close-up of classical guitar and strings“The ease of your entry into the music profession will largely depend on the doors you open while you’re a student.”
The Musician’s Way,
p. 305

If you’re studying music with the intention of becoming a professional, then, to succeed after graduating from a conservatory or university, you need to do much more than excel in school.

Here are five career-building maneuvers to undertake throughout your education.

All are fleshed out in The Musician’s Way on pages 299-307.

Five Ways to Maximize Your Music Education

1. Draft a Career Plan

For starters, identify a range of career paths that might interest you.

To learn about professional tracks, research them online, talk to teachers and mentors, visit the Music Careers page at, and consult with your school’s career services staff.

2. Educate Yourself

Next, learn about the inner workings of appealing careers and get experience in as many of them as you can. Attend workshops, for instance, and do some observing, subbing or volunteering.

As you identify career paths of interest, consider applying for internships – your campus career center staff will help you discover opportunities and prepare applications.

3. Network

Your professional network connects you to leaders in our industry and, therefore, to opportunities.

Begin by assembling a network at your school: collaborate with peers, maintain positive relationships with teachers, attend numerous performances, and contribute to your school’s culture.

Also go to conferences and festivals, join music organizations, and take part in local and online networking opportunities.

4. Fill Many Niches

Although ambitious performers must be sure that they play or sing at high levels, active professionals usually fill roles beyond performing.

They might organize concert series, let’s say, provide recording services, direct choirs, teach, contract, or publish. Take care during your education that you gain know-how in diverse music career niches.

5. Polish Your ImageThe Musician's Way book cover

“To find your place in the music world, there are two images that will need your attention: your self-image and your professional image.” TMW p. 305).

Fortify your self-image by practicing efficiently, setting attainable goals, living a balanced life, and getting feedback on your progress.

To boost your reputation among your colleagues and teachers, abide by professional standards of conduct – be punctual, prepared, and courteous; be easy to reach and quick to respond to messages. Also build and polish your Web presence.

At the same time, do what you can to help your peers succeed, as opposed to competing against them, and then you’ll all rise together.

Related posts
The Art-Career Tango
Artistic Vision
Music: The Practical Career?
What Makes an Entrepreneurial Musician?

© 2011 Gerald Klickstein
Photo © Jarle Osen, licensed from