How would I become a professional musician, and what should I expect starting out?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Vstern, Apr 11, 2011.

  1. Vstern

    Vstern New Friend

    Jul 25, 2010
    I don't plan on being a musician, but it's a possiblity. What should I do in college? Is it possible to take such classes if you don't dorm, and instead drive back and forth from a local college? If I don't want to be a professional, could I do small gigs, etc. alongside an unrelated career?

    I'm only asking because I've recently been putting genuine effort into my trumpet playing. My director said that my sound has improved (from consistent practice). If I just stop playing after high school, I will feel as though I have wasted my time and parents' money on this trumpet. At the moment, I have no particular interest in sports or clubs, so music will probably be the only thing going for me in college application (even though I have decent grades).

    In the meantime, what should I do to improve my practice routine? I do the following:
    -longtones, 8 counts, crescendo/decrescendo to forte then piano, with a tuner; that's what I do for a warm-up (about 10 min total)

    -hold a note for as long as I can (start on fourth space E, end at C above satff), make it sharp, back in tune, then flat, then back in tune, all at mezzo-forte; that's what I do for range-building, about 5-8 min (a graduate who played in my school's jazz band told me to do this, he does music in college)

    -Play/work on spots in my music (at least 10 min)

    -hold a 2nd line G out for as long I can in tune; play G-F#-F-F#-G at 50 bpm (all in staff) with a tuner; as a cool down (about 5 min)
  2. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

    Aug 15, 2009
    Re: How would I become a professional musician, and what should I expect starting out

    First off, to become a pro, you had better LOVE trumpet, and I mean like a wife and better than on a honeymoon. When you play pro, it is often whatever the job demands and ususally not what "you" want to play.

    Yes, you can be a pro (if a really good player) and not go to college. But in the world today, that is really limiting yourself. Unless you are currently outplaying Maynard, to make a living with it, college is a good choice.

    In college there are two routes -performing and band directing. Band directing allows you to study music, play, and end up with a 7-4:30 or so job teaching music without worrying about where the next meal is coming from. You can still gig on the side. Performance is exactly what it means. You make your living by whether you are getting hired to play or not.

    Think about this -imagine having to find a paying gig every day or so in order to keep the food coming. And you pay your own insurance. And your retirement. And your social security. And, how much did theat gig really pay? -hum, not very much. Can be a tough, difficult life. A good pro can probably find a gig every so often, but to have regular calls day after day after day -that is something else. Yes, there are those that do it.

    A good frind of mine is a pro in the Phili, New York area. He went the pro route while I went the band director route. 15 years later he told me (and he was a monster player) that he got where he hated to play. Occasionally you would get a comparatively long standing gig like a Broadway show, but most other gigs were short, and all different hours. He said afterr a few years playing wasn't a lot of fun anymore. (Just his opinion-others may feel differently). He now is a producer of a morning TV show many of us watch (and Mayor of a small town where he lives)-and he hasn't pulled the horn out of the case in years.

    Just things to consider. Again, I'd consider college. Start as a music major-see how you do the first few years (most college students change their majors after the first year or so). If you like it, then go for it.

    Oh-one other option. Military service band. Some folks here can give good info on that route, which is a good one for many.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2011
  3. Vstern

    Vstern New Friend

    Jul 25, 2010
    Re: How would I become a professional musician, and what should I expect starting out

    I do not desire to be a professional currently, but is there is a route for semiprofessional musicianship? I'd like to earn money if possible, but I don't want to be a full-time musician; I will probably do something related for a career.
  4. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    Re: How would I become a professional musician, and what should I expect starting out

    I think Steve answered your question. Being the child of a professional musician, it sucked cause dad was never around to throw the ball when I was young. He was busy working to feed us. After a few years, the light came on for him. He went back to school and got his degree and taught band. He also gigged on the side, but it was much more relaxed cause he had a regular job and could play what he wanted and not what he had to. My hats off to the pro's, it's a tough life even after you "make it". I too had the bug to be a pro. My dad's advice was to get a regular/real job.
  5. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Re: How would I become a professional musician, and what should I expect starting out

    Realistically, I think being a pro musician is a pretty rough path. Some could argue that I was a pro musician because I made my living for 10 years as a military bandsman (I tend to disagree with that - I knew some sucky players making the same living I was so it's more of a professional soldier than a musician) and even that had drawbacks in that I rarely played what I wanted to, and my schedule and time was dictated by the gig and training schedule of my unit.

    These days I gig on the side, and to a degree I can put certain things on hold for the sake of my family, and I don't think I would want it any other way.

    I can tell you that when I was an Army bandsman, there were days where it got to the point where the last thing I wanted to do was pick up my trumpet and go play marches at a ceremony (I typically enjoyed concerts though) and it got to a point where I didn't love it so much because it had become a job - it was no longer a choice.

    Continue to explore it, and if you are serious about it, pursue it in college - I'm of the belief that if you try to get a gig in any kind of major ensemble these days, civillian or military (and I'm talking regular gigs that can pay the bills, such as an orchestra) it simply will not happen for you without a pedigree of some kind, and I don't think it's due to any kind of college snobbery either - it's simply a matter where a college educated musician has been exposed to more, and has had real direction from other veteran musicians to bring their playing along. They say the death is in the details, and more and more I'm of the belief that while anyone can become a good player, a college educated player will have the small flaws in their playing ironed out through high quality instruction, while a non-educated player will continue forth not even aware of those minor flaws in their playing.

    Those are my thoughts on it.

    MTROSTER Piano User

    Jan 25, 2007
    Re: How would I become a professional musician, and what should I expect starting out

    Remember the down side muchof which has already been said. Also you'll probably not get rich professionally playing the horn. I hate to be a downer, but the realities have to be appreciated. No matter what your choice, Good Luck.:thumbsup:
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Re: How would I become a professional musician, and what should I expect starting out

    The successful pro trumpet players that I know never really thought about how to get there, they were too busy doing it.

    I believe if you have to ask the question, your chances are so remote that considering teaching, computer science or business administration is probably a better bet.

    You can have a lot of fun even not doing it for serious money.
  8. Conntribution

    Conntribution Fortissimo User

    Dec 25, 2010
    Lloyd Harbor NY.
    Re: How would I become a professional musician, and what should I expect starting out

    With me it was all about fun. Being a gregarious sort t'was only natural I was drawn to the most personally expressive and extroverted instrument.
    For perhap 10 years I earned my bread with odd, fascinating yet tawdry club gigs and the occasional, welcome security of studio and show work.

    I still gig regularly but being a landlord and an antiques dealer is my main metier now that I have a family.

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