When I tell people that I am a musician they frequently respond with “I wish I knew how to play an instrument,” or “If only I had continued to take piano lessons when I was young... ” Most people say they would love to have the skill to play an instrument beautifully - and get paid to do it! I do love my job as a musician, and there are few things more satisfying than transforming the atmosphere of a wedding or event and speaking to people’s hearts in a meaningful way through music. The rewards of being a musician are great, but as with any career, it presents many challenges as well.
Being a wedding and event musician requires balancing musical training with business savvy, money to get started, and knowing how to make a beautiful and professional musical performance.
Education: “Commit yourself to lifelong learning. The most valuable asset you’ll ever have is your mind and what you put into it”. – Brian Tracy
- Years of private music lessons - Extracurricular music activities (masterclasses, music camps, conferences, competitions) - Music degree (Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorate) - Practical experience (public performances, playing in groups, community service)
Expenses: - Health insurance - Unpaid vacation time - Self-employment taxes - Advertising (paid ads, business cards, advertising materials, website, booking agencies etc.) - Professional instruments - Regular instrument maintenance - Supplies (music stands, carrying cases etc.) - Sheet music - Technology (computers, sound recording equipment, amplification systems etc.) - Performance clothing (formal eveningwear/tuxes, concert black etc.)
Non-musical Skills: - Human relations (with clients and other musicians) - Advertising - Finances and Taxes - Computer and Internet - Organization
Performance Preparation: - Availability (most performances are limited to weekends and certain times of year) - Private practice and/or ensemble rehearsals - Good communication with client, bride, wedding coordinator etc. - Travel - Hauling heavy equipment - Set up and tuning
From early music lessons through the final notes of a performance, being a musician is both challenging and highly rewarding, and for me, its benefits far outweigh its costs. Playing live music and being a music teacher are two ways that I personally better my own life and the lives of those around me in very direct, concrete and tangible ways.