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 I wasn’t practicing enough. And that eventually, with time and performance experience, the nerves would just go away.

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.


3 Responses

  1. Hello Dr. Kageyama,
    I’ve followed your blog for a long time and regularly save the information you provide. I have a suggestion/request. Lately I’ve been reflecting on my music degrees, and comparing what I was taught in college to what I’ve experienced in the real world as a (struggling) professional musician. I’ve also spoken with colleagues about their own experiences, and opinions on what aspects of musical education were beneficial or not. I would love to see this topic opened up to the greater music community so people can share experiences and offer feedback/critiques to the educational system.

    Questions like:

    What classes were most valuable to your career?
    What classes have been the least helpful?
    What do you wish had been taught?

    Your thoughts?……..

    1. Hi James,

      Thanks for the suggestion. This would be really intriguing to do, and I’d be curious to see what sort of discussion results from this. Will put some thought into how to make this happen!

  2. I love this article. Provides powerful advice to implement it in our career’s. Sometimes we can read advice like this and right away implement it. But sometimes we need a coach, a help in order to give us more confidence. With the power of our minds, such as, using our Intuition, Imagination, Will, Memory, Reason, Perception we can become happy and Bob Proctor is the master in teaching these skills.Those of you who are not aware of who Bob Proctor is, please click this link http://www.unlockingyourmagic.com/get-started/?hop=your1mot to learn more about his knowledge and wisdom to help you achieve your life goals. I always follow his wisdom and I want to personally recommend him to all of you who are interested. Thank you for reading this comment and good luck on your journey.

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