Looking for Career Inspiration: How Music Entrepreneurs Find Their Vision

One of the hallmarks of a music entrepreneur is having a vision and taking action to make that vision happen.  In my role as Coordinator of Career Strategies at the Yale School of Music, I have the privilege of working with an extraordinarily talented group of musicians, all of whom have worked hard to get to where they are.  Yet many of these students do not have a vision for where they want to take their careers.  Since having a vision is a powerful motivator for creating career success, how do you create such a vision for yourself?

In my experience, many successful musicians got their career inspiration from listening to other people and paying attention when they got excited about something that someone else was doing.   In other words, they met someone and realize, “That’s what I want to do.”  Then, they put their personal spin on the idea and that became their vision.

One of my pianist friends, Kimball Gallagher, performs all over the world doing house concerts that recreate the salon era so that audiences can share an intimate experience of music in the home. He got his inspiration as an undergraduate when he met a professional pianist who had a successful career doing house concerts in addition to performances in public venues.  Kimball was so inspired by this idea that he began doing house concerts, eventually creating a company called Piano Key.   With a goal of doing 88 concerts culminating in a concert in Carnegie Hall, Kimball is nearly half way there.  Talk about being inspired by your vision!

I too had a similar experience that inspired me to pursue my career as a professional coach teaching conservatory-trained musicians.  This happened during my coach training when one of our instructors introduced himself as both a coach and an attorney and mentioned that he taught at the Fashion Institute of Technology.  All of a sudden, a light bulb went off:  I want to teach too!  Since my passion was for classical music, my career direction was as clear as daylight:  to teach in a major conservatory.  Lo and behold, here I am at YSM!

What is it about getting that inspiration from other people?  Often, when you come across a career path that excites you, a few things may be going on. 

The project undoubtedly reflects strength or a talent of yours that you know you can develop.  Using those strengths and talents is a critical first step in shaping your career path.

This career path clearly reflects a passion, something that fuels you because you love doing it.

And it represents something that you value and find important and worthwhile.  Knowing those values is critical to making great decisions.  What a great decision it is to commit to your life and career vision!

So if you are unsure of your vision, spend some time thinking about whose career you would love to have.  Put yourself out there and start talking to other musicians to find out what they do.  Read articles and blogs about other musicians.  And start paying attention to when your heart begins to race.  That could very well be your intuition telling you that you are on the road to finding your path.


PS:  To get you started, here are a few of my own blog posts that might give you some ideas from fellow music entrepreneurs:




© Astrid Baumgardner 2011