Piano Break Application

Welcome to the Piano Break application page.

Piano Break is a program by the Ross McKee Foundation that provides Bay Area pianists with performance opportunities during the COVID-19 crisis. The program directly supports artists through the sponsorship of once-a-week concerts premiered at the Ross McKee Foundation YouTube channel.

Selected pianists record themselves in small home concerts (between 30 and 45 minutes in length) which premiere every Friday at 5 p.m. Each artist receives a $500 stipend for their contribution to the project.

We are currently evaluating applications for pianists presenting recitals during the fall of 2021. The application period will end on July 31, 2021.

To get started, please read through the guidelines below. Check out the Recording Guide to make sure that you have (or can borrow or purchase) the equipment necessary for a quality recording. Then, click on the Apply Now button to fill out the online application. Apply at your earliest convenience — we are evaluating applications as they are submitted. We look forward to your entry!


  • The applicant must be over 18 years of age and a professional or semi-professional performing artist.
  • The applicant must be a resident of one of the following Bay Area counties: San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Solano, Napa, Sonoma, and Marin.
  • The applicant must be able to list at least one professional performance opportunity that was lost due to the COVID-19 shutdown.

Application and Review

  • In order to support as many artists as possible, pianists may perform only once during a calendar year. 
  • Pianists who performed during the 2020 Piano Break season can choose to link to their Piano Break on YouTube instead of submitting an audition video.
  • Applications will be reviewed by members of the Ross McKee Foundation Board. Due to limited resources, feedback from the review process cannot be provided.
  • Pianists can apply with third-party presenting organizations; the final video recording may then be co-branded with the presenter and can also be used as part of a series or as marketing/outreach organized by the presenter. The stipend will still be awarded directly to the pianist.
  • Participation in this program does not impact other Ross McKee Foundation grant applications by pianists or presenting organizations, but no single concert can be funded with both a Ross McKee grant and a Piano Break stipend.


  • Applicants should submit personal programs that represent their musical passions and artistic voice.
  • The program must run between 30-45 minutes and will be recorded by the artists.
  • The program must be a unique recital, recorded specifically for Piano Break, and may not include previously-recorded or livestreamed material that is already available online.
  • In an effort to encourage greater equity in pianistic programming, the Board encourages applicants to include music by Black composers. The Foundation has assembled a preliminary list of works and resources related to piano music by Black composers at: rossmckeefoundation.org/piano-works-by-black-composers.


  • To provide the best sound quality possible, artists should refer to our Recording Guide.
  • The Foundation can provide limited technical help with recording process, including a loaner microphone. Please use the “Production Notes” field on the application to comment on recording challenges.
  • Final recordings must be submitted to the Foundation no later than two weeks before the assigned streaming date.


  • Performers will receive a stipend of $500 for their contribution to the project, to be paid the week following their streaming date.
  • In order to qualify for the stipend, the performer must be available to interact with the audience via chat during the YouTube premiere and at the Zoom meeting that follows.
Apply Now