(Possibly) searching for an assistant for a classical pianist
January 25, 2007 7:21 PM   Subscribe

Please help my wife weigh her options and possibly find someone to help her career as a classical pianist continue to progress.

My wife is a talented classical pianist in the early stages of her performing career. She's had considerable success, playing paid concerts all around the country. Her fee is steadily increasing, as well as the frequency of her concerts (15 concerts this spring alone!). This is all good news.

She's been paying a competent, experienced assistant (found miraculously on Craigslist) to help with the logistics (emailing presenters, writing lots of follow-ups, mailing press kits, negotiating fees, scheduling concerts, etc; otherwise, she'd have no time to practice). Her assistant has become suddenly ill and won't be able to work for at least 6 weeks, and possibly never. This leaves dozens of potential concerts up in the air, effectively cancelling at least one whole concert season, unless she finds (and trains) someone to take over the work, or does it herself. Either option would require more time than she currently has.

My wife pays her assistant hourly; her concert fees are still below the threshold where it would be worth someone's time to work for commission (though she's rapidly approaching it). As a result, my wife sets her assistant's priorities, who to contact when, etc.

Her assistant is really great, one in a million, and ideally, will make a full recovery and be back to work ASAP. In case that doesn't happen, she's weighing her options now. She doesn't like the idea of another Craigslist search, as it seems unlikely she'd get as lucky as before. A large agency wouldn't be a good fit for her, as they wouldn't pay much attention to the details of negotiations that are already underway; they'd be much more hands off, essentially waiting to be contacted by presenters.

Does anyone have direct experience with this sort of dilemma, or can anyone recommend either an experienced individual or a small agency to pick up smoothly where the assistant left off, in the event it becomes necessary? She has a full working database of contacts and prospects; it's not some chaotic maelstrom of loose ends, so it seems like it would be plausible and worth someone's time. Are there other possible solutions we haven't thought of? My wife's career is really going well and it would suck to put it on hold for a year or more because of logistics. We're in Boston but a solution wouldn't have to be local.

If you made it this far, thanks for your patience and help.
posted by sleevener to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If it still appears likely the assistant can return, and your wife wants to encourage that, then the issue seems to be to find some one who is at least competent to handling mailing, phone duties, and some promotion. Many office temp agencies could probably supply one or more persons to fill those roles, on an hourly basis. It might even be two persons, with different experience bases, such as an office clerical person for doing mailings and correspondence, and a telemarketer to chase presenters, and do the basics of opening negotiations for future dates.

I'd check with Manpower and other temp agencies in your area tomorrow morning, and if you have things as reasonably organized as it seems, and don't expect miracles, you may find that you can get temp help in place by Monday.
posted by paulsc at 9:34 PM on January 25, 2007

A couple of ideas -

1) Talk to a local university, preferably one with a strong music program. Get in touch with some piano students and see if any of them would be interested in this "gig" (on preview - uh, Boston. OK. I think that there might be a good school or two). This kind of thing would be great experience for someone hoping to eventually end up in your wife's position, and oftentimes college students have great people and networking skills.

2) MeFi Jobs? Seriously. It's worth a shot.
posted by rossination at 10:41 PM on January 25, 2007

Try asking grad students in musicology and theory programs. You need superb communication skills just as much as you need a solid musical background. Most music students don't have professional-level communication skills yet, but most grad-level scholars do.
posted by allterrainbrain at 3:02 AM on January 26, 2007

Have you tried asking the assistant for a recommendation? They know what the job entails best, and may know someone to fill the role.
posted by drezdn at 9:30 AM on January 26, 2007

How about a Virtual Assistant? Get Friday is a corporation that does this, or someone might know of independent folks.
posted by anitar at 2:26 PM on January 26, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks very much for the help, everyone. This gives us lots of good ideas. Much appreciated.
posted by sleevener at 4:21 PM on January 28, 2007

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