What are the pros and cons of having a career in the performing arts?

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  • 9 months ago
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    I have been a career classical musician in NY state since 1973.  There are FOUR of us in this family that do this;  DH and I are now retired from long teaching careers in schools - we retired in our fifties, because we planned on then devoting ourselves completely to serious classical performing.  But we knew that we needed good professions with steady incomes, Union protection, and excellent health insurance - so chose music teaching as our "day gig". (We have worked with other FINE musicians who also were degreed and worked in medicine, accounting, psychology - all well-paying professions.  And we ALL gave out best effort to that sustaining employment, too.) We also own a music business that provided classical ensembles for events - over 1200 weddings alone, not counting all the other classical gigs.  And of course, we always taught lessons as well.  The accrued income from all this let us retire early, and then continue serious concert performing at an accelerated pace.

    My adult son and his wife are on a path similar to ours - but I will just speak about DH and myself:  we hold multiple degrees from fine conservatories.  Getting in is harder that getting into Harvard. And we have colleagues who got their degrees in performance - were not certified to teach in schools, or had no other degree that would make them a decent income - and they have had miserable lives.  The thrill of artistic performance is severely dulled, when you have to hustle for every crappy one-off job you can find, playing your instrument.  Some of them had true talent, but could not find or hold an ongoing job in music. (There are only 8 or so full-time orchestras in the US, for example.)  Others?  Not nearly talented/and or hard-working enough to survive - tough, but true. Colleges do not GUARANTEE you will find lifelong employment - they are just there to teach you as much as you are willing to absorb thru HARD WORK.

    So we are now very well off financially, make our own schedules and rules, play what we want, where and when we want, travel the world (not playing - vacations!), have been debt-free for decades, own a gorgeous home with two music studios in it (DH is a fine pianist - I am a flutist) and many excellent instruments, huge collection of music, etc.  We were brought up blue-collar, descended from immigrants - who taught us that hard work and fine education are the key to success.  They grew up in the Depression - my parents did not graduate HS, since they had to go to work to help at home.  But the virtues and work ethic we learned from them is their most precious gift.  Working in the arts is WORK - daily practice, every day still - your skills leave you faster than you can imagine, unless you practice.  You must network with other, establish connections, be good at advertising, etc.  We no longer do the whole website/media thing - our reputation brings us all we want.  And we are repelled by the fakers and phones we know that have REALLY inflated info on their sites - we do not play that game.

    So if you are interested in a career - know that is is NOT all fun and glamorous.  It is work, like any other professional career.  We love what we do - but it has been a LOOOOOONG road to get here.  Good luck to you, if this is what you seek.  If you are the least bit ambivalent - choose something else.

  • Anonymous
    8 months ago

    more cons than pros

    cons=little money, lots of struggling for dough and competing with imbeciles for a spot

    pros=you might enjoy yourself

    just do it for a hobby..not worth it, trust me...don't be the starving artist I tried and bitter but still happier than I was..really I think

  • Anonymous
    9 months ago

    The biggest con in my opinion is that in addition to talent, a lot of luck is required. For every star who has made it big there are a dozen (a hundred?) others who are just as good but somehow never got the break.

  • 9 months ago

    Pros:

    You be creating art

    You will be doing something you love.

    You will meet lots of interesting people

    Cons

    You'll have to practice your art in addition to having full time employment

    You'll have to deal with a lot of big egos

    You'll always be hustling for the next pay check from your art.

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  • 9 months ago

    Pros: creativity and passion

    Cons: very competitive and normally low paying

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