Jazz Pianist, Composer, Music Teacher
$60,000 - $80,000
Been a professional musician for 37 years.
As a performer the prerequisites are talent and a love of playing. As a keyboardist I must stay abreast of advances in instrument technology. As a teacher, to work at the colleges I needed a master's degree. It is possible but can be difficult to find students outside of the school environment.
Been playing music since the age of 5... went to college initially as a humanities major but never stopped playing. Left school after sophomore year to work as a musician.
Daytime: 3-5 hours of private lessons, leading combo/ensemble class. Preparing lead sheets and synthesizer sounds for work in commercial band. Night time: 4-6 hour performance (includes breaks!). These activities do not necessarily happen every day.
Trying to create and monetize opportunities for myself as an artist, in contrast to my work as a gun-for-hire freelancer. Dealing with the noise level and stress of playing contemporary DJ-style dance music.
As a teacher, watching a student grow to understand and enjoy the process of making music and improvising. As a player, making music that moves me, my fellow players, and the audience.
Many people suppose that musicians enjoy endless personal satisfaction and the admiration of the audience. Both are possible with hard work but there are no guarantees. Also, the physical stamina and control necessary to play well must be constantly maintained; use it or lose it.
I teach at home in my living room, and in pleasant practice room environments at school. I've performed in funky bars, glistening concert halls, state fairs, museums, prisons, jazz festivals, swanky hotel ballrooms, nightclubs and private estates... among others.
It's very difficult to make a living as a professional musician. If you can't imagine being anything else, this is what you must and will do. But if you have the discipline, you should consider joining the ranks of great players who earn their living in another field. Be the doctor/lawyer your parents wanted you to be, but keep your chops up!
There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique.
Martha Graham, choreographer
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