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Key Skills for Theatre Musicians

Last updated: 25 March 2021

A successful theatre musician will be able to sight read to a very high standard, play competently in all styles, be able to follow a Musical Director (MD) and, at the same time, keep an ear out for what is going on onstage. Being mindful to the changes that can happen on stage and being able to adapt to those changes is a key skill.

Be personable and friendly — it’s often in close quarters and confined band rooms and pits where time is spent with fellow musicians. Finally, be prepared to play the same notes in the same way eight times a week.

There is little scope for personal interpretation or improvisation. Theatre work is a discipline that may not be suitable for all musicians. However, it also provides security of engagement and a regular income which can last for decades if a show is very successful. Such reliable income streams are not common for musicians in the music business.