If you’re studying music with the aim of becoming a professional, then, to succeed after graduating from a conservatory or university, I propose that you need to do much more than excel in school.
With that in mind, here are five career-building maneuvers to undertake throughout your education - I hope that you'll find them helpful. All are fleshed out in my book The Musician’s Way.
1. Draft a Career Plan
For starters, identify a range of career paths that might interest you - it's best to explore diverse options as opposed to prematurely restricting yourself to a single choice.
To learn about professional tracks, research them online, talk to teachers and mentors, visit the Music Careers page at MusiciansWay.com, and consult with your school’s career services staff.
2. Educate Yourself
Next, learn about the inner workings of appealing careers and get experience in as many of them as you can.
Attend workshops, for instance, do some observing, subbing, and volunteering; maybe offer to assist busy professionals.
Your professional network connects you to leaders in our field and, therefore, to opportunities.
Begin by assembling a network at your school – collaborate with peers, maintain positive relationships with teachers, attend numerous performances, and contribute to your school’s culture.
Also go to conferences and festivals, join music organizations, and take part in local and online communities.
4. Fill Many Niches
Although performers work hard to ensure that they play at a high level, active professionals often fill roles beyond performing, particularly now that traditional jobs are scare.
They might organize concert series, let’s say, provide recording services, direct choirs, teach, contract, publish, and so forth.
That is, the public's demand for music remains robust, but the ways in which music and music-related services are consumed continue to evolve.
Take care during your education that you gain know-how in multiple career niches. Then, you'll have a wealth of art-making and income-earning channels that you can rely on.
5. Polish Your Image
“To find your place in the music world, there are two images that will need your attention: your self-image and your professional image.” (The Musician's Way, p. 305).
Fortify your self-image by setting attainable goals, practicing efficiently, carrying out the abovementioned maneuvers, living a balanced life, and getting feedback on your progress.
To boost your image as a pro, abide by the highest standards of professional conduct – be punctual, prepared, and courteous; be easy to reach and quick to respond to messages; build your Web presence.
At the same time, I encourage you to do what you can to help your colleagues succeed instead of competing against them; then, you’ll all rise together.
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© 2011 Gerald KlicksteinTweet
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