“How to be a good musical theatre pianist?“ Are they natural-born talents or simply hard-working? What are the necessary qualities and requirements?” Those are probably the most commonly asked questions of any amateur musical theatre pianists at the beginning of their career
But first things first, don’t confuse a theatre pianist with a classical or rock pianist as each type requires different skill sets! Apart from being super sensitive and flexible, a theater pianist often excels at reading signs and listening to rhythms. It’s neither about the ability to hit the right notes nor improvise effortlessly, but it’s all about playing exactly and remarkably what is asked!
Can’t wait to open the door to a new promising career? Let’s dive right in to unveil what’s beneath the glamorous cover of a successful musical theatre pianist!
Qualities of The Best Piano Players
Wondering what do all those legendary musical theatre pianists around the world have in common? If you take a closer look, you’ll find they share several prominent similarities. Let’s see if you have any chance to put one foot into the world of the greatest pianists through this small test!
Are you diligent enough?
Spending about 1 hour playing the piano and the rest laughing your head off at an episode of “Friends” can make you the greatest pianist of all time? Come on, guys, getting excelled at piano performance is not a bed of roses! You’ll definitely encounter a mountain of “thorns” along the way created to test your endurance and determination.
“What if I give up halfway?” That means the game is over before it has even started!
There is a saying, “Practice makes perfect” thus, you must ensure all other concerns are taken care of to focus 100% energy on piano practices.
Is detail-oriented a strength of yours?
It comes as no surprise to all of us that the best piano players have their “6th sense” to identify problems and flaws during their play, and effectively correct those mistakes by working their heart out! So, learn to pay attention to small details as they’ll make a big difference in the end.
Are you willing to be “supervised” 24/7?
You might think those extraordinary musical pianists, especially the natural-born ones, need no instructions to achieve greatness. That’s totally wrong! Behind every great artist is the shadow of an even greater instructor. Hence, working with prestigious pianists helps the future-to-be ones overcome obstacles and polish their skills.
And don’t be mistaken “supervised” with “robbing off your privacy”! It literally means “commitment,” commit to studying with your instructor, and not run scared after only 1 or 2 lessons.
Does the word “dedication” ever exist in your “dictionary”?
You may be blown away by the flawless performances of Beethoven or Chopin without seeing them breaking any sweat! But you’ve only scratched the surface as those “masterpieces” are the results of many years of dedication. Thus, the key to success is to refuse to give up and be consistent with your goal.
How To Be a Good Musical Theatre Pianist?
If your answer is “Yes” to most of the questions mentioned above, then congratulations as you and the piano are likely to be a match made in heaven! That’s not a bad start at all. Let’s jump right into the most exciting part – how to become the best musical theatre pianist that the world, or your family, has ever seen!
Sight-reading is a must
Sight-reading is the first skill that any pianist needs to master before achieving higher levels. Learn to sight-read requires hours of reading those you’ve probably never set eyes on before and resist the temptation of fixing anything. Try to keep up with every beat and develop the habit of reading several beats ahead before what you’re going to play.
Understand what is more important
A theatre pianist is often asked to push their limit and perform a surprisingly high number of notes. However, let’s ask yourself this question first: “Is this specific detail crucial for the performers to hear?”. It’s highly advisable to try imagining the complete “frame” of the musical and play what is necessary. Besides, improvisation is more than welcome during this process to spice up the play and show off your personalities.
Get familiar with various playing styles
That doesn’t mean you are forced to be an expert in every field, but learn to familiarize yourself with different styles, from jazz, rock, country to classical, and romantic music. Knowing a little bit of everything can assist a piano player in effortlessly combining various techniques and styles during his or her performance.
Be a good listener
You’ll likely perform in an orchestra that calls for efficient cooperation with other musicians. Since they don’t give a damn how talented or excellent you are with your piano, learn the art of listening attentively to blend in harmoniously with the musical
It’s not uncommon for a theatre pianist to be yelled at and scolded by other members in the band during a rehearsal. The reasons are diverse: “You’re playing too fast” or “that note’s too high.” In these cases, becoming hot-tempered and easily offended only worsen the situation. Instead, take a deep breath, smile like a pageant, and say: “Sorry, I will fix it.” Remember that those complaints don’t aim to upset or humiliate you, people are just so stressed sometimes!
Pay attention to every detail
Having negligent and unfocused theatre pianists in a band is a waste of time as they have no idea what’s going on most of the time! Thus, one advice to prevent yourself from being kicked out of a musical play is to get ready whenever called upon.
There is no such thing called “a shortcut” to the path of becoming an excellent musical theatre pianist. It’s a lifelong process that prioritizes flexibility, creative thinking, hard work, and dedication.
We do hope that after reading our article until the very end, now you are able to draft the first career map to reach your dream. Wish you all the best and take care for now!