Experienced Musicians

Musical Directing in the Bay 101

A quick guide to Musical Directing for improv

About Musical Directing

What an MD Does

A Music Director is someone who plays an instrument (typically piano or guitar) for a musical improv show. Like the improvisers on stage, everything the MD does is entirely made up on the spot. The MD has an outside eye on the show and decides when a song has been “earned” by the improvisers and works throughout the song to shift and support the choices the players make.

Who Can Be an MD

Anyone who is proficient at piano and/or guitar and enjoys improv is capable of being a Music Director. If you are comfortable with making music with either instrument, congratulations, you’re 80% of the way to being an MD. The final piece is just getting the experience of working with improvisers and honing your craft.

Other Instruments

While piano or guitar are the typical instruments of choice for musical improv, musicians proficient at other instruments can still participate. Some musical improv shows require a live band, which may mean drums, bass or other instruments. If you play another instrument and would like to get involved, send us an email.

MD Benefits

In musical improv, the MD is almost always paid for their time, whether it’s for rehearsals or shows. The MD is a professional, just like a coach or director, and while some may choose to volunteer their time for certain purposes, the vast majority of teams and theaters will consistently pay their MDs.

Getting Started

How to Get Started

If you’re a musician who’s interested in musical directing for improv, we can help. We have a free program to help new MDs learn the ropes and get reps so that they are ready to jump in and play for jams, classes, rehearsals or shows. If you’re interested in getting involved, send an email here and we’ll get you started!