Mapping Success in Music
Some musicians dream of playing first chair in one of the world's top orchestras. Some dream of being a soloist or part of a well-known touring ensemble. Others yearn for a multilayered career playing Broadway shows, and doing studio recording and teaching. Some want to teach at the college level and perform, tour and record with their own ensemble. As you're reading this, you're probably reflecting on your own particular dream of a successful music career. Having the dream is important, but what comes next?
Many musicians get frustrated or stuck at various stages in their careers. Careers are developed over time, not hatched overnight. Career development is about process. As a music career counselor, my job is to help people determine the best next steps forward to advance their careers. And long-term career goals are realized through every day choices about the use of time, energy and money. Whether you're just starting out or are in mid-stream, these everyday choices are critical. The journey of a thousand steps really does begin with one.
Emerging artists often have a very narrow view of success. They may see success as being a soloist with a top orchestra, singing with the Met, or being a universally famous recording artist. But there are only a handful of folks who achieve careers in this category. And while there's nothing wrong with “going for gold,” it can be a problem if you view anything short of this as failure. With a narrow view of success, musicians unconsciously limit their career options, and their satisfaction and fulfillment in their work lives.
Success for many accomplished professional musicians is less about fame and money and more about maintaining artistic integrity, contributing to the musical life of their community, and doing work that is intellectually and emotionally satisfying. It's important to think about how you're defining success and what kind of fulfillment you're seeking. Careers are about process, a journey that we create ourselves.