Is it worth it?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by resonator, Jan 26, 2006.

  1. resonator

    resonator New Friend

    Jan 7, 2006
    Is persuing a career in music still worth it? With all the diminishing jobs and overflow of conservatory students is it still worth a try? IS the pro scene better or worse then 25 years ago?

    P.S. Im not asking for any personal reasons. I just want to see how other people feel about todays scene.
  2. Alex Yates

    Alex Yates Forte User

    Aug 11, 2005
    Atlanta, GA
    All I can say is that you must choose to pursue it because you truly love it.....not because you want to make a lucrative living. There are some who have managed to make a very good living in the music scene, but there are also many who never do. For me, it is my life force and my blood. Yes, I have my frustrations, but my life without my music would not be life.

    I would say overall, the scene is MUCH tougher now than it was. There is much less work for all kinds of reasons. While there is a little more room for unique and creative performers to continue, a lot of the work that existed 25 years ago simply doesn't exist anymore.

    Is it worth it? Only you can decide really. You have to decide what you want out of life most of all and see where music fits into that scheme.
  3. bandman

    bandman Forte User

    Oct 16, 2004
    Lafayette, LA, USA
    Amen -- well said!
  4. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    In my opinion, these days, you REALLY have to want it to pursue a professional career in music. Competition, even among session players, is extremely fierce and you really have to be on top of your game in order to make it unless you can somehow find a niche for yourself, or you know someone who can give you that lucky break that gets your foot in the door.

    Take country music for example. For those of you who like it, the next time you are listening, really listen to what's going on inside of the recording outside of the main artist. The current Nashville trend is that session players record the tracks, and then the vocalists comes in and lays vocals down on a pre-recorded bed, and then when they go on tour, their tour band learns the tunes according to how the session players played them, although that trend is beginning to change a bit.

    Anyway, just listen to the instrumentalists - the music is chock full of nuance in their playing and these are folks who are playing it that way after only one or two takes, sight reading.

    When looking at other pro opportunities, there are so many folks coming out of conservatories who are exceptional musicians that when you really look at the competition, it can be quite daunting. You can't afford to have any weak areas of your playing or else you just won't be competitive, so not only do you have to be gifted and talented, you also have to work your butt off so that you can lay it down where the rubber hits the road - anything less and you lose out on the job to someone who is willing to put together the total package, and there are hundreds out there who have.

    You really have to want it and be willing to do whatever it takes to achieve the necessary level to be competitive.
  5. tpter1

    tpter1 Forte User

    Jan 12, 2005
    Northern New York
    That depends on how much you NEED to do it. Can you imagine yourself doing anything else? Do you get cranky if you can't practice?

    The full time jobs that pay enough and offer a benefit structure to support a family are rare. They are getting harder to win because more people are graduating; and those who are graduating are getting better and better.

    To win a job terms of the personal fulfillment, I would say without a doubt. Financially and in terms of job stability, that depends.

    On a personal note...I can't imagine myself doing ANYTHING other than something to do with music. Not that I have no life; but I just simply can't imagine what I would do if my principal walked in and told me "NYS is cutting all music in schools, effective immediately". Not only from the standpoint of loss of support for my family, but personally. I can't see myself doing anything else. I guess in that situation I would have to.
  6. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Glen, as usual, you bring some great points to the discussion - I had totally overlooked career opportunities in music education and was focused soley on careers in music performance.

    From a personal perspective, I HAD a career in "music" during the 10 years I spent in the Army Band program, but I had myself convinced that getting out of the Army to pursue a technical career was a great idea. My thinking at the time was that I would have more time outside of work to pursue music the way I wanted to pursue music. The reality has not proven to match my idea at all and I find that these days I'm very frustrated with my trumpet playing because I can't seem to regain the time and ability to focus on it the way I want to. On one hand, I want to do more with music, but on the other hand, moving to a technical career has provided a way for me to make more money than I have ever made before in my life, and I do still play music - just not at the level I would like to play music.

    So the real question now is can I really make the necessary sacrifices to pursue music at a different level? In a practical and fiscal sense, no. At this stage of my life, it just isn't worth it. I would have to give up a fairly secure, steady, good paying job to pursue music. If all I had to worry about was me, I would have already done it, but I have the "American Dream" with the Spouse, house, kids, cars and dogs, and to try to go the other route puts all of that at risk.
  7. Tootsall

    Tootsall Fortissimo User

    Oct 25, 2003
    Yee HAW!
    Huh? But I haven't replied yet! :D

    OK, I'll do so now. My daughter took up French Horn in H.S. She got good... good enough to win the brass championship for our province and compete at Nationals. She took a Bachelors degree in Music Performance. While she was at University I kept asking her if she had any interest in teaching; I recommended that she pick up a few courses so that at least she had SOMETHING to fall back on in case the performance thing didn't work out. My advice fell on deaf ears.

    Within 4 months of graduating she got a phone call and two weeks after that was teaching MUSIC (brass performance and music theory) at a conservatory! That was a year and a half ago and she's still there with a growing studio and private students. She also performs for free with both the local Community Band (she lives about 100 miles from us) and also commutes once each week to rehearse and perform "over here" with our Symphony (they pay the gas).

    Her dream is to pay off her student loans and then continue with her education to acquire a Masters degree and to get that oh-so-elusive job "playing for pay". Whether or not that will happen remains to be seen; in the meantime she's supporting herself in music, has no "encumbrances" (I think the boyfriend is about to be made unhappy), and can follow her dream where she wants.

    So that's not exactly an answer but it is a real-life example. If you love it, if you have a demonstrated skill level, and if you are "footloose and fancy free" then I'd say "go for it". But always have a fall-back position.
  8. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Oops! Sorry about that - boy do I feel like a doofus!

    Here's another comment I would like to toss out - I think that oft times the idea of a career in music is much more appealing than having an actual career in music. While my music career was combined with the military and therefore maybe not the best example, it was certainly not a bed of roses, although there were certainly some moments that shine out.

    I absolutely loved my job the first summer I was an Army Bandsman after I hit my first duty station. I was afraid I was going to wake up one day and the Army was going to figure out I was scamming them out of a paycheck every month! But the one thing that never changes is that nothing ever stays the same, and this was true of The First US Army Band, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland. We started playing more Army and less music and eventually I made what was probably the most detrimental decision toward the music aspect of my music career - I auditioned for and was accepted at the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps. I was still getting paid to play, but calling what they do at the TOG FDC music is a stretch.

    Unless you really can't do anything else, careers in music are usually not a ticket to fame and riches, but the ride sure can be a lot of fun.
  9. tpter1

    tpter1 Forte User

    Jan 12, 2005
    Northern New York
    I've been giving this alot of thought since I last read it...through setting up a band and rehearsing a band. I even rehearsed a bit differently; it was as if I found myself again.

    I have tried on a couple occasions to audition. I will keep trying. (Provided they are near enough to where I live). I don't see myself changing careers, leaving the classroom and performing exclusively. (Although the thought has seriously crossed my mind many, many times; but teaching at school takes, necessarily, a great deal of my energy away from trumpet playing; I play whenever I can, but certainly not 5 hours a day). Why? Why would someone do that? Allow me to share something one of my jazz band members wrote a few swummers ago, when I posed the verry same question to them inspired by seeing them ALL outside school, waiting for me, on a beautiful summer evening to play for no credit:

    "Well, music is a part of me. I have always liked music ever since I was a little girl. Music brings out the best in people and I see that whe I participate in activities like jazz band and marching band. Even though most of those people are my freinds, and I love hanging out with them, music is the real reason that I enjoy these types of activities. In jazz band, I can see a different part of people and myself. I love music and it makes me happy. I see people all around me that enjoy the same things that I do and that makes me feel that much more welcome because of the fact that I have just joined jazz band. It is not only the music and the people involved that makes me stay in activities like jazz band and marching band"..."Music is my life. There is never a time that I am not playing something or singing something."

    That is the need for music I'm addressing. That need makes it worthwhile. If you love medicine, and it makes you happy, be a doctor. If, however, you never stop singing or playing something; get grumpy if you have a day that is so busy you can't practice; hear music in your dreams; stop driving to listen to your favorite song; then you must be a musician. Teach and share your love; bring it out of others; or share your ability with the public as a performer, composer or conductor.
  10. gchun

    gchun Piano User

    Dec 10, 2003
    Keep in mind that becoming a professional or being part of the "pro" scene doesn't mean you will be always playing with professionals. Sometimes you'll get offers to play with amateurs, schools, universities or community organizations. The skill level can run the range of medicore to exceptional. But, these can all be considered work if you are being compensated.

    If you decide to pursue a career in music performance., (which only you can decide), your primary goals should be in playing the instrument. But you should have some experience in as many of the following areas as possible.

    -music copyist/engraver
    -production (recording, video, live sound)
    -music business
    -grant writing
    -self promotion
    -equipment repair
    etc, etc, etc.

    I think it is unwise to approach music as strictly a performer. Having other skills can enhance your performance while having skills that can give you optioins in music related fields. The more you know, the better.

    I realize there are just so many hours in the days, so it's not necessary to master everything (except your horn). You don't have to be an expert at everything, but get some basic experience where you would know how to learn to become proficient should an opportunity arise.


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