What budding musicians should know - Careers in music

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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Thu Oct 21, 2004 7:31 am

A career in music offers many rewards, though, for most people, these are more emotional than financial, given that only a few top artists make a lot of money in music. Many of our Artist/Educator interviewees have indicated that a young person should only contemplate a career in music if they can see themselves doing nothing else. It's probably true that most musicians end up teaching music to others in some form, either in a private studio or a public school, university or college, in addition to whatever performing they do.

That said, what things should a young person contemplating a career in music know? If they plan to teach, what should they know about teaching as a profession? Is performance a viable career option? Since many teachers and performers are members of the Board, there should be a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience "out there" to help others. If you're a student, what questions would you like to have answered before undertaking a career in music? Parents may want to know how to counsel their musical children. I hope that everyone who reads this will add their own personal take on it, since it could be very valuable for others. :)
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. - Albert Einstein
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Postby 81-1074658942 » Thu Oct 21, 2004 10:52 pm

I would really like to teach music in a university. Either academic or applied, because I love both aspects. Well.. they're really woven together anyway. I hope to continue performing, because that's something I really enjoy, but I really don't see myself making a career out of it. It seems that the number of concert artist hopefuls far surpasses the actual number of artists that make it. Anyway, that I will teach is a given in my mind, and is a really happy thought! I would love to hear any words of wisdom anyone wants to pass on!

Edited By Quidam on 1098420870
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Postby 75-1095335090 » Fri Oct 22, 2004 7:53 am

My best advice to anyone wanting to make a career out of teaching music lessons privately is to take as many business courses as you can. Most musical educations are lacking when it comes to this topic, and unless there is a huge demand for lessons in your area you're going to have to know how to attract new students to your studio.

Also, keep learning. In ten years most private music teachers will have the same qualifications they have today. Attending workshops, classes, association meetings, and participating in forums like this one will improve your teaching and some of those will give you an impressive list of letters after your name or at the very least, an impressive CV.

I don't know a lot about making money performing... performing hasn't been one of my favourite things to do, in and of itself. However, it seems that if you are good at it, and love to do it, it's possible to eake out a living at it.

You could hook yourself up with a wedding planner to play for wedding ceremonies or wedding receptions. You could get work as a church musician... start a band and play at clubs or concerts (this seems unlikely in most cases, though), play for private christmas parties or corporate parties... festivals and faires....... there's probably lots more than I can think of. ^_^

Something that I've had some success with is notation. You've probably heard of having someone type up an essay for you, well this is along the same lines. I've done musical notation in the past... basically I took the hand-written version and notated it on the computer (a teacher wanted more professional looking exercises). I've also been playing with the idea of notating music for composers who can't do it themselves (they'd give me a recording, or something similar to work from). There seem to be a lot of those in my area.

Another idea, along those lines, is arranging for small ensembles, bands, or orchestra. There are copywrite issues with this, but it's not insurmountable.

And don't forget composing...

Anyhow, the bottom line is that whatever part of music you decide to use as a career, a business class can help you to make more money at it. (With the possible exception of teaching in a school, I guess.)
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Fri Oct 22, 2004 8:06 am

Excellent thoughts, Kittypalooza!

Your post, taken as a whole, illustrates a point that I've noticed about piano teachers: those who make a successful living from teaching do more than just teach students. They supplement their income in a variety of ways, though many of those additional things are musical in one way or another. Of course, other teachers have second, non-musical, jobs. Although some might debate this comment, it seems that the student should be prepared to do other things, in addition to teaching in a private studio, to supplement their income, provide benefits and keep their teaching fresh. :;):

Edited By Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Editor on 1098454035
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. - Albert Einstein
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Postby Beckywy » Fri Feb 18, 2005 8:48 am

I grew up in a family that always emphasized money. My parents drilled into me "it's not a good hobby unless you can make money out of it." When I started running, after 3 months, I was teaching running clinics. Piano, I started earning money as an accompanyiest for violin students for their exams and performances. I've played in weddings, and private parties. To get jobs - it's all networking. Passing out business cards, and talking to everyone - letting everyone know what you do.

In terms of teaching - take the pedagogy courses, join the music teachers association, research the material (methods of teaching), and network.

There's no such thing as failure - if people decide to have a career in music - they can be successful. The question is what do they think success is. They have to decide what in music they want to do, find someone they admire who has achieved the level of success they want, and find out how that person got to where they are, and follow in that person's footsteps.
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Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Fri Feb 18, 2005 11:54 am

And most important of all: if you want to teach piano, learn to play it. Learning all 'about' it is fine, but you can't really teach piano well unless you have gone through the struggle yourself to a reasonably advanced level.

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Postby 112-1108056177 » Tue Mar 01, 2005 12:11 pm

I just wanted to thank you all for your advice! I am a brand new teacher, so it is good to hear from those of you that are experienced.
I will have to look into getting a business class of some type.
Thanks again, hope to continue being molded and shaped!
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Postby 74-1110052818 » Mon Mar 07, 2005 1:44 pm

As a slightly sobering thought - if anyone is setting up or thinking of setting up any kind of business involving teaching children, do request CRB disclosure which is required by all people working with young people. And do get a suitable insurance, preferably with a recognised professional body of one type or another.
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