Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by slipperyjoe »

Posaunus wrote: Thu Apr 30, 2020 10:07 am
slipperyjoe wrote: Thu Apr 30, 2020 6:28 am Retired from elementary school teaching last June. Good timing, COVID-wise.
Hope you still have good health insurance, COVID-wise! :roll:
Yes, which is important since my spouse (also a recently retired teacher) and I fall within multiple high risk categories. Numerous teachers and employees from our school system (NYC) have died from COVID-19. Let's hope the same isn't true for your local school system.
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by MBurner »

This is resurrection at its best, but I read this thread and felt compelled to respond. I have the best job in the world now (opinion), and have the great fortune to still be drawing a salary as a trombone player during Covid (fact).
Before winning the lottery (my job), I was a freelancer in NYC. For every great gig I had playing with the MET or subbing on a broadway show, I was teaching a 4-year old what a C was on the piano 10-20 times. A definite skill, but not my ideal way to earn a living. I also moved percussion instruments, pianos, worked summers as a forklift driver, and took surveys on Craigslist for $5 a pop. For my own preservation, I had in my head that I would audition and schlep until I was 30, and then hang up the horn for hopes of a financially secure life. I was a lucky, and won a full time position performing, and I admire all of my peers that are riding out these uncertain times with all the pressures of being an artist without knowing when art will return to being a viable career.
My opinion means little, but I advise my students that want to be professional musicians to go for it with open eyes and bloody lips. Know the risk, assess the odds, and practice smarter and harder than the competition. There is no shame in working as a piano tuner (Finlayson), a doorman (Friedman) anything under the sun. If you work your tail off, opportunity will knock.
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by Bach42t »

I have an undergrad degree in music with a concentration in music industry, partially funded by trombone scholarship, however I tried twice to cut it in the music business-side in both Nashville and New York. It was just not for me and desired something with more structure. Fast forward from the mid-00's when I made the choice and wow does time fly! Today I am only 6 years away from retiring from the Army. I do not play in an Army band though, I am a financial manager and have had the opportunity to live in so many places in the United States, in some rough places overseas and it gave me experiences I would not have gained elsewhere. I have also earned an MBA in Accounting on the Army's dime. The military profession has provided security and stability in my life, however, I have sacrificed years of practice time, performing, and the enrichment I can only receive through music. I look forward to more time in the future to practice, or move over to another profession. Perhaps I will teach music on my second career.
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by ParLawGod »

No musical breaks for me. Band Director by day, member of an Army band (National Guard), and weekend gigs. Most of the time I love it...sometimes I wish I worked in a cubicle! :) Basically to the point I can't listen to music in my car radio only just for a break.
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by Finetales »

Doug Elliott wrote: Sat Apr 25, 2020 10:34 am Right now I'd bet that anyone who has been totally dependent on income from playing is in serious trouble.
Yep. I was a full-time musician until the pandemic started, at which point I got a retail job as the gigs dried up. I'm still doing some remote recording and other work when I can, but it's certainly not enough to survive on by itself.

The short-term goal now is finding a day job that isn't totally miserable, at least until the world eventually returns to normal. But at least I have a paycheck.
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by Digidog »

I freelanced for, like, five or six years after graduating from college, but that eventually took so much out of me that I had both a physical and mental breakdown. The final straw was when I was subbing at a performance of "Rent", and found that I couldn't get that lousy music out of my head one night when I tried to go to sleep.

Looking back, I now realize that I led i miserable life during these years; I never came home before 11pm and rarely got up before 9am, and between gigs I also took on conducting big bands, composing/arranging, combo gigs, amateur gigs, and students. I had had that schedule since long before being admissioned to college, and when I examined my life in counselling, I realized that I hadn't had a real (a true) vacation in close to twenty years.

Now I work part time as a teacher of music at a junior high/high school. It's a relief to have regular working hours, more permanent colleagues, while also having a lot of time for both practising, gigging (but not since the pandemy shutdowns were issued) and composing/arranging, and I can take vacations. I also find that my musicianship benefits from making my teaching basic but advanced, and I know that my instrument skills (I also sing and play the guitar and the piano at a fairly advanced level) give me an edge in my instructing of the individual students, that make them sense possibilities in the subject, rather than just another class to suffer.

I won't go back to fully freelancing again, but if I could win a place in an orchestra or a big band I would consider that. I am, however, quite content as it is now.
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by Cotboneman »

All I ever wanted to do with my two music degrees was to teach, though when I finished up my Masters program in Chicago in the mid-80's there weren't a heckuva lot of high school or middle school teaching jobs open. So I spent a year at Illinois Bell Telephone and then three years at a mortgage services firm, mostly for the benefits prior to getting married. By then I'd relocated to Arizona and found a full-time band teaching gig that I loved, and my now ex-wife worked in big Pharma for many years as a top drug rep, so we did okay money-wise. I had no reason to play professionally by then. Having retired from teaching now, I enjoy giving something back to my community through my volunteer groups, and at least through pre-Covid, it kept me busy. I have taken paid pit gigs for the Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty and a few shows over the years, but generally I still don't play professionally.
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by Driswood »

I have many friends here in Florida who are near my age, 68. They have always been full time musicians, with much of their income "under the table". They never put anything away for retirement, and now they are hurting.
I was fortunate (call it lucky) to teach in a school system that had excellent salary and benefits. I retired at age 59 after 30 years with a good pension. Added social security at age 62. At 65, went on Medicare. Plus, I was able to play with quite a few bands and teach private lessons while teaching.
Flash forward to 2020. I'm one of the few people here who didn't lose any income during the pandemic, since it didn't affect my retirement income. If I had been a full time musician, I wonder if I would have had the discipline to invest for the future. I don't know.

Most of the guys I played with over the years did something else, and played on the side.
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by Valerone »

I'm currently a civil engineering consultant during the day here in a small city in Malaysia.

On weekends I coach low brass at a local school concert band. I also play for the state orchestra (both classical and jazz/pop) but we are mostly a semi-professional group. I'm also a sessionist for a few local bands around the city and have done some recordings for them as well as performing with them for gigs, music festivals and events. The payments for the gigs and even the state orchestra is very minimal of which I wouldn't be able to sustain on without my day job.

Despite the small return in terms of money for performing and teaching here, it is my hope that through this it will create more awareness for brass instruments and hopefully more people will come to like them and try to learn them - therefore thriving the brass music scene and also its appreciation here in my city.

I am also in the midst of creating a community big band group and possibly a brass quintet.

My days are usually occupied from morning till nights. Having a job as an engineering consultant is very taxing especially on the brain, but I'm thankful that at nights I get to phase out from my day work and play the trombone (unless the conductor requested me to do a hard solo piece...).
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by MKtuba »

I am still pursuing my degree(s) and am not yet out of college, however I would like to weigh in.

I am pursuing a music performance degree, but I also double major in a non music field, Psychology. My reason for this is my passion for working in the mental health field. I have worked as a Direct Support Worker for most of my adult life (which I will admit hasn't been very long) and have discovered a real passion for this line of work. If the music performance/ collegiate teaching doesn't go the way I want it to, my plan is to work as a social worker and get a masters in Music therapy and enter that line of work. I encourage all of my friends to have some sort of backup plan, and really evaluate the amount of work it takes to foster a career in this industry.

Side note: while I have been someone that has ALWAYS advocated for undergraduates to pursue music ed, even if they plan on going into performance, I have had a change of heart. I started my degree with this same thought: I would get an undergrad in Music Ed and then get a performance degree (or 2) when I go to grad school. I came to the conclusion that should I need to default to my backup plan, I would not be happy as a public school teacher. I have no passion for teaching Band or Orchestra, and feel I would be doing a disservice to my hypothetical students by getting a job like this without actually caring about the work. If you are someone that can actually see themselves being a band director, then maybe this route is for you however I have determined that it is not right for me. Either way, I encourage people to either make the entrepreneurial decision of having a back up plan like this, or at least truly accept the fact that even with the perfect combination of hard work and dedication, you still may not get to have a career in music.

Take everything I said with a grain of salt, as I am still an undergrad with too much alone time to think about stuff like this.
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by AndrewMeronek »

MKtuba wrote: Sun Oct 30, 2022 8:07 am I am still pursuing my degree(s) and am not yet out of college, however I would like to weigh in.

I am pursuing a music performance degree, but I also double major in a non music field, Psychology.
Don't worry about thinking of Psychology as a "backup". There are many musicians who both have a thriving musical career and a second, sometimes non-musical career. The biggest thing that makes this work IMHO is the schedules. If your non-musical job involves a lot of travel, especially short-notice travel, that makes it really tough to make things work. If your schedule is stable, the 2-career thing is a lot easier to manage.
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by MKtuba »

Thank you for the affirmation, it really means a lot!

I take no shame in having a day job right now, and really won't be disappointed if I have to keep one for the rest of my life. At the end of the day, if I can still make high quality art and share it with the world that is what matters. I would of course love to be paid to do it, but if that isn't in the cards then I am happy I can still put food on the table and a roof over my head.
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by dylanmwolfe »

I work for a local band and orchestra retail supplier. We focus primarily on student level rental instruments, but also have a pretty decent stock of intermediate and professional instruments as well. I started in sales while I was in school for music and moved up to a management position after graduating last year. I have to say I have learned A LOT about gear, history, and the instrument market I would have never known without working at this store. I've also been able to see a side of the musical market that was hidden to me before- manufacturers, vendors, retailers, and the whole process behind it all. I have my evenings free to gig or rehearse or do whatever else life has in store, and I get a reliable paycheck every two weeks, paid time off, benefits, etc. I also have much less free time in my day to practice, listen, and focus on my musical development. It has been a real struggle to fit in as much time on my horn as I would like to on a day to day basis within a 40-50 hour work week.

I personally know many musicians who support themselves through solely music, I know others who have supplemental incomes like DoorDash, etc. that work as much as they want/need to make ends meet alongside the rotation of seasonal gigs. It really all depends on you as a player. I find that those who don't have a day job have more free time to develop musically (although I know many who efficiently fit a regular practice/listening routine along with their day job). Whether you use that free time to your advantage is up to you.

I don't know how much this answers your question, but I thought I would give my thoughts.

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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by Alzitra »

Personally, I would love if I could live off of gigs alone, but I have so many bills to pay that it's just not reasonable to do so. At least my job is chill enough to let me leave early to make it to gigs and rehearsals most of the time.
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by Eclifton »

Each time I've moved to a new city I had a day job at first, sometimes music related, sometimes not. When I moved to Nashville, I drove Lyft for the first six months or so before teaching picked up and I was able to rely on that steady income in addition to playing work.

Then when covid shut everything down, I picked up a job at a liquor store, I've always had an interest in craft beer and spirits so it was actually really enjoyable. At times I actually miss having an outlet away from the music business, but that has just lead me to cultivate hobbies like golf and running to have a community outside of my musician friends and colleagues. Finding the right balance for you is key.
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by maherbone »

I work for a law firm as a paralegal. Had majored in music but after a few years I wanted a W2 job with benefits and ended up with this firm. No complaints though, I get to work remote and am able to pick up the horn a bit throughout the day. Now I gig for fun and extra money. It's nice honestly and has taken the pressure off a bit. I am getting serious again playing wise so down the road who knows what opportunities will come about. I'm just grateful to have the 9-5 right now.
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by dukesboneman »

My "Day Job" was a High School Band Director in Rochester and Buffalo, NY City Schools. But I always played every chance I got.
I taught for 35 years and retired. I now play pretty much full time and love it but My health care and pension make that possible
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by Ozzlefinch »

Wait, what? You can make money playing music?
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by musicofnote »

I consider myself EXTREMELY lucky. During my senior year in Cincinnati, I got a job teaching catholic school elementary band - actually right up my alley at the time. Loved it. Played also in an ensemble that only did school concerts and paid quite well. But my ambition was to become the next Maurice Andre - I was a trumpet player at the time and good on piccolo trumpet. So I saved my money, paid off my student loans at a time this was still possible (1974-77) and in 1977 came over here to Basel, Switzerland, inititally for just one year.

One year became two which became a divorce and a job teaching trumpet/band at the local prep division of the Musik-Akademie der Stadt Basel. Where I also aced it, meeting my present wife and started a family here. When the first kid arrived, I was already working through some dental-caused embouchure problems, so it was an easy personal choice to also stop non-local gigging. Ultimately, my trumpet embouchure collapsed totally and I didn't play anything for 9 years, instead still teaching trumpet, but mostly teaching conducting on the prep and ensemble methods/conducting at the conservatory level.

Then in 1989 I discovered computers through a school sponsored workshop on computer generated music notation, at the time on MB Engraver. Gradually my career in music drifted towards computer stuff, started a music notation engraving company then on Finale as a good paying side-line to my teaching.

In 2000 I got a job at a Trade College for Industrial Design and Media Art in Aarau which meant I left the Musik-Akademie der Stadt Basel. I started there as a IT-Supporter and within 5 months I was promoted to Systems Engineer. In the meantime, also on the side, I'd started taking trombone lessons in 1991 and got a teaching diploma for tenor trombone and euphonium in 1996 at age 44. Immediately after getting the diploma I stopped playing tenor for all intents and purposes, concentrating on playing bass trombone, mostly in the local quartet I'd helped start: The Basel Posaunenequartett. Played a LOT of gigs in the area in orchestras mostly, also some village bands. From Aarau I went to the University of Zürich, Ethnological Institute, once again as IT-Support and SystemAdmin/SystemArchitect. Great job, but medical issues forced me to take an early retirement in 2014. Kept my one remaining orchestral gig until that too became too much health wise. Oh, and around 2010 I got certified as a dog trainer and Canine Behavior Consultant.

Now, being totally retired, I still play for my own enjoyment and the end of May 2022 stopped playing in public, deciding that that sporadic age-dependent lip tremor was going to make itself known to the public, so better to stop now when only I hear/feel it.

Because Switzerland is a fairly progressive country, we have excellent affordable health care, I have very good combination of Swiss social security and private (obligatory by law) retirement pension. The kids are in their professions: former sociologist now working in a bank in Geneva and a MD working a few village away from us and living across the field from us. Leaving the US to study and "getting stuck" here was the best thing that could have happened to me - as I said, I've been EXTREMELY lucky. But at the time ... who knew?
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by BrassSection »

I’ve personally never made a dime from playing any horn. Only ever played in church bands and ensembles and community bands, but that’s fine with me. My strongest instrument is euphonium, and you know what they say about that. (In case you don’t, what’s the difference between a large pizza and a euphonium player? A large pizza can feed a family of 4!) I do it for the fun of music and broadening my horizons. Income came from 25+ years in a pulp and paper mill, and in later life as a home inspector. Side benefit of that job; found a decent piano to replace a not so decent one at home. Daughter is a very talented piano and French horn player. She decided against the college route after the first year…she realized soon enough she didn’t want to make a career out of full time playing or teaching. She has done some instruction, mainly to kids of family and friends. Now sadly she only plays maybe once or twice a year in a brass ensemble at church, or to accompany one of my horns on the grand piano.
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by Macbone1 »

I committed to the military band route at age 23, so music was full time PLUS for me until age 48. There was SOME off duty gigging but we honestly didn't have a lot of time for it. Hardly anyone played anywhere off duty for free, unless it was for very good friends or family.
I prepared myself for full time office work after the Air Force and my playing has been largely unpaid stuff ever since. But I get to pick and choose the type of groups I join, which is important to me.
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Re: Do/did you have a day job outside of music?

Post by Leanit »

In San Francisco, more people make a living pitching for the Giants than by playing trombone. Yet people send kids to conservatory like it's a realistic career path. Unless you're 1 in 1000, you need a job too. Play for fun, get better all the time, and get paid every chance you can to keep the profession from becoming completely volunteer.
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