of thirteen and went on to enjoy a successful career as an adult conductor. Yehudi Menuhin made his violin debut at age seven. Sergey Prokofiev was already performing as a pianist at the ripe old age of six and composed an opera at the age of nine. His Peter and the Wolf has been a source of entertainment for both children and adults for many decades. No matter how old you are, this chapter will provide you with the information you need to pursue a career in performing music. Jobs for Musicians Millions of people play instruments or sing in choirs or amateur groups, but the number of professional musicians is much smaller. About 215,000 men and women are employed as musi- cians in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Included are those who play in regional, metropolitan, or major symphony orchestras. (Large orchestras employ from 85 to 105 musicians, while smaller ones employ 60 to 75 players.) Also counted are those who are a part of hundreds of small orchestras, symphony orchestras, pop and jazz groups, and those who broad- cast or record. Instrumental musicians may play a variety of musical instru- ments in an orchestra, popular band, marching band, military band, concert band, symphony, dance band, rock group, or jazz group, and their instruments may be string, brass, woodwind, percussion, or electronic synthesizers. A large percentage of musi- cians are proficient in playing several related instruments, such as the flute and clarinet. Those who are very talented have the option to perform as soloists. Rehearsing and performing take up much of the musicians’ time and energy. In addition, musicians, especially those without agents, may need to perform a number of other routine tasks, such as making travel or rehearsal hall reservations; keeping track of auditions and recording schedules; arranging for amplifiers and other equipment to enhance performances; designing lighting, costuming, and makeup; keeping financial records; and setting up advertising, concerts, tickets, programs, and contracts. In addi- tion, it is necessary for musicians to plan the sequence of the numbers to be performed and/or arrange their music according to the conductor’s instructions before performances. Musicians must also keep their instruments clean, polished, tuned,and in proper working order.In addition,they are expected to attend meetings with agents, employers, and conductors or directors to discuss contracts, engagements, and any other busi- ness activities. Performing musicians encompass a wide variety of careers. Here are just a few of the possibilities. Section Member Section members are the individuals who play instruments in an orchestra. They must be talented players and able to learn the music on their own. Rehearsals are strictly designed for putting all of the instruments and individuals together and for establishing cues such as phrasing and correct breathing. It is expected that all musicians practice sufficiently on their own before rehearsals. Session Musician The session musician is the one responsible for playing back- ground music in a studio while a recording artist is singing. The session musician may also be called a freelance musician, a backup musician, a session player, or studio musician. Session musicians are used for all kinds of recordings—Broadway musi- cals, operas, rock and folk songs, and pop tunes. Versatility is the most important ingredient for these profes- sionals—the more instruments the musician has mastered, the greater number of styles he or she can offer, the more possibilities for musical assignments. Session musicians often are listed through contractors who call upon them when the need arises. Other possibilities exist through direct requests made by the artists themselves, the group members, or the management team. The ability to sight-read is important for all musicians, but it is particularly crucial for session musicians. Rehearsal time is usu- ally very limited, and costs make it too expensive to have to do retakes. Concertmaster The role of concertmaster is an important one.Those chosen to be concertmasters have the responsibility of leading the string sec- tions of orchestras during both rehearsals and concerts. In addi- tion, these individuals are responsible for tuning the rest of the orchestra. This is the "music" you hear for about fifteen to twenty seconds before the musicians begin to play their first piece. Concertmasters answer directly to the conductor. They must possess leadership abilities and be very knowledgeable of both the music and all the instruments. Floor-Show Band Member Some musicians belong to bands that perform in floor shows and appear in hotels, nightclubs, cruise ships, bars, concert arenas, and cafés. Usually the bands do two shows per night with a particular number of sets in each show. Additionally, they may be required to play one or two dance sets during the course of the engagement. Here, the audience is seated during the shows and gets up to dance during the dance sets. Shows may include costuming, dialogue, singing, jokes, skits, unusual sound effects, and anything else the band decides to include. Floor-show bands may be contracted to appear in one place for one night or several weeks at a time. As expected, a great deal of traveling is involved for those who take up this career. Choir Director Choir directors are responsible for recruiting and directing choirs and planning the music programs for churches or temples. They
are often given the job of auditioning potential members of the choir, setting up rehearsal schedules, overseeing and directing rehearsals, and choosing the music. They may be in charge of the church’s or temple’s music library or may designate another indi- vidual to oversee it. Working closely with the minister or other religious leader of the congregation, choir directors plan all con- certs, programs, and other musical events. In addition, choir directors develop and maintain the music budgets for their religious institutions. In some cases, choral directors are expected to maintain office hours each week. During those times, they may write music, handle administrative chores, or work with small groups of singers and/or the organist or accompanist. Usually a bachelor’s degree in music is required, with a special emphasis on sacred music. A master’s degree may be preferred. Organist Organists carry on a long-standing tradition. They play their instruments at religious and special services,such as weddings and funerals. Recitals may also be given as part of the congregation’s spiritual programming. Organists choose the music to be played or may work with the choir or music director to accomplish this task. Organists are also responsible for making sure organs are in proper working order and may also advise the congregation on other music-related issues. Sometimes the organist also serves as the choir director or assistant director. Singer Singers use their voices as their instrument of choice. Using the techniques of melody, harmony, rhythm, and voice production, they interpret music and both instruct and entertain their audi- ences.They may sing character parts or perform in their own indi- vidual style. Classical singers are identified by the ranges of their voices: soprano (the highest range), contralto, tenor, baritone, and bass (lowest range). These singers typically perform in operas. Singers of popular music may perform country and western, rap, ethnic, reggae,folk,rock,or jazz as individuals or as part of a group.Often singers also possess the ability to play musical instruments and thus accompany themselves when performing (guitar or piano,for instance). Religious singers include cantors, soloists, and choir members. Conductor and Choral Director The music conductor is the director for all of the performers in a musical presentation, whether they are singing or playing instru- ments.Although there are many types of conductors—symphony, choral, dance band, opera, marching band, and ballet—in all cases, the music conductor is the one who is in charge of inter- preting the music. Conductors audition and select musicians, choose the music to accommodate the talents and abilities of the musicians, and direct rehearsals and performances, applying conducting techniques to achieve desired musical effects such as harmony, rhythm, tempo, and shading. Orchestral conductors lead instrumental music groups, such as orchestras, dance bands, and various popular ensembles. Choral directors lead choirs and smaller singing groups, such as glee clubs, sometimes working with a band or orchestra conductor. Announcer or Disc Jockey Radio and television announcers play an important role in keep- ing listeners interested. They are the ones who must read mes- sages, commercials, and scripts in an entertaining, interesting, or enlightening way. They are also responsible for introducing sta- tion breaks, and they may interview guests and sell commercial time to advertisers. Sometimes they are called disc jockeys, but actually disc jockeys are the announcers who oversee musical programming.
Disc jockeys must be very knowledgeable about music in gen- eral and all aspects of their specialties, specifically the music and the groups who play or sing that kind of music. Their programs may feature general music, rock, pop, country and western, or any specific musical period or style, such as 1960s or 1980s tunes. Work Settings for Musicians You’ll find musicians working in all kinds of settings. Popular instrumentalists are spread nationwide from small towns to large cities. Many consist of small groups that play at weddings, bar mitzvahs, church events, funerals, school or community concerts, dances, festivals, and other events. Accompanists play for theater productions or dance recitals. Combos, piano or organ soloists, and other musicians play at nightclubs, bars, or restaurants. Musi- cians may work in opera, musical comedy, and ballet productions or be a part of the armed forces. Well-known musicians and groups give their own concerts, appear live on radio and television programs, make recordings, appear in movies, create music videos, or go on concert tours. Many musicians work in cities in which there are fairly large populations and where entertainment and recording activities are concentrated, such as Nashville, New York, Los Angeles, San Fran- cisco, Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago. Working Conditions for Musicians The life of a musician is not an easy one. Professional musicians are often forced into work schedules that are long and erratic, depending on how heavy the rehearsal and presentation schedules are. Usually daily practices or rehearsals are required, particularly for new projects. Work weeks in excess of forty hours are com- mon. Travel is often a familiar part of a musician’s or singer’s life, and a routine that includes daytime, nighttime, weekend, or holi- day work is entirely possible. Musicians who are lucky enough to be hired for a full season (a "master agreement") work for up to fifty-two weeks. Those who must work for more than one employer are always on the lookout for additional gigs, and many supplement their incomes by find- ing work in other related or unrelated jobs. Most instrumental musicians come into contact with a variety of other people, including their colleagues, agents, employers, sponsors, and audiences. They usually work indoors, although some may perform outdoors for parades, concerts, and dances. In some taverns and restaurants, smoke and odors may be present, and lighting and ventilation may be inadequate. Learning the Music Game Many people who become professional musicians begin studying their instrument of choice (whether it be voice, organ, harp, harp- sichord, string, woodwind, brass, or percussion) in childhood and continue the study via private or group lessons throughout ele- mentary and high school.In addition,they usually garner valuable experience by playing in a school or community band or orches- tra or with a group of friends. Singers usually start training when their voices mature. All musicians need extensive and prolonged training to acquire the necessary skills, knowledge, and ability to interpret music. Par- ticipation in school musicals, religious institutions, community events, state fairs, bands, or choirs often provides good early train- ing and experience. Necessary formal training may be obtained through conservatory study, college or university study, personal study with a professional, or all of the above. Over six hundred colleges, universities, and conservatories offer four-year programs that result in a bachelor’s degree in music or music education. Usually both pop and classical music are studied. Course work will include classes in music theory, music composition, music interpretation, literature, conducting, drama, foreign languages, acting, and how to play a musical instrument. Other academic studies include course work in science, literature, philosophy, and the arts. Classroom instruction, reading assign- ments, discussion groups, and actual performances are included. A large number of performances are encouraged and expected, and students are evaluated on their progress during their time at the college. At the undergraduate level, a typical program for a violin major might consist of the following courses: • Instrument • Materials and Literature • Ear Training • Piano • Music History • Orchestra • Piano and Strings Chamber Music • String Quartet • Introduction to Literature • French, German, Italian, or Spanish (or another foreign language) • Academic electives The types of schools offering such courses vary widely. Here is an example of several. Small College Brenau University, a small college in Gainesville, Georgia, offers a bachelor’s degree program in performance. Areas of concentra- tion include voice, piano, and piano accompanying. The advantages of this type of school are that classes tend to be small, the atmosphere is friendly, and students receive a great deal of one-on-one attention. Before they can major in music, Brenau students must go through an audition. Once accepted, they com- plete courses such as the following: • History of Music • Theory • History • Period History • Choir • Major Instrument • Minor Instrument • Conducting • Diction • Opera Literature • Music Literature and Pedagogy They also complete electives in music, theater, dance, or foreign languages, along with general education courses in English, math and other areas. For more information, contact: Director of Music Brenau University One Centennial Circle Gainesville, GA 30501 www.brenau.edu