On Treating Your Pianist Like a Person…

Hi. My name is Rodney. I play piano. I am also a human being.

Actors so often walk into the room and forget that actual fact about the pianist. That person sitting behind that big scary machine is actually a human. And they will respond (usually) like a human.

I’ve had actors walk into the room and smile at the table and set their binder on the piano without even acknowledging my existence. They turn to the piano while looking into the mirror at themselves and open the book and talk directions at me, all without saying hello or looking at my face, and then snap a tempo at me and walk to the center of the room….like, how gross…

Yes, you the actor, you’re right. The pianist usually isn’t the most important person in the room. They’re usually not the music director of the show. They’re not the director, or casting, or assistant. But they are in the room and they do have the ability to talk to those important people about what just happened. That’s not a threat, it’s just the truth. Be a human and talk to a fellow human like a human. 

Walk in, yes say hello to the important people, then say hello to your accompanist, look them in the eye and say hello. Smile and be genial. If the accompanist is short and snappy and over it, don’t be offended, they’ve been playing “Life I Never Lead” or “Watch What Happens” or “Waving Through a Window” all day, give them a break. More often than not they’ll smile back at you and then you can continue on with your normal pre-audition interaction. Such a small step, such a major effect.

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