Thinking outside of the box

February 21, 2006 at 12:09 AM · Over the weekend I flew up to Ohio to do a campus visit of Baldwin-Wallace College. I was supposed to audition and have a lesson, but that fell through since I couldn't play since I injured my hand. Instead we just talked for those two time slots.

One of the things I talked about with the professor was what I do with my degrees once I graduate, both undergrad and grad. He said he always encourages his students, especially his performance majors to think outside of the box and not automatically go to symphonies, partially because they're just getting so "old" (they're like an art museum - always good to have around, will never go out, but need something more), but moreso because the competition is so high that if you are lucky enough to finally get a position, you will almost be guaranteed to be unhappy. He always tries to help his students figure something else out to do with a performance degree and still earn a livlihood.

What are some things you can think of?

Replies (5)

February 21, 2006 at 12:32 AM · Greetings,

music therapy, programs for kids in under-priviliged areas in your own country, ditto but doing volunteer work in poor countries, training as an Alexander teacher (or Feldenkries etc.) who has a specialist niche for helping people use themselves better or recover from injury.

You can also rephrase the questuion better. At the moment you are a little bit trapped in conveional thinking about life which always operates ina duality that offers little or no satifaction in the long run and forces you to ignore the natural powers and reosurces available to all of us through the subconscious.

Thus, instea dof saying `Should I do this or that, what are the pros and cons?` it is often better to queitly sit and get in a relaxed state , perhaps through meditation or attention to breathing . then spend some time asking yourself what it is you actaully want from your future career and job. Not in terms of symphonies, but bringing all thie things in that yo8u value and desire. The better image you can get of where you wnat to go the easier it is. Then leave your subconscious to mull over what you want. Trust what your isntinct is trying to tell you. When ideas and solutions pop up try to evaluate them in terms of what your mind/body reaction to them is. if you feel conracted and a litlte uneasy then don`t go there no matter what people are urging you to do. If the decision seems to make you expand and feel at ease then trust yourself and go with it.

This approach often pulls people in unexpected but highly satisfying directions they might not other wise have thought of.

Best of luick,


February 21, 2006 at 01:00 AM · 1. Chamber Music - difficult to succeed in, but a dream if you can succeed.

2. New Music Ensembles/Orchestras - there are a lot of new music ensembles and orchestras that are always looking for high quality musicians who a) understand the music and b)enjoy playing it. If you think this may be the route for you, spend a bit of time looking at major works over the 20th century. You'll need to become familiar with the many new symbols that are used, and also things such as quarter-tones.

3. Electric Violin - Commonly we think of the Electric violin as things associated with rock, but there can be places for this beast in classical music as well. Although maybe not something to pull the entire wage earning from, this might be a useful skill to have, especially if interested in the New Music ensembles mentioned above.

4. Session Musicians - Take part in everything from 30 second advertising ditties to feature film soundtracks. Sightreading is a great advantage here - if you can record something at short notice you will get numerous offers. Get in on the action with everything from Hit singles, TV theme songs, House Bands on tv shows (eg American/Australian/Pop Idol, Parkinson, Rove Live etc). These can be fairly lucrative careers as well as leaving a fair bit of free time.

5. Compose - You might not be the next Beethoven or Mahler, but advertising companies are always looking for new ditties for their products. For example, take a look at This Honda Civic Ad - someone had a great idea and was able to put it onto paper.

There's a few to get you started

Also, just having read buri's comment, I was reminded about something the great scottish comedian Billy Connoley said during an Interview. The gist of it was that people should do what they are drawn to. He had seen all these guys who were doing jobs they weren't enjoying married to wives they didn't love and then wondered why they were unhappy... He often tells his kids when they're walking along the street, take notice to which shops their bodies seem to be drawn to and look for opportunities and take them.

February 21, 2006 at 01:13 AM · Greetings,

and he got to bonk Pamela Stevenson,



February 21, 2006 at 07:16 AM · Buri - you always bring up the most important points...

February 21, 2006 at 06:33 PM · One possibility that I'm actively considering now, after a Bachelor's and Master's degree in performance, is music and business. There are an amazing number of opportunities out there: aside from working with the "business end" of an orchestra, you could find something in music retail sales, representing an artist or a group, representing an instrument brand (either as a distributor's agent or artist/clinician), and lots more. The University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada, now actually offers a Music and Business degree designed to prepare people for those careers. In many such careers, continuing to play your instrument to a high level is a significant advantage, if not a part of your job.

Also, I know that both medical and legal professions consider musical experience an asset. After all, you've shown the ability to concentrate for long periods of time; a mastery of fine motor movements; strong attention to detail; and experience working in a team in a concerted effort to develop a final product. Musical education doesn't lead as seamlessly into these fields--you do have to be able to meet all the other requirements and prerequisites, which can be difficult to do with the playing requirements of a performance degree--but it's still an asset.

Hope this helps!

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