Thursday, June 22, 2017

3 Keys To Breaking Into The Industry As A Broadway Musician | Music Think Tank

 Fairbanks violinist Caitlin Warbelow wanted to grow up to be a scientist. Instead, she’s performing on Broadway in Tony-nominated “Come From Away,” a true story about the September 11 attacks. Warbelow earned degrees in violin performance, anthropology, cartography and urban planning before stumbling into success, which she says came to her unexpectedly. She was trying to make it as a musician in New York City when the opportunity came her way.

While opportunities like this may come by chance, building a foundation to increase your odds of success can at least be planned, as Warbelow’s prior violin education and musical experience illustrate. Here are some steps you can take to help you stand a better chance of breaking into being a musician for large theater productions on or off Broadway.

Get a Musical Degree

One step Warbelow took that laid a foundation for her success was earning her degree in violin performance. Playwright Garth Wingfield says that having a higher degree is one of the best steps you can take toward getting a foot in the door in the industry, reports While some musicians are self-taught or trained through private lessons, today’s Broadway musicians have at least a master’s degree. Getting a musical degree from a respected university shows that you’ve got the training and the commitment to succeed at your craft. It also gives you an opportunity to network with music professors, drama teachers and other professionals who can open the right doors for you.

Warbelow was smart to get other degrees besides her music degree. This looks good on a resume, showing that you’re a well-rounded person and making your personality stand out. It can also give you something to fall back on while you’re trying to break into the industry.

Join the Professional Musicians Union

Another step you should consider is joining the Associated Musicians of Greater New York Local 802, which is the world’s largest local professional musicians union. This will give you excellent benefits, including referrals for gigs and help with negotiating contracts and salaries.

However, once you join the union, you can’t take non-union gigs, so don’t take this step prematurely. Make sure you’ve got enough amateur experience to successfully handle professional gigs before joining. In New York, it can take seven to 10 years to build a network of connections before you’re ready to become a professional, according to conductor and musical director Brian Usifer.

Build a Network With Conductors and Musicians

Building a network within the industry is crucial to gaining access to the right opportunities. Follow the scene and get to know who’s who in the industry. Attend performances of important conductors and musicians, and ask musicians if you can sit as a guest in the pit and follow the book as they play. Use live events, phone calls and email to reach out to people in the industry.

The goal of this type of networking is to get opportunities to sub. However, it’s important when making introductions to approach as an observer and not as someone expecting to sub. If you show up consistently and demonstrate your interest in learning, you boost your chances that someone will ask you to sub when they need a replacement. Being available and prepared to sub and making the most of the opportunity when the chance comes your way is key to getting noticed by fellow musicians and conductors.


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