What Does It Take to Have a Thriving Career as a Musician?

Recently, I was asked to write a guest post on a relatively new music site. As I did some browsing through the archives to learn more about the folks behind this venture, I found some noteworthy articles that I thought would be of interest to the readers of this blog. String-heavy emphasis, but still very relevant to all the non-string players out there, and all worth Instapaper-ing, if not Evernote-ing.

I’ve never done a post like this, but thought it might be nice to tap into the collective wisdom of others out in the music world. Ready? Alrightie, let’s give it a go…

Career design

Concert artist Robert McDuffie shares his thoughts on how careers in music are changing, and the kind of musicians who will thrive in the years ahead.

And a personal example of what he means by taking responsibility for one’s career and actively creating one’s own projects and relationships (rather than working one’s butt off, and waiting to be chosen…and waiting…and waiting…).

And his vision of the kind of training and education musicians ought to have access to if they are going to enjoy satisfying and successful careers in the future.

More on career design

Angela Beeching (author of Beyond Talent and former director of Career Services at the New England Conservatory) shares her experience advising thousands of musicians over the years, via the six strategies that she has seen lead to successful careers in music.

Insider info on auditions and being a orchestral pro

Chicago Symphony violinist Blair Milton shares some advice on auditioning in an interview.

And provides some practical insight on being a good stand partner and orchestral player.

Thoughts on practicing

And on everyone’s favorite subject (practicing), there’s an old interview with Heifetz on his practice habits.

(Incidentally, if you would like to read the entire Martens book, you can download it for free in a variety of handy formats — legally, in case you were wondering: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/15535)

And last but not least, here’s an article on deliberate practice by an astute young cellist at Northwestern (and an awfully articulate fellow too; I don’t think I understood what an “abstraction” was until grad school, and I still couldn’t use “tautology” in a sentence even if you paid me).

The one-sentence summary

None of us is as smart as all of us.  ~Eric Schmidt (Executive Chairman and former CEO of Google)

Ack! After Countless Hours of Practice...
Why Are Performances Still So Hit or Miss?

For most of my life, I assumed that it was because I wasn’t practicing enough. And that eventually, if I performed enough, the nerves would just go away and everything would take care of itself.

But in the same way that “practice, practice, practice” wasn’t the answer, “perform, perform, perform” wasn’t the answer either. In fact, simply performing more, without the tools to facilitate more positive performance experiences, just led to more negative performance experiences!

Eventually, I discovered that elite athletes are successful in shrinking this gap between practice and performance, because their training looks fundamentally different. In that it includes specialized mental and physical practice strategies that are oriented around the retrieval of skills under pressure.

It was a very different approach to practice, that not only made performing a more positive experience, but practicing a more enjoyable experience too (which I certainly didn’t expect!).

If you’ve been wanting to perform more consistently and get more out of your daily practice, I’d love to share these research-based skills and strategies that can help you beat nerves and play more like yourself when it counts.

Click below to learn more about Beyond Practicing, and start enjoying more satisfying practice days that also transfer to the stage.

BOGO pricing is now in effect! (through 11:59pm Sunday)

Sign up anytime now through Sunday (Dec. 4) at 11:59pm Pacific, and you’ll receive a second bonus Beyond Practicing account – at no additional cost – that you can gift to a friend, colleague, family member, student, or teacher (i.e. a practice buddy to explore the course with 😁).

Click the red button below to learn more about the course and get the holiday buy-one-get-one-free offer.


Join 48,000+ musicians!

Get the latest research-based tips to level up in the practice room and on stage, from one week to the next.

You'll also receive other insider resources like the weekly newsletter and a special 6-day series on essential research-based practice strategies that will help you get more out of your daily practice and perform more optimally on stage. (You can unsubscribe anytime.)

Download a

PDF version

Enter your email below to download this article as a PDF

Click the link below to convert this article to a PDF and download to your device.

Download a

PDF version

All set!

Discover your mental strengths and weaknesses

If performances have been frustratingly inconsistent, try the 3-min Mental Skills Audit. It won't tell you what Harry Potter character you are, but it will point you in the direction of some new practice methods that could help you level up in the practice room and on stage.

Hello. Add your message here. Learn more
Beat nerves with a friend, with BOGO pricing on the Beyond Practicing course Join Today