Tips for Classical Musicians

Tag: Practice classical music advice

10 Habits Common Among Successful Classical Musicians

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

  1. 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.  


10 Habits Of Successful Musicians


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.  


How To Be A Successful classical musician


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!


June 21, 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   , ,

What About Technique?

As a classically trained musician, you know that the most important thing you can do is work on and solidify your technique. No matter how talented or expressive you are in your musical skills, it`s technique that gets you through.


Without having a strong technique to support you, you`re not treading a path to success; you`re treading quick sand. On the flip side, however, some musicians rely so heavily on technique that they`re virtually swamped by it. They`re so wrapped up in practicing scales, arpeggios and other exercises that they neglect to work on their repertoire.


When this happens, it`s important to prioritize how much of your practice time should go to technical warm-ups and exercises and how much should go toward practicing your musical pieces. It`s important first to remember what technique is for. You use these strengthening skills to fine-tune and hone your skills as a musician.


Once you`ve got a firm grip on your technique, you can put it firmly in its place as a background to your performance.


If you`re a singer, particularly an opera or concert singer, you have to be especially careful about not over-practicing. Many experienced professional singers are content with 20 minutes a day of warm-up scales and arpeggios before jumping right into repertoire.

If you practice your vocalizes and exercises too long, you`ll tire out your voice. As to how much you should practice your technique during a single session, here are some thoughts to consider:


  • Mindless practicing is a waste of time.Most musicians agree that endlessly playing scales and arpeggios by rote over and over again without thinking isn`t a particularly valuable way to spend your practice time. If your head space isn`t in what you`re doing, your muscle memory won`t develop and muscle memory is the backbone of technique.
  • Mindless practicing causes sloppinessand soon you`ll find yourself falling into bad habits that will make your practicing destructive rather than beneficial. Neglecting your repertoire leads to a lack of confidence. After all, you`re going to be performing your pieces, not your scales, in front of an audience.


If you concentrate on technique at the expense of your repertoire, your repertoire will surely suffer.

If you have extra practice time, devote it to your musical repertoire, not to your technical exercises, especially if you`re preparing for a performance. Set aside a time for scales, arpeggios and technical exercises and don`t go beyond it. Unless there`s something you specifically want to work on, such as a helpful exercise, keep your technical practicing in its place. It`s valuable, but you don`t want to practice scales at the expense of your repertoire.

Just remember, technique is vitally important, but it`s a means to an end and this end result is the skill with which you play your musical repertoire.


October 16, 2012     0 Comments   , , , , , , ,