Saturday, March 13, 2010

Freelancing and You

Many pianists balk at getting a church gig, usually for two reasons: sleep or skepticism. Preferring to sleep is always OK, but those claiming that religion 'isn't their thing' could stand to take a closer look at the gig. What many pianists don't realize is that a church job is just like any other piano job. For example, take playing for a church compared to playing for a voice lesson. Both situations have:
  • Guidebooks (the Bible or the Bernac)
  • Rituals that are odd to an uninitiated observer (whether reciting prayers as a group or beginning a lesson by hissing like a snake and making motorboat lip-buzz noises)
  • Deities and heroes (Jesus, Pavarotti or Kristin Chenoweth)
  • High dress codes (church has always been that way and so have voice teachers).
  • Standard repertoire (Hymns or the 24 Italian Hits)
  • Lectures on sins (lying and cheating or slouching and jaw tension)
  • Ultimate destinations (heaven, hell, the Met or Broadway)
A religious affiliation is not a prerequisite to church employment - only courtesy and professionalism. For a gig with minimal time commitment and a steady paycheck, it seems surprising that so many pianists opt against it. When you consider the indignities CP's sometimes put up with - constant pencil-theft, the no-shows, the Hindemith sonatas - sitting through a service isn't that demanding. The church is also another location where you can practice and rehearse, as well as recruit and teach students. Even better, you have a ready-made, very appreciative audience for test-runs of new repertoire, solo or collaborative. All in all, an easy source of income with some nice perks.

Or you can stick with the devil you know.

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