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#1284178 - 10/10/09 05:27 AM Is is good advice to become professional musician?
Carldee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/16/09
Posts: 157
My friend Allan has a 14 year old grandson who has taken violin and piano lessons at school and he has to write an essay on the career he would like to follow. He wants to become a professional musician either in piano or violing palying.

He asked his grandfather to help but he is not good at music and has a hearing aid. I declined, but he says that because he heard me playing the piano so well before (and here humility overwhelms me), I should be able to advise. I replied that when he heard me playing his hearing aid battery was low and he was listening to a recording............

I dont want to miss this opportunity of a free dinner above all as he likes his drink and is very geneorus with it. He normally starts drinking at 11 am.........I thought that a suitable theme for the essay would be, "the psychoneurotic influence on the paranoid introverted depressive state of Beethoven when composing the latest quartets", which should be quite easy for a 14 year old, and impress the teachers to encourage him in his chosen career.

My gut feeling is that if he follows a professional career in music he will end up as a empoverished alcoholic or somehting like that. I havent got a clue of how much a musician earns, I mean one just qualified to practice who has got his first job as a violinist in an average orquestra. I dont think piano playing is so suitable for a steady career in music as is not used with orchestras unlesss for piano concertos, I guess. I think a piano player cant get a steady job as a violinist above all nowadays that fewer people are learning to play piano, why should one?, you can buy pianos now that play for you better than one could ever dream of..........

Can I compare the earnings of that post as middle management, or a skill worker, or what?, because if there is no money in it I wont recomment he follows a career in music. Mind you I still will go for my free dinner and copious amount of wine and brandy in exchange for my advice which probably is worth nothing at all.............unless somebody here knows better...................

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#1284179 - 10/10/09 05:32 AM Re: Is is good advice to become professional musician? [Re: Carldee]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
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No one does it for the money, it's a lousy job. It chooses you.
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#1284196 - 10/10/09 07:21 AM Re: Is is good advice to become professional musician? [Re: keyboardklutz]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2837
Loc: UK.
It's a career path you take because you just can't imagine doing anything else. I must admit that I actually spend spend quite some time trying to talk my students out of it. If they can't be put off then it's the right thing for them to do!

There's not a lot of money in it although it's possible to make a living. If you want money then do something else and keep music as a hobby or sideline. Speaking as a pianist (unable to join an orchetsra) you need to be quite versatile. A bit of performing, accompanying, arranging, teaching, writing etc. Be prepared to work some odd hours as well.
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#1284199 - 10/10/09 07:42 AM Re: Is is good advice to become professional musician? [Re: Chris H.]
acebone Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/30/09
Posts: 32
Loc: Denmark
An impoverished alcoholic that can play the piano? To me that sounds like a great life! Bethink that this lad could end up a Merchant Banker :0 A faith even worse than a faith worse than death!

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#1284200 - 10/10/09 07:43 AM Re: Is is good advice to become professional musician? [Re: acebone]
acebone Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/30/09
Posts: 32
Loc: Denmark
Oh - and if he plays Jazz, Rock or Latin as well as classical, he stands a much better chance of earning his crust!

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#1284210 - 10/10/09 08:37 AM Re: Is is good advice to become professional musician? [Re: keyboardklutz]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
No one does it for the money, it's a lousy job. It chooses you.


Lousy compared to what? In my area there are plenty of jobbing musicians. The do a bit of session work, play some gigs, do some teaching, work of soundtracks, that kind of thing. They generally make ends meet. As a living, it beats shining shoes.

I accept that if a person who puts the effort into becoming a competent musician put the same amount of effort into, say, learning banking, he or she would probably make a lot more money. So in one sense it's something you do because you have to. But the same can be said for nurses, teachers, and plenty of other people.

In my experience, if you're flexible about what work you do, perhaps play more than one instrument, and can cope with different styles, music can be a career, rather than just a vocation.

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#1284216 - 10/10/09 08:57 AM Re: Is is good advice to become professional musician? [Re: kevinb]
Pogorelich. Offline
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Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4526
Loc: in the past
Why would it be lousy? I'd rather do music than stay at a job that I hate, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Boxed in an office. What kind of life is that? It's so meaningless and uninteresting.

But that's just me. Actually as pianists, yes we can't get into an orchestra (only if they need an orchestral pianist), but we make money accompanying all kinds of instrumentalists. So it's not just making money from piano concertos. Gigs too, and the most secure one is teaching. I only have 5-6 students but I make enough to live comfortably as a university student.

And seriously, are ALL musicians alcoholics? Every single musician you know? Don't stereotype.


Edited by AngelinaPogorelich (10/10/09 09:00 AM)
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#1284220 - 10/10/09 09:24 AM Re: Is is good advice to become professional musician? [Re: Pogorelich.]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: AngelinaPogorelich
Why would it be lousy?
So, you'd like the most important thing in your life to be what's least important to others? And have to play the music other people want you to play, to boot?
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#1284227 - 10/10/09 09:47 AM Re: Is is good advice to become professional musician? [Re: Carldee]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13757
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Originally Posted By: Carldee
Can I compare the earnings of that post as middle management, or a skill worker, or what?, because if there is no money in it I wont recomment he follows a career in music. Mind you I still will go for my free dinner and copious amount of wine and brandy in exchange for my advice which probably is worth nothing at all.............unless somebody here knows better...................


I'd say that there's no such thing as "a career in music." There are many different careers in music. Some of them are salaried, some are not. Some involve performing, some do not. Of those that involve performing, there's everything from solo concerts to ensemble work to pit orchestra work to church accompanying to school accompanying to combinations of all of the above.

One thing to realize is that careers in music do not fit a usual middle-class 9-5 type job. There are no job fairs, no listings for musicians in the classifieds, and no clear vocational path. You have to be something of an entrepreneur to make it happen. It takes networking and skill, and a lot of both of those.

To give you an idea of how variable things are - I was the principal pianist for a medium-small budget regional orchestra (under $1 million.) It paid per service and I made around $2000 a year playing 2-3 concerts. A friend of mine won a job with the Met orchestra. She will perform weekly, and her salary will hit six figures. And then there's everything in between...
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#1284323 - 10/10/09 12:32 PM Re: Is is good advice to become professional musician? [Re: Kreisler]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Should a 14 year old really be drinking daily at 11 am? Sounds like music is the right path.
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http://pianoscience.blogspot.com/

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#1284333 - 10/10/09 12:49 PM Re: Is is good advice to become professional musician? [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5423
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
I have a brother who's a professional musician, not piano - works 9 at night to 3 in the morning six days a week. Definitely not a regular 9 to 5 smile So for some musician jobs it helps to be a night owl.

Cathy
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#1284335 - 10/10/09 01:05 PM Re: Is is good advice to become professional musician? [Re: keyboardklutz]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4526
Loc: in the past
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Originally Posted By: AngelinaPogorelich
Why would it be lousy?
So, you'd like the most important thing in your life to be what's least important to others? And have to play the music other people want you to play, to boot?


Why would I care what people think? Why would I base my life around what they think about music and whether it's important to them or not? It's my life, not theirs. I love music - why should I give a crap if some low life on the street thinks rap is better?

Play the music other people want you to play.. you mean accompanying? Why not? There is amazing rep for chamber music. Also pretty cool vocal rep. You're saying, why do what others tell you to do. Well, isn't that what every job is? Unless you're your own boss.
_________________________

'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#1284338 - 10/10/09 01:11 PM Re: Is is good advice to become professional musician? [Re: Pogorelich.]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
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Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
I suppose you pass!
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http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1284365 - 10/10/09 01:55 PM Re: Is is good advice to become professional musician? [Re: Carldee]
Damon Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6049
Loc: St. Louis area
Earnings as a professional musician vary widely and wildly. If I were to impress anything on a youngster, it would be that it is a business like anything else and he will have to sell his product with that understanding. The best musicians aren't always the most successful. You have to be willing and able adjust to market demands. He may even have to move to another location. If he just wants to be a concert pianist, I would discourage it unless he is an extremely gifted prodigy and extrovert.
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#1284398 - 10/10/09 03:01 PM Re: Is is good advice to become professional musician? [Re: Damon]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
When you think of music as a profession, think of it like sports. The parallels are great.

The top sports pros make big dollars, but constitute about 1/100,000% of all players. Think the NFL, pro baseball, etc. You have to be the absolute cream of the crop, and work very very hard, and be lucky. The musical counterpart is a rock superstar, a pianist for a top orchestra, a professor at Julliard, a session musician in Nashville, etc.

The next level down is those who are very good, but not good enough to be in the top level pros. They also work very hard, and also have to get lucky, and then maybe can earn a living. Think high school coach who works as a counselor at a sports camp in the summer. Musical counterpart is a sideman in a rock or blues band that tours nationally, playing in a cruise ship orchestra or band, or someone who plays in a local orchestra, and teaches locally. Not a lot of money, but you can do it.

The rest might might make a bit of $ here and there, with many ifs. Think the guy who plays pickup ball on weekends because he loves it, and once in a while gets a small $ job assistant coaching a local team, or writing a sports column for the local paper. Very little money at this level, if at all. The musical counterpart is a church pianist, or amateur musician in a local band or orchestra, with a few students.

Also, keep in mind that the music business is the "music business". Two words. The "music" is music, and can be great, or can be less than great, playing what someone else wants. The "business" is business, and can be just as mean and nasty and political as any other business, only sometimes worse.
So if you are a passive quiet type person, a more aggressive competitor could get the job.

Bottom Line... you have to love what you do. This reminds me of an old joke: What is the difference between a large pizza and a musician? Answer: A large pizza feeds a family of four.


Edited by rocket88 (10/10/09 03:35 PM)
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#1284454 - 10/10/09 04:56 PM Re: Is is good advice to become professional musician? [Re: rocket88]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5190
Loc: Europe
Well...

Very weird question to reply...

In my case I just coudln't do anything else. Once I chose composition, I stuck to it, and now, at the age of 32 I could either be a (successful) composer, or working in Wallmarts or something! There's nothing else to do! That's all I'm trained to do.

There's tons of jobs related to music, but in truth, and exactly how every profession works: you need to be good at it! Problem is that with arts, in more general, it's hard to say "This is DEFINATELY good", and go for it. And this goes for your clients, your employers, or even yourself!

It is a profession that seems geared for passion as well! If so, it does, indeed, pick you, instead of you picking it.

Lastly what rocket88 says is completely true: There's a (HUGE IMHO) part of business if the music business combination of words! and somehow musicians forget about the business part. Just read in here and you'll see that most teachers get into their first mistake, as teachers, to give free lessons, undercharge, don't care too much about the business part of the whole deal in general. Bad, bad, bad...

It's only sane to want a family, to raise a family, to want a car, house, etc, and music, like very other business should be able to afford you that (one way or another, and in different time segments). Anything else is just insane.

for the record I know very many people in music (not only performing) who make a full living through music/composing/performing. It's not rare, it's not fantatic, it's not extravogant! It's common sense, more than anything else I'd say.
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#1284588 - 10/10/09 11:07 PM Re: Is is good advice to become professional musician? [Re: Nikolas]
BruceD Online   content
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Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 17794
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
[...]There's a (HUGE IMHO) part of business if the music business combination of words! [...]


I have read this three times and I still can't understand what is being said in this fragment.

Regards,
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BruceD
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#1284600 - 10/10/09 11:48 PM Re: Is is good advice to become professional musician? [Re: BruceD]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13757
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I think he's saying that the "business" part of "music business" is a very important part of having a career in music.

I tend to agree. A lot of people believe that having a career in music is largely dependent on one's musical skill. It's not. I know pianists who can do *incredible* things at the keyboard who are basically unemployed. There are also a lot of pianists out there who can barely manage a Chopin Ballade who do quite well. The difference is knowing what you can do and finding a marketable niche for it. It also depends on what kind of a career in music you'd be happy with.

Take me for example. If the only musical career I was interested in was as a solo performer, I'd be unemployed. I don't really have the artistry, repertoire, stamina, or networking/promotional skills to make it happen.

I do, however, have the ability to fit three marketable niches. I'm a decent accompanist, so I play a lot of student recitals at the local university; I'm a good teacher, so I do quite a bit of teaching; and I can write music for students, so I try to compose as much as I can. I find all of that to be interesting, rewarding, and marketable, so that gives me a career in music.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#1284609 - 10/11/09 12:04 AM Re: Is is good advice to become professional musician? [Re: BruceD]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5891
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: BruceD
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
[...]There's a (HUGE IMHO) part of business if the music business combination of words! [...]

I have read this three times and I still can't understand what is being said in this fragment.
Reading "in" for "if", I think he's meaning to say:
Business plays a HUGE part in the phrase music business.
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#1284617 - 10/11/09 12:30 AM Re: Is is good advice to become professional musician? [Re: currawong]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5190
Loc: Europe
Yes... instead of "if" put "in". A tpyo (I do those occasionally and the word "tpyo" is a personal joke, since I have huge typos in my writings from time to time).

So, yes. The business part is hugely important and this is what most artists tend to forget, being fed with stories about bohem artists and composers who died when 30 years old (Chopin, Schumann and pretty much all romantic composers) and the stories of USSR pianists and how Richter and Gillels had trouble... But in none of those stories there's the money issue, since there wasn't one to talk about back then. Now there is and it's more than crucial for someone to be able to market themselves, until the time comes that a manager comes into play. But this (in composition at least) comes at a later time and not at an early time in the start of ones career.

Again sorry for the typo. smile
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#1284672 - 10/11/09 03:37 AM Re: Is is good advice to become professional musician? [Re: rocket88]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7740
Originally Posted By: rocket88
When you think of music as a profession, think of it like sports. The parallels are great.



This makes me cringe for all sorts of reasons, but the main one is that sports are more or less sacrosanct far and wide, but classical piano is not even on most people's radar at all. So, no, I don't think parallels are great; they are pretty much nonexistent.

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#1284750 - 10/11/09 09:15 AM Re: Is is good advice to become professional musician? [Re: wr]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
You miss the point.

I was referring to the number of people who financially succeed in a profession versus the number who want to succeed. Sports and musicians have a similar ratio.

I could have used other examples, such as authors, filmmakers, race car drivers, watercolorists, etc, but I chose sports because they are on many people's radar.


Edited by rocket88 (10/11/09 09:33 AM)
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#1284767 - 10/11/09 10:22 AM Re: Is is good advice to become professional musician? [Re: rocket88]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13757
Loc: Iowa City, IA
What if we made an analogy like this:

Hip Hop and Rock = Football and Basketball

Classical Music = Soccer

laugh
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#1284771 - 10/11/09 10:28 AM Re: Is is good advice to become professional musician? [Re: Kreisler]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Not in this country. Maybe Tennis or Golf?
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snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
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#1284782 - 10/11/09 10:47 AM Re: Is is good advice to become professional musician? [Re: keyboardklutz]
Bob Newbie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/06
Posts: 1549
Its ok to play for money..just don't become a professional musician.. it only causes undue stress..

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#1284830 - 10/11/09 12:10 PM Re: Is is good advice to become professional musician? [Re: keyboardklutz]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2837
Loc: UK.
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Not in this country. Maybe Tennis or Golf?


More like bog snorkelling!
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#1284912 - 10/11/09 02:17 PM Re: Is is good advice to become professional musician? [Re: Kreisler]
Damon Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6049
Loc: St. Louis area
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
What if we made an analogy like this:

Hip Hop and Rock = Football and Basketball

Classical Music = Soccer

laugh


Soccer? I think it's doing well outside of the U.S. More like:
Classical = curling
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#1284919 - 10/11/09 02:31 PM Re: Is is good advice to become professional musician? [Re: Damon]
Victor25 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/30/09
Posts: 1676
Loc: The Netherlands
Lacrosse
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Currently working on: Perfecting the Op 2/1, studying the 27/2 last movement. Chopin Nocturne 32/2 and Posth. C#m, 'Raindrop' prelude and Etude 10/9
Repetoire: Beethoven op 2/1, 10/1(1st, 2nd), 13, 14/1, 27/1(1st, 2nd), 27/2, 28(1st, 2nd), 31/2(1st, 3rd), 49/1, 49/2, 78(1st), 79, 90, 101(1st)

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#1285275 - 10/12/09 04:21 AM Re: Is is good advice to become professional musician? [Re: rocket88]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7740
Originally Posted By: rocket88
You miss the point.

I was referring to the number of people who financially succeed in a profession versus the number who want to succeed. Sports and musicians have a similar ratio.

I could have used other examples, such as authors, filmmakers, race car drivers, watercolorists, etc, but I chose sports because they are on many people's radar.


I understood the point, but feel the analogy is a poor one, and have no particular reason to believe that the ratios of varying success are similar between sports and classical music, other than the fact we know that people who attempt a career in either cover the range from great success to total failure. I sure have no idea if the numbers between the two groups match up in any significant way at all. Do you?

Just based on my own memories of school, there were fewer kids expecting to make a career in sports than there were ones expecting to make a career in music, even though the numbers of kids playing sports was much larger than the number of those involved with music. However, on the other hand, just in terms of being an educator, there were many more school coaching jobs to be had than there were school music teachers.

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#1285320 - 10/12/09 07:31 AM Re: Is is good advice to become professional musician? [Re: wr]
Carldee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/16/09
Posts: 157
Thnaks to everybody specially Dr. Kreisler, rocket88 & Nikholas, very useful info indeed for me. I will now have a solid foundation in what to base my advice to this young budding musician,i.e., I will nip that idea of becoming a professional musician in the bud..........and have my free meal with wine which flows at my friend┬║s table like water at the wedding of Canan.......

My advice will be to carry on with his musical studies as seriously as he can but to follow a parallel career or trade, and as he becomes good at both he can alternate between them or choose one once he finds his way.

I feel like advising him to become a banker but I would like him to carry on being a nice, decent, law abiding boy as he is now................

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