Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

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slipperyjoe
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by slipperyjoe »

Posaunus wrote: Thu Apr 30, 2020 10:07 am
slipperyjoe wrote: Thu Apr 30, 2020 6:28 am Retired from elementary school teaching last June. Good timing, COVID-wise.
Hope you still have good health insurance, COVID-wise! :roll:
Yes, which is important since my spouse (also a recently retired teacher) and I fall within multiple high risk categories. Numerous teachers and employees from our school system (NYC) have died from COVID-19. Let's hope the same isn't true for your local school system.
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by MBurner »

This is resurrection at its best, but I read this thread and felt compelled to respond. I have the best job in the world now (opinion), and have the great fortune to still be drawing a salary as a trombone player during Covid (fact).
Before winning the lottery (my job), I was a freelancer in NYC. For every great gig I had playing with the MET or subbing on a broadway show, I was teaching a 4-year old what a C was on the piano 10-20 times. A definite skill, but not my ideal way to earn a living. I also moved percussion instruments, pianos, worked summers as a forklift driver, and took surveys on Craigslist for $5 a pop. For my own preservation, I had in my head that I would audition and schlep until I was 30, and then hang up the horn for hopes of a financially secure life. I was a lucky, and won a full time position performing, and I admire all of my peers that are riding out these uncertain times with all the pressures of being an artist without knowing when art will return to being a viable career.
My opinion means little, but I advise my students that want to be professional musicians to go for it with open eyes and bloody lips. Know the risk, assess the odds, and practice smarter and harder than the competition. There is no shame in working as a piano tuner (Finlayson), a doorman (Friedman) anything under the sun. If you work your tail off, opportunity will knock.
Bach42t
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by Bach42t »

I have an undergrad degree in music with a concentration in music industry, partially funded by trombone scholarship, however I tried twice to cut it in the music business-side in both Nashville and New York. It was just not for me and desired something with more structure. Fast forward from the mid-00's when I made the choice and wow does time fly! Today I am only 6 years away from retiring from the Army. I do not play in an Army band though, I am a financial manager and have had the opportunity to live in so many places in the United States, in some rough places overseas and it gave me experiences I would not have gained elsewhere. I have also earned an MBA in Accounting on the Army's dime. The military profession has provided security and stability in my life, however, I have sacrificed years of practice time, performing, and the enrichment I can only receive through music. I look forward to more time in the future to practice, or move over to another profession. Perhaps I will teach music on my second career.
ParLawGod
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by ParLawGod »

No musical breaks for me. Band Director by day, member of an Army band (National Guard), and weekend gigs. Most of the time I love it...sometimes I wish I worked in a cubicle! :) Basically to the point I can't listen to music in my car anymore...talk radio only just for a break.
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by Finetales »

Doug Elliott wrote: Sat Apr 25, 2020 10:34 am Right now I'd bet that anyone who has been totally dependent on income from playing is in serious trouble.
Yep. I was a full-time musician until the pandemic started, at which point I got a retail job as the gigs dried up. I'm still doing some remote recording and other work when I can, but it's certainly not enough to survive on by itself.

The short-term goal now is finding a day job that isn't totally miserable, at least until the world eventually returns to normal. But at least I have a paycheck.
Digidog
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by Digidog »

I freelanced for, like, five or six years after graduating from college, but that eventually took so much out of me that I had both a physical and mental breakdown. The final straw was when I was subbing at a performance of "Rent", and found that I couldn't get that lousy music out of my head one night when I tried to go to sleep.

Looking back, I now realize that I led i miserable life during these years; I never came home before 11pm and rarely got up before 9am, and between gigs I also took on conducting big bands, composing/arranging, combo gigs, amateur gigs, and students. I had had that schedule since long before being admissioned to college, and when I examined my life in counselling, I realized that I hadn't had a real (a true) vacation in close to twenty years.

Now I work part time as a teacher of music at a junior high/high school. It's a relief to have regular working hours, more permanent colleagues, while also having a lot of time for both practising, gigging (but not since the pandemy shutdowns were issued) and composing/arranging, and I can take vacations. I also find that my musicianship benefits from making my teaching basic but advanced, and I know that my instrument skills (I also sing and play the guitar and the piano at a fairly advanced level) give me an edge in my instructing of the individual students, that make them sense possibilities in the subject, rather than just another class to suffer.

I won't go back to fully freelancing again, but if I could win a place in an orchestra or a big band I would consider that. I am, however, quite content as it is now.
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Cotboneman
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by Cotboneman »

All I ever wanted to do with my two music degrees was to teach, though when I finished up my Masters program in Chicago in the mid-80's there weren't a heckuva lot of high school or middle school teaching jobs open. So I spent a year at Illinois Bell Telephone and then three years at a mortgage services firm, mostly for the benefits prior to getting married. By then I'd relocated to Arizona and found a full-time band teaching gig that I loved, and my now ex-wife worked in big Pharma for many years as a top drug rep, so we did okay money-wise. I had no reason to play professionally by then. Having retired from teaching now, I enjoy giving something back to my community through my volunteer groups, and at least through pre-Covid, it kept me busy. I have taken paid pit gigs for the Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty and a few shows over the years, but generally I still don't play professionally.
Driswood
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by Driswood »

I have many friends here in Florida who are near my age, 68. They have always been full time musicians, with much of their income "under the table". They never put anything away for retirement, and now they are hurting.
I was fortunate (call it lucky) to teach in a school system that had excellent salary and benefits. I retired at age 59 after 30 years with a good pension. Added social security at age 62. At 65, went on Medicare. Plus, I was able to play with quite a few bands and teach private lessons while teaching.
Flash forward to 2020. I'm one of the few people here who didn't lose any income during the pandemic, since it didn't affect my retirement income. If I had been a full time musician, I wonder if I would have had the discipline to invest for the future. I don't know.

Most of the guys I played with over the years did something else, and played on the side.
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Valerone
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by Valerone »

I'm currently a civil engineering consultant during the day here in a small city in Malaysia.

On weekends I coach low brass at a local school concert band. I also play for the state orchestra (both classical and jazz/pop) but we are mostly a semi-professional group. I'm also a sessionist for a few local bands around the city and have done some recordings for them as well as performing with them for gigs, music festivals and events. The payments for the gigs and even the state orchestra is very minimal of which I wouldn't be able to sustain on without my day job.

Despite the small return in terms of money for performing and teaching here, it is my hope that through this it will create more awareness for brass instruments and hopefully more people will come to like them and try to learn them - therefore thriving the brass music scene and also its appreciation here in my city.

I am also in the midst of creating a community big band group and possibly a brass quintet.

My days are usually occupied from morning till nights. Having a job as an engineering consultant is very taxing especially on the brain, but I'm thankful that at nights I get to phase out from my day work and play the trombone (unless the conductor requested me to do a hard solo piece...).
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by MKtuba »

I am still pursuing my degree(s) and am not yet out of college, however I would like to weigh in.

I am pursuing a music performance degree, but I also double major in a non music field, Psychology. My reason for this is my passion for working in the mental health field. I have worked as a Direct Support Worker for most of my adult life (which I will admit hasn't been very long) and have discovered a real passion for this line of work. If the music performance/ collegiate teaching doesn't go the way I want it to, my plan is to work as a social worker and get a masters in Music therapy and enter that line of work. I encourage all of my friends to have some sort of backup plan, and really evaluate the amount of work it takes to foster a career in this industry.

Side note: while I have been someone that has ALWAYS advocated for undergraduates to pursue music ed, even if they plan on going into performance, I have had a change of heart. I started my degree with this same thought: I would get an undergrad in Music Ed and then get a performance degree (or 2) when I go to grad school. I came to the conclusion that should I need to default to my backup plan, I would not be happy as a public school teacher. I have no passion for teaching Band or Orchestra, and feel I would be doing a disservice to my hypothetical students by getting a job like this without actually caring about the work. If you are someone that can actually see themselves being a band director, then maybe this route is for you however I have determined that it is not right for me. Either way, I encourage people to either make the entrepreneurial decision of having a back up plan like this, or at least truly accept the fact that even with the perfect combination of hard work and dedication, you still may not get to have a career in music.

Take everything I said with a grain of salt, as I am still an undergrad with too much alone time to think about stuff like this.
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by AndrewMeronek »

MKtuba wrote: Sun Oct 30, 2022 8:07 am I am still pursuing my degree(s) and am not yet out of college, however I would like to weigh in.

I am pursuing a music performance degree, but I also double major in a non music field, Psychology.
Don't worry about thinking of Psychology as a "backup". There are many musicians who both have a thriving musical career and a second, sometimes non-musical career. The biggest thing that makes this work IMHO is the schedules. If your non-musical job involves a lot of travel, especially short-notice travel, that makes it really tough to make things work. If your schedule is stable, the 2-career thing is a lot easier to manage.
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by MKtuba »

Thank you for the affirmation, it really means a lot!

I take no shame in having a day job right now, and really won't be disappointed if I have to keep one for the rest of my life. At the end of the day, if I can still make high quality art and share it with the world that is what matters. I would of course love to be paid to do it, but if that isn't in the cards then I am happy I can still put food on the table and a roof over my head.
dylanmwolfe
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by dylanmwolfe »

I work for a local band and orchestra retail supplier. We focus primarily on student level rental instruments, but also have a pretty decent stock of intermediate and professional instruments as well. I started in sales while I was in school for music and moved up to a management position after graduating last year. I have to say I have learned A LOT about gear, history, and the instrument market I would have never known without working at this store. I've also been able to see a side of the musical market that was hidden to me before- manufacturers, vendors, retailers, and the whole process behind it all. I have my evenings free to gig or rehearse or do whatever else life has in store, and I get a reliable paycheck every two weeks, paid time off, benefits, etc. I also have much less free time in my day to practice, listen, and focus on my musical development. It has been a real struggle to fit in as much time on my horn as I would like to on a day to day basis within a 40-50 hour work week.

I personally know many musicians who support themselves through solely music, I know others who have supplemental incomes like DoorDash, etc. that work as much as they want/need to make ends meet alongside the rotation of seasonal gigs. It really all depends on you as a player. I find that those who don't have a day job have more free time to develop musically (although I know many who efficiently fit a regular practice/listening routine along with their day job). Whether you use that free time to your advantage is up to you.

I don't know how much this answers your question, but I thought I would give my thoughts.

Best!
Alzitra
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by Alzitra »

Personally, I would love if I could live off of gigs alone, but I have so many bills to pay that it's just not reasonable to do so. At least my job is chill enough to let me leave early to make it to gigs and rehearsals most of the time.
Eclifton
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by Eclifton »

Each time I've moved to a new city I had a day job at first, sometimes music related, sometimes not. When I moved to Nashville, I drove Lyft for the first six months or so before teaching picked up and I was able to rely on that steady income in addition to playing work.

Then when covid shut everything down, I picked up a job at a liquor store, I've always had an interest in craft beer and spirits so it was actually really enjoyable. At times I actually miss having an outlet away from the music business, but that has just lead me to cultivate hobbies like golf and running to have a community outside of my musician friends and colleagues. Finding the right balance for you is key.
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by maherbone »

I work for a law firm as a paralegal. Had majored in music but after a few years I wanted a W2 job with benefits and ended up with this firm. No complaints though, I get to work remote and am able to pick up the horn a bit throughout the day. Now I gig for fun and extra money. It's nice honestly and has taken the pressure off a bit. I am getting serious again playing wise so down the road who knows what opportunities will come about. I'm just grateful to have the 9-5 right now.
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by dukesboneman »

My "Day Job" was a High School Band Director in Rochester and Buffalo, NY City Schools. But I always played every chance I got.
I taught for 35 years and retired. I now play pretty much full time and love it but My health care and pension make that possible
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Ozzlefinch
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by Ozzlefinch »

Wait, what? You can make money playing music?
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by BrassSection »

I’ve personally never made a dime from playing any horn. Only ever played in church bands and ensembles and community bands, but that’s fine with me. My strongest instrument is euphonium, and you know what they say about that. (In case you don’t, what’s the difference between a large pizza and a euphonium player? A large pizza can feed a family of 4!) I do it for the fun of music and broadening my horizons. Income came from 25+ years in a pulp and paper mill, and in later life as a home inspector. Side benefit of that job; found a decent piano to replace a not so decent one at home. Daughter is a very talented piano and French horn player. She decided against the college route after the first year…she realized soon enough she didn’t want to make a career out of full time playing or teaching. She has done some instruction, mainly to kids of family and friends. Now sadly she only plays maybe once or twice a year in a brass ensemble at church, or to accompany one of my horns on the grand piano.
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by Macbone1 »

I committed to the military band route at age 23, so music was full time PLUS for me until age 48. There was SOME off duty gigging but we honestly didn't have a lot of time for it. Hardly anyone played anywhere off duty for free, unless it was for very good friends or family.
I prepared myself for full time office work after the Air Force and my playing has been largely unpaid stuff ever since. But I get to pick and choose the type of groups I join, which is important to me.
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Leanit
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by Leanit »

In San Francisco, more people make a living pitching for the Giants than by playing trombone. Yet people send kids to conservatory like it's a realistic career path. Unless you're 1 in 1000, you need a job too. Play for fun, get better all the time, and get paid every chance you can to keep the profession from becoming completely volunteer.
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tbdana
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by tbdana »

Leanit wrote: Tue Mar 21, 2023 8:25 am In San Francisco, more people make a living pitching for the Giants than by playing trombone.
This quote is sad, but probably pretty accurate, substantively if not literally. Even amazing players in the major music cities have a very insecure career just playing trombone for a living. It can be done, but you have to be good, lucky, know the right people, and be in the right places at the right times.

I played professionally for 20 years, no day job, no teaching gig. Just freelance playing. It was a pretty insecure life.
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mazman
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by mazman »

I do have a job as financial advisor outside of music. I’ve been playing trombone for 40 years, without interruption. I feel I play at a fairly decent level. I studied all through my collegiate years, but I wasn’t a music major. I just wanted some easy As. In college, a made a bunch of money subbing for various brass choirs on little notice. My dad was a high school band director, and my love of music runs very deep. I’ve also honed my skills at guitar for the past 36 years.

I have been playing as a professional steelpan player for 14 years. I have a steel band with my wife, who is a music teacher at a public school. Steelband pays a lot better than trombone, and I get to pick the gigs I want to play. I feel like I’m the luckiest person alive.
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by balkansobranie »

Just found this thread and new to the forum so thought I'd put in my experience.

I started playing the Trombone when I was 10, and after finishing school studied Trombone for 6 years in further education and ended up getting a degree in Trombone performance from a top London conservatoire. I didn't enjoy conservatoire very much and decided a career in music was not for me. I enjoyed playing solo Trombone and not playing in orchestra or band, and therefore (as I was not in the same league as C. Lindberg et al) there was no chance of making it pay. I didn't fancy music teaching either.

I did intend to keep playing but as my career developed and I got married, I played less and less until about 20 years ago I stopped completely as I didn't enjoy witnessing my own decline in playing ability. That is perhaps the tough part of taking a day job, it can severly impact your practice time and if you have been studying at a conservatoire then your playing standard will likely suffer which can be depressing.

I now own three businesses (non-musical) and am well enough established that I finally have enough time to practice and enjoy playing again - and a detached house on large grounds so I don't upset any neighbours. It has been wonderful to rediscover the Trombone and feel no pressure to do anymore than just please myself.

I take my hat off to anyone who makes it in the music business - it is incredibly tough. Of the 20 or so excellent Trombonists that I saw pass through my conservatoire during my time there, not a single one has a full time job in an Orchestra, and only one player (who changed his focus to Jazz) has had what I would call a successful top flight career. A couple are freelance players and teachers, but the vast majority moved to different careers.

I'm therefore very happy to have made the tough call early on so that I could do something else succesfuly, but perhaps a bit said it led to me not playing for a couple of decades.
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by imsevimse »

balkansobranie wrote: Fri Jul 28, 2023 8:02 am Just found this thread and new to the forum so thought I'd put in my experience.

I started playing the Trombone when I was 10, and after finishing school studied Trombone for 6 years in further education and ended up getting a degree in Trombone performance from a top London conservatoire. I didn't enjoy conservatoire very much and decided a career in music was not for me. I enjoyed playing solo Trombone and not playing in orchestra or band, and therefore (as I was not in the same league as C. Lindberg et al) there was no chance of making it pay. I didn't fancy music teaching either.

I did intend to keep playing but as my career developed and I got married, I played less and less until about 20 years ago I stopped completely as I didn't enjoy witnessing my own decline in playing ability. That is perhaps the tough part of taking a day job, it can severly impact your practice time and if you have been studying at a conservatoire then your playing standard will likely suffer which can be depressing.

I now own three businesses (non-musical) and am well enough established that I finally have enough time to practice and enjoy playing again - and a detached house on large grounds so I don't upset any neighbours. It has been wonderful to rediscover the Trombone and feel no pressure to do anymore than just please myself.

I take my hat off to anyone who makes it in the music business - it is incredibly tough. Of the 20 or so excellent Trombonists that I saw pass through my conservatoire during my time there, not a single one has a full time job in an Orchestra, and only one player (who changed his focus to Jazz) has had what I would call a successful top flight career. A couple are freelance players and teachers, but the vast majority moved to different careers.

I'm therefore very happy to have made the tough call early on so that I could do something else succesfuly, but perhaps a bit said it led to me not playing for a couple of decades.
Welcome to the forum. I think many here share the same story. I did the same as you. I also studied music at collage level at the Royal Accademy of Music in Stockholm just after Christian Lindbergh graduated there. He acctually was at the school occationally during my first year so I bumped into him but never knew him. He was just in the start of his career. We all had a lot of respect for him.

After four years I got a masters degree MFAE/trombone and became a teacher/freelancer for 13 years before I changed my mind and educated myself to be a computer programmer and switched career completely. From the ones I knew (except Christian who I only knew of) ONE became a very repitable teacher in Germany, professor Jonas Bylund. Two bass trombonists work at the Royal Opera House, one tenor trobonist is second trombone in Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. One tenor player, my best friande from college moved abroad to be first trombone in a Polish orchestra. Yet another play 2:nd trombone in the Army Music Corp in Stockholm. There happend to be a lot of very talanted players in Stockholm at that time and many did infact win additions and I believe Christian inspired and was a reason to try harder. I think standard in the 80-ies just after Christian was probably the highest there have ever been in :geek: Stockholm. I don't think there have ever been more tromboneplayers studying at the same time there after, and good ones they were. We had basically two types of programs back then. One was in perfomance and one was in teaching. We were only three who went the teaching program. We were not in the same legue as the rest. We had a lot of other courses too and couldn't play trombone ecxlusive all days :mrgreen:

Still I wonder were the rest of all good students went who came after us that studied in the 80-ies. Where are the ones that studied between 1990-2023? There are not enough jobs and they who studied in the 80-ies were in the right age and graduated just in time to fill the chairs of the older generation who retired. The ones who graduated in the 80-ies got many of these jobs. After 1988 when I graduated I only know of ONE really good player who studied there and won a job and that's Håkan Björkman who now is 1st with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. What about the rest who graduated after 1988? Now even to get a job in teaching is hard to find. Maybe they start another career all of them.

Like you I'm now in a position in life I can practice and play more than ever, and I have a financial situation that also admits that. I've noticed I'm improving again and acctually I'm better now at 60 than ever, and still improving. Music is fun and my ambition is to be as good as possible and to participate only in contexts that brings me joy. I don't bother about competition anymore, I just want to beat one person and that's Me.

/Tom
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by balkansobranie »

Very interesting to hear of the situation in a different country. I was around 12 or 13 when I first heard of Christian Lindberg and was given his album "Romantic Trombone Concertos" - it was a big inspiration for me. I think he did inspire many who were learning in the very late 1980's and 1990's.

imsevimse wrote: Fri Jul 28, 2023 4:56 pm
balkansobranie wrote: Fri Jul 28, 2023 8:02 am Just found this thread and new to the forum so thought I'd put in my experience.

I started playing the Trombone when I was 10, and after finishing school studied Trombone for 6 years in further education and ended up getting a degree in Trombone performance from a top London conservatoire. I didn't enjoy conservatoire very much and decided a career in music was not for me. I enjoyed playing solo Trombone and not playing in orchestra or band, and therefore (as I was not in the same league as C. Lindberg et al) there was no chance of making it pay. I didn't fancy music teaching either.

I did intend to keep playing but as my career developed and I got married, I played less and less until about 20 years ago I stopped completely as I didn't enjoy witnessing my own decline in playing ability. That is perhaps the tough part of taking a day job, it can severly impact your practice time and if you have been studying at a conservatoire then your playing standard will likely suffer which can be depressing.

I now own three businesses (non-musical) and am well enough established that I finally have enough time to practice and enjoy playing again - and a detached house on large grounds so I don't upset any neighbours. It has been wonderful to rediscover the Trombone and feel no pressure to do anymore than just please myself.

I take my hat off to anyone who makes it in the music business - it is incredibly tough. Of the 20 or so excellent Trombonists that I saw pass through my conservatoire during my time there, not a single one has a full time job in an Orchestra, and only one player (who changed his focus to Jazz) has had what I would call a successful top flight career. A couple are freelance players and teachers, but the vast majority moved to different careers.

I'm therefore very happy to have made the tough call early on so that I could do something else succesfuly, but perhaps a bit said it led to me not playing for a couple of decades.
Welcome to the forum. I think many here share the same story. I did the same as you. I also studied music at collage level at the Royal Accademy of Music in Stockholm just after Christian Lindbergh graduated there. He acctually was at the school occationally during my first year so I bumped into him but never knew him. He was just in the start of his career. We all had a lot of respect for him.

After four years I got a masters degree MFAE/trombone and became a teacher/freelancer for 13 years before I changed my mind and educated myself to be a computer programmer and switched career completely. From the ones I knew (except Christian who I only knew of) ONE became a very repitable teacher in Germany, professor Jonas Bylund. Two bass trombonists work at the Royal Opera House, one tenor trobonist is second trombone in Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. One tenor player, my best friande from college moved abroad to be first trombone in a Polish orchestra. Yet another play 2:nd trombone in the Army Music Corp in Stockholm. There happend to be a lot of very talanted players in Stockholm at that time and many did infact win additions and I believe Christian inspired and was a reason to try harder. I think standard in the 80-ies just after Christian was probably the highest there have ever been in :geek: Stockholm. I don't think there have ever been more tromboneplayers studying at the same time there after, and good ones they were. We had basically two types of programs back then. One was in perfomance and one was in teaching. We were only three who went the teaching program. We were not in the same legue as the rest. We had a lot of other courses too and couldn't play trombone ecxlusive all days :mrgreen:

Still I wonder were the rest of all good students went who came after us that studied in the 80-ies. Where are the ones that studied between 1990-2023? There are not enough jobs and they who studied in the 80-ies were in the right age and graduated just in time to fill the chairs of the older generation who retired. The ones who graduated in the 80-ies got many of these jobs. After 1988 when I graduated I only know of ONE really good player who studied there and won a job and that's Håkan Björkman who now is 1st with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. What about the rest who graduated after 1988? Now even to get a job in teaching is hard to find. Maybe they start another career all of them.

Like you I'm now in a position in life I can practice and play more than ever, and I have a financial situation that also admits that. I've noticed I'm improving again and acctually I'm better now at 60 than ever, and still improving. Music is fun and my ambition is to be as good as possible and to participate only in contexts that brings me joy. I don't bother about competition anymore, I just want to beat one person and that's Me.

/Tom
walldaja
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by walldaja »

Music was my lifeline in high school (trombone), right up to the last week of school when the director kicked me out of the band because I couldn't come to a no-notice practice he called for that evening (69). I had to work. Sold my horn (Besson 10-10) to my best friend in high school and pretty much left music cold. Before i quit I played in band, orchestra, and dance band in high school and the local Salvation Army corps band, state band, state youth band, and territorial youth band. While in the SA I often doubled on euphonium and cornet.

I remained away from music for a little over a year then would borrow a trumpet from the chaplain in my post in Germany. Never was far away from thinking about playing--when singing in church would "finger" the notes so I never lost the relationship between the notes and fingerings / positions.

Returned to the states and bought a trumpet (72) (store easier in US Army wall lockers than t-bones). I would putter with the horn sometimes with a friend at nursing homes where my wife and her crew visited for service credit while in college.

Pretty soon my playing centered around Easter and Christmas. Eventually I sold the trumpet because I was bored playing alone. I separated from the US Army and went to college and eventually lost time for practice (new born at home). Was commissioned into the USAF via ROTC (80) and at my first station we joined a church where the music director was looking for brass players. Found an old nickel Selmer cornet in a pawn shop and played for the next 14 years--again back to the Christmas / Easter routine.

Went to Air Command and Staff College in 94 and found myself with lots of time on my hands. Ended up joining a praise band that had regular rehearsals and performance opportunities. Spent all of 94 / 95 playing daily. Even would double on trombone from time to time (borrowed from a friend). I vowed to practice daily and find places to play after that experience successfully. Kept getting better at trumpet but always wanted to return to trombone.

I retired in 2001 and rented a Yamaha 354 for a summer. I really enjoyed playing it (much more so than trumpet) but only found opportunities to play trumpet in a brass quintet, musical pit in plays, and a small brass band. Primary instrument was trumpet / flugel horn but would double on trombone as needed.

My wife retired in 2018 and we moved to Columbus. There seemed to be plenty of trumpet players around so I changed to trombone (bought my first Bb / F horn) and played in a large community band. Only option was playing cornet in a brass band but wasn't into the competition thing. The next year I started playing in a big band associated with our community band and really got back into trombone full time.

The US military was my day job until retirement now I play whenever I can and really enjoy it. Miss playing in a brass quintet but swing music is a lot more fun to me.
Dave

2020ish? Shires Q30GR with 2CL
1982 King 607F with 13CL
Yamaha 421G Bass with Christian Lindberg 2CL / Bach 1 1/2G
Bach Soloist with 13CL
1967 Olds Ambassador with 10CL
1957 Besson 10-10
Jean Baptiste EUPCOMS with Stork 4
JamesSp
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by JamesSp »

Feel like I probably have a relevant experience.

I was never a "natural" at trombone but had a good work ethic when I studied. I took it very seriously, I won contests, played in professional orchestras most trained musicians would recognise the names of in several countries, and studied with many teachers that would definitely be recognisable names to anyone who plays trombone.

To date I have passed 5 auditions (also been in several finals AND had total failures) for full time professional performance positions. The first one actually offered me the job, but I turned it down because I was young and wanted to do more things before settling. 2 others were positions I wasn't really interested in seriously, but wanted to keep my audition chops competitive. For both of those, I couldn't work out what I considered favourable trial conditions with the orchestras, so I didn't go through with them. The other two were jobs I REALLY wanted, but I failed the organised initial trial period for both.

At one stage of my music life I was making a lot more money than I needed through a combination of freelance performance and teaching of various levels. But, it wasn't a sustainable life. At one stage there was probably 6 months I didn't get more than 6 hours sleep a night. I couldn't have done that as an ongoing career.

I had never made any money doing anything that wasn't trombone related (performance or teaching), so when I stepped back from my schedule there wasn't any other industry that was interested in seriously hiring me with zero experience.

Now? I work in a restaurant basically washing dishes for close to minimum wage. I'm grateful they gave me the work, they didn't care about my collection of music qualifications and experience. But they are flexible with the few freelance commitments I still do so im very grateful to have regualar work. My restaurant work is only in the evenings so I still practice every day.

I am really a bass trombone specialist, but took my first professional tenor audition recently for something to do with a new focus. I thought I was pretty ordinary at it, never played bolero or tuba mirum in an audition context, but i made runner up at the audition. That was great, until you remember runner up still means you didn't get the job.

Do I regret anything? I dont know.... probably not. I've had some amazing music experiences and seen the world through music almost always on someone else's dollar. I never thought I would be washing dishes, but auditions are weird. Something might work out if I stay in shape, which I can with this dishwashing job. Never a guarantee though, doesn't matter how good you are at trombone.
I often think about what I would tell a younger version of myself if I could. I honestly don't know. If having money is super important to you, don't do music. Music is always there in some capacity if you want it. I dont think I'd tell myself not to do it seriously though. I dont hate my life. Just wish I had a music position anyone else who does music wishes too! Haha!
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JetMech
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by JetMech »

I had started down the path of playing/teaching for a living in college and quickly found that I lacked the maturity to really establish myself and my "brand". I ended up going to school to be an aircraft mechanic, and that's been what pays the bills for 15 years. I'm just starting to play again and the absence along with not banking on it for income has renewed my love of music. The LA music scene is highly competitive and it soured me on music as a business a little bit.
-Lane
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Wilktone
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by Wilktone »

It's been a while since I have had a job that wasn't related to music, but working as a music program administrator means that a lot of the work I do isn't directly related to creating or teaching music.

But if you consider a freelance musician, an awful lot of what that musician needs to do to be successful is similar. Successful freelancers often book their own gigs, do their own marketing, hunt for performing opportunities, track down grants and donors, and otherwise do a lot of things that aren't directly related to creating or teaching music.

Harrison's discussion on what it's like to be a military musician seems apropos. In my opinion, he is a full-time musician, even though much of the work he ends up doing for his job isn't directly related to playing trombone. If you're going to be a successful freelancer you're going to find similarly.

There is a certain mindset that makes us lean towards the idea that being a full-time musician means that the quality of your music is better. Many of the musicians I work with have day jobs outside of music, and they sound great and are a pleasure to work with. Some of the full time players I work with are successful musicians, but not always the best, because they are so good at all the peripheral skills that come with the territory. And often the part-time musicians are more fun to play with because they don't take whatever comes up in order to make ends meet, whereas some of the full-time players are more jaded or just bored with playing the gig by now.

Dave
--
David Wilken
https://wilktone.com
Samit2011
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by Samit2011 »

I originally pursued a career in music but after my undergrad I took a year off to decide what I wanted to do and see what a full time freelance music career looked like. After that year, I settled on a taking the computer science path and became a software developer. That was in 2019 and now in 2023 I've worked my way to a career in product management and actively (and happily) work as a product manager.

Funny enough, my music career seems to be thriving more now then I was when I dedicated all my time to it. I currently have a contract with a nearby high school to teach weekly lessons to their trombone players, a weekly paid gig with a local church and play with a couple local groups (1 paid and another unpaid). Living in major cities has become quite ridiculous from a cost of living standpoint and unless I had one of the very lucrative orchestra jobs, I think it would be very difficult to make ends meat as a pure freelance musician.
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BrianJohnston
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by BrianJohnston »

Jobs i've had before my music career and during my music career include(d):

Delivery driver
Dog sitter/walker
Lifeguard
Barback
Librarian
Carpet Cleaner

I still delivery drive & Dog watch/walk when my schedule allows for extra income.
Fort Wayne Philharmonic
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officermayo
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by officermayo »

My father was a Mharine Band trombonist who retired as a Drum Major after 22 years in The Corps, so I traveled the world growing up and was exposed to music in a big way. I joined the Marine Corps while a Jr in high school, but open contract. Could have ended up in any MOS, but while on delayed entry until HS graduation, I audtioned and made the band field. During my 12 years of active duty I served as a Drill Instructor at Partis Island twice. Got out of The Corps and ran two businesses (photographer and locksmith) while gigging 3 to 5 times a week. Actually made the majority of my income from music.

Went through a bad divorce and moved back home to Alabama at age 43 and worked as a CO in a state maximum security prison for 12 years. No gigging during those years of 16 hour days and rotating shifts. Retired on disability in 2014 and jumped back into the music scene. I play in a big band, R&B group and in the pit of the local theater group. I also teach trombone at our Center For Cultural Arts.

So, except for those 12 years in prison (as an Officer - NOT an inmate) I've made a good living playing music since I was 17. I'm 64 now and am playing better than I ever did as a young man. Mostly because like when I was in the Marine Corps, I play every day and have youngsters I have to keep up with.

When I became disabled, music is what kept me going and staying as physically active as I am able. Living in a small town, this group has been a lifeline to what's happening out there in the biz and a wealth of knowledge. The only forum members I've met in person are Irvin Karan and Doug Elliott. I'd like to meet any others in Alabama and Georgia, so give me a holler and let's get together.

Photos are of Dad and me, 25 years apart.
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"When in doubt, blow out" - MSgt M.A. Mayo, Marine Band

The contest entry form said "Void where prohibited", so I peed on the Captain's desk.
TomWest
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by TomWest »

Tow truck driver. There’s a lot of entitled people who don’t think that traffic laws apply to them. And they sure can get mouthy when I tell them what my services are going to cost. I laugh all the way to the bank.
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