Sunday, April 27, 2014

Collaborative Pianists and Professionalism: A Passionate Rant

And in this crazy life, you are my everything.
alonefortherideily / cc
Earlier today, Vancouver-based pianist Karen Lee-Morlang posted this wonderful, perceptive rant on Facebook:
Dear fellow collaborative pianist:

You are a very good piano player. I hear it, and often enjoy listening to you play so well. You also seem to like it that everyone around you acknowledges that you are good. That's fine. You deserve recognition for your hard-earned skill! Unfortunately, you have also decided that everyone around you must also await for your presence with bated breath...including showing up regularly to festivals and performances 15 minutes late (or more), making your singers or instrumentalists fret, worry and be even more nervous. You finally arrive, and state imperiously, "didn't you all receive my text messages", as if, planning on being late while you're playing for other clients, makes it OK that you over-booked and are late for the performance itself, and have kept the adjudicators, performers and other collaborative pianists waiting. Other people, who have respectfully, arrived on time (or even, gasp, 10-15 or 30 minutes early). Sometimes, because your schedule is so much more important, you make sure that your performer gets to be shuffled to the beginning of the section in spite of the printed order, just so that you can leave immediately after playing. You have regularly cancelled last minute in order to take a better, more prestigious or higher paying gig....and your colleagues are getting calls and emails from stressed out performers to help pick up the pieces. What can I say? I think it's awesome that us pianists are apparently so valuable that for some reason people still put up with your behavior. However, you do set up the expectation (with some less experienced parents, young musicians and even teachers) that it is the norm for collaborative pianists to behave like this. I have worked 10+ years to assure them that it's NOT, and then usually pass on a nice long list of pianists that I personally can recommend as RELIABLE, RESPECTFUL and great at their jobs. Sadly you're not on this list. I hope that you one day you will finally grow up and remember why we're called COLLABORATIVE PIANISTS.

Sincerely yours,

Karen LM (a pianist who truly loves collaborating)
Well said, Karen! One of the tricky things about maintaining professionalism in the musical world is that regardless of what your abilities or status might be in the field, everybody judges you based on the same criteria. That's a critical and sometimes tough thing to learn at any age, whether you're just beginning in the field or a seasoned veteran.

Karen also wanted me to mention this:
Every client that you decide to take on matters, from the youngest to oldest, and deserves have a good experience too.

Let us keep that in mind as we head into the conclusion of the concert season and academic year.

1 comment:

  1. A very good, deep and interesting opinion, thanks for sharing it with us. Maybe you are right about us piano guys, but We and especially me always wait and hope that people will hear us.