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Play Piano in a Band

So you’ve already learned how to play the piano well enough to understand basic note structure, chords, and how to improvise, and you decide you want to take your piano playing to the next level and impress a large number of people, rather than just your friends and family. Is this possible? Very – there are many famous musicians who played piano along with a popular band. Many blues and jazz artists do this. So how do you begin to play piano in a band, and what do you need to know first? There are several things you have to figure out before beginning to play piano with a band. 

First, you need to know what style is your strongest. Are you best with blues, rock, jazz, gospel or new age music? Each of these styles have standard chord progressions and scale patterns that vary distinctly between them, and different emphasis on the piano itself. If you can play long, improvised solos, jazz or blues is usually a good area to go into. You then need to actually find a band that's looking for a pianist, or start your own. Many bands who look for pianists will advertise online on places like Craigslist. They’ll generally tell you what kind of pianist they’re looking for, as in what style, what level of experience, and other factors. Most bands looking for pianists will be blues or jazz bands, some gospel and new age groups do as well. You likely won’t find many rock bands looking for a pianist, because the piano would be drowned out by the other instruments. 

Once you’re in a band, then you have to organise practice schedules. If you’re playing piano, all of you will have to meet at a place where a piano is available, because it’s not exactly something you can carry around. You can meet at a club, a church (if they’re willing to let you) or your house if there’s availability and you have a piano at home. This also applies to where you’ll be able to perform. Bands that have piano players will usually perform in bars or clubs where there’s a piano.

They can also be guest performers at a church for religious services. 
You don’t have to stick with one band, either; you can perform as a pianist-for-hire, for whatever group may happen to need your services. To do this, you can post an ad online advertising yourself and offer to showcase your skills via an audition. 

Playing piano with a band also has the added benefit of you not having to worry about your instrument suffering the damage that comes from travel, like broken guitars, damaged amplifiers, cracked drums, etc. You can expect that the managers of the venue where you’re scheduled to play will have their piano in working order for when you arrive. Just in case, remind them to have the piano tuned, because like any instrument with strings, pianos can drift out of tune over time.

Next Lesson: Play Jazz PIano