Finding Work as a Musician

Despite not being a music major or even a music minor in college, I was a very busy pianist. In addition to playing in chamber music ensembles, I was an accompanist for several students each year — often for course credit, but sometimes for free. By the time I graduated, I had collaborated with more than 20 students under the instruction of nine faculty members.

Five years later, when I decided to leave my corporate job, I emailed all of those faculty members from college. And an amazing thing happened — every one of them gave me work. Nobody asked how long it had been since my last lesson, how many years I had gone without practicing, or how committed I was to my new gig. Their faith in me was incredible. THANK YOU!

Finding work as a musician can be really, really hard. I’m not working full-time yet, so I can’t claim to have it all figured out, but I do have some basic advice.

Be available. I know pianists who don’t accept accompanying jobs because they consider it second-class work. Don’t turn down a job just because it doesn’t seem like a direct stepping stone to your solo debut at XYZ Hall. If you take a chance, you might become a more well-rounded musician and make money!

Be prepared for all gigs great and small. Gigs that don’t pay well in dollars might be worth much more in referrals. The high school student you work with today might be famous in five years. And you never know who might be in the audience, no matter where you’re performing.

Be musical. ‘Nuff said.

Good luck!

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