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What to Do When Your Child Asks to Be a Professional Musician

Graduation Caps in the Air

Graduation season is in full swing and your child has probably spent some time thinking about what comes next.  So what do you do when your graduate tells you that they want to be a professional musician? We say go for it.

It can be simultaneously the scariest and proudest moment of your life as a music parent’s life when your student turns to you and says, “I want to go to school to be a musician.” Instantly you picture your precious baby living the life of the starving artist; couch surfing their way from show to show, barely scrapping enough funds together to pay for their meal let alone a vacation or to fatten their retirement fund.

The starving artist trope is a familiar one and not totally unmerited as there are some performers living in poverty. However, there are also some musicians who are fabulously wealthy.  Plus, a well-educated musician has a 1 in 4 chance of finding work in their field. That’s not too shabby when you consider 32% of all college graduates never work in a field related to their majors according to a recent CBS article. Additionally, collegiate music schooling is often a more affordable program when compared to other “practical” degrees. Starting a career without debt can allow your student to be choosier when entering the job market as there won’t be as much pressure financially to hurry up and work.

There are multiple avenues in which to pursue music as well. There are of course performers, composers, and educators classically. Your student also has the career options of sound designer, A&R administrator, producer, music therapist, instrument repair technician, or even a specialist at a music retail store like Ward-Brodt Music to name a few.

Another thing to note is that your student does not need to be a prodigy to be successful. Allowing them to gain a formal education equips them with skills to navigate the music industry’s business oriented aspects by including subjects like marketing and accounting. After all, with the amount of play time required for a college degree your student will get plenty of practice and opportunities to improve.

The most important factor is your child’s desire to be involved with music. If they genuinely express that it is the right choice for them they will simply not be happy in another field. Making music and working with music presents special challenges. Musicians and those who work closely with musicians are encouraged to be passionate and explore new avenues of their field regularly. Not only will your student be mentally stimulated every day, but a person’s physical health greatly impacts their performance quality. At some level musicians are even required to be in touch with their emotions. Anyone with ears can tell when a performance is given with feeling or without.

So let your future virtuoso enroll in music classes. In a few short years they will be thanking you over a chorus of adoring fans!  Or there may be no audience-but they still will be thanking you.