Finding Passion in Your Life’s Work: Do What You Love

One of the reasons that I love working with musicians is that they chose to do what they do because of a deep sense of commitment and passion to the field.  Otherwise, why would they spend some much time practicing and honing their craft in a competitive and challenging field?

It is one thing to be in love with your art.  Yet many musicians have trouble taking the next step to figuring out how to  translate that passion into a  successful and sustainable career.

Where do you start?

Thoughts on Ben Zander’s TED Talk on Music and Passion (Leadership and Possibility)

I am in the process of finalizing the reading list for my course next semester at the Yale School of Music on “Creating Sustainable Careers in the Arts” and am including Ben Zander’s TED Talk on Music and Passion. TED Talks originated from a conference with the world’s thought leaders in Technology, Entertainment and Design around the theme of “ideas worth spreading”.  The talks have broadened in scope to include inspirations voices that anyone can access for free online on the ted.com website. I have chosen this particular talk because not only it is an inspiration for today’s conservatory students to hear one of the world’s great proponents of classical music but also because it contains some powerful leadership lessons that transcend music and apply to all areas of life.

Career Transitions Part 3: “I’m Exploring”–The power of testing options to discover your new career path

I work with a lot of musicians and creative professionals who feel stuck and trapped in their current roles. This feeling of being stuck can be stressful and debilitating, especially if you think that there is something “perfect” out there if only you could figure out what “it” is. This is a classic case of the first phase of career transitions that I previously wrote about called “I’m done“:  what happens when your dream dies or your job comes to an end.

The good news is that if you spend some time “reflecting” on who you are at your core– the next phase of transition where you do the personal development work that you need to do in order to set yourself up for a successful transition–you will be in a much better position to move on. 

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.

How to Spot Your Strengths: A Music Entrepreneur’s First Step in Identifying What Makes You Unique

The start of the academic year is a great time to reflect on strengths since it is my belief that knowing and developing your strengths is one of the basic elements of creating success.

Moreover, for musicians, knowing your strengths is key to creating your brand—the message that sets you apart from others—as well as a beacon of light when your confidence is flagging and you need a boost to remember what your talents really are.

How do you spot strengths?

Listening: An Essential Communication Skill for Musicians

I have been attending a lot of chamber music concerts lately and have been observing how important it is for musicians to listen to each other as they perform.  The better the members of an ensemble are able to listen and communicate effectively to each other, the better the performance.  This has gotten me thinking about ways that musicians can …

Communication 101 for Music Entrepreneurs: Know Your Communication Style

In my recent post about what it takes to be a successful musician in the 21st Century, one of the skills that I mentioned was Communication Skills.  What do I mean?

Musicians need powerful communication skills in many different settings:

  • In ensembles to make sure that the group is on the same page musically, listening carefully to each other so that the music flows;
  • In collaborations with other artists to maximize the synergies and create a powerful experience for the collaborators and their audiences;
  • Engaging their audiences so that the audience members will appreciate the music and have a deeper and richer understanding of the performance;
  • Teaching so that their students understand how they can improve and grow and learn;
  • Creating something new, be it a festival, a non-profit organization or an ensemble, and getting people on board to support the new venture
  • Networking so that they can meet and connect with other people.

Effective communication is a powerful leadership skill.  It starts with knowing who you are as a communicator and what are your strengths.  One way to do this is to know your communication style.

Networking for the Music Entrepreneur: The 4-Step Process to Career Success

As I am preparing for my new role at the Yale School of Music as Coordinator of Career Strategies, I have been talking to a number of people in the field who are also devoted to helping musicians succeed in their careers.  This week alone, I have had 3 conversations about networking and how critical it is to career success.  Most musicians know this.  Yet, so often they are reluctant to do start networking because of an underlying fear about networking.  In my classes and private sessions, I often hear how scared people are to network because they think that they have to “sell” themselves.  If that’s the predominant thought, no wonder people shy away from networking!  So it’s important to come up with a new way of thinking about networking:

Connect + Share + Be Relevant

Not so hard, right?

In fact, when I introduce this concept to my students and my clients, I hear a collective sigh of relief in the room! And once they have a new way of thinking about networking, it becomes much easier to embrace the principles and start networking.

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Music Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century: A Mindset, A Skillset and a Process

I consider myself ever so fortunate since I am in contact with a continuous stream of talented, intelligent, successful professional musicians, in my work as a career coach, guest lecturer the Yale School of Music, Juilliard and Manhattan School of Music and now as the new head of Career Strategies at YSM.  As such, I am constantly on the lookout …