Working Musicians

I am sure that many of you have wondered about what it will be like when you enter the working world as a professional musician. This is a question that is not specific to just musicians. Most students ask themselves the same question during their college career: What will life really be like when I graduate and start working?

Jason Parker, a jazz trumpet player in Seattle, shares some of his experiences as a working musician. The title of his blog post, “What It Really Means to be a Working Musician” sheds light on topics relevant to many people currently working as or aspiring to be musicians. As you read the article, you will find a theme throughout the topics that Jason discusses: multifaceted careers as musicians. During several parts of the article, he mentions the numerous ways in which he earns an income as a musician. He draws specific attention to the fact that he has to do many different types of gigs and jobs in order to maintain his career. Take a moment to read his article and reflect upon how you want to create your career as a musician:

What It Really Means to be a Working Musician by Jason Parker


Career Strategies for Musicians

Many of you may already be aware of Angela Myles Beeching’s recently released new edition of her book, Beyond Talent: Creating a Successful Career in Music. In a recent blog post, Angela discusses the need for today’s musicians to take a big picture approach when considering their careers. She offers 5 key career strategies for musicians in this post. The latest edition of Beyond Talent discusses many additional strategies to help develop a lifelong career as a musician. Take a peak at what the music career expert has to say:

Five Key Career Strategies for Musicians by Angela Myles Beeching

Is Graduate School on Your Horizon?

First, let me begin by congratulating all of our recent School of Music graduates! It was wonderful seeing all of you walk across the stage and officially become UofL Alumni. I feel like this post comes at an appropriate time, since graduation has been on many of your minds. Many of you already have post-graduation plans but some of you may be uncertain. Many of our School of Music students continue onto graduate school after they receive their bachelor’s degree.

There are several steps involved in the graduate school deciding making process. If you have been considering graduate school as an option, refer to the following list that outlines several of the steps involved in the graduate school selection process:

1. Is graduate school right for me?
Deciding whether graduate school is an appropriate choice for you can be a difficult task. Your first task is to consider your career goals. What is it that you are seeking in a career? Does it require additional education and training? These are a few examples of the types of questions you should be asking yourself in order to determine whether graduate school is an appropriate choice for you.

2. What type of program would I want to pursue?
If you have determined that you would like to attend graduate school, your next task is to decide upon the type of program in which you seek to enroll. This step is crucial in determining your target graduate schools. You will find that the programs offered vary greatly from institution to institution. Some questions to consider: Are you aiming for a master’s degree, or a Ph.D? What programs would help me to achieve my career goals?

3. What universities do I want to apply to?
Every graduate program differs based on the university, so take a careful look at what different institutions and programs have to offer. You will want to consider the following aspects when deciding upon particular institutions:

-programs offered
-tuition cost
-available financial aid (scholarships, assistantships, fellowships, grants, etc.)
-student-faculty ratio
-reputation of the institution
-geographic location
-experience level of faculty members
-acceptance requirements

David Cutter, author of The Savvy Musician made two insightful blog posts about selecting the “perfect” graduate school. Take a look at these two posts:

Choosing the Perfect Grad School: Part 1

Choosing the Perfect Grad School: Part 2

4. How do I apply?
Each university will have their own application process. However, most universities require a few basic items. First, you will need to take the GRE (Graduate Record Exam). It is highly recommended to purchase a study manual in order to prepare for this test. You can purchase these online and in most bookstores. You will need to register to take the GRE, which can be done at: When you register for the exam, you will specify the institutions that you wish to have your scores sent to. You will also have to complete an application for each university.. Most universities have a fee that is paid upon submission of your application. Two other common application requirements are letters of reference and personal statements. Visit the following link for advice on personal statements:

Once you have applied to all of your institutions, be patient. It will take a while for each university to get back to you. While you are waiting to be notified, seek out funding opportunities at each institution, particularly assistantships and fellowships. Assistantships and fellowships can be extremely competitive, so the earlier you start searching and applying for them, the better chance you have of receiving funding.

The Relevance of Writing Skills

Many students ask me for specific tips on how to promote their careers as a musicians. Clearly there are some obvious answers to that question, including networking, rehearsing as much as possible, and attending professional development workshops. However, there are some more subtle ways in which you can improve your career: honing your writing skills. This may seems trivial to you, but I would challenge you to think about the implications of having exceptional writing skills. The landscape of today’s music industry requires you to promote yourself in numerous ways. Many of the ways in which you will promote yourself will require writing on your part. For example, you might want to promote an upcoming performance event by submitting an article to a local newspaper. Or maybe you want to create your own professional website showcasing your career as a musician. Take a look at the following article about how your writing skills can positively impact your career:

7 Reasons Why Writing Well Will Help Your Music Career

Is Majoring in Music Practical Anymore?

One of the most common statements I hear as a Career Coach for music students is that “majoring in music is just not practical anymore.” Although the field of music is most certainly changing and will continue to do so, there are still many opportunities for professional musicians. Gerald Klickstein maintains a blog entitled “The Musician’s Way” that I think you will find extremely useful. One of his posts concerns this topic of practicality. Click on the following link to read his post:  Music: The Practical Career?

Fitting Career Development Into Busy Schedules

As both students and musicians, it is often hard to find enough time in the day to focus on anything other than rehearsing and studying. It may even seem impossible for you to squeeze in even one more activity into your schedule. So how can you ensure that you spend enough time focusing on your development as a professional in the field of music? David Cutler, author of The Savvy Musician, wrote an article about the topic of finding and making time in your busy schedule. Take a moment to read the article and think about the ways in which you can adjust your schedule to spend time on your career.

How Do You Find the Time? by David Cutler

Advocacy As It Relates To Musicians

This week I would like to focus on the topic of advocacy. Advocacy in the most general sense can be interpreted as the act or process of supporting a cause. The concept of advocacy is particularly significant for the field of music. Learning to act as an advocate for your services as a music educator, music therapist, or music perforer will greatly assist in your development as a professional. I discovered several articles and podcasts related to the topic of advocacy. I would like to share with you one video in particular that discusses advocacy and its importance. Although the video specifically talks about advocacy as it pertains to music therapists, the same concepts apply to other areas within the field of music. Below you will find the video, along with a couple of informative blogs/articles.

What is advocacy and why we do it

Kentucky Music Educators Association: Advocacy for Music Education