Tips for Classical Musicians

Category: Classical Musician

The Best Classical Music Practice Tips

Getting started with classical music training is only the start of the journey, we all need to practice and here are some of the best classical music practice tips to help you develop and grow.

  1. Find A Quiet Place

This might seem obvious but it will not only make you far less likely to succumb to distractions but entering a designated practice are whether it is just the corner of your living room or a particular room helps to mentally prepare you for this kind of work. Mindful intention means a lot and you can help set this intention by having a ritual in place of going to the same place each time.


2. Ready Your Supplies

Cellist David Finckel has a 100 video series on YouTube known as “Cello Talks” where he says that you do not even need to play the cello to get much out of most of them. Part of what he covers might seem like very basic advice such as the discussion of his practice space. He advices his audience to keep a very clean eraser along with a pencil sharpener close by as well as a pencil for marking up music. This seems simple but it is one of those little things that are easily forgotten and you can easily waste a lot of time if you have to start searching for them. A top classical music practice tip to keep in mind!


3.Technology As A Training Aid

Technology is an amazing aid but only if you do not spend too much time fiddling with it. I have 3 low-cost or free apps on my iPad a phone: a timer, a tuner, and a metronome since they are important practice tools. I also carry my phone with me everywhere (as most of us do) so it’s technology you can trust to have to hand.


4. Classical Music Tip – Start With an End in Mind

Always have a goal for every practice session before you begin playing. Simply playing music is not the same thing as practicing. You should think about what you would like to accomplish that particular day before you begin. If you aren’t too sure about what to focus on, you can ask your teacher / mentor for several concrete goals you can work toward before the next lesson. Note these goals down so that you are able to refer to them in your practice sessions.


classical music practice tips


5. Mapping Classical Music Practice Sessions like Workouts

Many musicians love starting with some breathing exercises and a few stretches before they ever pick up any instrument. Even if you don’t reach that extent, a relatively common scenario is to warm-up using scales to loosen up the muscles and get the brain thinking about technique. Next, move to the “working” part that involves analyzing and attempting to solve problems. Finally, cool down by improvising or revisiting music that you already know well.


6. Practicing Smarter, Not Necessarily Longer

If you have a focused objective you can easily accomplish much more within a shorter amount of time. Science even tells us that the amount of willpower that you can draw upon is limited. You thus need to make the most of the time available to you. Assume that you are having problems with a couple of tricky measures. Set a timer for a short period (say 5 to 10 minutes), then focus exclusively on one problem in as many ways as possible. You can even break it down into successively smaller and manageable bits, go very slow, change the rhythm, and try playing the passage backward, whatever. If you still have problems with that trouble spot, make a mental note to come back to it again tomorrow. It is highly likely that it will be much easier then.


7. Classical Music Practice Tip – Don’t Always Start At The Beginning Each Time

Don’t forget about maximizing your willpower and time. It feels quite good to hear yourself playing beautifully at the beginning of a piece but you can easily find yourself wasting the limited energy and time that you have. It can also lead to performances that start strongly but wilt along the way.


8. Challenging Yourself

This refers to challenging yourself physically. This is particularly important if you are attempting to wrestle down a problematic element. Scientific research say that adding a physical challenge to a difficult task such as attempting to play the part while walking or standing on one leg forces the brain to start creating new neural pathways. When you resume doing the original task, it will be much easier.


classical music practice tips for all instruments


9. Practicing Away From Your Instruments

Visualization is a tool that many musicians use just as athletes do: They run through music without actually touching any instruments. When you have some downtime such as during a train or car journey, you can try bringing your music along with you either on a mobile device or on paper then read through it silently. Envisage yourself practicing but only in your mind, you will be amazed how much of an impact this visualization can have.


10. Rewarding Your Hard Work

To help the brain automate good habits, you need to reward hard work in a positive way. This might sound like plain old bribery but it is backed by science. Charles Duhigg, who authored The Power of Habit writes that finding something that the brain likes helps it remember the “habit loop”.


You can get more information on Classical Music culture and importance of practice with our blog on 50 things to remember in the practice room.


July 19, 2017     0 Comments   , , ,

Classical Music Fun Facts

The generation of today often associates classical music with being boring, pompous or even haughty. While there may be a bit of truth to these characteristics, this particular genre has had a significant share of “weirdness” over the last few centuries. Below are a few interesting classical music fun facts that are maybe not well known.

  • The tension associated with 230-odd strings featured inside a Grand piano is able to exert an outstanding force of 20 tones when combined on a cast-iron frame.
  • In 1993, The Helicopter Quartet was written by a very controversial composer by the name of Karlheinz Stockhausen. This quartet involved sending 4 members in this string quartet up into the skies in 4 different helicopters and each musician then played their part. While playing each musician was recorded and their music was broadcasted back for an audience inside an auditorium. The composer composed this particular piece after having unusual dreams that involved swarms of bees and helicopters.


classical music fun facts


  • The German composer known as Robert Schumann was known for plunging his hands inside the entrails of slaughtered animals in order to heal ailments. We’e not sure if that’s a classical music fun fact or just weird!
  • At the time when the American civil war had reached its peak the young John Philip Sousa watched one of the military bands. Even though this awakened a passion in him for music, when he first tried to learn how to play an instrument he failed miserably which resulted in him deciding to never return to music. He decided that he would rather pursue the path of a baker. However, after only three days as an apprentice at one of the local bakeries, John made a decision to return to music.
  • The reason why there are 2 skulls inside Haydn’s tomb is because the real skull went missing when it was stolen by a phrenologist. Another skull was then placed into the tomb. But in 1954 the real head had been restored and the substitute still remains in the tomb to this day.
  • Rossini wrote the famous aria “Di tanti palpiti” while he was waiting for a risotto meal inside a restaurant in Venice. A classical music fun fact that should remind you to always gran food, it can sometimes be when inspiration strikes!

Classical Music Fun Facts And More!

  • A single violin is composed of more than 70 pieces of individual wood.
  • Don Giovanni boasted that he was able to seduce 91 Turkish, 100 French, 1001 Spanish and 640 Italian women.
  • Many people know the Four Minutes and Thirty-Three Seconds by John Cage after it gained notoriety as it was around 4 minutes and 33 seconds of just dead silence. Another composition took this genre further when the Monotone Silence Symphony by Yves Klein consisted of a one prolonged note over 20 minutes followed by another 20 minutes of dead silence.
  • The London Symphony Orchestra was supposed to travel with the Titanic’ maiden voyage, however, they made a decision to change the boat they traveled on minutes before the voyage.
  • In 1960 at The Met, Baritone Leonard Warren died on the stage directly after singing the song Verdi’s ‘Morir, Tremenda Cosi’ which stands for “To Die, a Momentous Thing.”
  • Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky a Russian composer suffered from a form of extreme hypochondria. His condition was so extreme that he was seen always holding onto his chin when he conducted his orchestra. He stated that if he let go of his chin he was scared that his head may fall off. He was also known for never drinking anything that was not bottled as he had a fear that he may catch a disease. Unfortunately in the year 1893, he received a diagnosis that he had Cholera and died the next day.
  • In the era of the 18th century dogfish skin was typically used in order to sand the violins.

Classical Music Fun & Weird facts

Classical Music Fun Facts and Crazy Behavior

  • The duet Gioachino Rossini’s Duetto Buffo di due Gatti is composed of a single word “meow”. It is story about 2 cats arguing while the melody is said to be left mainly to the discretion of the singer.
  • An Austrian concert pianist, Paul Wittgenstein was called to military service when World War 1 broke out. Even though the man sustained significant injuries to the area of the right-arm which later had to be amputated he refused to give up on playing the Piano. Years after the war he went onto work alongside various celebrated and famous composers in commissioning new playing methods and piano concerti which allowed for more possibilities for one-handed musicians.
  • The soprano singer Dame Nellie Melba underwent a facelift operation that was unsuccessful and later died from an infection.
  • Yuri Gagarin the Russian cosmonaut sang the “My Homeland Hears” a Shostakovich song on the radio during his 1st space mission.
  • The Franz Schubert’s Symphony No.8 has often been called the “Unfinished Symphony” as only the 1st two movements were completed. Despite various theories, the reason as to why this piece remains uncompleted is still a mystery. However, one of the popular beliefs is related to that Franz abandoned this symphony once he was diagnosed with the condition known as syphilis.
  • When on a tour across England, Benjamin Franklin created an instrument which involved a set of glass bowls of various sizes which produced their on unique sound when a finger touches them. The Franklin’s “glass armonica” became famous among various 18th century composers that included Beethoven, Mozart and Strauss.
  • At the Sydney Opera House during the performance of the Boris Godunov, a live chicken fell from the stage directly onto one of the cellists.
  • Even though the Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture has been in use for commemorating the United States Independence Day for more than 3 decades, it was actually originally composed in order to celebrate Russia’s victory over France which was associated with Napoleon’s invasion that failed over Moscow. Tchaikovsky’s overture has been regarded as a theatrical and musical genius due to the real fireworks 16 shots fired from cannon artillery and church bells. However, Tchaikovsky himself hated this piece and actually stated that it was “loud and noisy” as well as “obviously written without warmth or love.”


Classical Music Bizarre History


  • Orlando de Lassus a renaissance composer was kidnapped a number of times when he was still a boy due to his beautiful and angelic singing voice.
  • Richard Wagner was known for been extremely hard to work alongside as he had a no-nonsense attitude and aloof and unfriendly personality. But was also believed to be drawn to a more feminine side. He was said to only wear satin or silk underwear and the letters that he addressed to the wealthy dressmakers revealed that he had a definite interest when it came to women’s clothing.
  • The Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky may seem like the perfectly normal as well as significantly beautiful musical piece in today’s standards. But when first released in the 1913, it was different and unexpected and caused the audience members to throw things at the orchestra and riot. The press of this time attacked Igor Stravinsky and called his piece “puerile barbarity.”
  • Adelina Patti was the person to wear the most costly opera costume in 1895 at the Convent Garden. This costume had a value of £15 million.
  • Franz Liszt was asked by so many of his fans for locks of hair that he eventually purchased a dog and then sent the fur clippings of the animal instead.

Classical Fun Facts – conductors and composers included!

  • The composer known as Robert Schumann did not originally have intentions of becoming a composer. He first wanted to be a pianist. However, after a hand injury that was believed to be associated with a “crude finger” strengthening mechanism it made this dream impossible. He made a promise to his family that he would attend law school if he failed at his musical career, but he decided to stick with music and later became one of the more influential composers for the 19th century.
  • When the conductor known as Herbert von Karajan died, his wide Eliette inherited his fortune with a worth of £250 million.
  • As Slow As Possible a piece by John Cage is on performance currently at the St. Burchardi church. We will all be dead before the piece concludes as this musical project started in the year 2001 and is planned to end in 2640, therefore meaning the piece will be 639 years in length. The note change made last was in 2013 while the next change will not be heard until the later part of 2020.
  • In Austria, one of the most favorite brands of chocolate is the ‘Mozartkugeln’.
  • When The Four Seasons was written by Antonio Vivaldi, he wrote these notes in a musical score and asked his musicians to make sounds of falling rain or barking dogs. He also went onto compose sonnets for each season to portray a story behind the music.
  • The Symphony No. 1, the Gothic by Havergal Brian required more than 800 musicians that included 82 string players in order to perform.
  • Domenico Scarlatti composed the “cat fugue” when Pulcinella his cat decided to walk over his keyboard.
  • Even though Felix Mendelssohn a German composer was widely recognized as one of the child prodigies, he was not the only child in the family. Fanny Mendelssohn, an older sister to Felix was just as good a composer and musician as her brother. However, Fanny was not allowed to pursue her passion in music due to how the public viewed women in this era. Felix admitted that he had gone onto publish a few of her compositions as his own so that she would not have to face scorn or retaliation for them.



  • Well before the iconic batons, the orchestral conductors made use of very long staves which they would hit against the ground in order to notate a rhythm. This particular practice came to an end rapidly when Jean Baptiste Lully a French composer hit his own foot that resulted in a nasty abscess on one of his toes. After refusing to have the toe amputated, the wound turned gangrenous and he eventually died from the wound.
  • La Monte Young a celebrated pianist did a piano piece for David Tudor #1 which is in fact not a song. The piece is actually a type of theatrical composition that involves a performer bringing a bucket-of-water and bale-of-hay in order to “feed” the piano. The piece comes to an end when the piano has decided it is no longer hungry or has finished eating.

Classical Music is neither boring or maybe as innocent as you may have thought. The above facts and information detailed above prove that this was truly an amazing and interesting musical era. Which weird and wonderful classical music facts have we missed that you know? Please leave a comment and share with us.

If you love classical music then you might struggle with contemporary music and we’ve a great article here on what to do if you don’t like contemporary music. Enjoy!

July 5, 2017     0 Comments   , ,

Working As A Classical Musician

A classical musician plays an instrument solo or as part of an orchestra or musical ensemble. They can either record music or perform live to the audience. Working as a classical musician means being able to do what you love and earn a living doing it, it’s what most of us strive to do!


Guide to working as a classical musician


Working as a classical musician – the options


  • Playing in a small group or in an orchestra, or as a soloist – with the direction of a conductor.


  • Performing live from time to time after hours and hours of rehearsing – the performances per se take a small percentage of your time, as you’ll be mostly in the studio at recording sessions


  • Practicing often in order to keep up the skills and learn some new music – need to know how much practice you really need? Then check out this blog post


  • Tuning and looking after your instrument and equipment


  • Often playing with multiple groups or orchestras at a time in order to make your living


  • Taking part in outreach programmes that take music into a community or working on education


  • Going on tour, performing across the world or the country and getting help from your agent to find auditions and work.


Classical Musician Working Tips


How Much You’ll Be Paid Working As A Classical Musician?


Pay rates vary depending on many different factors:


  • Whether you’re working freelance as a classical musician or have a permanent position


  • What sort of organisation or company you’re working for


  • What orchestra or venue you’ll perform at (club, regional theater, London theater, TV, pub, recording studio etc.)


The Musicians’ Union has some agreements regarding freelance rates with organizations such as the BPI (the British Recorded Music Industry) and BBC. They cover live performances as well as recorded sessions – you can find more information on it at the Equity website.Working as a classical musician is all about being paid a fair, industry rate and this can and does differ from country to country so check your local details.


For instance, a salaried orchestra musician working with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra could earn about £29,000 (circa $55000)  per year, all the way to £40,500 (circa $75000) per year or more at principal level. You can get extra for overnight trips, concert tours, overtime, or if you play multiple instruments.


In other orchestras based in London, you should earn around £29,000 to £52,500 per year, around twice as much as you’d get working at a major American orchestra.


Freelance rates are a bit different – they vary a lot according to experience and skills. According to research findings from 2012 by the ISM (Incorporated Society of Music) the average fee for each engagement (a performance or rehearsal) is £90-150 for orchestra players and £100-250 for solo instrumentalists.


Recording artists, on the other hand, might earn a lot more. The few soloists who become big names get very, very high earnings.


The salary for full-time musicians working as classical musicians in the armed services will vary according to service. The RAF advertised musician pay in 2016 at £24,913 and benefits, after basic trainers.


Classical Musician Working At The Ballet


Working Conditions For Classical Musicians


  • A working classical musician performs in many different places – from restaurants and hotels to churches, concert halls, theatres and opera houses.


  • If you’re part of a military band, you’ll need to commit to the armed services in return for a regular job and study bursaries.


  • You might need to go on tour abroad or in the UK and be away from your home for long periods from time to time.


  • You might need to work long and/or unsocial hours, including weekends and evenings.


  • A lot of musicians get employed on short-term contracts, taking on a few extra jobs in order to support themselves, like giving private tuition.



Getting Started Working and Earning As A Classical Musician


Usually, classical musicians begin learning at least one of the instruments they play when they’re very young. In order to become a professional classical musician, you need to reach high standards of performance in the instrument. The majority will have studied at a conservatoire (Music College) or at a university.


There are a few degree courses in music performance, music, and performing arts, too: The NC (National Certificate), as well as HNC and HND (Higher National Certificate and Diploma). Entry qualifications will vary according to the level of the course.


For most courses, there is an interview and audition, too.


Entry for a degree course is very competitive. Not only you’ll need the academic qualifications, you’ll need qualifications in music as well, most of the time. For a degree course in Scotland, you’ll probably need 3 to 4 Higher, preferably with music and Grade 7-8 on the main instrument you play from a body like the Associated Board of Royal Schools of Music


For certain courses, you’ll need to be able to play two instruments, which may include singing.


You’ll usually need to show that you have some amateur experience.


You may get involved with a community or youth orchestra.


Working as a classical musician around the world


What Do You Need?


Basically, you have to be:


  • Particularly talented in music
  • Confident in your skills to perform in front of the audience
  • Capable of sight-reading – that is, being able to read and then play a musical piece without needing to see it before
  • Determined to improve your performance and succeed
  • Capable of taking criticism
  • Disciplined and motivated, able to spend hours and hours practicing
  • Good at working with others
  • Able to adapt t different musical styles
  • Able to deal with financial and business matters if working freelance





Classical musicians will often continue with private classes throughout their entire careers in order to improve or maintain performance.



Getting Started With Your Classical Musician Career


Working as a classical musician is a very competitive career, so you can expect little job security.


You’ll need dedication, talent, and luck in order to be successful.


For musicians that are on the permanent staff of the orchestra, there’s a promotion structure that’s very competitive. It begins at tutti – the rank and file players – then principal, and section principal.


Some classical musicians conduct or compose music, too.


Some musicians will go on to train for other careers such as teaching or music therapy.


June 7, 2017     0 Comments   , ,