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Classical 101

Being a Professional Musician Requires More than Talent

In my many years in classical music radio, I have been privileged to hear many amazing musicians. Some have been seasoned professionals, but a large number have been young up-and-comers who are not only talented, but seemingly "old souls" who have a depth of understanding of the repertoire which defies their youth.

One has only to spend some time on YouTube to realize that being a professional musician takes much more than the simple ability to play all of the notes.

A scroll through the faculty list of Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music will give you an idea of the level of instruction students receive and the high expectations placed on those who attend.  Names like Dale Clevenger, Myron Bloom, and Joshua Bell are sprinkled throughout the amazing list of music faculty.  Along with the honing of performance skills, the school offers guidance on the "nuts and bolts" of a performance career.  This is the description from their website: Entrepreneurship and Career Development The Jacobs School of Music’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Career Development (OECD) provides expert guidance and resources, as well as a wide variety of events designed to empower Jacobs School of Music students as they prepare for a career in music and dance. In other words, yes - you can play, sing, act, or dance, - but so can thousands of others.  Let's look at the business aspect of your career. Now, a new opportunity has arisen.  Mike Scutari from insidephilanthropy.com reported that Warner Music Group has begun an annual prize in conjunction with the Blavatnick Family Foundation featuring "a cash windfall of $100,000 given to a classical musician aged 18-35 who demonstrates exceptional talent and promise, regardless of any label affiliation. This award represents an intriguing foray into the world of the arts by the foundation, which is mostly known for its Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists." Practice your scales, work on fingerings, intonation, and breath control.  However, when you are ready to step up to the next level, remember that you are both a musician AND a businessperson.  The music business roadside is littered with talented people. You can hear a performance by IU alum Joshua Bell below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NOF_ueaxJ4