It is that time of year when recent college graduates are on the prowl, looking for their first job as the vice-president of a company. Yes, ma’m, that’s a little harsh, but only a little.
I hear 10-12 music graduates every year say pretty much the same thing:
“I don’t want to teach. I just want to play my instrument. I got my certification as something to fall back on in case I don’t land a good paying gig in a year.”
Good luck with that. Unless you are already playing professionally at some level, then you will not be playing professionally at ANY level any time soon. Not now, not ever. Not where you went to school.
If being a professional musician is your goal, then you should have started this path 15 years ago, back when the people with whom you think you will compete for that 2nd chair orchestra gig got started. Then they studied and practiced with the best teachers in the world. Then practiced some more. Then they subbed a bit in a third-rate orchestra when they were 16. Then they practiced some more. Then they studied at one of those tiny handful of schools that adequately prepare students for the heartbreak of the life of a professional musician. Then they survive that ordeal, leaving hundreds of really amazing players in their wake, earning the occasional sub in a second-rate orchestra–usually the one in which their teacher performs. After memorizing every excerpt ever composed, they audition off and on for YEARS at 3rd rate, or maybe even 2nd rate orchestras waiting for someone to die (see also, the Life and Legend of Bud Herseth, who held the principal trumpet chair in Chicago longer than most of his competition–if there was any–were born, auditioned, lived, and died). Then they win that audition on a one-year basis, filling in their meager income with teaching, gigging a little, and eating more Ramen. Then they practiced some more. Finally, they land the gig with an orchestra that actually records CDs, and continue their struggle up the food chain of “professional musician,” working on their next audition, then the next, then the next…
Then you show up fresh with your newly-minted B.A. in Music, ready to play.
By the way, a good teacher doesn’t “fall back” on teaching. They work just as hard, and prepare just as much, and dedicate their time just as much as that oboe/horn/violin/tuba/etc player that just wiped the audition room with you.
In short, I don’t want you teaching my grandchildren. Never.
Yes ma’m, this is a little harsh. But if you think this is harsh, just wait until your first real gig. That vice-president is going to cloud up and rain all over you.