28. June 2013 · 2 comments · Categories: Ramble

This panel discussion is talking about what to do after school is done and I thought it would be interesting to hear what they are recommending to the younger musicians.

Panel members: Pamela French, Lynne Marie Mangan, Brenda Schuman-Post, Paula Brusky

Just some quick quotes (not necessarily verbatim but close, and you may disagree with some) and notes:
Pam: I had been trained, thankfully, to be a freelance musician. (Good point: her teachers started getting her (not necessarily paying) work even in high school.)

Brenda: Income entirely freelance.

Lynne: Self-employed contractor, private teacher. “I have such a variety of things to do and it fits my personality.”

Paula: several degrees including music, marketing … more. Researched for a phd. How to stay healthy as musicians. “don’t garden because I just ruptured…” (something sorry, forgot what) … LOVE IT!

David: “Choose the right mentors.” His mom chose wind instruments for her children so they would play in a band if they were drafted. He studied with instructors who helped greatly with his career. “Luck = preparation + opportunity.” The most important thing is having a reed that responds. If it doesn’t you are dead in the water. You have to be in tune. Third is tone quality. “Do not let tone become your primary obsession when you are practicing.” “You need to be willing to travel and willing to relocate.”


I’m so glad they are discussing being wise on the web! … And gee, as scared as I am to speak, I just did! What folks in this room don’t know is that my hand are shaking!

David just suggested taking a public speaking class. Good idea (maybe my hands wouldn’t be shaking now!)

We usually rely on good relationships with other musicians.

Enhance your visibility: free charity work gets you out there, you polish your act, and the more you have on your calendar the quicker you will improve.

Be flexible! You have to be ready to play with different players and you have to fit in. (Talking about coming in as a sub.) You have to be a good colleague and if you can interact with the audience. The audience loves to meet musicians: you never know who might be in the audience.

How do I look and how do I appear to others? Am I representing what I actually do?

Use your network every day. Don’t just contact people when you want something. (How true! I have a few people who only contact me when they want my help.)

Be a good team player. Never warm up on someone else’s solo. Don’t warm up on that concerto you are dying to play. Keep your warm up short and simple. Warming up is a psychological exercise. It’s in your head.

“If I ever hear you’re warming up on stage on your solo before a performance I’m going to kill you!” -Gomberg

Get involved with your local youth orchestra. Attend a rehearsal. Introduce yourself. It’s a good way to build your studio.

Keep in touch with your network/contacts. Send notes.

Be humble, but you can still be honest about your skills. Ask for work … let them know you’d like to work if there are any openings.

Remember those who gave you those job opportunities. The power of a thank you! There are people you need to thank.

Be aware of the people you are interacting with. Keep in mind generational differences and personality differences. Saying to someone, “We’ll, am I on the sub list now?” Isn’t a good idea!

Very often it’s not the best player who gets hired for the studio orchestra, you don’t want to have a star, necessarily.

Take lessons with the busy freelancer. Don’t overdo it! Attend their concerts. Audition for things … making finals can get your name out there.

Intonation is probably the biggest reason many aren’t asked back in studio work, along with response. Modern recording technology can’t fix everything.

Studio work: very frequently it’s the double that has the big solo. Have that instrument ready and be able to play it well.

Have reeds at the ready!

Don’t take a job if you aren’t prepared. You’ll only get a bad name for playing poorly.

For most conductors, all you represent is a problem. Look at the conductor … know your solo. The answer to a conductor is,”Yes.” (A studio player spoke for a good amount of time and had excellent things to say, I’m hopeful that I can write more about this later.)

You never know who is listening to you. No matter where you are, you don’t know who is walking by and might hear you, ( How David Weiss got on the Johnny Carson show!)

Studio work: you very well might have to rely on the click track. The sound has to reach the mic at the right time. You have to be ready to write notation. You might have to suddenly play the clarinet part and writing quickly and even transpose might be necessary. Be available and very prompt. Check email and phone frequently. ABILITY AND AVAILABILITY. Know the situation for each studio. Parking, navigation, how far you have to walk … it always matters. Traffic and parking are no excuses. Travel minimally, and make sure your pegs don’t make noise when changing instruments and no squeaky shoes! Set up may be different so ask where to sit. Watch where you step. Keep your music in order. Get used to no warm up. Show up at least twenty minutes early. Have your instrument in good condition. You need quiet keys. Count carefully (sometimes they have counters in studios now). You must have complete control of vibrato. The conductor is often the composer. When not, the composer will be there and he is in charge of interpretation. Be ready for a ton of takes. Don’t ask questions! Figure it put as best you can. Only ask if you absolutely have to!

Freelancer needs: you must have medical insurance. It’s okay to have a job outside of music to desk with this. You must have some! Budget. Monthly income will vary greatly. Frequently those outside jobs help develop skills you’ll use in your music career. It was suggested to hire a tax accountant for the first few years to learn how to do your taxes.

Take business courses. Don’t just focus on classical. Understand that you are the business.

Make sure your answering machine is professionally. Include your name on your phone machine and if you have a chamber group include that name. Clothing matters. You must look professional.

Clothing … some very good things ill write a full blog on. Same with moving around while performing.

Observe first and learn how to fit in.

Play, but also have a life! You need to get outside in the world, rather than sitting in your reed room all the time. Be positive. No reed whining (no one cares!), no bragging. If you’re not a good reed maker, buy them! (YAY!) If you’re not good at something, outsource it. Your time is valuable.


  1. Wow!!! You managed to write down everything they said. Bravo!!! I am in your picture sitting in the front row lol. Had I known about your blog a little earlier, I would’ve looked for you and said hello to you. Anyway, I am loving this blog and plan on reading all the previous posts as much as I can before I fall asleep 🙂

  2. Hi Kathy! I’m sorry we didn’t connect … maybe in New York next year?! 🙂

  3. Pingback: Moving Slowly These Days | oboeinsight