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Two jobs
#2997784 07/02/20 08:54 AM
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Hello,

I have a question. Do you think that it is possible to hold a job (perhaps in the medical field), while also being a professional pianist? By "professional pianist," I mean someone who gives solo recitals, does chamber music engagements, does concerto engagements, accompanies soloists, and also teaches if everything else does not provide sufficient income.

Related question:
Can one go to a conservatory and also go to another college at the same time?

Last edited by samwitdangol; 07/02/20 08:57 AM.
Re: Two jobs
samwitdangol #2997786 07/02/20 09:06 AM
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Have a look at Paul Wee's career(s), and see how he does it.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Two jobs
samwitdangol #2997789 07/02/20 09:20 AM
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It really depends on how demanding is your first job and how much time you plan to spend on the piano. Certain jobs leave you enough time free to practice and also arrange your schedule to organise other activities. But that is not the case with all jobs. Then handling 2 rather opposite jobs is quite demanding, intellectually and organizationally.

Re: Two jobs
samwitdangol #2997790 07/02/20 09:20 AM
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It depends on how you choose to break it down, but yes, it is possible. I am in a similar situation. I do IT work as my main job, but I am still very active in playing. I usually perform in a couple concerts a year, I work with a fellow violinist and cellist in some chamber stuff, I do a lot of accompanying, etc... It takes balancing - you need to find that sweet spot for what you can take on music-wise without causing too much disruption to your day job.


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Re: Two jobs
samwitdangol #2997797 07/02/20 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by samwitdangol
Hello,

I have a question. Do you think that it is possible to hold a job (perhaps in the medical field), while also being a professional pianist? By "professional pianist," I mean someone who gives solo recitals, does chamber music engagements, does concerto engagements, accompanies soloists, and also teaches if everything else does not provide sufficient income.

Related question:
Can one go to a conservatory and also go to another college at the same time?

It depends on what you mean by ‘a job in the medical field’ I.e. whether it will require on-call and after hours work. If it is more than a standard 9-5 job, no you can’t do both if you might be called in to work.


Depending on how much energy you have, you can certainly have a 40 hr medical job and do some musical gigs. It will be limited, and you will be unlikely to get any actual concert gigs as a part-time pianist. You can do chamber music in churches or upscale restaurants

A conservatory and another full-time program? No. But you can have a secondary major in music at a university.

I have suggested talking to your teacher and deciding on your audition repertoire. Up your level NOW

Re: Two jobs
samwitdangol #2997798 07/02/20 09:49 AM
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I think it’s possible. I don’t do it, but my friend teaches at a middle school, which doesn’t give her as much free time as you might think. She also teaches a martial arts class (once a week). Is a mother of two teenagers that have their own activities she’s often driving them to and from (karate, baseball) Even with all that she still has time to play in a classical guitar group. Although with Coronapocalypse, not sure if that has given her more or less time.

One note: Even though she plays at a high level I know her group didn’t make much per gig in the beginning, but she’s now able to do less gigs for more money. I know other people who had a hectic schedule for a few years until their “night job” made enough to either quit or lessen the hours on their day jobs. Some companies will let you work 32 hours a week, the minimum to keep health insurance. I’ve had a few friends who were able to cut their hours, but keep insurance, to allow more time for schooling or working on a second career.

good luck- if you really want to, I think you can.

Re: Two jobs
samwitdangol #2997803 07/02/20 10:08 AM
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OT: So many jobs now demand more and more of your time

I just learned about this "9/80s work schedule" arrangement (while looking into Lockheed Martin in Owego, NY)

A simple definition: "9/80s work schedule" is a compressed work schedule which consists of eight 9-hour days, one 8-hour day, and one day off in a 2-week period. Under a typical 9/80 arrangement, employees work four 9-hour days, followed by an 8-hour workday that is split into two 4-hour periods.

Some people said it's wonderful and a winner, others said the management uses it to demand more out of your time and life


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Re: Two jobs
samwitdangol #2997806 07/02/20 10:20 AM
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You won't be able to attend university and also attend a conservatory's full-time course, but you can have the same level of piano teaching if the conservatory accepts outside students for piano lessons.

Re: Two jobs
samwitdangol #2997807 07/02/20 10:23 AM
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https://www.wrti.org/people/debra-lew-harder

Shes an excellent pianist and studied with Earl Wild. I'm sure she knows time management.

Re: Two jobs
samwitdangol #2997836 07/02/20 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by samwitdangol
Hello,I have a question. Do you think that it is possible to hold a job (perhaps in the medical field), while also being a professional pianist? By "professional pianist," I mean someone who gives solo recitals, does chamber music engagements, does concerto engagements, accompanies soloists, and also teaches if everything else does not provide sufficient income.
The phrasing of the question is a little vague. Does "hold a job" mean a usual around 40 hours/week job? Does your professional pianist give many solo recitals and concerto performances or just a couple/year with a local orchestra? How many piano students does the professional pianist teach each week?

There are always a few outlier exceptions but having a full time non-musical job and doing a lot of work as a professional pianist performing and teaching would be extremely rare, I think. If one reduces both of those job descriptions then it would be more possible.

There have been a few professional musicians who have gone to a conservatory(not sure if this was full time) and university simultaneously, but I think one has to be bordering on genius level to do this successfully. I'm thinking of the pianists Conrad Tao and George Li and the cellist Nathan Chan. Imagine practicing at least five hours/day and doing a full load of college courses.

Re: Two jobs
samwitdangol #2997837 07/02/20 12:33 PM
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In NYC there are a lot of people who manage to play chamber and solo performances pretty often while working a 40-50 hour/week job. That said, I don't think anyone is going to be paying you to teach, accompany, or play concerti or even solo works, given it's hard enough to get paid doing that as a dedicated fulltime musician. For all of us high-effort amateurs, music is a money sink, not an income source.

Every person I know who went to Juilliard and Curtis is pretty much in agreement that music isn't really a viable career.

As far as attending conservatory and college at the same time, sure. Harvard-NEC, Columbia-Juilliard joint programs exist. Usually, people end up neglecting one or the other (Harvard-NEC guy who tried going to the Chopin competition didn't even make it past the preliminary round for example). The people I know who did this got kind of tired of music and don't even practice anymore. One thing you have to understand is that finishing a degree with decent grades is not a terribly high bar, so seeing people who can juggle 2 degrees like that isn't evidence that "you can have it all"; I didn't do a music degree but I got around 3 hours of practice a day in college, but I also put in 4x less effort into studying than my friends who went to top PhD programs.

Thomas Yu is probably one of the only amateurs who can get paid to play, and I'm pretty sure piano is a net money drain for him too.

Last edited by trigalg693; 07/02/20 12:42 PM.
Re: Two jobs
samwitdangol #2997841 07/02/20 12:48 PM
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Sorry, I should have been more specific. I was asking if one could actually have a career in music with another job in the background, not the other way around, in order to supplement their income or in case they fail in music.

Re: Two jobs
trigalg693 #2997845 07/02/20 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by trigalg693
In NYC there are a lot of people who manage to play chamber and solo performances pretty often while working a 40-50 hour/week job. That said, I don't think anyone is going to be paying you to teach, accompany, or play concerti or even solo works, given it's hard enough to get paid doing that as a dedicated fulltime musician. For all of us high-effort amateurs, music is a money sink, not an income source.

Every person I know who went to Juilliard and Curtis is pretty much in agreement that music isn't really a viable career.

As far as attending conservatory and college at the same time, sure. Harvard-NEC, Columbia-Juilliard joint programs exist. Usually, people end up neglecting one or the other (Harvard-NEC guy who tried going to the Chopin competition didn't even make it past the preliminary round for example). The people I know who did this got kind of tired of music and don't even practice anymore. One thing you have to understand is that finishing a degree with decent grades is not a terribly high bar, so seeing people who can juggle 2 degrees like that isn't evidence that "you can have it all"; I didn't do a music degree but I got around 3 hours of practice a day in college, but I also put in 4x less effort into studying than my friends who went to top PhD programs.

Thomas Yu is probably one of the only amateurs who can get paid to play, and I'm pretty sure piano is a net money drain for him too.


My understanding is that Thomas Yu was also a full-time, professional concert pianist at one time, abandoned music as a career to become a periodontist. He would have connections for paid performances That most strictly amateurs would not have. FWIW I looked up his bio after the van Clyburn, but I do not see this level of detail in there currently


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Re: Two jobs
dogperson #2997855 07/02/20 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by samwitdangol
Sorry, I should have been more specific. I was asking if one could actually have a career in music with another job in the background, not the other way around, in order to supplement their income or in case they fail in music.

I mean sure, you can go find SOME job to supplement your income... A successful "side career" that makes a good living though? I would say no, because being a professional musician is a huge commitment.

Originally Posted by dogperson
My understanding is that Thomas Yu was also a full-time, professional concert pianist at one time, abandoned music as a career to become a periodontist. He would have connections for paid performances That most strictly amateurs would not have.

Yes, there are a number of "amateurs" that are actually concert-track pianists who quit, and they have the easiest time finding engagements. There are amateurs without that kind of background who weasel their way into a professional career, but it's a full-time undertaking to do so.

Re: Two jobs
samwitdangol #2997856 07/02/20 01:03 PM
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I do not know of any full-time professional concert pianists who supplement their income with a "side" full time career. It is generally an all-consuming profession, and if you're taking time off to do something else, there is always someone who will be dedicating themselves to it more than you - which puts your career at risk.

On the flip side, I do believe it is quite possible to have a full time job and be an "amateur" pianist. Understand that I know some "amateur" pianists who play better than many professional ones, I am not meaning to put down the skill level of talented amateurs. Here are some caveats to doing this though:

1. You will not have a performance schedule equivalent to a pro. You will be playing much fewer engagements.
2. You will probably not get paid much or anything at all to perform.
3. You will have to win amateur competitions to play with orchestras
4. To win competitions, you will be competing against extremely gifted players that essentially play like Pros.
5. To get to that level requires extensive practice and a job that allows much free time, or requires being extremely creative with time management.

I just participated in my first amateur festival last year, and I noticed that there is an age gap right where I am at (31 years old). There were very few people that were in the middle of developing a professional career, and still had enough practice time to apply to an amateur festival. I am lucky in that I own the company I work at, and thus was able to put two pianos (a digital hybrid and an acoustic grand) literally in my office. There is no way I would be able to practice enough to do so otherwise. Likewise, traveling will be a concern for most professions - things like Cliburn take more than a week, so you would have to be willing to blow a significant amount of total vacation time to attend. For me, again I am lucky - nobody can fire me.

Just being realistic, most people who attended these festivals or competitions tend to be in positions where they are financially secure and can take time to practice and afford time off work. The upside is that you can have a normal career and be financially successful (most concert pianists are not), and also still enjoy a (lesser) amount of performance opportunities and music making. The best part about this is that you can play what you want, whenever you want, and only participate in things you want to do - which is a freedom that professional pianists do not have.

Last edited by computerpro3; 07/02/20 01:06 PM.
Re: Two jobs
samwitdangol #2997960 07/02/20 05:42 PM
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You can always supplement your income some way. But to have two careers, that's often a problem in real life. From experience, I know that people who are involved in a completely unrelated career are often passed up for promotion, not taken seriously, not invited to conferences, don't get taken under anybody's wings. The employers don't invest in you because they see you are not fully invested. So they invest in someone else who is all in.

Re: Two jobs
wszxbcl #2997976 07/02/20 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by wszxbcl
You can always supplement your income some way. But to have two careers, that's often a problem in real life. From experience, I know that people who are involved in a completely unrelated career are often passed up for promotion, not taken seriously, not invited to conferences, don't get taken under anybody's wings. The employers don't invest in you because they see you are not fully invested. So they invest in someone else who is all in.

Excellent observations!

Regards,


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Re: Two jobs
BruceD #2997988 07/02/20 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by wszxbcl
You can always supplement your income some way. But to have two careers, that's often a problem in real life. From experience, I know that people who are involved in a completely unrelated career are often passed up for promotion, not taken seriously, not invited to conferences, don't get taken under anybody's wings. The employers don't invest in you because they see you are not fully invested. So they invest in someone else who is all in.

Excellent observations!

Regards,

In addition, a full time 40 hr professional work week does not necessarily mean your work week stops at 40 hrs... oh, I wish it were so. It just means you are not paid for any extra hours that you have to work, and they are often not optional.


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Re: Two jobs
samwitdangol #2998006 07/02/20 07:06 PM
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Even if you work a chilled out job (e.g. Google, which is notorious for having lots of lazy employees), it eats into your "mental bandwidth" and you have less energy for practicing piano after work. For me, this was a good thing for realizing I needed to improve the efficiency of my practice, but the actual amount of time I spend practicing has gone down, my fingers have gotten weaker, I forget my pieces faster, etc.

Re: Two jobs
computerpro3 #2998137 07/03/20 07:36 AM
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Originally Posted by computerpro3
The upside is that you can have a normal career and be financially successful (most concert pianists are not), and also still enjoy a (lesser) amount of performance opportunities and music making. The best part about this is that you can play what you want, whenever you want, and only participate in things you want to do - which is a freedom that professional pianists do not have.

This post about remaining an amateur pianist reminded me of a man I know. We met at our teacher's studio in 1981. He was extremely gifted at the piano and easily could have made it his life's work. However, he was also very interested in computers. He said something like this... "If I major in piano, I'll never be able to afford the computer I want. If I major in electrical engineering, someday I'll be able to afford the piano I want." He wound up working for <a major computer company>, retiring from that in his late 40s, now has his own media company and owns a Steinway D. (He hasn't done any amateur competitions, but you never know.)


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