Are you waiting for crumbs or taking action?

Do you know what is meant by the phrase “a sense of urgency?”

Most classical musicians don’t.

Like I used to, most performers have two settings – on or off. 

Panic, or ‘I need to think about it’ (aka analysis paralysis).

OCCASIONALLY one of those options is appropriate, but in my experience, it’s often the middle ground that is best – I need a considered result sooner rather than later.  I learned that the sooner I deal with something, the better the outcome. 

Will I miss out on something else, something better? 

Possibly, but I also learned that once a decision has been made, I need to stick to that decision unless it is life-threatening NOT to take an alternative position. Yes, you are allowed to change your mind (like politicians are allowed to change party membership), but only on the strongest of convictions should you change a decision you already made. No to and fro, no humming and hawing, no frivolity, no back and forth that will generate a reputation of unreliability and untrustworthiness. 

One of the things that holds us back from achieving the performing career and lifestyle of our dreams is that we dwell on decisions and taking action. We forget that we are allowed to make our own decisions now. We don’t have to take up mental capacity worrying anymore. We no longer have to wait for our parents, our teachers, or anyone other than our spouses to make decisions.

I have found that most people who like to delay, who like to ‘think about it’ or who generally just don’t take action have no idea of the impact their lack of decision-making will have. 

It’s simple: someone else’s life – possibly even YOUR life – might suffer unnecessarily as a result of your indecisiveness. Probably more often than we would like to admit. You really don’t want to be the person known for making life difficult simply because you don’t take action or decide, right?

Interestingly, Andrew Hitz (via Jason Heath – we hope we got the source right!) suggests that academia and classical music are the slowest moving industries in the world.  And we are engulfed by both! So no wonder we wait for others to make decisions for us. It’s time to change that, especially if you want to successfully build a profitable performing career.

Yes, there is always risk involved – you will NEVER, EVER have ALL the information you want or even need to make a decision, so you might as well go ahead with what you have now. So what if it’s not the ‘right’ decision? It’s the BEST decision you can make right now with the info you do have. Go for it. 

All of this to address the fact that there are still classical musicians who wait for the phone to ring to offer them gigs. They wait for others to mention an opportunity, a job, an audition, or an opportunity to perform and/ or earn money.

Don’t wait.

Please.

You can no longer wait for others to offer you crumbs. You don’t have time for that anymore. It’s time you took ownership of your own career and lifestyle and begin making decisions/ creating opportunities/ calling and offering to help. Now is that time. 

Do you feel that sense of urgency? 

Good. Because it’s real.

It’s right here, right now.

Wait no more. They may not come.

Get up, get out, and let’s make this happen, whatever “this” is for you!

Let’s talk and see if I can help you weigh the odds and make a decision NOW about the rest of your life.

Give us a call at Concert University: http://ConcertUniversity.com/talk

On your mark, get set, GO!

Why we take any gig that comes our way

Just take this moment with me:

Even if you’re really busy today, just breathe and relax for a moment…

Imagine with me a world in which we are living our dream lifestyles.

The house, the land, the car, the traveling, the instrument, the concert venues, the gifts and letters we receive from fans…

Nice, huh?

Imagine that you don’t have to worry about paying the bills.

You have become so efficient at booking gigs that pay well that you don’t have to worry about your mortgage payments, sending your kids to private school, or buying first-class tickets to get to Europe. 

In that life, imagine your car overheating, and steam pours out from the hood.

How will you react?

You see yourself calmly checking the rearview and side mirrors, putting your warning lights on, and gently sliding onto the shoulder.

You let everyone in the car know everything will be alright, you’re just going to check to see what’s happened, and you look at all the lights on your dashboard, and pop the hood. You check to see if it’s safe to get out of the car and when it is, you go to the hood, find the latch and lift it. You pull up the support arm and place it in its hole and look at the engine steaming away.

Calmly getting back in the car, you call your insurance company’s breakdown service and tell them what’s going on. They send someone immediately (and you don’t even think about the cost), and by the time you get home, there is a replacement car in your driveway already.

Wasn’t that fun? Dreaming for a bit?

But let me ask you this:

Is that how you would react right now if your car overheats later today?

No?

Why not?

But when you build a profitable performing career and choose how many well-paid gigs you do, you CAN live like that! It just happened to me, recently.

Here’s the thing:

I would have reacted the same way before I made my lifestyle course corrections.

Do you know why?

Because I recognized that although I can’t choose my circumstances, I can choose how I react to them.

If you’re feeling down, lethargic, lacking in energy, excitement and motivation to book gigs, then look at how you are choosing to react to your circumstances.

Are you blaming everyone else, or something else, or even yourself?

Or are you choosing to replace those thoughts with something more productive, more useful, more… beneficial?

If you’re ready to pursue your dream lifestyle as a live classical music performer, let’s talk and see if I can help you get there. Let’s see if it’s time for you to take ownership of your performing career by choosing how you react to each circumstance that comes your way.

Give us a call at the Concert University and let’s see if we can help you.

Now, choose to make the world a better place today,

Listen in on this excerpt from a bonus training with Stephen P Brown, conductor, composer, and founder of Concert University, an online coaching program dedicated to helping classical musicians build profitable performing careers.

Want to learn more? Check out Stephen’s next online presentation outlining 5 strategies you can implement today that successful classical musicians use to build a profitable performing career at http://spb.buzz/CUSPBonline.

Interested in receiving more coachings like this?? Subscribe to my Youtube channel to receive similar coachings.

Listen in on this excerpt from a live training with Stephen P Brown, conductor, composer, and founder of Concert University, an online coaching program dedicated to helping classical musicians build profitable performing careers.

Want to learn more? Check out Stephen’s next online presentation outlining 5 strategies you can implement today that successful classical musicians use to build a profitable performing career at http://spb.buzz/CUSPBonline.

Interested in receiving more content like this every day? Subscribe to my Youtube channel to receive daily coachings.

Are you teaching others to not value live classical music?

So many classical musicians hate their job.

Why?

Well, first, which job?! Many musicians have multiple careers which, as we recently explored in my Facebook group Building Profitable Performing Careers, is not what drives success (reminder: multiple careers is different to multiple streams of income). 

Doing several different activities like performing, teaching, administration, and a variety of non-music work is a left-over strategy from the 90s that has proven time and again to NOT WORK.

So let’s focus our conversation on performing.

Many classical musicians hate many of the performances they participate in.

If performers aren’t too tired and distracted by their portfolio careers, then one reason might be because they take whatever gig they can get, regardless of what it pays, whether or not they like that kind of repertoire and irrespective of who the other performers are.

A $120 gig sounds fabulous to many classical musicians. 

For a three hour rehearsal and two hour concert (on different days, no less!), an hour’s drive away, and all the practice time before they even get to a rehearsal. 

That’s about $24 per contact hour or $12 per working hour… even less when taking normal business administration into account (phone calls, bookkeeping, etc.)

But it’s no return on the decades you invested in becoming an expert nor on the resources you, your parents and those who gave to scholarship programs spent on you to become this amazing musician.

So why do we do it?

Why do classical musicians take gigs that simply don’t make sense or add up?

Perhaps you don’t value what you do.

And by demonstration, that teaches society not to value what you do, as well.

It’s so disheartening to see performers and society alike look at live classical music like it’s crumbs on a table, to be swept up and thrown away after the main meal.

To me, it IS the main meal!

This language of emotions is so fundamental to human existence that it stuns me how often it is relegated to simply ‘entertainment’ by musicians themselves!

Imagine what you’re communicating using this language when you take whatever gig comes along.

If you’re as done with that – and not getting paid decently for it – as I became, let’s talk. 

Give us a call at the Concert University and let’s see if we can help you.

Go make the world a better place.

Listen in on this excerpt from a live training with Stephen P Brown, conductor, composer, and founder of Concert University, an online coaching program dedicated to helping classical musicians build profitable performing careers.

Want to learn more? Check out Stephen’s next online presentation outlining 5 strategies you can implement today that successful classical musicians use to build a profitable performing career at http://spb.buzz/CUSPBonline.

Interested in receiving more content like this every day? Subscribe to my Youtube channel to receive daily coachings.

Do you want to become an expert auditionee or an expert performer?

How much have you invested in auditions?

And I mean time away from your loved ones, practicing excerpts, dealing with nerves, training to become an expert auditionee, risking damage to your craft by over-practicing the extremities of your skills, as well as the actual expenses involved.

Auditions are like school exams: You learn how to pass them and you’ll get excellent grades, but how will being an expert examinee help with life?

One of the biggest complaints I hear from classical musicians is the amount of time, energy and resources they spend auditioning, rather than income-producing activities.

There is nothing wrong with taking auditions – it’s the old way classical music has survived and paid for itself. And as long as you consider what your expectations are, and what your priorities are, then great! Go take as many as you can.

But here are two big questions you really should ask yourself before embarking on an audition:

1. What’s my Return on Investment (ROI)?

Of course, there are financial implications to attending an audition – the application video, travel, accommodation, food, fees, tips, etc.

But there are other costs as well: time spent completing the materials, time away from your loved ones, time not spent on income-producing activities, distraction from your paying audiences and students, etc.

There are four areas of ROI to think about when auditioning:

  1. How will this affect my finances? Will I ever recover the costs of attending the audition? Will the fee I get from the job pay me not just enough to survive, but also recoup the expenses of auditioning?
  2. How will this affect my craft? Preparing for an audition usually requires you to learn, study and prepare repertoire that isn’t really in your comfort zone or heart. Often the rep stretches your skills (rightly so!) which has caused damage to voices and fingers by over-extending practice sessions. I know way too many classical musicians no longer performing because they damaged themselves by over-practicing repertoire they didn’t like or was just a little beyond their technical capabilities.
  3. How will this affect my career? What do you want to be known for – being an amazing auditionee, or an amazing performer? Are you hoping to make new connections and network, or get exposure? What has been your ROI in those areas so far… so why keep doing it? Expecting any “opportunity” for exposure or networking to actually help you build a profitable performing career is skating on very thin ice. I’d rather focus my time, energy and resources on actual income-producing activities rather than just hope.
  4. How will this affect lifestyle? We all choose where and how we live. Almost daily I hear from immigrants who escaped truly horrible and oppressive environments to come to the USA, and who choose what they do and where they do it. Our careers are supposed to support us living life as human beings (our “lifestyle”) and we use our craft to build a career with. Is auditioning and constantly moving to where the work is your choice of lifestyle? I’m not judging if it is – nothing wrong with that. If that’s not your preference, then what is the ROI for your lifestyle by auditioning?

The second question to ask yourself is much simpler, yet in so many ways much harder to answer:

2. Will this audition and/or the job being offered help me share my Outcome with the world? 

In other words, how will spending my time, energy and resources on this audition allow me to make people’s lives better by giving them the Outcome they are paying for.

(Don’t know what your Outcome is? We need to talk!)

If you actually enjoy auditioning, awesome. Well done you! I would still recommend you ask yourself those two big questions before each audition.

But if you’d rather just be performing AND earning a decent living doing so, then you might not need to spend so much time, energy and resources on auditions. There are ways you can focus on performing instead and creating actual income-producing activities.

If you want to know more, let’s talk. Give us a call at Concert University and let’s see if we can help you.

Focus on what’s truly important to you: working for others and paying for the privilege, or getting out there and sharing classical music with people who may never have been exposed to it before.

Listen in on this excerpt from a live training with Stephen P Brown, conductor, composer, and founder of Concert University, an online coaching program dedicated to helping classical musicians build profitable performing careers.

Want to learn more? Check out Stephen’s next online presentation outlining 5 strategies you can implement today that successful classical musicians use to build a profitable performing career at http://spb.buzz/CUSPBonline.

Interested in receiving more content like this every day? Subscribe to my Youtube channel to receive daily coachings.

Listen in on this excerpt from a live training with Stephen P Brown, conductor, composer, and founder of Concert University, an online coaching program dedicated to helping classical musicians build profitable performing careers.

Want to learn more? Check out Stephen’s next online presentation outlining 5 strategies you can implement today that successful classical musicians use to build a profitable performing career at http://spb.buzz/CUSPBonline.

Interested in receiving more content like this every day? Subscribe to my Youtube channel to receive daily coachings.

How to attract very dedicated and advanced students

Why are we talking about teaching?

Because it’s actually one of the most common complaints I hear from musicians… one of the biggest causes of false optimism and hope I hear performers convince themselves they love doing.

And many actually do!

I still love helping those who ask for my help. Really love it. After all, I’m a Conductor, a.k.a. Maestro, translated: teacher.

But I did not enjoy it when my primary income was from teaching whatever percussion students I could get, or teaching every teenager in a school as part of their weekly curriculum.

And now I see myself in thousands of budding classical musicians who get diverted and distracted from their dreams and their goals and end up teaching not because they really want to (I am truly grateful to those whose primary passion IS teaching), but because bills have to be paid and it’s not coming from performing.

People ask me all the time how to make the most of teaching. Specifically, how to attract the very dedicated and advanced students that would make teaching a more rewarding activity.

Well, I used to teach. Peripatetically at first (and had the highest ratio of students go to music college among some 3,000 teachers in the regional music school I worked for), and then in the classroom for a while. 

In fact, in one school we took 600 inner city kids from rebellious outcasts to choral singing on the radio, and even helped a small group release an original song, and later I took two years to turn a music department that failed government inspection to being one of the four strengths of the college.

So, I have experience teaching.

But it failed to fill a void.

In the same way teaching High School mathematics was not enough for Art Garfunkel, or elementary school teaching was not enough for Gordon Sumner (Sting), Sheryl Crow, or Gene Simmons (of KISS!).

And now I hear the same questions from classical musicians today that I was asking myself: How do I find the best, most dedicated students so I can make teaching more altruistic and rewarding for me? Here are four thoughts in response:

  1. If your true passion is performing then why are you not focused on developing that career? Don’t divert your limited energy and effort to anything other than your primary purpose. The more you perform, the more dedicated and interested students will ask you to teach them, and then you can choose.
  2. Music teachers are a dime a dozen. You don’t want the reputation of being just another starving artist trying to make it. If performing is your passion, then become the performer who teaches. You are not a servant who jumps when your customers tell you do – you simply serve your community and choose to make people’s lives better.
  3. Students and their parents must clearly see the benefits of learning to play or sing with you as opposed to anyone else. That means you must be practicing what you preach, i.e. perform. That’s what they’re interested in, so isn’t that the teacher they are looking for?
  4. Consider this: For every hour you are teaching, how much could you be earning as a performer? If implementing my Captivating Concert™ system then it’s quite a difference! Which would better serve your soul and your lifestyle? FOCUS on THAT.

Be very careful where you are putting your precious time, energy and resources. Is it focused on the right activities – the things that drive you, that make you excited, that you dream about?

Let me show you how to choose when, where, and what you perform, with who, and for how much, so that the really dedicated and advanced students seek you out and you can choose who you teach and how often. Give us a call and let’s see if I can help you.

My career coaching programs might feel like another semester in college, but they are way more practical, based on real-world experience and trial & error, and designed to get you results: booking gigs and earning a good living as a classical music performer.

Book a call now.