How I Ended Up Being a Collaborative Pianist

A conversation with a fellow collaborative pianist the other day got me thinking how I ended being a collaborative pianist for a living.

I believe my first accompanying experience was in third grade, when I made a cassette tape recording of the ’80s hit, “That’s What Friends Are For,” with my classmate’s mom. For real.

When my younger sister began violin lessons, I was her pianist for recitals and competitions.

In middle school, I was the accompanist for the Chorale, an auditioned, all-girls ensemble.

In high school I was the accompanist for the studio of a local violin teacher — my first paying gig! I also studied chamber music at Juilliard and Aspen.

In college I accompanied weekly lessons, juries, and recitals for several singers and violinists, was active in the chamber music program, and was the pianist for Vocal Repertoire and Performance class. At one point the faculty expressed concern that I had exceeded the course credit limit for music performance. I also played for the studio of a local flute teacher.

In light of my musical history, my current career shouldn’t be surprising. I’ve always enjoyed making music with others more than making music alone. Still, if you had asked me five years ago what I’d be doing today, I definitely would not have answered, “Being a pianist.”

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