How to make a career from music

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Trumpet Playa, Nov 9, 2010.

  1. Trumpet Playa

    Trumpet Playa New Friend

    Aug 4, 2010
    I practice 4 hours a day minimum. Winter break and summer break I plan on going for 6 or more. There are just so many fundamentals to be covered that I find it necessary. I research about this stuff all the time in my free time and schedule my practice sessions with much detail in a journal. My professor told me I have a great understanding of this stuff and have a lot of potential. I figured, well I’m 18, within 4 years if I keep up my hard work I could go somewhere with this. I just love playing trumpet, learning how to get better, and like teaching how to do things on trumpet to other people when my peers ask me. I can’t imagine loving another job as much as something music related.

    I’m a freshman in college now and wondering about the possible ways I can make a career out of playing and teaching. How does one become a professor anyways? I would love to be a trumpet professor some day. I enjoy history very much too and teaching music history would be awesome. I do plan on attending a conservatory for grad school so I’m practicing a ton now and doing well in all my music classes (I’m a music major btw). But not sure of the possibilities after that.

    I would be practicing right now, but I just feel so frickin sick. Something I ate, I know it.

    I know some people in the music field hold numerous jobs to make ends meet. I just need to understand the job prospects and what I could do to make a living from teaching and playing.
  2. ecarroll

    ecarroll Artist in Residence Staff Member

    Jul 13, 2005

    In a serious school? By having a career as a performer.

    Best wishes,
  3. Alex_C

    Alex_C Piano User

    May 30, 2010
    Gilroy, California
    Playa you will make it if you never give up.

    I got to a high position in a sport by keeping on keeping on.

    My heroes were guys like Dick Mann and Gary Nixon, you've probably not heard of them, they were motorcycle racers; at one time I wanted to be one. They went through YEARS of lean times and heartbreak (and body-break) before making it big. I live on some land owned by a guy who's in environmental test. A field you' ll NEVER learn in college, you have to know someone who does it and they have to want to teach you. Over the years he's going great while most chemists are hoping for a job as greeter at Wal-Mart. He's doing well and starting to teach me some stuff, it's hard because the way he teaches makes Army boot camp seem easy, but I'm not good at quitting so I'm learning the stuff.

    There is no substitute for single-ness of purpose over time.

    A good inspiring read is Herbert L. Clarke's "How I Became A Cornet Player" (title's somthing like that) you can find it online and it's a great read.

    Just keep in mind, no one gets it immediately, instant successes tend to have 10 years behind them.
  4. Trumpet Playa

    Trumpet Playa New Friend

    Aug 4, 2010
    I heard its so competitive though. I just hate the uncertainty of it all. I'm practicing seriously now even so cause it can't hurt lol. Having a career as a performer would be a dream job. I want to see how good I will be within a year before seriously considering this. By next fall I want my trumpet professor to tell me what he thinks. I still have so much to work on and learn for now.
  5. Trumpet Playa

    Trumpet Playa New Friend

    Aug 4, 2010
    Coolio! How'd ya meet the fella?
  6. Scatmanblues

    Scatmanblues Pianissimo User

    Jul 19, 2010
    West Texas
    Good for you for your ambition.

    Just remember that you can have a "playing career" and a real career (that pays the bills MUCH better) at the same time.

    I'd venture to say that 99% of "professional" trumpet players also have a day job. There's just not enough real (or most importantly) predictable income from playing to have the sort of life quality most people want.

    One option for a "second" career is teaching in the public schools. It can provide a steady income and provide an outlet for your "helping others" bug, but also comes with its own issues. I did that out of college. I was a full time teacher, and also played in a salsa band around town. I lived off the teaching income, and had fun with the gig income (usually only $3-400 a month).

    I tried for a semester before I landed my full-time teaching gig to make it on a part-time sub basis so I could "dedicate myself" to the horn and "see if I could make it" before "giving up the dream." In reality, I was poor, had to work more hours at lower-paying jobs to make bills, and the stress from not always having enough money nearly killed me.

    Also, once I started teaching full time, I found that my playing didn't suffer at all. Since I only had to work one job to make my income, my evenings were open for practice. What finally made me give up the band was the hours -bar gigs were keeping me out until 4AM, and I had to be at work at 6:45 during the week. I still have many friends who are "professionals" in a field (pharmacists, CPAs, band directors) who play regularly in bands on nights and weekends.

    As for how to become a professor, there are two ways: Earn a DMA, or earn your position through years of professional playing. Both are demanding, both will require years of work, and neither is a guaranteed thing in today's economic market.

    You don't need to be a professor, however, to teach at the college level. In fact, many lesson teachers, studio instructors, and ensemble directors are graduate teaching assistants or adjuncts, meaning they are hired to teach, but do not enjoy full status as faculty members. If you are accepted into a graduate performance or music ed program, you will probably have to chance to "teach" as a part of your funding package. Typically, teaching requires 20 hours a week of your time and comes with a small stipend (~$5-10k/yr) and a tuition waiver. You'll get to work with groups such as non-major trumpet players who want lessons, the third jazz ensemble, or the women's basketball pep band, but you will be teaching.

    Just some thoughts. I'd spend time talking with as many people in your specific setting as possible, and it sounds like you are already doing that.

  7. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    How does one become a professor anyways? I would love to be a trumpet professor some day.
    First you need the cedentials(the standard is doctor or, very well known professional).
    Next you have to beat out the competition for the job.
  8. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    If you want to know if this is what you want, take a summer and see if you can hang in the Big Apple. Do your research of venues so you'll know all the places and see what you think. Who knows, you might love it, drop out of school and take up your education there.
  9. veery715

    veery715 Utimate User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Ithaca NY
    You're in college, practice 4 hours a day heading towards 6 on your break, and you have free time? Don't forget to learn a lot of other non-music stuff, and give it the same energy, because what you really should be aiming for is a well-rounded education. It is a pitfall to become so engaged in one thing that you neglect others.

    It sounds like you are focusing in your practice - the journal is an excellent idea. Remember that there are many musical genres, and don't shut any of them out, since a player who can play in any style has a larger potential market for gigs. Talk to as many players as you can, and read as much as you can too. The way to understanding the job prospects is to make that a part of your education as well.

    It is not too soon to start selling yourself as a musician. Look for gig opportunities, network with as many other musicians as you can, and begin building a name for yourself. Don't let this wait for later.

    Another good idea is to take some business type courses. You will learn skills there that will be invalualble as you continue in life. And there are so many aspects of music - the recording business, music history as you already mentioned, composing and orchestration, that you will never be wanting for something to learn which will aid in your success at being a pro in the music biz.

    Your post reveals a genuine drive towards trumpet playing and teaching as a career. That is a big part of the battle. Keeping it up when the going is difficult is something you'll need to embrace - because you will encounter bumps on this road and must not let them upset your course.

    Uncertainty? There is no answer for that, except to learn as much as you can, and to keep doing it as long as possible.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2010
  10. SmoothOperator

    SmoothOperator Mezzo Forte User

    Jul 14, 2010
    You might not have a job when you graduate, but your buddies in engineering won't necessarily have one either, and you will have had more fun.

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