What advice would you give a piano student who wants to play and tour with a pop band?

07 May 2019
By Melanie Spanswick
Melanie Spanswick answers your questions every Tuesday.

Welcome to Q&A Tuesday with Melanie Spanswick! This is a brand-new series in which pianist, author, teacher and composer Melanie will tackle all your burning questions every Tuesday.

Our seventh question comes from Instagram. @sabrinakuenig asks:

What advice would you give a piano student who wants to play and tour with a pop band?

The advice for this question would differ depending on whether the musician in question wants to be part of the band or the star pop musician! Most musicians who want to work in the pop industry will start out developing their skills by forming their own pop band. They will have probably done this during their student days or even earlier. After which, success will depend on contacts and level of experience.

Many pop musicians, especially those who work as a band member in cover bands (for weddings etc.) start by registering with agents to let the industry know about them. It's relatively easy to find agents who book for low key gigs at hotels, parties, and the like, and they always need new groups. A number of bands will begin by working on cruise ships. There are several options here: you might be booked as a keyboard player who joins a ship band on a 3 or 6-month contract, or you might already be a member of a band and be booked as a group. This is an excellent way to gain experience. It's important to be able to play all styles of jazz, rock, and pop music if you want a job in this sector.

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My suggestion for anyone wanting success in the pop industry would be to seek out the best managers and agents and find a way to make contact with them (this is never easy). I used to teach the piano to a well-known pop producer and many of his acts (and these included Westlife and S Club 7), were stumbled upon by a chance meeting. Therefore, it would seem logical to perform as much as possible with the idea of making yourself visible. A good pop player will usually be spotted. Keep focused and motivated, and hopefully, the doors of opportunity will open after a while.

Head over to our Professional Advice page to see more advice from Melanie.

Join us next Tuesday for question 8.

Have you got a question you’d like to ask? Contact Ellie at [email protected].