Ask the Readers: How Do You Deal with Playing in 30-Minute Time Slots for a 60-Minute Lesson?

When you’re starting out in the profession, one of the best ways to get a footing in a music school or community is to play as a studio pianist for voice lessons. There’s no surer method of meeting a lot of singers, learning rep, developing coaching techniques, and maintaining professional relationships that might lead to further work opportunities.

There are several ways that you can get paid for this type of work:

1. Salaried studio pianist paid by school (best)
2. Hourly, paid by the department
3. Hourly, paid by the voice teacher
4. Hourly, paid by the student

The problem is this: most lessons are 60 minutes long but as a pianist you’re only needed for 30. In a busy music school, you might realistically waste half your work time hanging out in hallways or in the student lounge. What’s worse, if the pay from the school is pro-rated, you might be offered a technically decent hourly wage, but only in half-hour increments every hour. If students are paying for their studio pianists, you might be competing with other pianists who are gladly willing to undercut your rate in order to get more work.

As a professional pianist, how do you deal with this? It’s great to get the experience playing for excellent young singers in the studio of an experienced voice teacher, but if you’re only making 30 minutes on the hour for pay, it might not be a viable long-term professional option. If the department or voice teacher setting the hourly rate lowballs you, you could either:

1. Accept the wage
2. Counter-offer and run the risk of being perceived as being greedy or (even worse) unprofessional
3. Decline and walk away

This is an issue that I’ve been getting some questions about for a while and is something that is on the minds of many working pianists. As always, your comments are welcome, and be aware that the conversation will be unfolding both in the comments here and on Facebook. If you wish to remain anonymous, comments on the blog are best.

from The Collaborative Piano Blog


Call for Pianists: Tapestry Opera’s New Opera 101 and Songbook VIII in May

Tapestry Opera’s artistic director Michael Mori informs me that there are still several spots left for pianists interested in participating in next month’s New Opera 101 and Songbook VIII program in Toronto. Participants can receive a full scholarship for the program and will have the opportunity to work with both Michael Mori and Topher Mokrzewski in rehearsals, master classes, and performances of arias and scenes in Tapestry’s repertory.

Here is the full schedule:

Workshop hours
Tuesday May 8, 9:30am-5pm masterclass
Wednesday May 9, 9-1pm Piano focused session
Wednesday May 9, 1pm-9pm masterclass
Thursday May 10, 3-5:30 Dress Rehearsal
Thursday May 10, 8-10 Concert #1
Friday May 11, 8-10 Concert #2
Saturday May 12, 4-5:30 Concert #3
Saturday May 12, 8-10 Concert #4 + Party with DJ 

Space and piano available for rehearsals
Monday April 30th 9am-6pm
Monday May 7th 9am -10pm
Wednesday May 9th 9am-1pm
Wednesday May 10th 9am-1pm
Friday May 12 1pm-5pm

If you’re interested, please contact Tapestry immediately so that you can get set up with the workshop.

Tapestry is coming off a massive high with the premiere of The Overcoat (its co-pro with Vancouver Opera) which just premiered in Toronto to rave reviews, so you can count on fairly hefty interest and attendance at the Songbook VIII performances. 

from The Collaborative Piano Blog

The Industrial Revolution and the Symphony

Tyler Cowan writes in Marginal Revolution how the symphony orchestra is as much a technological achievement as a cultural one, and its development happened in tandem with that of the Industrial Revolution:

I heard Mozart’s 39th symphony in concert last night, and it occurred to me (once again) that I also was witnessing one of mankind’s greatest technological achievements. Think about what went into the activity: each instrument, developed eventually to perfection and coordinated with the other instruments. The system of tuning and the underlying principles of the music. The acoustics of the music hall. The sheet music on paper and the musical notation. All of those features extremely well coordinated with the kind of compositional talent being produced in Central and Western Europe from say 1710 to 1920. And by the mid-18th century most of the key features of this system were in place and by the early 19th century they were more or less perfected. 

Sometimes I think of the Industrial Revolution as fundamentally a Cultural Revolution. The first instantiation of this Cultural Revolution maybe was the rise of early Renaissance Art in Italy and in the Low Countries. That too was based on a series of technological developments, including improved quality tempera paint, the development of oil painting, the resumption of bronze and marble techniques for sculpture, and the reintroduction of paper into Europe, which enabled artists’ sketches and drawings.

But the Industrial Revolution is over, and as we move to a more multicultural service and technology-oriented society, our cultural achievements change as well. How will orchestras and opera companies fit into this new paradigm?

from The Collaborative Piano Blog

Giving a Piano New Life

My wife Wendy Hatala Foley paints and she does it incredibly well. Over the last few months she has taken on several projects to paint old instruments which are no longer in any condition to be played, including several violins and cellos (stick around for a future post).

Several weeks back, the mother of several students that I teach asked Wendy if she might be interested in painting their old piano. All three of her kids had learned on this instrument, and although it had served them well for many years, was no longer in prime condition. Based on Wendy’s experience with painting violins and cellos, she was commissioned to paint something on their piano so that it could still remain meaningful to them, although in an entirely new way.

After approximately 20 coats of acrylic, what she came up with was something genuinely unique, and will give the instrument new life for years to come.

from The Collaborative Piano Blog

The Mayron Cole Piano Method is Now Available as Free Downloads

Respected piano pedagogue Mayron Cole upon her retirement has changed the name of her piano method to and is offering it for free on her website. The downloads for each level need to be accessed separately, but there are loads of supplemental materials that you could use in a variety of lesson situations.

from The Collaborative Piano Blog

The sad news of Livia Rev’s passing at 101

If there ever was a pianist who embraced a style of playing that was in the service of sculpted phrases, regardless of wrist-breaking rules, it was Livia Rev. Her playing had choreographic freedom as she responded to the here and now of music-making, crafting phrases with a thoughtful relationship to what unfolded, in the before and after time cosmos. This dual reflective dimension of her artistry synthesized with an understanding of physical flexibility and the singing tone, endowed her performances with a rich emotional and structural dimension.

I had discovered the Hungarian pianist’s artistry on You Tube where one particular video in her native tongue made an indelible impression. While the footage has since been removed from the pianist’s playlist, it memorialized Rev in her home, teaching a young adult student–gently pressing her right wrist atop the piano, plying it like a sponge.

With a lilting Hungarian voice of reassurance, Maestra Lev redirects the student to the keyboard, prompting her to create wave-like effusions with occasional deep dips of her wrist. It works beautifully, producing a musical landscape that’s flat-line-free.

A subsequent, well-preserved closeup video of Livia’s teaching is thankfully available for mentors and students to study. It fleshes out the pianist’s signature supple wrist/core-centered approach. (Rev’s physical prompts serve musical expression, and are NOT allied to a rigid didactic.)

Playing CZERNY:

Livia Rev’s performance of Czerny studies at age 93, (“Pris sur le vif, chez elle, en février 2010 première partie des cahiers de Czerny”) is emblematic of her undulating wrist motions-when-needed approach. They thread through interludes no. 2 and 3. (and well beyond)

If there’s a Eurythmics, music-is-motion revelation, it’s clearly suggested in the rendering of these tableaux. (Note that Rev, though born in Hungary, and having regaled a correspondence with Bela Bartok, relocated to France where she taught at the Université Musicale Internationale.)


Here’s Livia Rev’s artistry wrapped in the time-honored European tradition of soulful pianistic expression.

These Chopin performances date to 1957.


Liva Rev: A brief bio:(WIKI)

“Born in Budapest, Lívia Rév began her studies with Margit Varró and Klára Máthé. Aged nine, she won the Grand Prix des Enfants Prodiges. Aged twelve she performed with an orchestra. She studied with Leó Weiner and Arnold Székely at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, with Professor Robert Teichmüller at the Leipzig Conservatory, and with Paul Weingarten at the Vienna Conservatory, having left Hungary in 1946.

“Among Rév’s earliest recordings made around 1947 were a series of sixteen-inch radio transcription discs for the Standard Program Library. These included a virtuosic performance of Francis Poulenc’s Toccata. She performed across Europe, in Asia, Africa, and in the United States. She was a soloist with such conductors as Sir Adrian Boult, André Cluytens, Jascha Horenstein, Eugen Jochum, Josef Krips, Rafael Kubelík, Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, Constantin Silvestri and Walter Susskind.

“Her first United States appearance was in 1963 at the invitation of the Rockefeller Institute. Her recordings vary from complete Debussy Préludes, Chopin Nocturnes and Mendelssohn Songs without Words.

Personal life

“Rév lived in Paris, with her husband Pierre Aubé, until her death on 28 March 2018, at age 101.

“She was awarded the Ferenc Liszt International Record Grand Prix.”

R.I.P. Livia Rev

from Arioso7’s Blog (Shirley Kirsten)

Helen Hou in New York Magazine

Many of you know Helen Hou, a graduate of the Piano Accompanying and Chamber Music program at the Eastman School of Music a few years back. I still remember when Helen put her hand up in a workshop that I gave at Eastman and asked if I would be open to a redesign of the blog. The design on the blog that you’re looking at today is Helen’s work and I hope you agree that it has stood the test of time.

Helen’s passion for web design has blossomed into a major career, and she is now the lead developer for Word Press and director of open source initiatives at 10up. Helen was also recently featured on New Yorker Magazine’s The Strategist, where she talked about her favorite gadgets.

Ditto on the FitBit – I’m on my third. Not sure if I’m interested in the Nest Learning Thermostat, but I drooled at the thought of that 27-inch Acer display on an Ergotron desk converter.

from The Collaborative Piano Blog