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.
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.
Jazz Dave (from the popular hip-hop jazz group of the 90's, Sky Bop Fly!)
Domesticated Family Man and Wedding Pianist Extraordinaire! (circa 2016)