The People Pleasing Power of Creativity

Human beings are by their nature, creative. We imagine, invent, compose, and design constantly. Not all of these imaginings make it into the physical world, but they nonetheless are created in our minds. We all possess the spark of creativity.

Creativity - A Characteristic of Attractiveness

Even so, many people feel they need permission to be creative. Watching others be creative gives them that permission, and this is one of the reasons that we find creative people so attractive.  

The Trifecta of Creativity in Performance

We generally associate creativity with a specific creation. A work of art, a novel, or in the case of music, a composition. But this act of creativity is only the first of many involved in a classical music performance.

After the composer has created a piece, an artist then interprets the music – imbuing it with the emotion and dynamics she feels are most appropriate – creating an experience for the listener.

The creativity doesn’t end there, though. The final piece of the puzzle is the audience member. We know that if we ask five different people to tell the story they imagine while listening to the same piece of music, we will get five different stories. This is the creation that the listener brings to the table. And as a performer, sharing your creativity, this is the permission you give to your audience to experience their own.

Passion and Creation

Perhaps the most attractive, dare we say, sexy, thing about creativity is that it is born of passion. To create you have to care. That’s part of the reason that some places are more conducive to creativity than others, and why some people can be creative in careers that others find mind-numbingly dull.

You may have had the lucky experience of being taught something you weren’t much interested in by someone passionate about the subject. Suddenly, it’s more interesting, maybe even compelling. That’s the beauty and power of passion.

We aren’t all sparked by the same things, but we’re all drawn to passion and the creativity it breeds.  

This is part of our series on the characteristics of attractive people. If you would like to hear the live discussion about this characteristic, head on over to now.

If you are ready to learn more about how to build a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, check out Concert University, and the free webinar that outlines 5 strategies for success.

The Pursuit of Inner Peace

What is inner peace? Is it even real? Is it something we should bother striving for, and if so, how do we do it?

Inner Peace - A Characteristic of Attractiveness

The Journey Not the Destination

Inner peace is a harmoniousness of spirit that provides a sense of calmness and purpose regardless of outside circumstances. Sounds wonderful, right?

Bad news: inner peace is not an attainable goal. By no means does this imply that you can’t ever have it, only that it is an ongoing pursuit, not a singular accomplishment. There will be times when you experience this calm – when you think you have arrived – only to find yourself feeling anything but peaceful just hours later.

So the goal isn’t to live in a state of inner peace at all times (that is unrealistic unless perhaps you are a monk) but to strive to cultivate it as much as possible.

Acceptance is Key

It’s counterintuitive, but sometimes it can be easiest to experience inner peace when we are in the midst of near catastrophe. When things are obviously far beyond our control and we must contemplate the worst outcome we realize that no matter what it is, we’ll have to accept it. We won’t have to like it, mind you, but we’ll have to face it as reality and move on from there.

Thankfully, we don’t have to wait for some near disaster to learn this acceptance. Instead, we can practice living in the moment (as if there’s another moment we could live in) and focusing on the process while letting go of the outcome.

Auditions are a great opportunity to practice. When you approach an audition focused on how much you need the gig, worried about whether or not you will get it, you are focused on something over which you have absolutely no control. You could be the very best player, but if the director has decided that he is giving the part to his nephew, there’s nothing you can do.

Instead, approach auditions as a performance. You are there to communicate with your audience. How your audience judges your performance is not your problem. Not only does this kind of attitude help you feel more peaceful, but it also eliminates the scent of desperation that is an automatic turn-off to those considering hiring you.

Acceptance goes beyond just letting go of outcomes. It also means accepting who you are, and what you are capable of doing right now, where you are.

As classical musicians, we find ourselves constantly competing with others. There is a never-ending litany of comparisons going on in our head. Is she better than I am? Do they like his style more? Will I ever accomplish what so-and-so has done? Why can’t I just be an accountant?

The truth is, you’ve likely tried to do other things and found them unfulfilling. You are a musician. Accept that. Today, you are capable of what you are capable of, nothing more, nothing less.

Accept that.

If you must compare, compare yourself to who you were yesterday. Think about where you are going and look at how far you’ve come. Don’t compare your journey to someone else’s. You are you, not them. Accept it.

If you want to experience inner peace accept that you are who you are, follow your path to the best of your ability in the moment, and let go of the outcome. Inner peace is a process, so be process-oriented.

This is part of our series on the characteristics of attractive people. If you would like to hear the live discussion about this characteristic, head on over to now.

If you are ready to learn more about how to build a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, check out Concert University, and the free webinar that outlines 5 strategies for success.

How to Keep It Real

There’s a lot of talk about being authentic and “keeping it real,” but what exactly does that mean, and how do we, as performing musicians, do that? After all, to perform, on a basic level means to put on a show, and shows are inherently not real, right?

Not necessarily.

Keeping It Real - A Characteristic of Attractiveness

Share your passions

As we communicate through this language of emotion we call music, we are called to connect with the people in our audience, to share parts of ourselves. The easiest way to do this is to ensure that what you are sharing is something you care about.

Obviously, if you are part of a large ensemble, you may not always have the opportunity to decide what is on the program. But if you are able to program your own performances, choose pieces that express who you are, not who you think your audience wants you to be. As soon as you begin pretending to be someone you are not you’ve lost your authenticity.

Deliver Your Performance to People Not Rooms

Regardless of whether you can choose the program or not, you can choose how you deliver your performances. An audience is a general faceless thing, however, the individual people making up that audience are very real.

It goes without saying that you should be well prepared for any performance. Feeling confident about your ability to get through a piece goes a long way toward allowing you to be present, as opposed to alienated and anxious.

But, whenever possible, also memorize your parts completely so that you don’t need to even glance at a music stand. If you own the music in this way, you can focus entirely on making eye contact with the people that have come to hear you perform. As sappy as it may sound, while you perform, look into the eyes of the people in the audience. Try to make a connection. Send them your love and gratitude. You are giving them a gift, and by their presence, they are allowing you to do what you love. Let the people you play for see that in your eyes.

Let Go of Audience Expectations

In the western world, we have a pretty strict idea of how audiences should behave. We believe they should sit still, listen attentively, applaud at the correct times. Though this is, in fact, pretty standard behavior today, it wasn’t always so, and it’s still not true in much of the world.

If you are wrapped up in judging how the audience is responding to you (Why are they chatting? Why does that man keep getting out of his seat? What could possibly be funny?) you aren’t connecting. It may seem like you’re focused on their experience, but what you are really doing is focusing on yourself and how you believe you are being perceived.

In many places across the world, people do not sit quietly and listen. Sometimes they even pull out phones, record pieces, and listen back while you are STILL playing. This doesn’t mean they aren’t enjoying the performance, it simply means that your expectations of an audience don’t line up with their reality.

Composers of old never expected people to sit still for an entire performance. No one sat quietly through Beethoven’s performances. They were too long. Expectations are disappointments waiting to happen and they keep you from connecting. Even worse, they can cause you to try to capture the audience’s attention by being overly showy and cartoonish.

Give your best to the individual people in your audience, and let them respond to your authentic self as they will. You may be surprised to discover that they come to you later and tell you just how much what you’ve shared has impacted them, in a very real way.

This is part of our series on the characteristics of attractive people. If you would like to hear the live discussion about this characteristic, head on over to now.

If you are ready to learn more about how to build a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, check out Concert University, and the free webinar that outlines 5 strategies for success.

Learn to be the calm in the storm

We live in a last-minute, frantic world. Much of the time we’re rushing from one thing to the next, trying desperately not to drop all the plates we are spinning. No wonder then that we are attracted to people who move calmly, act deliberately, and refuse to panic.

Calmness - A Characteristic of Attractiveness

It’s grounding to be around someone who seems to inherently know what they have control over, and what they do not – someone who works to manage what is within their realm, and leaves the rest to turn out as it will. After all, in any given situation or environment, there is very little we can actually control. We are in charge of our contributions and our reactions, but the outcome is almost entirely out of our hands.

The calm performer

Music is a journey, and the performer is the driver. Our job then, when we play, is to do our best to allow our audience to be swept away by what they hear, without fear that we will run them (or ourselves) into a brick wall.

It’s impossible to relax and be transported by music if we are nervous for the performer – constantly worried that they will crash and burn. It’s like trying to watch an amateur figure skater, all the while knowing that they don’t really know how to stick the landing on a triple turn. We’re too busy holding our breath, feeding off of their panic, to really enjoy the experience. They are not calm, and so we are not calm.

Preparation goes a long way toward creating a calm, confident performance. If you’ve successfully played a piece a hundred times in practice, you are much less anxious about pulling it off in front of an audience. Still, life is unpredictable. Things do not always turn out as we hope they will. The trick to remaining calm is to learn to manage your reactions when things go sideways.

Keep calm and carry on

Pause, breathe, and consider the next right step. Don’t allow yourself to be carried away by fear or impulsive reactions. The modern world seems to praise busyness. We wear our franticness like a badge of importance, constantly running around putting out fires as though it all depends on us. After a while, that attitude becomes habitual. But habits are just the result of repeated choices, and they can be changed.

Choose to remain calm in the face of all the noise, and you’ll be able to offer something to others that very few can – peace of mind.

This is part of our series on the characteristics of attractive people. If you would like to hear the live discussion about this characteristic, head on over to now.

If you are ready to learn more about how to build a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, check out Concert University, and the free webinar that outlines 5 strategies for success.

Perfectionism in Performance

As classical musicians, we are raised in an environment that not only encourages perfectionism but often, seems to demand it. A culture that picks apart everything we do, actively looking for things to pick apart. So, it’s no wonder that when we leave that space and move into the world of professional music, we are conditioned to not only notice every misstep but berate ourselves for it. Professionals aren’t allowed to make mistakes, right?

Even so, they happen all the time.

Perfectionism in Performance

Get a group of honest, professional musicians together, and the stories they can tell about humiliating public mistakes will make your hair curl. There’s the piccolo player who dropped two entire measures of a solo at a retirement party for the highest-ranking musician in the Marine Corp. Or the flutist whose electronic set up wouldn’t even turn on in front of hundreds of people.

Failure happens. Perfectionism is an expectation of the impossible.

The origins of perfectionism

Other than our training, which by nature, seeks perfect playing, where does this impossible expectation of perfection come from? No doubt, the ubiquitous availability of recordings plays a role.

By the time we hear a recording, it has been edited and mastered for hours. An engineer carefully splices together the very best parts of several different takes, and the result is, well, perfect. It’s easy to believe that what we are listening to is the record of people playing music in a room, instead of what it actually is – a collage of everyone’s best moments.

Recordings are wonderful for a lot of things. They are a particularly helpful tool for practice. But they are not live performances, and they don’t reflect the reality of live performance. A well-made recording is like a well-written essay – it’s been gone over with a fine-tooth comb, checked for grammar and intonation. A live performance, on the other hand, is a speech. It may be well-rehearsed, but it is happening in the moment, with all of the passion, and unpredictability that each moment holds.

Dealing with imperfection

So what happens if you mess up? How do you deal with it?

Well, first you have to accept it. It’s happened, without a time turner that allows you to go back and do it over, there’s nothing you can do. Beating yourself up doesn’t repair the past, it only ruins the present.

Remember, you win some, you learn some. Look at the mistake honestly and see if there’s a lesson in it. Do you need to practice a particular section? Do you need to develop a contingency plan for faulty equipment? Or is it just an anomaly – something so unusual that it’s likely to never crop up again?

Perfectionism is a fear of failure and a fear of the unknown. Like everything else in life, if we let the fear of failure stand in our way, we will never have authentic musical moments. Think about why you are performing. Think about what you are communicating through your music. Choose joy, and it will be the joy people remember.

If you would like to hear the live discussion about this topic, head on over to now.

If you are ready to learn more about how to build a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, check out Concert University, and the free webinar that outlines 5 strategies for success.

Develop and Display Confidence

Peruse the personal development shelves of any bookstore, and you’ll find dozens of books about how to increase your own confidence and inspire the confidence of others. We know why confidence is desirable for us (Who wouldn’t want to avoid the crushing pain of insecurity and fear?), but why is it attractive in others?

Confidence - A Characteristic of Attractiveness

As human beings, we have an innate need for connection and safety. Confident people can make us feel both, and that is why we are so drawn to them. We get nervous around people who are not confident about what they do. When others seem shaky and uncertain, we absorb that feeling, and it puts us on edge. This is particularly true when we watch someone perform.

A confident performer, regardless of whether he’s a musician or a figure skater, allows us to relax and enjoy the journey of emotion that’s being shared. An anxious performer, on the other hand, causes us to worry. Are we going to get the experience we came for? Are we going to have to participate in someone else’s embarrassment or disaster? It’s nearly impossible to connect with a performance like that.

Confidence vs. Arrogance

While confidence is attractive, arrogance is off-putting, and there’s a fine line between the two.

Confidence says, “I know who I am; I know what I can do. I’ve prepared my part well, and I am ready to do my best.”

Arrogance, on the other hand, says, “I know who everyone is. I know what everyone should do, and given the chance, I could do it better than they can.”

Interestingly, arrogant people – people intent on proving that they are better, more important, or more intelligent than the others around them – are generally the most insecure. When you are confident, you understand your place in the whole. You know the part you are to play and understand the importance of playing it well (whether in music or life).

When people insist on trying to insert themselves into other’s roles, it is because they don’t believe that the part they are supposed to play is valuable enough. Essentially, they aren’t sure that they matter. Unlike confident people, who value learning from others who are further along than they are, arrogant people are intimidated by better players. They blow themselves up, act as though they know everything to avoid being seen as “inferior.” They lack humility.

This lack of humility makes them unteachable. When you can’t be taught, you can’t improve.

Developing Confidence

As a musician, if someone asks you to play a C major scale, no doubt you feel 100% confident about your ability to do that. You’ve done it a million times. You are well prepared.

Preparation and exposure are great confidence builders. Classical musicians tend to have an abundance of confidence in some areas and a complete lack of it in others. You may be confident about performing a piece, but not confident talking to the audience or booking a show.

The best way to develop confidence in a new area is to practice. Isolate a specific skill, say, stage banter, and focus on doing that well until it begins to feel as simple as that C major scale.

Confidence is grown like a seed, little by little, but once it blossoms, it’s beautiful to behold.

This is part of our series on the characteristics of attractive people. If you would like to hear the live discussion about this characteristic, head on over to now.

If you are ready to learn more about how to build a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, check out Concert University, and the free webinar that outlines 5 strategies for success.

How to be a Supportive Person in a Competitive World

We’re all drawn to people who uplift, encourage, and actively help us achieve our dreams. After all, why spend time and energy on Negative Nellys and naysayers (except those well-meaning family members we just can’t avoid) when you can surround yourself with positive vibes that help you get stuff done?

But support is truly a giver’s gain concept: if you want supportive people in your life, you have to be a supportive person.

Support has become something of a buzzword. We talk about supporting ideas, supporting policies, supporting the arts, when what we really mean is we agree with or appreciate those things.  Truly being supportive means giving encouragement and actively giving help to someone who needs it. Support requires action, not just thought.

Supportive - A Characteristic of Attractiveness

Break the Lack Mindset

As professional musicians, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that another player’s success is our failure. After all, if they get the job, that means we don’t get it right? How can you genuinely support someone else’s ambition if it seems to preclude your own success?

Here’s the truth: classical musicians (and classical music in general) face a lot of challenges, but other musicians are not one of them! True, we are all vying for the attention of the public, but what we are battling against is the distraction of modern life – Netflix, Candy Crush, and the host of other easy entertainments that consume the few free hours people have after working long hours and caring for families. It’s simply so easy to sit at home with mindless entertainment these days, and that makes getting people out the door to see live music a challenge.

Understand that a rising tide lifts all boats. If you can create a thriving culture of live entertainment by supporting other players, you too, benefit. Everyone benefits. It isn’t an either/or; it is an and/also.

Everyone has a different gift to give. Respect and support the gifts of others without falling prey to the idea that acknowledging their talent diminishes your own.

How to Show Support

Obviously, showing up to watch performances is supportive, but how else can you encourage and help fellow musicians and the other people in your life?

1. Be an active listener: This applies to every interaction you have and is a sure way to gain people’s trust and admiration. When you’re having a conversation with someone, slow down and listen to what they are saying. Don’t use their turn to just think of what you’re going to say next. Avoid generic responses, maintain eye contact, and ask questions. And please, please, put your phone away.

2. Offer advice only when asked. This one can be tricky, especially if you see something that could use improvement. Though it’s true that tough love can be a form of support, it’s generally better to focus on the positive. Offer encouragement by telling someone what you appreciated about their performance, what you thought they did particularly well. Be authentic, don’t lavish generic praise on a performance you thought was merely ok, but do look for good things to encourage.

If you are asked for advice, remain positive. Instead of, “That middle section was rough,” try something like, “The first movement was great! If you can work on putting the same emotion into the second movement, it will be brilliant.”

3. Don’t gossip. This should be a no-brainer, but sometimes our lesser angels get the better of us, especially if we’re still caught in the trap of competition. When someone shares something with you in confidence, keep it to yourself. This applies to struggles and victories alike. It’s impossible to feel supported by someone who is talking being your back.

4. Share the wealth. If you hear of opportunities that would benefit others, tell them! “But what if they get it, and I don’t?” By being generous with encouragement and information, you are exponentially increasing the odds that others will reciprocate. Next time they may tell you about an opportunity that is a perfect fit for your gifts.

5. Work on your building your own confidence. When you believe in your talents and value what you do, it becomes so much easier to offer support to other people.

This is part of our series on the characteristics of attractive people. If you would like to hear the live discussion about this characteristic, head on over to now.

If you are ready to learn more about how to build a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, check out Concert University, and the free webinar that outlines 5 strategies for success.

Whatever Happened to Professional Joy?

It’s a familiar story. A musician works for years through a rigorous music program nursing the dream of one day becoming a professional performer. At last, it happens. Then, a few years later, this dream job has become routine. Wake up, do the work, go home. Something feels missing.

When we turn professional, when our livelihood depends on our music, we tend to kill the joy of it. Why? How? And what can we do about it?

Long-term Love Is a Choice

Committing to a career, especially one as personal and emotional as music, is a lot like marriage.

There was a story on the radio recently about a man who’d been married for 65 years. He was talking about how he and his wife had managed to stay happily married for so long. He said, “Over the past 65 years, I’ve been married to 10 different versions of my wife. She became ten different people, and I chose to fall in love with every one of them.”

He chose to be in love. Over and over again. Happiness is a choice, and it requires a daily commitment.

When we go into professional music, especially after striving for so long, it can feel like a huge celebration, a wedding party if you will. But every day is not a party, and we shouldn’t expect it to be.

No one, regardless of career, goes to work every day and loves their job every moment that they are there. A life in music is hard work. Wonderful, yes, but also work. Managing expectations helps repel disappointment and disillusionment. So remember, every day is not the wedding day. Sometimes it’s the garbage night. And that’s ok.

Take Responsibility for Your Happiness

Often, when musicians are disappointed in their careers, it’s because they feel stuck. They feel like they are no longer in charge of what they do, and what they find themselves doing is draining, or even boring. It’s easier to blame a director for their unhappiness than it is to admit that, ultimately, the responsibility for happiness lies in their own laps.

But the truth is, no one is keeping you where you are. You have the ability to craft a career you do love. There are no hard and fast rules about what a professional music career must be. If you don’t like the situation you find yourself in, even after accepting that some days will be better than others, then change it.

A word of warning: if you don’t like the career you’ve crafted, you’ll have no one to blame but yourself. However, you always keep crafting!

Remember Your Audience

Disgruntled performers make boring performances. Full stop.

Consider the influence your attitude is having on the people you are there to serve. Even on your worst day, your job is to communicate the emotional language of music to people who may have never experienced it before. You can’t do that if you are selfishly obsessed with how much fun you aren’t having.

Think about the people who are listening to a piece for the first time, even if you’ve played it a million times before. Be an actor. Communicate the emotion of the music. Find it, and amplify it to the audience. It’s hard to be bored when you’re invested in honestly communicating emotion.

You may have decided on a career in professional music because it was the most fun you’d ever had. That’s wonderful, we want our professional lives to be fun. But it’s important that when you step over that threshold from avocation to vocation, from wedding to marriage, that you remember that you’re making a commitment – a commitment not only to your career but primarily to your audience. You’ve committed to making the world a better place by communicating through the language of emotion. That’s something to be happy about, even on the rough days. 

This is part of our series on the characteristics of attractive people. If you would like to hear the live discussion about this characteristic, head on over to Classic Jabber now.

If you are ready to learn more about how to build a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, check out Concert University, and the free webinar that outlines 5 strategies for success.

What shocks me may surprise you

With the latest old-school icon from the hippy era crumbling under accusations of serious misconduct, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to reconcile expectations with responsibility.

The #MeToo movement continues to reach deeper and deeper into society, and classical music is clearly not exempt.

Now that Placido Domingo, one of the original Three Tenors, is under fire for sexual harassment since the 1980s, to be perfectly honest with you I am utterly shocked at three things…

Actually, they are the same three things I have struggled with over the past few years as these various stories come to light.

And what shocks me may surprise you:

  1. I am shocked that anyone is surprised by these post-hippy-era stories,
  2. I am shocked that anyone would consent to any form of what is now considered gross misconduct under any circumstances (let’s explore that in a moment), and
  3. I am utterly shocked and saddened that there are STILL people in the classical music industry who use these very painful experiences as a hook to promote their services!


Yes, I just received an email from a cheap, multifarious classical music “coach” who launched an unsubstantiated attack on Domingo and then spent the second half of her missive justifying an upcoming event and incorporating the Domingo story into descriptive links for her coaching programs and social media accounts. 

That makes me almost as sick as when hearing about the original story itself.

To me, it signifies just how low our industry has stooped – that it’s become OK to sell our wares on the backs of those who endured absolutely awful experiences with lifelong impact.

It is, perhaps, one of the most underhanded, despicable and unprofessional selling tactics anyone could possibly imagine. 

Aren’t we better than that?

Why aren’t we better than that?

Now, I am not diminishing anyone’s victimhood AT ALL, but I am saddened anyone thinks it was ever ok to either ask for sexual favors or that actually giving or engaging in such behavior was ever necessary.

It doesn’t take a degree to understand right from wrong, yet for whatever reason so many of our peers seem unaware of the impact of their words and actions.

What may be said in jest by one person could actually be very harmful for another. Stack such comments on top of each other over time, and a mindset of self-worth and wanting to make our world a better place through music may be damaged beyond repair.

There is ALWAYS a way out, but many times it is REALLY DIFFICULT to see it, act on it, or prioritize it. Especially when a primary income is at stake. So we put up with the comments and taps and slaps not realizing just how bad our situation is.

We are NOT talking about rape.
We are discussing harassment.

Why would anyone think there is no alternative?

We live in an era in which sexual freedom is popular, that followed an era in which sexual experimentation was popular.

On top of which classical musicians are ensnared in an industry that promotes one way of thinking, one way of doing, and only one possible path… a path that was created 100 years ago and is no longer suitable for the real world.

Well, no matter how many options and opportunities there may be to get out of a potentially sticky situation, it doesn’t surprise me that sexual harassment is rampant in the established classical music industry. I witnessed it many, many times in my college days.

But it shocks me when others declare surprise.

And although it doesn’t surprise me that talking about such important topics occurs within our circles of influence (it’s what we’re doing right now), I DO remain SHOCKED TO THE CORE that some of our classical music peers ride on the lifelong pain of others in order to make a buck… and woe be coming to those who get swallowed up by such cheap Machiavellian antics.

Craft vs. Career

Every year, thousands of students graduate from music programs across the world. These are talented, dedicated students, and yet, many struggle to build fulfilling careers as performing musicians. Why?

Because they haven’t learned the skills required to build those careers.

Craft or Career?

What School Doesn’t Teach You

There is an enormous difference between mastering the craft of music – our instrument or voice, composition, conducting – and mastering the skills required to build a career sharing live music with people. Many people spend 10, 15, even 20 years figuring out the craft, but expect the career to just be there upon graduation. It doesn’t work that way.

Is it the fault of the music programs? Not really. University was never intended to be a vocational school. You have to look elsewhere to learn the day to day skills required to find and book gigs. You may need to beef up on your people skills or your selling skills.

In the movie, The Founder, Ray Croc, the man who brought McDonald’s to the world, realizes that he is not in the hamburger business, he’s in the real estate business. Similarly, you are not as much in the music business as you are in the people business. You must put the same effort into mastering your relationships with people as you did mastering your instrument.

Thankfully, there are some skills that transfer between music training and career building.

  1. Diligence: In order to master your music craft, you had to be extremely disciplined and dedicated. Think of all the hours spent woodshedding in practice rooms. The same diligence serves you well as you craft a career.
  2. Resilience in the face of rejection: Every time you failed an audition or were passed over for first chair, you experienced a little bit of rejection. Hopefully, you learned to take that in stride and keep going. Learning to deal with rejection is one of the most important career skills you can master. A lot of talented people leave music because they do not understand that frequent rejection is just part of the package. Nine times out of ten, you will hear no. That’s ok. That means that one time you will hear yes, and it all rides on that one time.

Insecurity is Unimportant

As a classical musician, you spent years before teachers, fellow students (competitors), and judges, having every single move picked apart. They focused on the three notes you could have done better instead of the 5,000 notes you played perfectly. That was their job, but it still leads to fear that everyone else is scrutinizing your playing in the same way. Years of that level of critique makes it easy to believe that you are less talented or worthy of success than you really are. Bam. Fear of failure.

But what if you’re successful? What if you land the gig, or garner the praise? Well, deep down, you don’t believe you deserve it. Someday, someone is going to realize that you are a fraud. This is called Imposter Syndrome, and it’s a big driver behind what people refer to as “fear of success.”

These are all perfectly normal, even common fears. Never should you imagine that you are not capable of having a successful career in music because you harbor these kinds of self-doubts. Nearly everyone does! The key lies in overcoming them and learning the other skills that will allow you to build a profitable, fulfilling life in music.

Tips for the Road

These tips are critical for building a career in music, but they apply equally to building a career in any profession.

  1. It’s not who you know; it’s who you know that wants to work with you. How do you make people want to work with you? Be your best self every time you show up.
  2. Everyone you meet in your field is a potential colleague. You never know what opportunities or connections are lurking behind a new face. Be nice to everyone.
  3. Be your own best advocate. No one is going to come knocking on your door to offer you your dream job. You have to go out and create it for yourself. Don’t wait for someone else to give you permission – you’ll be waiting a long time.

You’ve mastered the craft of music and already overcome numerous obstacles. Spend time mastering the business of music (the business of people), and you’re on your way.

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If you are ready to learn more about how to build a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, check out Concert University, and the free webinar that outlines 5 strategies for success.