TAG: classical music

Classical Musicians in the 21st Century: How They are Faring and How They Can Make It

I recently wrote about how musicians today are living in a world of opportunity where the many changes that our culture has experienced in the last 50 years has given rise to new possibilities.

As we gear up for the new academic year, this is a great time to check in on how musicians are faring in this new paradigm and what they can do to create sustainable careers. The short answer is that jobs do exist for musicians, both in traditional and new arenas.  However, in order to create sustainable careers, today’s musicians are advised to take charge of their careers, master business and people skills and boldly adopt the entrepreneurial mindset in order to ride the wave of opportunity.

Let’s take a closer look.

“Be good” vs. “Get Better”: Optimizing the Experience of Performing

I have just returned from my summer vacation in California wine country where I learned some valuable lessons about optimal goal setting while improving my piano skills!

Where did all this happen?

At pianoSonoma, a festival that brings together serious adult piano students to study with Juilliard faculty members Michael Shinn and Jessica Chow Shinn, and collaborate and perform chamber music with Young Artists ( current students at or recent graduates of Juilliard), as well attend concerts by the faculty and the Young Artists.  It is a thrilling week where I can indulge in my passion for learning and playing the piano and share the joy of making music with superbly talented musicians.

On the plane ride out to California, I had a chance to catch up on my Kindle backlog and settled into a short book called “9 Things Successful People Do Differently” by psychologist  and goal-setting expert Heidi Grant Halvorson.  Now success is what I teach, coach on and advocate so I was interested in her 9 points.  And the one that resonated most powerfully with me was point #5:

Focus On Getting Better, Rather Than Being Good

What does she mean?

The Great New World of Opportunity: Classical Music in the 21st Century

Last week, I had the privilege of speaking at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival/Yale School of Music about the state of classical music in the 21st century with a focus on the opportunities for today’s musicians to create successful careers.  Yes, my friends, we are living in a world full of possibilities and great opportunities for classical musicians! So let’s look at what the nay-sayers are saying and then view our world through the lens of opportunity.

Managing Multiple Passions: Achieving Creative Fulfillment and Pushing Through Fear

What do you do when you love so many things that you cannot decide what career direction to pursue?

As someone who transitioned from French literature to law to non-profit management to consulting to career coaching to teaching career entrepreneurship at the Yale School of Music and writing, speaking and coaching on career fulfillment, I was plagued by this very issue.  Indeed, over the course of my various career iterations, I went from utter frustration at thinking that I was never going to figure it out to embarking on a process of reflection and experimentation to learning the beauty of aligning one’s career with one’s passions, values and strengths and of honoring the twists and turns of the journey to creative fulfillment and career success. 

Yes, the process takes time and often leaves you wondering where you are going but once you connect the dots, there is nothing quite like it.  If you are someone with multiple passions and feel stuck in your tracks, here are some reflections on what might be holding you back and what you can do about it.

Making Musical Dreams a Reality: A Tale of 3 Concerts and a Poet

This is a tale of one week in New York city involving 3 concerts, a 19th Century visionary poet and the importance of making dreams a reality. In today’s world where the paradigms of classical music are changing and we are experimenting with different models of success, these concerts make me feel a lot better about the state of our art.

Let’s start with the concerts.

Networking for Music Entrepreneurs: Using Your Head and Your Heart

I love teaching networking because it is such a valuable skill for musicians.  And my recent networking class at Yale was such a treat because for the first time ever, I had a group where nearly half of the students enjoy networking! As a result, my “experienced” networkers were able to share their successes with their colleagues which both reinforced the importance of networking and showed other students what to do in order to incorporate networking into one’s arsenal of career-building tools. 

The bottom line:  networking involves both your head—being strategic—and your heart-being intuitive and sensitive to building quality relationships. 

Let’s take a closer look at what worked.

Music Entrepreneurship: Out with the Perfect, In with The Impossible

Recently, marketing guru Seth Godin wrote an explosive blog post entitled “Perfect and Impossible” wherein he takes on the digital revolution in music and examines how a once “perfect” business

“Radio, record chains, Rolling Stone magazine, the senior prom, limited access to recording studios, the replaceable nature of the LP, the baby boomers”

has now died. And for him, that’s a good thing because it’s a revolution that “destroys the perfect and enables the impossible.”

I immediately thought of my class and what we are teaching:  to help musicians think and act like entrepreneurs so that they can create their own version of success.

Your Brand and The Perfect World: Branding as a Vehicle for Audience Development

This week, my class took on the subject of branding. I love teaching musicians about how to create and use their brand because the right brand is a self-empowering message about the best of you and your promise of quality to your Ideal Audience–the people whom you are eager to attract. 

A brand is not about you-it is about communicating your promise to your Ideal Audience.  By helping to forge a powerful emotional connection with that audience, a brand becomes a tool that not only inspires you to be your best but also boosts your confidence and projects positive energy to those around you: a true win/win

Audience development is one of the major challenges facing classical musicians today and we are living in a world where the relationship between musicians and their audiences presents a tremendous opportunity to advance the field. That was certainly an important theme in the recent seminar at Yale on the Role of Technology in the future of music.

While musicians sometimes resist the idea of “pitching” to a target audience on the theory that it is antithetical to their authenticity and personal growth and is too limiting (until they realize how connected a brand is to one’s artistic purpose), I firmly believe that identifying and connecting with the right audiences is critical no only for one’s professional development but also to solidify our field.  Thus, I include the target audience into my branding discussions so that my students begin to carve out the part of the audience with which they resonate. 

That brings us to artistic mission: 

How Musicians Can Leverage the Power of Technology: Advice from the Experts

This week, I had the privilege of moderating a panel at the Yale School of Music on the Role of Technology and its impact on the field of classical music. Our three speakers contributed their unique perspectives on the impact of technology on the dissemination and promotion of classical music: Greg Anderson, a 2008 Yale School of Music graduate and …