Having a portfolio career is natural to most musicians. As freelance teachers, performers, writers, and researchers, we have multiple ways we can monetize our work. Training for a career as a clarinetist is about more than learning notes and rhythms. Understanding and marketing the skills you have, including and alongside clarinet playing, is key to developing a portfolio career.
Writing about music
My website, www.lucyabrams.net, has been key to establishing my portfolio career. I keep a calendar where I announce all my upcoming performances and a media tab where I promote recordings of myself. I also write short articles about my doctoral research in contemporary music at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. My website has led to paid solo and orchestra performance opportunities and my writing has been cited by colleagues in academia as well as print journalists writing about classical music.
I highly encourage clarinetists to check out the the Ambassador Program at Lisa’s Clarinet Shop. The program is designed to help musicians create opportunities in their communities for career advancement and engagement. It has been a great way for me to get write more about the clarinet, and to make connections with other young professional clarinetists.
If you have ever played in a concert, as I am sure most clarinetists have, you have experience in understanding how a concert works. If there is a lack of concert events in your community, start producing them yourself! Short, small concerts are easy to produce and plan, and offer the opportunity to learn production by doing.
This fall, I produced my first concert series in Helsinki, Finland at the botanic Winter Garden. It was a space I have always loved in the city, and I thought it would be perfect for bringing small chamber music of different styles to the public. I applied for funding through my University and created a 7-concert series. Starting was scary, but the experience has been invaluable and increased my confidence in producing in the future.
Learning instrument repair can be a wonderful way to expand one’s career portfolio. Not only will it help one’s practice by being able to solve repair issues as they arise with one’s instruments, but also establish a marketable and monetizable skill that is very in demand!
Lisa’s Clarinet Shop offers courses in clarinet, saxophone, and flute repair. Courses offer a chance to learn from master technicians across the US. Becoming a repair tech in your community will not only provide additional income, but also connect you with young musicians and teachers in your community. Visit Lisa’s Clarinet Shop for more information.
There are many ways to develop a career, even a career in ‘classical music’ or ‘classical clarinet’. The skill set we have as musicians is more diverse than many of us realize. Making the most of all our skills is the best way to develop a working life in music. It means thinking creatively about making opportunities for yourself – start a podcast, take a repair course, create a YouTube channel, become more active on social media… the possibilities are endless!