The State Worker

California government includes state pianist classification

The Sacramento Bee

Sure, it’s 1,022 pages of teeny-weeny print. And it’s mostly dull, eye-glazing, hard-to-comprehend jargon about which state-government jobs should live, which should die and which should get a makeover.

But the recently released assessment of 3,666 state job classifications is no match for readers skilled in navigating tedious tomes, including Blog User G, who sent this email after picking through the document:

Hey Jon, I see that the state has a “pianist” class. What’s the story?

Good catch, G. Great question.

Page 77 of the state civil-service pay scale shows state pianists earn $13.67 to $26.53 per hour. CalHR spokeswoman Pat McConahay pointed us to the department’s job description website, which says the position was established in 1931 and revised in 1972.

The work: “Under direction, in a part-time capacity, to provide piano music for regular and special occasions at a State institution; may also play an organ; and do other related work,” according to the job description.

Typical tasks: “Accompanies and trains a chorus for religious and entertainment purposes; accompanies and assists an orchestra at rehearsals and concerts; furnishes piano accompaniment and solos for entertainment programs; assists in the planning and presentation of entertainment programs; may also play an organ.”

To qualify, candidates must either be “graduated from a recognized school of music with specialization in piano or organ or have a year of experience in difficult piano or organ work as an accompanist for a chorus.”

Qualified applicants must know “fundamentals of harmony and piano playing”; skillfully play “as an accompanist for a chorus and as a soloist”; and be English-literate and able to sight-read piano music.

“Additional desirable qualifications,” according to the job description, include “education equivalent to completion of the twelfth grade; ability to play an organ as an accompanist for a chorus or as a soloist for positions in locations which require playing the organ in addition to the piano.”

The state didn’t pay anyone in the pianaist class last year, or in 2013, 2012 or 2011, according to state salary data analyzed by The Bee.

It’s not clear why the state created the job. To play at Veterans’ homes? Dignitaries’ funerals? State holiday functions?

Maybe some State Worker blog readers know ...

Call Jon Ortiz, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1043.