How to begin playing for money?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by RyanM11, Jul 3, 2011.

  1. RyanM11

    RyanM11 New Friend

    Mar 31, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    Hello! I'm Ryan, a soon to be senior in high school. I would like to know how a young trumpet player like myself would start playing professional (for money). I have been playing trumpet for going on 7 years and I would like to start bringing in some money to buy more equipment and pay for various things that all kids people my age need.

    Any and all help and tips are much appreciated!
  2. Brad-K

    Brad-K Piano User

    Jun 18, 2011
    1. Find street corner or subway station.

    2. Play your trumpet.

    3. Have your case open.

    ....Sorry.....that's all I've got.

    ...Well...not really.....

    Look for ads/place ads in Craigslist/Recycler for bands who want players, or think about going into the wedding reception industry...look for local theaters/clubs who book small time people like us...develop a solo act, or a small ensemble. Even if you have to start really small, and play for free for a small time recording sessions...get involved with a community college program--good place to get your mojo goin', and to make contacts. ...oh, and don't forget churches. ....record and sell your own recordings.

    Viola...You're an entertainer. It may not make a lot, but it's a start.

    Remember to market yourself, make business cards, get some pro photos done, write a bio, do a website/internet thing. Keep track of your money like you're a are a business. Study/read up on the music business so you don't get ripped off as much (you WILL end up getting ripped off, everyone does). Think about getting a manager....etc. Keep yourself in shape and keep your appearance professional....etc.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2011
  3. Ichierzen

    Ichierzen Pianissimo User

    Sep 22, 2007
    Get a "real" job. I'm not joking... When it comes to typical expenses, the best method is to look outside of music. In 5 years post-high school, I think I've raked in maybe $350 playing trumpet. Most of that was from selling CDs at a concert I gave with an organist a couple of weeks ago. The concert itself, mind you, was free, CDs were $10 unless people gave a generous donation I'd hand them a CD. Otherwise, they came as tips from playing TAPS or memorial services. I never asked for payment for TAPS or the like, but the families felt it necessary, I guess. I've purchased all of my trumpets by getting "real" jobs... there's no way I would have been able to finance them musically, not in my area. Otherwise, if you're up to scratch, try to find wedding gigs. I've got a gig coming up where I'll be playing Trumpet Voluntary and the Wedding March, only, I have no idea what to ask as a performer's fee. Weddings are expensive enough, and they're relatively easy pieces usually. I'd ask $20, but given my degree, I don't want a "give them what they paid for" experience. I'd suggest looking for open mic nights in your area and hand out business cards, or look at putting a combo together, either jazz style or brass quintet/quartet. Don't be afraid to look into nursing homes, either. Most of those people will be familiar with both jazz and classical repertoire, possibly more on the classical end. The economy is rough and it's hard to get people out of their house, it seems, even though the "recession has ended". People are still hurting in my area, in some ways they're hurting even more as of late, so I'd rather go with the mindset that it's free, but if you'd like to buy a CD, or make a donation, that's plenty appreciated.

    Just my 2 cents...
  4. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Go to a music store. Check their bulletin board for ad saying "band member wanted". Answer the ad. That is how I got my start in my first band during my freshmen year in college. It paid for my living expenses (OK I was living in a frat house for $83/mo and climbing over comatose bodies to make it back to my room post gigs at 2:00 am) AND tuition (of course back then tuition was only $300 a quarter!)
  5. Brad-K

    Brad-K Piano User

    Jun 18, 2011
    Well, if you're playing Taps, that would infer that it is a military funeral/memorial service, correct?

    In that case, I would say I would not charge.
  6. TrumpetMD

    TrumpetMD Fortissimo User

    Oct 22, 2008
    I'm a comeback player, and picked up the trumpet about 3 years ago, after stepping away for 15+ years. I wanted to play jazz in a small combo.

    Here's what I did.

    I searched for open jam sessions on craigslist. I got experience playing and met like-minded musicians. I eventually teamed up with a couple, and formed a jazz trio. We started out by playing at fairs, farmers markets, and elsewhere for tips and/or free food. We looked for places were we could get experience, hand out business cards, and get our name out there. Eventually, we started getting paying jobs.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2011
  7. Ichierzen

    Ichierzen Pianissimo User

    Sep 22, 2007
    Hmm, yes and no. While I'm in no way affiliated with a branch of the military, the funeral home has my name and number, so when a service member passes, they have someone to call who will give the service. My grandfather was in the military and had a cassette tape recording at his funeral, and though I wasn't quite "good enough" when he passed to have played TAPS, I personally found it pretty pathetic of the government to not provide a trumpeter, that's why I do it. At least he had gun salutes, I've been at funerals that didn't even have that. I've never given a fee, I've never asked. I don't know why people have shoved money at me afterwards, maybe out of gratuity for not having a tape recording played, I don't know. I've even been scowled at, and had people look at me and say "I don't like the looks of that" at funerals. They're emotional times. I just show up and play. Whatever else happens, happens. Anyway, sorry to jack the thread... I meant the playing of TAPS (or whatever your country has) more as a way to gain experience performing. It's not "professional" in the sense that you gain financial help, but it's a professional atmosphere, and might lead to other opportunities, who knows?
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2011
  8. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    The first thing we need when we want to make money is something to sell - and something that someone wants to buy.

    Other than weddings, where you have to get known by the organists, the opportunities to get gigs are mostly hand-me-downs from your trumpet teacher. Very seldom does a "new" gig pop up with no other trumpet player in mind. Most bookers already have a list of people that they can trust. Getting on that list is tough - unless the others are all too expensive.

    I'll have to say that I normally take my own students, or hire pros. My experience with high school kids -and even college kids here in Germany is that they often aren't prepared, aren't willing to come for an additional (unpaid) practice session (that they need to get through) and thus a liability. Many are convinced that they are ready.
  9. duanemassey

    duanemassey Piano User

    Jul 14, 2009
    Age makes no difference; my first "paid" gig was in a polka band at age 13, but I started playing professionally at 14. Things were much different then (1965),as there were a lot of gigs for small "society bands", and I played a lot of country clubs and weddings that now hire cover/rock bands or DJ's.
    Where do you live? Are there a lot of working bands? What can you do, or want to do, as far as musical genres? Rowuk said it well, what do you have to sell, and who is buying?
  10. Pete

    Pete Piano User

    Nov 17, 2007
    Getting paid to play, implies that you are worth getting paid to play. Having experience at doing anything allows for payment. Play/audition for orchestras for local theater productions, put together a small jazz group, brass quintet, etc. Try to be the best that you can be at it. Think about the quality of your performance, and not the money. The money comes from being good at it most of the time.

    Since you are going to be a senior in high school, take lessons from someone who is a professional musician/teacher. Bobby Shew, Roger Ingram come to mind for example. I'm sure there are local trumpet teachers in Texas that are also fine players. You have Jay Saunders and Keith Johnson at the UNT Music Department. Contact them for lessons, or for references to other trumpet teachers.

    And also, playing music in the military is a way to make full time money while playing.

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