Play the Piano? Try Your Hand at Ballet Class Music

Play the Piano? Try Your Hand at Ballet Class Music

If you’re a piano player and a decent sight-reader and you’ve never had the opportunity to do anything with your musical talent, you might want to consider volunteering to play ballet class music for a ballet school in your area. Ballet class music is fun and easy to play and many schools will even pay a decent wage for your service once you become proficient at it.

First, you will need to understand the basics of the ballet class. Obviously, if you studied ballet at some point in your life that would help a lot, but it isn’t necessary.

The classes are fairly simple. They are divided into two main sections, barre and center. The barre exercises are all performed along the wall where the ballet barre is located, and these exercises focus on one muscle group or technique at a time. The center exercises are done across the ballet floor and are more similar to the classical ballet you might have seen.

If you visit a ballet studio and watch a class you will very quickly see how the classes are structured and what type of music is used for each exercise.

If you already know how to improvise you could dive right in and give it a try. Otherwise you should prepare a variety of selections in advance. You’ll need several waltzes, some quick selections in 4/4 time, rhythmic pieces and melodic ones.

If you like, you can use music books containing classical standards. Go through the books first and label the pieces according to different ballet exercises that each piece might fit. If you’re at a loss as to how to do that, buy a CD of ballet class music and listen to how the composer uses different tempos and styles for each exercise.

Take a blank sheet of paper, and draw several columns on it. In the first column, make a list of the ballet exercises for both barre and center. You’ll find them listed on the CD. In the second column put the tempo and time signature of the music. In the third column make a note about the character of the music and then use the fourth column to list pieces of music you can already play, that would fit each ballet exercise. Before long you’ll have a selection for every exercise and you’ll be ready to head out and play for your first ballet class.

It might seem a bit daunting to just walk into a ballet studio and announce that you want to offer your services. There’s a more graceful way to handle it. Call the studio and ask to speak to the owner. Explain that you would like to play for classes but you’ve never done it before.

You’ll be surprised at how receptive they will be. It’s difficult for ballet studios to find pianists and they will most likely even be willing to help you out with your training. Just ask if you can come in and show them what you have put together. Show them your chart and ask advice on how to improve it. You’ll be playing for a class before you know it.

You’ll find that becoming an expert at playing ballet class music provides a great way to get out and have some fun with your musical skills and help someone out at the same time.

Don Caron has been a Ballet Class Pianist for over 30 years. To receive free samples of Don Caron’s music visit his Ballet Class Music website.

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