Nowadays it seems to be an important question, which you should probably ask successful musicians, especially if you are a student or think that it is a good moment to start your musical career. Unfortunately, I need to tell you, that the answer could surprise you because there is no recipe for that. Generally, accomplished musicians attribute their success to a combination of talent, luck, hard work, and the help of a few key mentors. In life, there is so much we can’t control, we should go according to our passion and intuition.
A musicians’ life is full of different projects such as various ensembles, recordings, grant projects with defined repertoire, research in the framework of projects, fellowships, residencies, and much more. We can say, that the career is a natural effect of the choices, which we make every day and the people we met. This is the way how I started my career. If somebody told me a few years ago, that in the future I will perform contemporary music, probably I would be laughing. The truth is, that thanks to new projects and people which I met, one day I realized that I love this kind of repertoire. Music by Karlheinz Stockhausen or polish music XXI century opened my mind and my career.
How to start thinking about a career?
Life is a result of various circumstances, but to feel that you have control, it is important to prepare a career plan with clear goals that were short-term and long-term goals. These kinds of activities motivated me to achieve success. Important for me was preparing the list of repertoires, which I would like to perform. Additional to this, sometimes I tried to find festivals, concerts venues, chamber music groups with which I could collaborate. Of course, education, courses, studies are the most important. I took part in a lot of masterclasses in Poland, Italy, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, etc., which helped me develop new skills in the clarinet, but I was able to meet new people, teachers, and friends.
Secondly, prepare your image, biography, professional photos, recommendation letters, internet page, or demo – which would be a helpful tool. From my point of view, a well-written biography is especially important, because it is a “first meeting” with your potential employer.
How to write a good biography?
The biography provides the first impression about an artist, so it should contain important information such as performance highlights with concert halls, special repertoire, interesting projects, influential people with whom you performed, awards, and education. It is worth supporting the facts with specific numbers or details, e.g., Mr. X won the first prize in the XXX International Music Competition in Poland. or Mr. X is laureate more than 10 prizes such us: first prize in the XXX International Music Competition in Poland. etc.
Before you start writing, make a list of your achievements, then divide it into groups (like projects, concerts, awards, etc.) and choose a few of the most important. Remember, that the biography is representative of not only your accomplishments, but also of who you are as a musician.
Developing your music career is a long process that can take you on different career paths that can be traditional or entrepreneurial. You can have the chance to win a tenure position in the orchestra or university and sometimes you work several part-time jobs, perform as a freelancer, take part in different musical projects, and teach. By mixing both traditional and entrepreneurial elements into your career allows you to use the full range of musical talents and abilities that can make your life satisfying.
Don’t give up if at the beginning of your musical career, you don’t know what to do. Just focus on playing, improve your skills, and be mindful of what is happening around you. Maybe one day, you realize that don’t want only to play clarinet but as well repair it, so then you can take part in a Master Repair Tech Training thanks to Lisa’s Clarinet Shop. Their Ambassador Program is a career advancement program and a community engagement program designed to create new opportunities. Remember, that to play well, you need to have a good and comfortable instrument.
If you are not sure what is your path in the music industry, try to explore and test yourself, and figure out what you like and what you don’t like. Only repeated experimentation will allow you to find your place, to find your niche. To sum up, remember that your success is not only your talent, but also your motivation and determination.