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12 Things I Learned After I Graduated Music School



In this month’s post I will list twelve things I learned after I graduated from music school. These are tips I learned that I couldn’t get from a textbook or from my teacher telling me. I am still learning more everyday, but I feel these are things I deal with regularly, that every musician should know. A few of them have already touched upon in previous blog posts so feel free to go back and read those.

This list is in no particular order because they are ALL important. Use this list as a foundation, and then you can add to it as your career grows. (Say it with me: 12345, 678910, 11, 12!)

1. Have fun and smile! People will hire you more if they like to be around you.

2. Remember people’s names, everyone is important. This falls under the category of networking and building relationships. And, look them in the eye when you talk to them. People shouldn’t be considered with more value only if they can only help you move forward in your career. Everyone should be treated with equal respect. You also don’t know if someone from one band can recommend you for a totally different band.

3. Keep relationships and keep them in tact. Out of sight out of mind. I still work with people from college AND high school. Believe it or not, a couple from middle school too!

4. Get a great accountant for your taxes, and have a lawyer you trust available to review contracts and other important documents.

5. You can always ask for less money, but you can’t necessarily ask for more.

6. Rehearsing is a luxury. If that luxury is afforded to you, take full advantage of it. When you are in school, you are rehearsing all the time (a lot of it is required) and then when you get out into the real world, you hardly rehearse at all. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen, just that it happens a lot less.

7. Don’t fear failure. With everything being so instant, don’t let yourself get discouraged easily. A good amount of successful individuals may not be the most talented ones to touch the instrument, but you better believe they were the most determined.

8. Take care of your body (which is also your instrument). Get health insurance and go to the doctor for checkups.

9. You should have a basic knowledge of using recording software. This can range from Protools, Logic, or even Garage Band.

10. Learn to sing. Being able to sing basic harmonies, or oooos and ahhhs while you play your instrument will get you hired more. Especially if it is between you or another great player who doesn’t sing at all.

11. Save all, save often. This goes for paperwork like contracts, music (charts), textbooks, etc. It also goes for when you’re on the computer using programs like Finale or Sibelieus, or even a Word document. I like to take it a step further with spare parts for my instruments.

12. Social media is a doorway between you and the rest of the world. Make sure you have a lock on that door and are aware what may be going through that portal.



….And a partridge in a pear tree. There you have it. Quick and easy so you can get back to the craziness that this month usually brings. I wish you a happy holiday, whatever you may celebrate, and I look forward to keeping you entertained in the coming year!