On Becoming A Pianist that specializes in weddings

Sometimes I get questions from musicians and friends - "why do you do so many weddings?" I didn't set out to become a wedding musician, and to be honest I'm not sure anyone does.  

 

My musical background:

When I was a kid, I dreamed of being a concert pianist.  By the time I reached middle school, I was taking 2 and 3 lessons a week at 5:30 in the morning, and practicing 4 and 5 hours a a day.  My teacher wanted me to home school so that I could train.  Thankfully, my parents didn't follow this path.  They showed me a number of movies about concert and competition pianists that cracked under the pressure (remember "Shine"?) and helped me decide that such a life would not be for me.

 

In my early 20s, I discovered the joy and freedom of improvisation, and ended up pursuing a jazz studies degree. Jazz was a total re-training from the ground up and I spent another decade chasing after it. I had a scholarship to go get my Masters at San Diego State when I meet my wife and realized that I could either be a lonely musician or have a family!  

 

My Adult Domestication

So I stayed in St. Louis and got domesticated (married)!  Eventually I had a wife, kids and a home of my own.  Responsibility had called me during this process and I ended up working in corporate IT.  I actually did pretty well although I never was passionate about it.  Music always called me.

 

Enter Weddings

 

In 2007 or 2008, I made a little website for my music and just sort of "put it out there".  I started getting calls for weddings.   Initially, I didn't want to perform a wedding!  They made me nervous. I knew it was the most important moment in a couple's life and I didn't want to take the chance of messing it up! A persistent bride-to be finally convinced me to play at hers.

 

I had performed in front of large crowds for years and had no problem with public performance, but my first wedding gave me jitters like I hadn't experienced in a long time! Thankfully it went very well. After this I started getting more and more calls.  Eventually, I found that fielding calls and emails from brides, working with wedding coordinators, practicing new music and performing was becoming a full time job, and I had to make a decision.  In 2009 I left the corporate world and since then have made my living in various ways making music.  

 

Surprisingly, I love playing weddings.

So my answer to those who've asked - I do so many weddings because I love it. I get to meet so many people doing this, and I get to play in some of the most beautiful venues in St. Louis.    While I don't really get nervous anymore, I do find myself in a very highly focused mode when I'm performing wedding music that is different than any other situation. I love it.  It's fresh every time and never gets old and  I know that I'm participating in a moment that will be remembered for a lifetime! 

 

I know a number of fantastic musicians who won't touch wedding ceremonies because there's a certain level of stress involved.  Most events you get to just show up and play.  Weddings take a lot of coordination, communication, and practice, added to the fact that its the most important moment in someone's life.  

 

Below:

Jazz Dave (from the popular hip-hop jazz group of the 90's, Sky Bop Fly!)

vs. 

Domesticated Family Man and Wedding Pianist Extraordinaire! (circa 2016) 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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