Tips for Classical Musicians

Tag: professional musician

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   , ,

Productivity for Musicians (Planning)

What is exactly is being productive? Does it mean staying focus for a period of time? Is it what I need to do in order to play at my best level?

Those were some of the questions I asked myself when I first approached the term productivity. I wanted a straight to the point guide. How can I prepare the Tchaikovsky concerto the fastest, easiest and most effective way?

Fear no more! I will explain productivity with stuff I’ve tried and what others have taught me.

Here we go!

If you subscribe to my colleague Dr. Noa Kageyama at his Bulletproofmusician blog, you will get a Practice Hacking Guide. This guide will get you on the right track.

It is evident that you need to be willing to work hard in order to change bad habits for good ones, but keep in mind that as a musician you’ve already build strong elements to do it. By spending many hours in the practice room you already considered a disciplined individual.

Now, the question is—how long should I practice?

Here are some good answers to that question! (You can come back after reading the whole post) J

How Many Hours I day Should I Practice (Must read)

Today I want to provide you with an effective productivity plan. Not just my opinion on how long you should practice but more like how to take 100% of your efforts home.


In order to take advantage of every second you destined to practice, you must have a plan.

  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • How are you going to do that?
  • What strategies are you going to use?
  • How long will it take?

Planning a practice session is like planning out your life. You give direction and try to reach those goals while preparing other tasks. You can’t waste time—it’s limited.

Let’s say that you have 30 minutes to practice.

How would you get the most out of it?

How do you take 100% of your efforts home?

With 30 minutes you can easily take a big excerpt of music and work many things. Hopefully you picked a hard passage. Pick some technical as well as some musical problems.

30 Minutes

5 minutes| tuning each note. Slowly watching your fingers from note to note

5 minutes| figuring how you would phrase that passage

5 minutes| actually playing the phrase with dynamics, etc.

5 minutes| repeating hard fingerings, bowings,etc. Cleaning everything up.

10 minutes| using the metronome and trying to get it up to tempo.

30 minutes will change the life of those measures forever. You were completely focus on those measures and actually worked things separately. You can even combine tasks by working on technical and musical problems at the same time.

I can personally focus for only 40-50 minutes at a time. After that, I am not really100% concentrated. I get distracted and start playing things without thinking much.

Many experts on the subject talk about 50 minutes practice and 10 resting (1 hour of work).

My Schedule

40 minutes – Warming up, technique, etudes, scales

10 minutes- Break

50 minutes- Concerto

30 minutes- Break

40 minutes- Mozart concerto

10 minutes- Break

50 minutes- Orchestral music

Total = 3hour practice with 50 minutes resting.

If I do it twice a day I will have practiced 6 hours and rested 1 hour and 40 minutes.

To practice 6 hours (the healthy way) I will need at least 8 hours available.

By doing the above, I give my body and muscles the essential time to rest. My mind will also pay me later by retaining more information.

Productivity =  wanting to reach a certain level under a certain amount of time. (Read Increase Your Productivity by Shortening Your Day )

It’s been proven that when you work with a deadline, you do so more efficiently. You accomplish more in less time.

Finally, I would like you to read how this guy is productive.

Happy practicing!



October 2, 2012     0 Comments   , , , , , , , , ,