Careers in Music Performance

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Bear, Nov 20, 2006.

  1. Bear

    Bear Forte User

    Apr 30, 2004
    Howdy folks,
    Though to tell my full story would take the time I do not currently possess, I must still ask a question. I love to play, I love to play, I love to play, primarily jazz oriented and small ensemble stuff (brass quintet, etc). How feasible is it for a decent average player "newbie" to find an occupation playing and to get paid for it? I'm meaning enough to live on. I'm having a hard time and am thinking about just quitting grad school and trying to find a paying/playing gig. I do have my undergrad teaching liscence and I wish to teach eventually, but I also desire to play. I was never the "school type" anyways, bunch of non challenging busy work and quite honestly, a bunch of morons running the administration and even the classrooms. I won't apologize if I seem bitter because I really am. I'd love to hear from the "been there/done that" guys. Take care and thanks in advance.

  2. tpter1

    tpter1 Forte User

    Jan 12, 2005
    Northern New York
    Hey, Tim. I have a few different angles that I'd like to share with you, but they are very similar.

    If you feel that you are a player, then you are at the stage of your life where you need to (to quote Barbara Butler at ITG this year) "put all of your eggs in that basket and just go." Really go for it. Without hearing you play, none of us can really determine if you are good enough. If you never try to find out, you'll never know; you'll go the rest of you're life with that "what if I had..." feeling. You'll never have the opportunity to have to choose one or the other.

    You're fairly young, yes? Right out of college or close? NOW is the time to find these things out.

    The other angle is that teaching is my profession. It is a very rewarding job, as is I am sure, performing. But the rewards are vastly different. As a teacher, I have lost count of the number of people whose lives my hand has been in. All teachers shape the lives of their students, weather in a psotive or negative way. You, as a teacher, impact the life of a young person. It is, and always will be, about the kids. Administrators come and go. Some can be a real pain in the gluteous maximus, some aren't so bad, all are power hungry. Power corrupts. My point is that teaching is something not to be taken lightly as a substitute for a failed or sabatoged effort. There is no utopian world; you are going to have hemerroidal issues from others in the performance world also (contractors who don't pay, band leaders who don't care about anything but themselves, people on the stand you don't get along with, crummy performing conditions, etc; to contrast: standing ovations; world-class musicians who challenge and motivate you; top-flight performance facilities; the best music to play...).

    I guess only you can decide what's right for you. Talk with your professors and get some business courses if you plan to play.

    ps.: I still get a fair amount of playing in addition to, it works out pretty well for me. Would I like to play more? Sure would, but there really isn't much more up here.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2006
  3. mike ansberry

    mike ansberry Forte User

    Dec 30, 2003
    Clarksville, Tennessee, U
    I got out of college and had no desire to teach. I wanted to be a player. I lived for several years in St. Louis working day jobs and playing around town. I never got to the point that I could make a living at it, but I don't regret doing it. Now I don't wonder if "what if". I tried and I know. I still play quite a bit, but make my living teaching. I found out that I absolutely love teaching band. Who'd a thunk it?

    I gave it a go when I was young and single. That is something that I couldn't do now, with a wife and daughter to support. If I went back in time, I wouldn't do it any differently.
  4. Bear

    Bear Forte User

    Apr 30, 2004
    After a night of sleeping on it... I've come to the conclusion that I am a reactive type instead of being proactive. I'm gonna work on changing that. I do want to teach, but as long as I can remember I've always wanted to spend some time playing just for a few years or so after college... Anyways, time to start looking for auditions I suppose. Take care.
  5. RG111

    RG111 Piano User

    Nov 12, 2003
    After college I got a job in an orchestra that had a 30 week season, but with three kids to support, I did a lot of teaching. I then spent 20 years in the US Marine Band in Washington, still teaching many students per week. I then spent 10 years teaching in a Catholic High School in DC. I now just teach private lessons at my home studio, but, you know what? I am prouder of my teaching than my playing. I love to play the trumpet, and still practice three hours each and every day, but there is nothing better than seeing my former "rugrats" do well in music. My point is, you can teach as well as play.
    Regards, Roy
  6. rjzeller

    rjzeller Forte User

    Mar 7, 2005
    Rochester, MN

    I guess you have to ask do you want to teach for yourself or for those whom you'd be teaching? I'm a decent but not necessarily great player. I get some good gigs here and there, but wouldn't dream of trying to make a living at it given my skill level.

    You may be different, one perceives that you are.

    But if teaching is your crutch, you may find yourself disappointed often. If you're teaching because you love it, then you can still play because you love it as well -- only now you can share it not just with paying audiences, but with students as well. What better way to teach than by example?

    If you got a family to support then you have a different set of priorities than if you're single. If the latter, you can afford to take a few risks, try some things out. Maybe seeking out a living on the horn would work. I wouldn't have the guts to do it...but one thing is certain -- you never know if you don't try....
  7. Bear

    Bear Forte User

    Apr 30, 2004
    Yes, yes, and yes, thank you all. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I will be a good teacher. I do intend to teach as there is not a better feeling than seeing the proverbial light "click on" after it laying stagnate for so long. However, there is also a side of me that knows I can be a killer player albeit my social skills are lacking and from what I understand, that is half the battle. Think about a solitary bear... that's me. lol.
    No, I don't have a family perse. I am engaged to an amazing young lady who has been my support, vitality, and life for some time now. I have depression every now and then and she has been just wonderful. However, I can't just pack up and hit the road to find a playing gig, lol. We struggle financially as it is now and she being a pharm-tech is the main provider... Which tears me apart. I'm the man and ought to be providing the money. She ought not have to work is she doesn't desire too. This whole world is about money, money, money... Anyways.
    The whole thing is that I've just gone through some crap and it seems be a self-perpeutating cycle that I can't seem to get lose of. I thought coming to grad-school would help get a "restart" on life but I am making the same mistakes here also.
    I must cease and desist and head to work. Not having a car sucks, although I've been losing a lot of weight walking! Yee-Haw! Y'all take care. Thanks for the kind words.


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