Allen Youngblood Allen has been a professional jazz pianist, composer and teacher for over 25 years. He has travelled across America and Asia for performances and has recorded three original CDs in Hong Kong. What qualifications do you need? You need to be able to read music. It's difficult to say what grade you need to reach to take on this occupation because some people don't take lessons but learn on their own and still become professional pianists. You need ability and hands-on experience. What sort of person does the job suit? Versatility is key. You need to be able to play different types of music from classical to R & B to jazz and whatever is needed in live performances. You need dedication. What's the best way into the industry? Meet people in the industry. Take the opportunity to go and see people play live. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Work on your own skills. Invest in CDs and listen to the type of music you eventually want to play. What work hours do you keep? On average, four hours a day, six days a week. Is there a clear career path? Yes! As a professional pianist, you give live performances, work in studios, and compose music. You may also need to promote the art by teaching music. What's the best part of your job? I can creatively express myself everyday and have fun. I get to travel a lot, constantly meeting different musicians around the world. What's the worst? I can't think of anything bad about being a pianist because you always have the ability to make bad situations better. Who is your role model? My parents. They started me playing and never put pressure on me. They gave me the opportunity to learn at a young age so that music became natural for me. They gave me the tools! Salary? Varies depending on skills. The more you can do, the more you get paid, so you should take your performances seriously. Last word? The younger a person is the better when it comes to learning piano, but you always need to practise and listen carefully. Being a pianist is like being a gardener who plants a seed, nourishes it and watches it blossom.