Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player

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Sometime in July, I concluded that, without a doubt, something needed to change about the way I book my own concerts.  Nothing was happening!

The Problem

After considering everything I could think of, including the thought that maybe people don’t like my playing, the reason became clear.  Many venues in which I’ve played are having financial problems that affect their ability to present concerts.

Since I have never received a grant directly, I was avoiding thoughts of the ways in which a sagging economy could affect my career.  Now it is clearer by the day that this affects all of us.


3 years ago, I was busy.  2 years ago, a large cathedral in Hartford changed its lunchtime concerts (lunch provided) to a brown bag series (bring your own).  This year the  series was cancelled entirely due to lack of funds.

Other venues have made big changes as well:

  • A library in NY was closed.
  • A series in Princeton, NJ, went local.
  • A series in Amherst is deciding whether to rebuild or replace their piano, saying it is no longer adequate for performances.

In addition, there are two CT venues which I contacted at the “wrong” time (their concerts are already booked for the season).  I will keep in touch and make sure to stay “on the list.”

Another series in Amherst decided to be “family friendly” this year, with a puppet show and an outdoor brass concert.  (A piano recital can be “family friendly!”)

Two venues in the Midwest are out because of board policy:

  • One series never asks anyone back (!)
  • The other series has people back after a minimum of 10 years (I have 6 to go)

I also called the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace and Federal Hall, both in NY.  The National Landmark Series used to have concerts in both places.  The concerts have been discontinued.  Too bad!  Both were fun places to play.

  • There is no longer a piano at Federal Hall.
  • I would be welcome to present my own concert at the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace, but would have to find my own audience.

With all of these answers coming back as “No” the cumulative effect hit me like a Mack truck.  Wham!  One or two “no’s” with a “call back next year” would be expected. But all of them?  Where could I perform?

Crisis Mode

For about a week, I was thinking about quitting.  If I can’t perform, what’s the point?  Playing for 4 walls just isn’t the same.

A Solution for Now

And then I came out of it.  I am rethinking my options.  For now, I will be performing in smaller venues.

And an Eye to the Future

I’m going to look into doing house concerts!  Arranging them will take a significant amount of work, but the concerts will be fun.  I have played two house concerts previously, and enjoyed the immediate connection with the audience in both.

I’ll start close to home, just to see how it goes.  After that, I’d love to do concerts from Massachusetts to California!

So, do you know anyone who lives in Nevada?

Look for additional posts about concerts, coming soon.

How is the economy affecting your ability to make music?  Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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