Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Is it possible to have a career as a musician?

Growing up I have constantly been bombarded with the ultimate optimist heuristic as to how to live life: "you've gotta do what you love".  You know, when you're a child nice cliches and motivational maxims always make life seem like a cherry blossoms in mid-spring as long as you do it right.  But the reality is that life is far more complicated than a cliche, and life doesn't always go as planned.  Walk into Julliard one time and take a look at the thousands of young ambitious adults whose life dream it is to be on the stage of Carnegie Hall, and then consider for a moment that only a small percentage of those people will ever make a real career with music.  I am not saying that if you have the passion and unfettered yearning to be profession that you shouldn't make the effort.  And I am not even saying that if you simply have the ambition to be great without any guaranteed plans of career in mind that you shouldn't indulge.  What I am saying is that if you think that it shouldn't be an issue to make a career in music - think again.  Only a small fraction of musicians "make it big" and I have met plenty of extremely talented individuals who just didn't "make it" because the competition is just way too large.  There are more than a handful of Isaac Sterns out there and more than a few Emanuel Ax's too, and they just happened to get really lucky.  You can say that they just have something special that no one else has, but that's really just an excuse.  The reality of the matter is that it is extremely difficult to make a living as a musician these days.  Obviously that shouldn't deter a person from practicing for hours a day and spending much of his time with music, because music is definitely not about the money.  In fact, anything important in life is not about money.  We need money for some things, but a person can be a musician without making money.  Plus, there are many ways to share music with people without making a big living off of it.  For one, you can give music lessons to people even if the pay is minimal and that can be a very rewarding thing.  You can volunteer to play at nursing homes and orphanages, teach a class in a school, or simply put on small recitals for your family and friends.  The main idea is to spread the gift of music to the world (see Importance of Music Education).  Truth be told, I can't really say it any better than Harry Chapin in his great song "Mr. Tanner"(yea, I know this is a classical music blog - but hey, a little diversity is healthy).

No comments:

Post a Comment