Hhow good do you have to be to "make it" in the pro world

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Elow
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Re: Hhow good do you have to be to "make it" in the pro world

Post by Elow »

If you’re good enough to go pro, why not move somewhere where you can. I’m not you but if your only limiting factor is your location, then i think the sensible thing would be to go where you can play full time. But maybe youre as passionate for aviation as you are for trombone
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Re: Hhow good do you have to be to "make it" in the pro world

Post by JCBone »

Elow wrote: Thu Feb 25, 2021 7:31 am If you’re good enough to go pro, why not move somewhere where you can. I’m not you but if your only limiting factor is your location, then i think the sensible thing would be to go where you can play full time. But maybe youre as passionate for aviation as you are for trombone
My point is that from what I have heard, classical music isn't really doing great anywhere. Anyways, as I mentioned, I don't care much for teaching or freelancing and my chances of getting into a good orchestra is slim. I would rather do something I enjoy most of the time instead of something I only enjoy part of the time.
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Re: Hhow good do you have to be to "make it" in the pro world

Post by VJOFan »

  • Tenacity
  • Patience
  • Marketing
But if one of your main concerns is already how well the job pays you will probably leave the profession sooner than later.

I know that was the end for me. (And I should have known before because I was always worried about having enough money to be secure from the time I knew what money was.)

I was making a living but was never going to have a house or be able to support a family in the foreseeable future. It was not very hard at that point to decide to shift into a line of work that had more guaranteed financial upside.
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Re: Hhow good do you have to be to "make it" in the pro world

Post by imsevimse »

SwissTbone wrote: Thu Feb 25, 2021 5:03 am
imsevimse wrote: Thu Feb 25, 2021 4:09 am If you want to be a full time pro in Stockholm you need to get a job in one of the orchestras here. There are two symphony orchestras and one opera orchestra and three windorchestras. I guess they employ 3-5 trombone players each so I guess tha make about 25 full time tromboneplayers in the Stockholm area. You can have one of their jobs when they retire if you are the best tromboneplayer when the audition shows up. Its pretty tough to be a full time professional. To be a freelancer is the choice. You need to be a nice smooth, guy if you want to be a freelancer. Then you need to do the gigs in a way you get the second call

/Tom
Tom,
The wind orchestras are also professionals?

One of them is all brass and on horseback. One is a marching band and one is in association with commuter services. They work in the orchestra half time and can drive a bus, drive a train or sell tickets for commuter trains in a combination with the work as a musician. Not all choose to do this.

/Tom
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Savio
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Re: Hhow good do you have to be to "make it" in the pro world

Post by Savio »

JCBone wrote: Mon Feb 08, 2021 11:57 am So I'm seriously considering studying music in college and going pro. Of course I don't want to waste money and time on education if i'm not going to get any real return on the investment and now with covid, the future landscape of the performing arts industry is very unclear. I know that it's not a very lucrative industry and I'm frankly ok with that. But my question is, how good do you really have to be? For those who have gone down this path, do you have any regrets?
It's a big question. It all depends on you.. There is many questions you have to ask yourself before you go that route. The obvious is do you love music? Do you have a burning love for music? I think nearly all depends of that question. I did go that route and did many mistakes. But I still hold the trombone every day and look forward to each day I can blow it. I don't regret!

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Re: Hhow good do you have to be to "make it" in the pro world

Post by Macbone1 »

I stubbornly chose the performance route for my college education and was good enough to get into a military band, where I chose it as a career. If it wasn't for that I would like not have had much of a career of any kind unless I worked my way up to Burger King shift manager or something. For anyone who cannot or is not willing to go the military band route (the entrance physical alone is pretty strict), the big wide music world can be very intimidating. Since I retired from the military, I realized that NETWORKING and contacts are almost as important as talent itself. While on active duty I did not network, so felt high and dry after leaving the service. Fortunately, I had planned out a career change, which kicked in at just the right time. I now really enjoy playing as a "hobby"; no longer told what to play and how, "or else"; don't have to depend on my playing skills to make money to live. I even think I play better in some ways now.
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Re: Hhow good do you have to be to "make it" in the pro world

Post by 2bobone »

When playing in a ballet orchestra for several years, I saw one of the dancers wearing a sweatshirt for her warmup routine. It pictured "Snoopy", the delightful Peanuts Beagle, spinning in an obviously enjoyable pirouette. Underneath was written : "To Dance is to Live ---- To Live is to Dance" ! It made me realize how essential it was for me to be able to play music --- any music --- anywhere --- every day --- to be truly happy. It was my guiding principle then, as it is to this very day. If you think being a musician is a "tough row to hoe", try being a ballet dancer !
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Re: Hhow good do you have to be to "make it" in the pro world

Post by brassmedic »

You need to be able to sight read pretty much anything that's put in front of you. You need to play in tune. You need to have a good sound. You need to not miss notes. You need to be able to count rests and come in at the right time. You need to have an understanding of the style of music that you are playing. If you have those minimum playing abilities, then you need to show up on time (which means early), get along with other musicians, not be a difficult person, live somewhere where there is work, be respectful to everyone else, especially your employer, and establish relationships with others in the field. That last thing is maybe the most important, but rarely taught in school.
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Re: Hhow good do you have to be to "make it" in the pro world

Post by imsevimse »

... and you need to be hip, but not too hip. You also need to smell good, but not too good. You need to dress well but not too well. You need to be a good and easy person to be around that everybody likes. You need to talk to everyone but not to much. You need to tell a joke sometimes but not always. That's about it, except from what's said before.

🙄 I always fail....

/Tom
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Re: Hhow good do you have to be to "make it" in the pro world

Post by harrisonreed »

imsevimse wrote: Thu Sep 30, 2021 2:54 pm ... and you need to be hip, but not too hip. You also need to smell good, but not too good. You need to dress well but not too well. You need to be a good and easy person to be around that everybody likes. You need to talk to everyone but not to much. You need to tell a joke sometimes but not always. That's about it, except from what's said before.

🙄 I always fail....

/Tom
Oh man but Nils is too hip, and we all love it. I think you can hit a point where you become so "too hip" that you actually are genuinely just hip.
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PaulTdot
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Re: Hhow good do you have to be to "make it" in the pro world

Post by PaulTdot »

brassmedic wrote: Thu Sep 30, 2021 2:12 pm You need to be able to sight read pretty much anything that's put in front of you. You need to play in tune. You need to have a good sound. You need to not miss notes. You need to be able to count rests and come in at the right time. You need to have an understanding of the style of music that you are playing. If you have those minimum playing abilities, then you need to show up on time (which means early), get along with other musicians, not be a difficult person, live somewhere where there is work, be respectful to everyone else, especially your employer, and establish relationships with others in the field. That last thing is maybe the most important, but rarely taught in school.
This is a remarkably good, short list! Nicely done. It covers a LOT, and accurately.
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urbie5
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Re: Hhow good do you have to be to "make it" in the pro world

Post by urbie5 »

I'm late to the party here (used to frequent the old trombone forums etc., migrated to FB, but recently fired Zuck and his evil empire, so I'm back to non-Zucky sources of discussion)... but just to add: the finest trombone soloist I have ever heard, does not even work as a musician anymore. (No, I'm not going to say who it is, but no one who's heard this individual play would disagree.) It's not a matter of "being good enough" -- you can be the baddest monster player in the universe, but there are other "people skills" attributes, business acumen, and generally getting your face in front of people, to make a successful career. Trombone is not a great instrument for business, either. As for what I do, I'm a technical writer, and have been for 35 years. The work is exceedingly dreary, but it pays better than all but the top-echelon symphony orchestras, and way more than most freelancers can dream of making. That's just the reality of it. The other thing is that I don't have to play music I don't want to play, just for the money. If I'd had absolutely no source of income besides music, and had made up my mind to grind out a living as a musician by hook or by crook, I could probably have eked out a modest living and not starved -- but I'd have hated it. I'll take a boring job that pays enough for a new Edwards, over that!

[Edited to add] But just to get back to the OP's question: majoring in music is not a waste of time and money, regardless of whether or not you become a professional trombonist. If I had it to do over again, I'd major in music -- and then have gone on to have exactly the same career I've had! That's OK -- if you go to a good school and take a spectrum of courses, you'll have a great experience, and no one's going to look down on you for having majored in music -- performance, history, or anything else. Basically, undergrad is just about getting a good degree from a good school, and then going out and starting your career. If you want to major in music, go for it. ROI is not the name of the game!
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Re: Hhow good do you have to be to "make it" in the pro world

Post by timbone »

There is a lot of variety of work for the aspiring trombonist. Study all styles and don’t limit yourself. Play the right horn for the gig. Your sound and ability to play in tune are the first two things that those that hire will notice. Look appropriate for the gig, show up early and warm up to be prepared. Get in the circle of players- most bone groups are friendly. Listen to other players and encourage them. Have all your mutes on hand and know how to use them. Always work on your sightreading, also on c and Bb/ tenor clef. Do your daily calisthenics. Simple stuff right?
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Ozzlefinch
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Re: Hhow good do you have to be to "make it" in the pro world

Post by Ozzlefinch »

The other option is to make your own opportunities. For example: start a Punk/Ska band and that way you only need to be as "good" as you are because you won't be comparing yourself to anybody else. Or start a 40's homage big band tribute, something like that. Make your own rules and forge your own path. If the establishment isn't working out for you, then do something different.

Truth is, there are a lot of wealthy and famous music acts out there that aren't virtuoso players (some are really only barely competent), but they have determination and fresh ideas. Hate to break it to you, but if you want to "make it' in the music industry, then you had better think of some good marketing angles to promote yourself or you will just be another faceless Average Joe in the background.
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Re: Hhow good do you have to be to "make it" in the pro world

Post by imsevimse »

You need to "sell" on stage and you need to be professionally nice. Make everyone love your sound. You need to survive on a budget until you make it and it helps if you have nerves of steel and if you are the best trombone player every day. If you are not the best then you need to be the nicest.

/Tom
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Re: Hhow good do you have to be to "make it" in the pro world

Post by jorymil »

I really love Randy Halberstadt's book _Metaphors_for_the_Musician_. If you haven't already, check it out.
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Re: Hhow good do you have to be to "make it" in the pro world

Post by BillO »

JCBone wrote: Mon Feb 08, 2021 11:57 am So I'm seriously considering studying music in college and going pro. Of course I don't want to waste money and time on education if i'm not going to get any real return on the investment and now with covid, the future landscape of the performing arts industry is very unclear. I know that it's not a very lucrative industry and I'm frankly ok with that. But my question is, how good do you really have to be? For those who have gone down this path, do you have any regrets?
1) I think you need loftier goals and/or a more precise approach/or a plan of execution. Let me explain .. If you just want to make a meager living at music it's not that hard. I'm not a great trombonist, but I can "make a living" at it. I have several times. Whilst going to university, while unemployed in the late 80's and between late 2018 and early 2020. So, being mediocre on the horn what do I do? I do the things others won't. I look for gigs, create contracts, hire musicians, find venues and most importantly find someone with the talent to lead the band musically. So, I play trombone well enough not to get kicked off the band I create and manage.

2) if #1 is not your thing, then work your way up to practicing at least 10 hours a day, be appalled with your on-going progress, beat yourself senseless until you can present every passage better than everyone you have heard so far (Christian Lindberg, Joseph Alessie, Bill Watrous, etc..) and never think you are good enough.

Hint: There is both a difference in salary between the two scenarios and a difference in approach. I'm not sure there is a difference in effort though, so you may need to asses your aptitude to suit.
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Re: Hhow good do you have to be to "make it" in the pro world

Post by musicofnote »

LeTromboniste wrote: Mon Feb 08, 2021 8:49 pm
For classical music, Europe has generally fewer music schools (so fewer graduates) and conversely much more gigs per capita (both in terms of full time positions and freelance opportunities) than North America. The pay difference between the top tier gigs and the lower tier gigs is also smaller. Tuition is also much cheaper. So the "return on investment" calculation is very different.

That doesn't change that you need to be good of course, and the level is just as high. It just means that if you're good enough, you're more likely to have opportunities than in the US.
Came to Europe in 1977 when the world was a different place.
1) yes, costs of education here are still minimal compared with the US. And the quality of the education is as good as it was back then. There are two ways to study:
a) for a degree at a european conservatory - the normal way, called "internal".
b) semi-privately with a specific teacher. If possible, you'll get admitted to the university as an "external" student and only pay a fee for the lesson and any other classes you want to attend, but will NOT get a degree. This is what I first did.
2) HOWEVER, 40 years ago, it was relatively easy for US Americans to pick up and come to Europe and study. The main cost (see point 1 above) was actually room and board and depending upon where you live, that can be expensive. Of course, room/board in Zürich is going to be probably as expensive as in NYC. But going to Aachen, Nyon, Bruge, can be very good alternatives, especially if you have a lesson evers 2 weeks with your teacher.
3) Another thing that has changed is the immigration status of foreign students in some European countries. Here, coming from the US puts you at a distinct disadvantage now opposed to students from EU countries. You will need to acquire a student visa which also severely limits how you can suport yourself while a student in europe. Meaning, you do so illegally or maybe not at all. Illegally is not necessary difficult once you get known, getting gigs at local churches, pick-up groups. But you may have troubles working illegally with some quality groups, like subbing with orchestras or working with early music groups which tour, because of the withholding tax that is often normally leveled on such giggers. If you don't have your tax papers in order, this could cause problems for the group hiring you. IOW, it could very well be, that it will be very difficult with a student visa from a non-EU country, to support yourself by gigging. Of course language schools are always looking for native speaking English teachers IF your visa stipulations allow that. And please don't forget, here in Europe, YOU are the guest, not the native citizen. Act accordingly.

IOW, coming to Europe to study and perhaps stay as a performing musician is trickier than it used to be.

Also another point. In the 1970-1990, the music schools were booming. These are different than US music schools. Most european music schools are more similar to US Prep departments, but are financed by the locality (city or town), not usually a conservatory. They are there to teach music to everyone inasmuch as there is not usually (at least in Germany and Switzerland) instrumental music offered throughout the public school system. So if one wants to learn trombone, you go to the village music school and learn there. Then (1970-1990) this system was springing up all over. So there were lots of jobs available to otherwise freelancers who also wanted to teach. But with economic pressures forcing many communities in Europe to tighten their belts, the demand for these teachers dwindled. When I arrived, maybe 2-3 people applied for open positions. Now for the same positions, offering 1/2 day of teaching, there might be 50-60 applications.

If you want to study in Europe, I'd recommend first seaching for a teacher. Open contact with this person, send recordings if requested. Find out if he/she can squeeze you into his/her "class" and if so, under what circumstances with what "qualifications". Ask your perspective teacher how the gigging situation is for his/her students. My teacher then (Ed Tarr) was very open about chances of getting established. Ask what living costs in shared apartments, dorms (not as common here) are. IOW - inform yourself what your survival possibilities will be.
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Re: Hhow good do you have to be to "make it" in the pro world

Post by mcphatty00 »

It's pretty much all been said here. Unless you're a music teacher, be prepared to do other jobs while you try to get a gig. Auditions can be brutal. You can't get defeated. Always be on time and friendly. That's half the battle.
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Re: Hhow good do you have to be to "make it" in the pro world

Post by dukesboneman »

One of my Trombone Teachers in undergrad and I had this conversation .
He imparted some great advice
1) If you`re told to wear a Tux, Wear it. If you`re asked to wear all yellow , wear it.
2) Know your styles. If it`s a 1940`s Big Band gig, Don`t play like Coltrane
3) Have the mutes needed
4) Always, Always, Always arrive early
5) And most important - Don`t be an A*+hole. No matter where you live the Music Community is small
word will get out that So and so is incredibly difficult to work with. So "DON`T BE THAT GUY".
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Re: Hhow good do you have to be to "make it" in the pro world

Post by bigbandbone »

dukesboneman wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 6:51 am One of my Trombone Teachers in undergrad and I had this conversation .
He imparted some great advice
1) If you`re told to wear a Tux, Wear it. If you`re asked to wear all yellow , wear it.
2) Know your styles. If it`s a 1940`s Big Band gig, Don`t play like Coltrane
3) Have the mutes needed
4) Always, Always, Always arrive early
5) And most important - Don`t be an A*+hole. No matter where you live the Music Community is small
word will get out that So and so is incredibly difficult to work with. So "DON`T BE THAT GUY".
The only things I would add to this are:
1) Be a good sight reader
2) Be able to sight transpose
3) Learn how to play when mic'ed as apposed to "clean". Two very different techniques
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LeTromboniste
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Re: Hhow good do you have to be to "make it" in the pro world

Post by LeTromboniste »

Aidan's (burgerbob) video from last month really sums it all up nicely

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bassboneman69
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Re: Hhow good do you have to be to "make it" in the pro world

Post by bassboneman69 »

This thread has a ton of input.
The thing I find interesting is…
Those who we admire most may not have added their info here.
Will Lang had many pertinent points!
BurgerBob and Fossil too.
Playing professionally is a “way of life”! No days off, you can’t be sick, heaven forbid you get injured or require dental surgery!
If you don’t play - you don’t get paid! It is a very long and difficult “row to hoe”! Perhaps lonely too…
I am NOT at all a pro player! However I have been fortunate to know a few VERY good players. None complain, none compare themselves to others, they seem to exist in another realm. They can see out, but most of us mere mortals cannot see in.
I am ok with it. I love music, the trombone and the amazing connections I have been fortunate to make along the way. Perhaps that is enough?
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Re: Hhow good do you have to be to "make it" in the pro world

Post by michaelpilley »

I've found that if you'd like to play for a living, but aren't at the "top of the tree" you have to rely on the hustle. Book your own gigs, write your own music, busk, go to jams, play with any and every band you can find, no matter the genre or style. Don't expect to get great paid gigs straight away, instead work on your technique and musicianship hard, and find musicians that you love playing with. A great attitude and easy demeanour go a long way in the freelance world.
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