CHOOSING A CAREER / JUL. 14, 2014
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How to Become a Classical Musician

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If classical music has always been your passion and if you wish to make a living out of it, you may consider pursuing the career of a classical musician.

A classical musician is a professional trained at either playing an instrument or singing classical music in live concerts or during recordings.

The job

As a classical musician you are expected to perform various tasks such as:

  • Practicing your trade so as to hone your skills
  • Learning and rehearsing new pieces
  • Maintenance of your equipment
  • Looking after your voice
  • Setting up and tuning your instrument before a performance
  • Preparing for and attending auditions
  • Composing your own musical scors

Working hours and conditions

You spend most of time practicing and rehearsing. The working hours, thus, vary and may be very long. You may have to work late evenings and weekends as studio recording sessions run until late at night.

You may perform at various public locations such as theatres, concert halls and other music venues, etc. You spend most of your time travelling around different places.

Pay

Earning may vary widely depending upon your experience, expertise and reputation as a musician. It may also vary depending whether you perform solo or with others.

Full-time rank and file players 

£22,000 to £28,000 a year 

Principal players

£25,000 to £38,000

Freelance musicians are usually paid for each performance at a daily rate that includes rehearsal time. Fees may vary from £50 to £3,000.

Source: nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk

Job requirements

This area if chosen as a profession demands very high standards of excellence. Ideally you must start your preparation at an early age with private coaching and by taking graded music exams. You may further go for high-level training at a university or music college (known as a conservatoire).

Conservatoires offer various diploma or degree courses of varied duration and one-year postgraduate courses as well. Such courses help you specialise one main instrument and study a second instrument. The requirements to get into a conservatoire are some academic qualifications such as A level Music, grade eight in your main instrument and passing of an audition.

You may refer Conservatoires Admissions Service UK website for further details.

To get into music theory oriented course, you require at least five GCSEs (A-C) plus two A levels, including Music. You may also be accepted without A level Music if you show high music ability at audition.

Career Development

In this profession, you usually develop your skills and train yourself through ongoing rehearsing and performing. To keep enriching your skills throughout your career, it is recommended that you continue taking advanced lessons in the related field.

To gain access to professional development opportunities and for networking, you may consider becoming a member of Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) and Musicians’ Union.

To become a successful classical musician, it is vital that you demonstrate the following:

  • Natural talent and deep interest in music
  • A high level of confidence
  • Self-discipline
  • Dedication and motivation
  • Be able to work alone as well as in a team
  • Be able to take criticism and rejection in a healthy manner
  • Be able to work diligently for longer hours

Career Prospects

In this profession, you may find seasonal employment or do a variety of freelance work with orchestras, ensembles or accompanying singers. Full time employment is common with orchestras and you may also take on self-employment.

After significant experience, you may progress from the positions of a rank and file player to a principal in an orchestra and may possibly conduct or lead the orchestra. You may also consider composing music, starting your own ensemble or moving into music education, community arts work or music administration.

Career Tips

You must gain a lot of public experience by entering various music competitions and festivals. To know more on making a career as a professional musician, you may refer to following links:

This profession is all about being passionate and dedicated towards your work. If you have it in you to commit everything for your work, you have it in you to make it a real big!

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