How to Be a Broadway Pianist

Becoming a Broadway pianist takes much practice.

Becoming a Broadway pianist takes much practice.

Broadway is the dream for many pianists. Getting to Broadway can be a challenge on a number of levels, however: It requires a thorough education, diverse experience, solid connections and luck. With this combination, you'll achieve your goal of playing piano on Broadway.

Complete your education. Obtain a bachelor's degree in music or musical performance. Focus on courses that will familiarize you with the music industry as well as those that will help you to compose original music and create your own musical scores. Overall, your education should provide you with a versatile set of skills, giving you multiple paths to Broadway.

Get experience. Any experience as a professional musician can be helpful, but you should focus on anything that lets you work with someone already familiar with Broadway. Theater work can familiarize you with Broadway requirements like playing the same music for six days in a row, and working as part of a band creates more exposure for you while giving you a more diverse resume.

Join the American Federation of Musicians, a collection of unions that will represent your interests, help you find agents and work and offer insurance for you and your piano. The fees vary by state. In New York, the annual fee is $210. By networking with the AFM and its members, you can obtain contact information for Broadway contractors.

Contact Broadway contractors. They'll inquire about your education and work experience and determine your suitability for a Broadway show. If they're interested, you'll likely have to audition in order to showcase your skills. Most auditions will be in New York; if you have the means, consider making that city your primary residence. This will make it easier to contact Broadway contractors and audition for performances.

Audition for the part. If possible, make yourself very familiar with the production before the audition and practice playing any and all songs from the work. You'll likely have the opportunity to play one song of your choice and then one or more songs of the producers' choice. Your ability to sight-read music is useful for this, because it showcases your capacity to dynamically respond to something new, a valuable skill for a Broadway pianist.

 

About the Author

Dr. Chris Snellgrove is a writing specialist, and a veteran of everything from a book-length dissertation to a newspaper editor's desk. He has produced work for academic, business, creative, and non-profit endeavors.

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