How to make a career from music

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

  1. kcmt01

    kcmt01 Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 25, 2009
    Polson, MT
    Some really great advice here. I just have a couple of things to add: First, there are a lot of churches out there looking for musicians on a part time basis. They don't pay real well, but you get great exposure. Second, stay away from booze & drugs. A guy who shows up sober for practice, and is easy to work with, is more likely to get hired again.
  2. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    veery sez:
    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.
    Of all the info you read on this topic, this is the wisest. I've seen tons of students that were spectacular in a subject and only focus on that subject and forgetting the rest.
    They end up as the first couple of lyrics to Bruce Springsteen's song "Glory days".
    Make sure you are passing your other subjects or your plans about being a professor will be decided for you.
  3. Alex_C

    Alex_C Piano User

    May 30, 2010
    Gilroy, California
    On an online forum, I was living with a GF (it was better than living in the street, let me say that I consider trumpet playing a much more promising career than electronics) and I was fixing a ton of stuff at her place, and he helped me fix the well pump, we hit it off right away being both engineering types, and he offered an old trailer (that I also had to re-roof and do a bunch of fixes on) to live in and free rent in exchange for doing stuff around here. Which I do.

    Ya know, it's weird but ..... not that many people are hard working really. For instance, I earned $20 recently chopping up an old stump on a neighbor's place, now, it'd been there 20 years and the guy is out of shape but he's this HUGE guy, 2 hours of work for me would have been maybe an hour for him.

    So it seems like a person who's willing to put a little work into things will stand out from the herd and generally do all right.
  4. Alex_C

    Alex_C Piano User

    May 30, 2010
    Gilroy, California
    OK no one's said this so:

  5. Satchmo Brecker

    Satchmo Brecker Piano User

    Jul 19, 2010
    One notion you should get out of your head is that the amount you practice is directly related to your success. And for that matter, "how good you are" too. Just not true and you'll save yourself lots of grief.

    The reason being, if you have it in your head that practice/talent means success, you'll tend to disregard all of the great non-musical advice posted here. Just like anything, hard work is important, but networking, being prepared in case an opportunity arises, and just dumb luck, all play a part.

    I knew this one guy when I was in a college jazz band. He was actually a high school kid, maybe a junior. He was a definite prodigy, played lead, and was far and away better in every regard than everyone else in the band (and this was a big ten school band, and the #1 jazz band out of about 8 in the school.) Where is he now? Who knows. He's certainly not famous, I think he teaches lessons and at a local high school. Nothing dishonorable or bad about that. But given how good he was, you'd have thought he'd be well known, ala Marsalis, Botti, etc. (He played sax actually but you get my point).

    So my guess is he ended up focusing totally on the music without the other stuff. Oh, and be humble. The best players always are ;)
  6. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Awesome! I like your upbeat and positive attitude - that will serve you very well as time goes on.

    Here's my thought - continue doing what you are doing - really dig in and maximize your potential as a player first. A lot of college professors teach first at high school level, so you'd need a degree in music education if you wanted to go that route, but I think that if you really want to be a player and make a steady living doing it, I see one place that is in my opinion a golden opportunity for a young player who knows their way around the horn - the Washington DC area premier military bands:

    The United States Marine Corps Band, The President's Own (Marine Barracks, 8th and I, Washington DC)
    The United States Army Band, Pershing's Own (Fort Myer, Virginia)
    The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps (Fort Myer, Virginia)
    The United States Army Field Band (Fort Meade, Maryland)
    The United States Navy Band (Navy Yard, Washington DC)
    The United States Air Force Band (Bolling, Air Force Base, Washington DC)
    The United States Naval Academy Band (Annapolis, Maryland)

    All of these bands are right in the middle of the Baltimore/Washington metropolitan area, so not only would you be playing some high profile events, but there is a lot of gigging and educational opportunity on the side, both for continued study, and for possible future career opportunities as an educator. An example of this would be SGM Dennis Edelbrock of Pershing's Own, who is a fantastic trumpet player and has been teaching at George Mason University for as long as I can remember.

    George Mason University School of Music

    He has carved out an enviable career both as a performer and as an educator, but he's one of the nicest, most down to earth guys a person could know too.

    Just keep after it - stay focused and keep striving and reaching for more. You are off to a great start by the sounds of it.
  7. EdMann

    EdMann Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 20, 2007
    Los Angeles
    Two words: Lee Loughnane.

    Find a great rock band, or two, or three, and see where it goes. If you have a good ear for that genre, you can pick a good one, and you'd be surprised how many enjoy hearing a horn after saying, "ehhh, don't know about that."

    Also, try to think entrepreneurily as much as possible. What of what you do can develop an annuity? Union work in film, for one), teaching (pension after retirement), royalties (from song writing). A well-known pro out here in LA came to me one day, said, "hey, how can I augment my income some. The studios are great, but some months they fall off." I said, "Write a hit song." He laughed, but you know, one song can make your year, or more. Keep you mind open and keep practicing!

  8. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    I think that Lee is by far an exception rather than the rule. Seriously, how many bands like Chicago are there, and how many have had that kind of success?

    He's also been married 4 times - not sure what to make of that where "success" as a trumpet player is concerned, although he wouldn't be the first musician I've heard of to have a great music career and a less than successful personal life.

    I'm still of the belief that the US Military offers some really great opportunities to be a musician, and even if you aren't in one of the premier groups. I was lucky - I was in both a regular Army band, and I was part of one of the premier groups for 7 years. I had a great time, made decent money, had some solid benefits and passed on a lot more side opportunities than I took.
  9. 12erlgro

    12erlgro Pianissimo User

    Oct 29, 2010
    How do you manage to get the social part working with all that practicing.
  10. Alex_C

    Alex_C Piano User

    May 30, 2010
    Gilroy, California
    I HIGHLY recommend music learning over fashionable but useless stuff like electronics. For instance, when I was with what's now a large POS terminal company, which I was with since it was very small, my "ace of the base" electronics skills didn't do me a bit of good. T he guy driving a forklift out in the warehouse still made more than me. What would have helped my career there would have been playing softball. I am dead serious. There was a company team, and if you were on it, and a good player, you got promoted. No matter how useless you were as an employee otherwise. Other factors like race played a large part too, as anyone who's worked for a large American company knows, but I couldn't change my race - I could have changed my softball playing skills. Music can work likewise. If you're working for a company and you're the trumpeter who's hot stuff and plays at the company picnics, we're talking possible VP material here. The guy who simply works hard and thinks he's gonna rise by merit, I can only say LOL and LOL again.

    Really, for the best combination of high skill and a solid career, I can't recommend the military bands enough.

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