Thursday, April 05, 2018

Do Freelance Pianists Need Secretarial Skills?

Photo by Fabrizio Verrecchia on Unsplash

Best of luck to everyone playing juries and recitals this spring! How do you feel about being required to do endless photocopying, printing, and collating of music in order to be prepared for your engagements? This anonymous comment from the Required and Preferred Skills posting gives a sense of the frustration that many of us feel:
This is an excellent list. It says nothing, however, about the classical skills that seem to be encroaching on our professional time and energy. I resent and refuse requests to print out, collate music sent via email from musicians seeking my collaboration. Please do likewise. I did not go to graduate school and work so hard learning to be a good musician to spend my professional time doing secretarial work.
I've always been okay with printing out stuff and putting it in binders. I have a particular way of hole-punching, taping, and organizing music in order to minimize page turns. In my freelancing years, I remember everyday-carrying a three-hole punch and tape on a regular basis so that I could collate pages in a hurry when I received a bunch of photocopies. Not everyone shares this view. 


  1. I am free of this after switching to an iPad and AirTurn! Now it's scanning and cropping...much less time-consuming, and I only carry my i-Pad and pedals!

  2. Goodness. The little items we whine about. I use my iPad Pro with an air turn and that’s all there is to it.

  3. Any time I have a pianist play for my students I copy, tape, hole punch, paying attention to page turns, and put them all in order in a binder. I know what a pain it is so I try to take care of all the details!!

  4. I agree with Ellen Johansen. It's a small thing, even without an iPad. Most importantly, not many can be trusted to copy and collate as awesomely as I do.

  5. I love it when someone hands me a binder of nice, clear, double-sided copies but taking care of this when they don't is just part of the job. I figure my job is to make things as easy as possible for the performer/director so don't mind doing this.

    In theory, if you're busy enough, you can do like many other professionals and hire a part-time administrative assistant to do this for you. (If I had one, I'd also have him/her manage my calendar...)