Lots of people dream of becoming professional musicians, making a lot of money playing on stage to a packed crowd of adoring fans.
But that’s the glitz and glam of the career. Most people do not realize the daily grind of making a living playing music.
Trinity High School senior and pianist Connor Rohrer is an exception to that.
For more than a year Rohrer has been performing multiple shows a week with several groups in several styles of music. And that’s all while holding a 4.0-plus GPA and taking advanced level and college preparatory classes.
“I’m on the stage the whole time and I have a good time,” he said. “I’m playing three to five gigs per week. Sometimes it’s a little bit less than that. Sometimes it’s a little bit more.”
Equally impressive as his academic achievement is that Rohrer’s passion for music and performing has not eroded under his busy and sometimes hectic schedule.
“I think it’s important to have fun,” Rohrer said. “When I go to gigs, it’s like I’m hanging out with friends. When I go to gigs with my bandmates, that’s my fun time, too, and I’m having a good time playing music and hanging out with them.”
Rohrer, the son of Lisa and Curt Rohrer, performs classical, rock, pop and jazz music. Jazz, however, has been his main focus, he said. He said he seeks to be a versatile musician with the understanding that that “is where the money is at.”
At only 18 years old, Rohrer has accomplished more than many musicians do in their entire career. Rohrer is a youth ambassador to the Central Pennsylvania Friends of Jazz, was a member of the all state orchestra and jazz band, was selected to the all-east orchestra and is the first chair bassoonist in the Harrisburg Symphony Youth Orchestra.
He, along with his jazz band, will also take the stage at the Berks Jazz Fest in April to open for renowned jazz bassist Victor Wooten.
While Rohrer said opening for Wooten is his greatest accomplishment to date, it is not the first time he performed with a well-known artist. Rohrer said one of his groups recently opened for 1970s and ‘80s rock star Eddie Money during a house party.
“Now, Eddie Money isn’t the Eddie Money of the ‘80’s, but it’s still cool how you can get into gigs with people you know who know people who know people,” Rohrer said. “It was so cool. It was fun.”
All of this is made possible by Rohrer’s talent, work ethic and time management. He said he attempts to get much of his school work done during free periods at school to allow more time for music outside of the classroom.
“Sometimes I stay up a bit later than I should have,” he said. “But it’s mostly just time management. I really try to maximize my time and ensure that I’m doing something productive, but I hate thinking that way because then it’s not fun.”
Rohrer said he has not decided what to do next year as far as college is concerned, but he hopes to move to Philadelphia or New York to pursue a career in music performance.
“I’ve been accepted to three colleges,” he said. “I’m very hesitant about going because I understand that getting a degree in performance doesn’t guarantee you a job out of college. I’m not exactly really sure what I want to do, but I want to be successful and I want to be happy.”