worked, I would later ask this person to play in a chamber music group with me. Some students and I started open sight-reading parties, which was also a good way of getting to know other instrumentalists, to make friends, and to know more about people's playing and attitude to music before committing to working with them on a time-consuming project.

Being from a different culture and not having done my bachelor's in the US, I didn't always understand the rules, though. For some reason, singers paid, but composition students didn't. It seemed to be quite expensive to be a voice student, because you were always paying pianists, but also quite difficult to be a composition student, because you were running around asking, sometimes begging, people to play your music. A cellist paid you to accompany a concerto, but sonatas were different- which makes sense. For groups larger than two people (e.g. trios, quartets, quintets), no money was involved as far as I knew.

In the university I'm in now, in Germany, almost no one offers money, not even for personal projects (recordings, auditions). Of course it's a different culture, and most students don't pay any tuition fees either. One also get "points" for projects one does (as long as a teacher can sign it), and a certain number of points has to be collected each semester, so people who need points gladly do things. But the favor is often expected to be returned in the near future, and almost everyone gets or expects some kind of gift after a recital- this is usually only symbolic and can be anything from a Lindt chocolate box to wine, tea, and gift cards. How you give the gift also shows appreciation. I am sometimes slightly offended when, after a recital, a singer says, "I forgot your gift (or didn't have time to get it), I will give it to you tomorrow" and then leaves me a chocolate box at the reception the next day- it makes it feel like a chore and an impersonal form of payment. On the other hand, I appreciate those who take the time to write a personal thank you card, even if they don't get anything. For my final recital last month, where I had five musical partners, I got each one of them a bag of traditional homemade cookies, a gift card to a local coffee shop that's popular among students, a small champagne bottle, and a mini Barenreiter staff notebook. And of course a thank you card. I also got a score volume for two who had given me more time and sang on longer, more demanding works.


"Love has to be the starting point- love of music. It is one of my firmest convictions that love always produces some knowledge, while knowledge only rarely produces something similar to love."
Arthur Schnabel

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ooops--gotta edit my response above--

when I said it was all based on relationships--I was asked to play by some people I didn't know, so there was no prior relationship, and played for free. There's no sense in asking for bad karma. Nobody ever asked if I wanted to be paid, and it didn't occur to me to ask for payment, I didn't think about it. Some of the things I played took me alot of time to learn and rehearse--all par for the course, grist for the mill, learning experiences. Good days.

I see now that it may be different in different countries, and maybe in different U.S. schools, or different situations from mine.


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