As with all things, success leaves footprints and the same is true of classical musicians. We’ve found the top 10 habits of successful classical musicians. A thought on the minds of all musicians who graduate formal education is that of whether they will be able to take control of their musical journey and pave a way that will lead to a successful career. A specific method for career control does not exist; however identifying the traits which are common among successful classical musicians can certainly be worthwhile.
The 10 habits outlined below are seen in successful musicians and all aspiring musicians do well to take each one to heart.
The 10 Habits of Successful classical Musicians
Know Who You Are
You are the start of your music. If you want to tell the world that you are a musician worth taking note of and really be a successful classical musician, then you should be able to clearly articulate why you have a passion for music and why you want it to be the center of your life. Knowing your place in the music world, including what you already have under your belt and what you still have to learn, is another crucial factor. Make sure you are your own worst critic, that way you will be prepared for anything that comes your way.
2. Don’t Settle For Being A Good Musician, Aspire To Be A Great Artist
Musicians are two a penny, but true artists are hard to find. A real artist has an adoring and loyal fan base and rewards their fans by constantly providing something new and improved. Work out what it will take for you to be a real artist, then make the moves you need to get there. Think about the people who inspire you, who do you consider to be a successful classical musician and use their examples in your life. Picasso, Mendelssohn, Charlie Chaplin, there are plenty to choose from. Step into their shoes and allow yourself to see life through their eyes.
3. Never, Ever Stop Learning
A real artist is always hungry for new knowledge, thirsty for incredible ideas and ready to drench their minds with things that inspire. Make interesting people a focus in your life. Read about them, listen to them, talk to them, ask them questions; in simple terms, do your best to be in the company of interesting people each and every day of your life. Don’t forget that unconventional sources of information can still be excellent sources of knowledge. People who never stop learning are the best company to be with, they are always transforming themselves and enriching their personal growth experience. Make sure that you are one of those people and you’ll be well on your path to becoming a truly successful classical musician.
4. Perfect Performances Require Work
Comparing your own performance to your ideal performance is something you should not shy away from. Never lose your passion for constant improvement. Make a recording of yourself on your mobile phone. Let your friends hear your performance and tell them that you will only accept honest feedback. Take the time to listen to the musicians who inspire you the most. Volunteer to perform for the most incredible musicians that you know. This will show that your level of dedication far surpasses everyone else.
5. Friends Are Crucial
Careers need people, not solitary confinement. Your contact list of friends, mentors, and contacts within the music industry should be well kept and ever expanding. There is great likelihood that it will be one of the people in your contact list who gives you that life-changing inspiration, introduces you to the right person at the right time, or opens the door to an opportunity that could otherwise have been missed. Having a big musical family certainly isn’t something to complain about.
6. Become a Successful Classical Musician And Imagine Various Lives That May Be Within Your Reach
Stay open-minded to the various ways that you could make being a musician the center of your life. The options are very varied. You know the old saying (with a slight adjustment), ask not what the music industry can do for you ….. Working in the world of arts presents big challenges for everyone who makes this their career path in life. As a musician, your aim should be to present a great solution for them, rather than give them a problem to deal with. When it comes to recommendations on how to run the organisation in an improved way, tips on programming or innovative ways to appeal to the public, these people are more than appreciative of your ideas. Make a point of asking how you can be of help.
7. Inspire Others By Your Example
The mind of an artist, including ideas and ideals, is something others may struggle to fully understand. That is why the best way to stand out from the crowd is to live life in a way that shows exactly who you are and what you are passionate about. Let your example inspire other people and doors will soon open.
8. Make A Habit Of Giving Back
Don’t underestimate the need to get sharing your own knowledge, experience and personal inspirations with potential listeners of classical music, as well as people in your locality and further afield. You are an artist and a musician, that means you will always have something great to share with others. People viewing you as a generous person who thinks of other people is sure to be a good thing for you too.
9. Stay On The Path
Stay dedicated to your art – always keep respect for why you became a musician in the first place and resist any temptation to deviate off course – ultimately that is what will earn you the respect of the industry as a whole, as well as that of individuals. Today’s music industry dangles many temptations to leave the high standards of practice and study to the side.
Those in music education, administrators, and musicians themselves go to great lengths to create opportunities and get tickets sold. When it comes to it, if you really want to be trusted and respected in the industry you need to show that you are not someone who is willing to stray from the course of musical excellence.
10. This is where you add your own tip,
9 tips are enough to get you started, please share you comments and add what you think should be tip 10 in the comments below!
When was the last time you listened to classical music?
Was it yesterday? perhaps 3 months ago?
I personally don’t listen to much classical music because I focus all my energies into practicing.
It is a fact, after a 6 hour practice session I don’t feel like listening to music at all!
I could not be more WRONG! That was me! and it’s still me sometimes I had a professor during my undergrad who always mentioned the possibility of musicians not liking music. He said that somehow, we musicians don’t enjoy listening to music anymore.
Not everybody, but a good majority! What happened to us? Where did we lost it? Is it true that we musicians don’t like to spend time listening to good music?
I mean, common! That’s what we do! It’s how we make a living–or at least how we intent to make it happen. I consider myself completely guilty on this one. I know it’s important but still, I don’t compromise enough to actually do it. I think if we get to know the many benefits we get from listening to music, perhaps we could organize our study sessions including more listening.
These are some of the things that come to mind:
1) You will learn style.
2) You will learn the composer.
3) You will learn traditional performing standards.
4) You will learn about tempos, colors, atmospheres.
5) You will learn what your part sounds like when the others are playing.
6) You will learn orchestration (if studied with score).
7) You will learn the best orchestras in the world.
8) You will learn other parts.
9) You will learn new music
Today, we have more than enough resources to listen to classical music for free. On YouTube you find everything. As a good resource I will recommend www.naxosmusiclibrary.com. Investing in a streaming site like this one will pay off in the long run. It is a good idea, also, to build up your personal library with scores and Cd’s, but I know there is a lot of money involved there. On the meantime, if you can’t afford that you can stick with YouTube and perhaps Naxos music library.
Get your free scores here www.imslp.org. I’m sure you knew this site
I invite you to join me and take the challenge of listening those works you are working on and other stuff by the same composer. Taking aside 15 to 20 minutes daily will do.
As we analyze the character and what actually makes the composer unique, we will level up an understanding of the music we play. I believe, that will put us at the top of our field.
In general, when you are informed and know what’s going on around your world, you are on the right track to know your competition, your business and what holds you back. You will be better prepared to deal with it. When you get to know who the next little virtuoso is and who won which competition, you maintain a good preparation and set some standards.
Knowing what is going on is part of your business. Don’t forget. This stuff we don’t learn in the practice room but it’s what completes us. The more you know the better– it’s a thumb rule for all fields. In an industry where contacts play a big role, knowing as much as possible is essential to manage a successful career. We can start simply by listening to recordings and knowing most of the recordings of the pieces we are working on.
Be involved! Subscribe to music magazines, blogs like this one and streaming sites! They can only add to your career development. What other thing would you add to the list of benefits?
Believe it or not, your knowledge on music history and theory will be reflected in your playing. It will help your performance unconsciously by understanding and visualizing patterns, hidden harmonies, structures etc.
Not convinced yet?
Go on YouTube and watch any interview by one of your favorite soloists!They often talk (know) about the time period the piece was composed, its relation to the modern orchestra and general impressions the contemporary audience may have. They also know the score (orchestra parts) like they know their hands.
Not convinced yet?
Yeahhhhhh, I know you are! 🙂
Anyway, as performers we approach music from a totally different angle. If we were composers, for example, elements like orchestration, harmonies and colors are supposed to be the primary focus. For us it’s sometimes technique, technique, technique.
So what can we do to expand that horizon?
How can we performers take it to the next level?
I believe the right answer stands by studying and analyzing how composers think.
If we understand composers then we can understand their music.
For example, let’s say that the composer is writing for the orchestra. He/She thinks and studies that instrument as a whole. Balance, melody line, accompaniment, colors, textures, harmonies, dynamics, contrast, ranges-that’s what’s going on in their heads. But, on top of that they have to know at least the basics of each instrument and their capabilities to write successfully for them.
Our job as performers constitutes to play those dynamics. Our job as a section is to play those dynamics as a section. If we play (p) instead of (pp), when (pp) is marked, then it is another piece. That (pp) has been thought as a complementary part of what’s going on around the orchestra–assuming we are working with a professional composer.
He studied orchestration. You studied clarinet. Trust him/her. 🙂
12 Things the Composer Might be Thinking While You Play Your Part
1. Dynamics are not being played as strictly as I thought them.
2. The oboist is not aware that his/her line is being doubled by another instrument.
3. Cello section is rhythmically helping the melody line. Please notice that!
4. They are obviously playing the root of the chord. It feels like they don’t even notice.
5. First violins are now complementing the harmony.
6. First violins tend to play sharp in upper positions. Why? Focus on the harmony guys!
7. Seconds can play more. I don’t hear them. They are really important.
8. Violas, forget the viola jokes you guys are essential in my music.
9. There is a xylophone in this piece. I don’t think the orchestra knows it.
10. That line is impossible to play, but is ok… I don’t care about the notes they are building a color.
11. I hope the musicians don’t notice I copied those measures from John Williams.
12. This composition was created to have an impact. Not so much about beautiful chords. I hope someone understands my purpose with the piece.
How awesome would it be if you could lay on a couch to watch Family Guy for hours?
If you ask me, I would tell you
that is 100% awesome
and probably the best hobby/activity/marathon ever invented by the human race.
Well, I’m 26 years old, just finished my master’s in music performance and I’m not married, yet. I don’t have to support anybody but me. The truth is that I could probably do those marathons for as much as 4 days straight, no problem.
Actually, I think I’ve done it once or twice.
Although I am not completely ashamed (just a little), I can explain
It’s so damn hard to open my case and play one scale.
For what! I’ve been playing scales since I know myself.
Boring stuff to enhance a technique that doesn’t seem to be enhancing or that it will ever be enhanced.
It happens to all of us! ( I hope so! )
If you are like me, you feel really bad after those marathons because you were not productive.
Don Juan could’ve been perfect by now, Mozart No.4 should’ve been the cleanest of all time—but you chose to watch Family Guy!
How awful! Shame on you! 🙂
heh, it’s ok! It won’t happen again right?
If you want to avoid a moment of regret after a 4-day-marathon, here are some tips that can help motivate the musician inside you and start doing NOW!
I’ve said it before but it needs to be said again; Often, the hardest part is to get started. So,go crazy! sit down for a minute and think ‘‘in 1 minute I will start running to open my case and do 1 scale”. I tell you, just that keeps me hooked for the rest of the day.
Exercise first thing in the morning. The benefits are incredible and a lot, your mind will be clear and your energies all boosted, ready to hit the practice room.
While you watch Family Guy, bring your sheet music with you. Play the passages mentally on commercials. It could get you going after that episode 😉 .
Sit down with full score in hand and your favorite recording. Learn from it and study it with your heart.
Eat fruits and hydrate well. They will keep you healthy and happy—2 vital elements to practice with your whole senses.
Now that you know what to do pick one and try it out.