ometimes, string musicians get so set on becoming professional musicians that they forget to take a big-picture look at the variety of music-related careers available to them.
Whether you’ve just graduated from college, or you’re trying to figure out how to select the right combination of collegiate majors and minors, we have suggestions for a variety of careers that might be right up your cello playing alley.
PROFESSIONAL (ORCHESTRA) CELLIST
There are a range of ways to make money as a cellist right now. And, due to the rising popularity of professional string musicians, like Yo-Yo Ma, 2Cellos, and The Piano Guys, cellos are getting their fair share of attention – and demand – these days. There is a demand for professional cellists right now, so setting yourself up for success pays off:
Get a diploma certificate from a notable music school so you can advertise yourself as trained and “educated."
Create a professional persona and market it diligently
Use social media to promote yourself and find other online forums such as com, where others go to find professionals like you
Audition for any orchestras (including theater groups) in your area and keep trying
Continue to enter music competitions for exposure, connections, and notorious “wins”
Take private lessons from renowned teachers with connections for great references
Don’t consider any event “too small” when getting started. You never know when the next wedding or anniversary party may connect you with someone in “the business.”
MUSIC TEACHER (FUTURE MUSIC SCHOOL OWNER)
Teaching cello (and any other instrument you play) is a smart way to keep a bread-and-butter income stream going as you pursue professional musicianship. Identify your favorite student niche (called your “target audience”) and then use a professional website design and social media channels to market directly to them. Don’t forget about the prospect of teaching adults, who often make the best and most intellectually satisfying clients.
You may find it’s worth your while to start your own music school – or partner up with a business-savvy friend – to start your school. That way, you generate your own income as well as a portion of the income from other music teachers who use your school as their teaching venue.
ARE YOU A MUSIC COMPOSER IN THE MAKING?
The digital world has made it easier than ever for composers and arrangers to get their materials out into the world. If you enjoy composing music, start taking classes in composition and attend summer programs or camps that focus on music composition. This puts you in touch with professional composers who do it for a living and who can shed insight into the most lucrative pathways to selling your compositions. Composing the next great hit is “the dream,” but you could also find your niche behind the scenes as a film composer.
USE YOUR SENSITIVE ATTRIBUTES AS A MUSIC THERAPIST
Music therapy once was shrugged off as too alternative for the mainstream psychology network. But times have changed. Now, music therapy is being utilized just about everywhere you turn, from helping children and young people process trauma to working with the elderly, grief counceling, rehabilitation of incarcerated inmates, and mainstream healthcare facilities such as Kaiser-Permanente.
Your musicianship is half of the equation. The next step is to learn more about accredited music therapy programs around the nation and find the one that feels right to you.
CLASSICAL MUSIC DJ
As a long-time cello player, you’ve learned your way around classical music scores. In fact, you probably know more about classical music genres, composers, musicians, and famous pieces of music than you even know. That’s exactly what classical radio stations are looking for when they hire new hosts.
If that job appeals to you, look for entry-level positions at your local radio stations so you can learn more about the business. Your college may also have its own station, and once you learn the ropes, you could offer to host a classical hour (if they don’t have one already). Most radio stations require hosts to have a bachelor’s degree and radio experience, as well as a comfortable public persona, superior writing and speaking skills, and an ability to get along well with a wide variety of people.
Visit our post, 7 Steps to Starting Your Music Career, to learn more about what it takes to make a living doing what you love most.