Originally posted by Amy:
You said "don't practice too hard now" but I'm afraid that I DO have to practice as hard as ever now if I want to make it in this crazy world. I've been out seeing all of the amazing talent that's out there and I'm gonna have to work really hard in order to measure up. It's kinda scary to think that I may not be good enough to follow my dream of being a professor and performer.[/b]
Amy, if I may be allowedm here's a little bit of advice which has come in very useful for me and which I only wish I had learned it earlier: MARKETING!! Classical musicians in general have hideous business and marketing strategies and essentially live the little fantasy that if they practice oh-so-very-hard enough they will eventually win a big competition, or be discovered by an agent and "make it". This is absolutely not the case in today's world, you could spend your life in the practice room and be the best pianist in the world but if you don't have the 'appearance' of being the best pianist in the world people will go right over you. Winning competitions is also not what it used to be. There are so many thousands of competition winners now that you'll get lost in the crowd after a couple of years.
You'll be years ahead of your peers if you get a business package together which should include:
-Black and White professional Photos, preferrably not the typical geeky studio shot but something that will catch people's eye and say "I'm different"
-Bio, Resume, Repertoire List, Performance list, program recommendations, any articles or reviews that have appeared about you.
-CD recording: this is the biggest pain to make for a package but in today's world if you have no recording of yourself you might as well get another career. This is your business calling card. Figure out where is the best place to do it, rent your own equipment if you have to, find someone to do some basic editing for you and get at least 45 minutes of music on a CD.
-Business card: If you have frequently changing mailing addresses there are options so that you can use your business card for years to come. 1)Get a JFAX number. This is a free online service where you sign up and they assign you your own telephone number in the States where people can call and either send you faxes or voicemail and the company forwards it to your computer so you can get it wherever you are. This way you can keep the same number no matter where you move to. This would be your business number, the one you give people when they ask you "How can I reach you" if they want to hire you for a concert. (It's also useful for the men who ask for your number but you don't reallywant to give it to them!) The service is free to receive faxes and voice mail, if you want to use the number for sending stuff then there is a monthly fee. I have had the free service for 3 years and it has been incredibly useful and never had a glitch. You will need to download their free software to whatever computer you'll be using, though. Go to http://www.j2.com.
to sign up. For the business card you can also add your email address and website.
-WEBSITE- if you don't already have one, get one!! It is so useful when approaching people in order to get concerts. I have gotten concerts from across the ocean just by mailing my CD to a name I found on the internet and asking them to visit our site. You need to have photos, repertoire list, soundclips, and a bio at the very least.
The above list requires the investment of anywhere from $500 to as high as you want it, depending on if you have friends that will do things as favors or if you will do it yourself or hire professionals but it will provide returns that will make it pay for itself and more. Do not shy away from selling your image as "the **it", do not let the conservatory mentality make you believe that it is against the musical "art". And remember that just because you market yourself this way doesn't mean you rnecessarily are or need to act like a snob. It is just an *appearance* and the people who know you personally will know better. If music is what you want your career to be then you have to treat it as a business as well, and if you learn to separate what you do for yourself (the art part of it) and what you do for your career ( the business aspect) then you will probably be one of the few in your graduating class that will actually have a successful, fulfilling music career. It's not just how good you are, it's how good others *perceive* you to be. Remember, people are gullible and it is hard to shake off first impressions!
Enjoy your time at Eastman, it was also one of my choices for schools when I went to college but I didn't like the climate there and chose Boston instead, only to find it was almost equally frigid!!!