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What Not To Say To A Pianist

March 24, 2012

Ah, it’s time for the yearly insults from people at church!  Our schools’ solo competitions are coming up and I’m getting these phone calls:

“Hi!  Will you play for me for the solo competition?  If I use the accompanist my teacher suggested, I have to pay $30 so I thought I would ask you.”

NO!

NO NO NO NO NO!!!!!!

I will play for your baptism for free.

I will accompany you at church for free.

I will play for all other church related activites for free.

But when you act like I owe it to you to play for free ON A SATURDAY and practice with you in my “spare” time, what you’re really saying is that I’m not a real accompanist.  You’re saying I’m not worth paying for.  You’re saying I have nothing better to do than wait until the day before to hear what time you are singing and squeeze in time to practice with you.

How about this?  “We are having a really hard time financially and I was wondering if you would play for me for my solo competition if I babysit your kids or bring you a meal?  What could I do for you?  You are a great pianist and I would love to have you play for me.”

These phone calls make me want to scream.  I wanted to say, “That guy charges $30 but I charge $50.  You should go with him.”

I can’t imagine telling a person in any field that I thought I would ask them to help because I would have to pay someone else.  I love you, my fellow Mormons, but don’t do this to people and learn when it’s appropriate to ask for freebies!  Do you have any idea what happens?  If I play for one person for free, the word spreads and then I have ten people wanting me to play for free!  If I say no, then I hear, “But you’re playing for so and so…..”

You know what?  Do some babysitting like I did.  I paid for my accompanists.  Girls around here can charge up to $7 an hour.  Five hours of babysitting will get you an accompanist.  If you don’t want to spend your money on it, then maybe you should evaluate how badly you want to be a singer.  This especially applies if your entire family just went to Disneyland, had your house remodeled, your parents went to Hawaii, you just bought a brand new car, and you and your siblings receive birthday gifts like trips to Universal Studios!  Do not tell me you can’t afford $30!

Chances are, I will rant about this every year.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 24, 2012 6:18 pm

    Ha ha you make me laugh. This is a great one. I grew up with a free accompanist (my mother – she’s one of the best) and one of my roommates accompanied me for free (she wanted the experience) my freshman year at college, so when I finally had to HIRE an accompanist it was a little weird. I KNEW it was the “normal” thing (to pay an accompanist) but it still felt weird at first.

    I have the same problem as a math tutor – the PARENTS of kids in the ward want me to help their kids with math for free… However, I am always willing to work out trades (one family lends me my pick of their kids for free babysitting basically whenever I need it!)

    nice rant. I have to share it with my mom :)

    • March 24, 2012 6:33 pm

      Thanks, Becca! I love your comments and I knew someone out there could appreciate my pain. :-D I have done trades with people too – friends who sang and play the piano. It worked out great. I just don’t understand this philosophy that if you’re Mormon, you do everything for other Mormons for free. Um, what if 99% of people in the area are Mormon? How would anyone make a living?

  2. March 25, 2012 7:22 am

    That was a good laugh, thanks for sharing! I do feel your pain, although the culture of “Freebies” isn’t as ingrained in Australia as it is in the US.

    I’ve got an idea for you. Each time you agree to play the piano for free (for the list of legitimate occasions you describe), make sure you mention that you are doing it “because you love playing the piano, have the time to practice, and feel like playing on that particular day.” Then, when they come for a freebie outside of these occasions, you can say: “I do enjoy playing the piano, but I don’t have time to practice, and I don’t feel like playing on that day.”

  3. March 25, 2012 1:02 pm

    Haha! That’s great Nicolas. As I started to tell this girl about not being available for no charge, she said, “Aren’t you playing for so and so?” “Yes, and I’m her voice teacher. Her parents pay me.”

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