LifeMusic

Ballet Pianist – Again (2010)

Love playing RAD Grade 8. And next week's their exams. #fb on TwitpicI’m still receiving blog comments from my ballet pianist posts 2 years back, so I decided to blog again.

The search for ballet pianist has begun again after our other regular pianist who has played for 2 years is going to study music in Melbourne in June.

As I finished playing for this year’s ballet exam (my 10th year playing for exams), my teacher once again encouraged me to play on, as she received compliments from this year’s examiner, Jan Mills from Australia, about my playing.

I am still wondering why it’s so difficult to find pianists. Is it because the standard is too high for the school that I am playing? They prefer pianists that can improvise free music on-the-fly as the teacher creates exercises for the students on the spot. Is it because the pay is too low? Certainly the teachers wouldn’t mind paying as much as I am getting if the pianists are as good as me. Is it because there is a lack of an interest in the area of music accompaniment? It’s such a worldwide phenomenon that the RAD actually revised their Pre/Primary syllabus to include instrumental accompaniment that is allowable for exams. In fact, the instrumental CD is better than the piano transcription because it is more musically adequate to bring out the dance movements. The RAD also created an alternate music syllabus taken from the classical music genre to go with the existing Grades 1-5 dance syllabus in hope that more pianists who are less skilled can master the music.

I remember starting playing for ballet classes in Dec 1993. I remember I had a bad first class. The teacher required me to play for 3 grades, but I only could manage 1 grade. So the teacher asked me to operate the cassette player. 2 months later, she recommended me to play for another ballet teacher. So I went on, playing for years. Then over time, I tried improvising for free work in 1996, the time when I started composing music. Again, I remembered I struggled very hard, as I listened attentively to the teacher going through the dance steps with the students. I had to think on my feet what music style should I use, what melody should I create, what chord progression should I attempt. As the months go by, it got better. After all, everything is about practice.

So when do you want to start?

9 comments
  1. Anonymous

    hi, I am interested in piano accompanist positions and I would like to apply for a position as accompanist for a ballet school.

    I have a DipABRSM in piano performance and have accompanied in school musicals before. I have also been teaching piano for the past year and a half and would love to try something new.

    You can reach me at joycegan@hotmail.com

    Thank you and hope to hear from you soon!

  2. Anonymous

    Hi Chester! I couldnt help responding to your blogspot regarding ballet pianists. You see, i happen to be a professional pianist like yourself and just finished playing for RAD ballet students here in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Maybe u know the dance examiner, no other than Ms Prudence Bowen who at 68 is still teaching ballet. She has a studio in Queesland and is inviting me this year to visit her so i can see her protege students. Anyway, it was my second time to be a ballet pianist after many years of not playing for one (first time was in Sydney for an amateur ballet school). Honestly, it is challenging to be playing for ballet students but talk about the pieces……its like playing orchestral music transcribed to piano! In other words, some of the music is hard but i love the tunes. The books that i
    used are exclusively for RAD ballet students with composers like Mike Drinkwater and company
    So tell me, are you still based in Australia or have gone back to Singapore for good? keep in touch! Tell me if there are any vacancies for pianists in Sydney….i will be going there in December.

    CLAUDIA

  3. Anonymous

    Hi Chester! I am just wondering when Singapore is in such a shortage of Ballet Pianist,Kiddy!~ Personally i like your "Balletpianists Blog", which is with a sense of humor.Well,i am now a full-time Ballet pianist in Germany,before i worked with Hongkong Ballet for one season. After bing on stage as a professional ballet dancer for 7 years in China mainland, i decided to take up a new career as a Ballet pianist. For me it is really easy and enjoyable with the dancers in the studio. I also played RAD for once for friend's studio…Fun, anyway. Hereby i would like to build up a contact with you, if in the near future we can collaborate somehow.
    My Email:jayxu83@gmail.com
    Nice to know you!~

    all the best~

    Jay

  4. Anonymous

    hello! interesting post about ballet pianist here – i chanced upon it from Google as i was interested in gaining experience as one.

    i don't have prior experience as a ballet pianist, but i've completed my DipABRSM a couple years back in piano performance. i wonder how i may start gaining experience in this area?

    i would appreciate that if you could contact me at poohdinoy@gmail.com if you have any advice.. thank you 🙂

  5. James

    Hi there!

    I came across your blog whilst searching for piano related jobs in Singapore. I've just moved to Singapore from Australia to study acting, but previously I studied classical piano for 16 years, upto achieving my A.Mus.A in Piano, and have worked as a professional freelance pianist, accompanist, composer and arranger at home in Melbourne, Australia for the last four years.

    I have been discussing with friends here who teach dance about whether they need pianists for ballet classes. Prior to leaving for Singapore I was playing for a Dance School in Melbourne. I am adept at improvising and adapting existing music.

    If you know of any schools who need ballet accompanists on the weekend please do contact me! james@james-simpson.com.au

    Many thanks!

    James

  6. Unknown

    hi there…this is the first time i saw your blog….i was a ballet pianist since i was in secondary school for 3 years…last year i further my study and so i didnt manage myself to be the pianist for this year exam…now i would like to be a ballet pianist in Malaysia while i am waiting for the university accepting letter…

    do tell me if there is any vacancies for pianist in Malaysia….

    you can try to message me in facebook http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=797783193

    Thanks…n i love your blog very much..

    Shirleyn

  7. Anonymous

    Hi Chester, like many of the others, I stumbled upon your blog when I was googling 'singapore ballet accompanist'. I have just completed my Bachelor of Music with Honours in Australia and I am just curious what are the rates you are charging as a ballet accompanist. Can you contact me at beankurdt@gmail.com please? thank you very much! I'm quite a good sightreader and improviser btw 🙂 and I think the only way to hone these skills even more is to gain some field experience being ballet accompanist.

    Yiting

  8. Anonymous

    Hi Chester, I am currently looking to be a ballet accompanist as I wait to get into University this year. I've finished my grade 8 piano a few years ago and am currently taking the LTCL exam this year. And I've also got to mention that I'm not a Singaporean/PR if that bothers you in any way. I believe I'm pretty decent at sightreading but not so much at improvising. I hope to also improve on these skills as a ballet accompanist. If needed, please contact me at fire_team_charlie27@hotmail.com
    Thank-you very much!

    Ming-Xuan

  9. Eadelin

    Hi, I'm currently a pianist with the Singapore Ballet Academy; it started out as a post-'A' level job, but i continued with it over the past 2 years and am now seriously considering dropping out of University to make it my full time job. From the feedback I get, teachers like both the way I play the RAD syllabus and the improv that I produce.

    If you need my services, feel free to contact me!
    incendiarik@hotmail.com

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