my student’s paper

October 23, 2013

One of my students Andrew Lee is now a music major at Douglas College. He’s taking a career developing course at douglas and recently interview for it. I thought I’d...

One of my students Andrew Lee is now a music major at Douglas College. He’s taking a career developing course at douglas and recently interview for it. I thought I’d share it with everyone 🙂

Career Development for Musicians I: PEFA 1139

Career Choice: Performer with possible teaching on the side

Student: Andrew Lee

There were many options that interested me while looking around for possible options for the future. From a Berklee source, I was able to look at many of the jobs available in the music industry. The jobs ranged from management, performance, composition, live sound and so on. However, my main focus was on the performance chart. I have found that performing is something I enjoy doing, but through the research, it probably won’t be the only job that I will be focusing on as well. One of the jobs that had me most interested was the “Session Musician” title. Coming from a strong musical background, it seems like it would be one of the many choices that I could make, and is also a good way to make connections. However, my primary interest lies in performing in general, as a General Business Musician. Although musicians do not get paid hourly, it is interesting to note the calculated hourly wages and how they compare to more stable 9 to 5 kind of jobs. For independent artists, the hourly wage seemed to be around $36.00, but with the amount of competition it would be extremely hard to maintain something like that as well. If we take an organization like the London Orchestra and look at the wages that it offers, the amount was £100.00. That is not an hourly wage. That was the flat wage that was offered to someone who was expected to play as a principal musician. However, when we look towards the states, the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra had a base pay rate of approximately $130,000 per year. This was the highest rate of pay in the year 2008/2009 for American Orchestras. With the standards set extremely high to get into the orchestra, I didn’t find it a very realistic option to choose as a goal. I decided to go with something I could enjoy, which was playing as a musician in local settings, in a genre that I understand.

The person that I interviewed is a local performer, Natalia Pardalis. I learned her way of balancing being a teacher while performing as a pianist/vocalist. One of the reasons that she likes to teach is because it keeps her ego in check. Her students also end up teaching her some things, so performing is like a cherry on top for her. Natalia said that she is simply following the long line of working musicians, as Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, and Chopin all taught as well as performed. The base rate that she has set is $300, but also depends on the length of the gig, her pay ranging from $300 to $1200. Her lengths range from short O’ Canada performances (around 3 minutes) to 4-5 hour long gigs at weddings. Her advice to me as someone who wanted to get started in performing was “Don’t be afraid to totally screw up. It’s all about learning and growing.” I found these words extremely comforting, as one of my biggest fears is forgetting words or cracking on a high note. As for her scheduling of gigs, she said that summers are often the busiest, with all the wedding gigs. She stated that she often turns down wedding gigs as she gets asked to do them too often. As an artist, Natalia found people who see things as black and white who don’t like to experiment harder to work with. To her, music is all about exploring and finding new ways to communicate.


Strengths: I am good at interpreting songs differently. I am also pretty versatile on which instruments I can play, which definitely helps when trying to fill slots in a performance. I can get lost in my music, but at the same time, bring my audience into my world when I perform.

Weaknesses: I find myself a little scared to work alone sometimes, which is why I would prefer to play with a band. I am Surrey based, which means a lot of travelling would have to be done. Practicing is also one of my weaker points, but is easier to improve upon.

Opportunities: With Christmas coming up, there are many opportunities for smooth, jazzy, piano background music. I have a decent amount of connections who can find me these gigs. If the setting calls for it, I can make hardcore heavy beat songs like Clarity, Titanium, and Spectrum, into smoother, slower songs that tell more of a story.

Threats: I am rather inexperienced in performing, but with Douglas College’s performers list I might be able to get some help finding places to play. I am also not the best, and other musicians may be able to take my spot playing where I want to. As someone reliant on the bus for transportation, having bad weather could slow down my travel, as well as damage some instruments.

SMART Goals: for live performances

Specific: Get live gigs.

Measurable: When I get paid to play in front of people, I will have attained my goal.

Attainable: This goal is mainly dependant on the people in charge of the venues. However I can perform in front of friends and family to get a start.

Rewarding: I would like to one day get paid enough to solely perform, preferably my own music.

Time Constrained: For now, I would prefer to get started within a year.

SMART Goals: For online publication (ie: YouTube covers)

Specific: Upload a performance of one of my covers onto YouTube.

Measurable: I will have a cover uploaded onto YouTube.

Attainable: Preferably a music video to go along with the song. That can be stopped by the weather.

Rewarding: Getting publicity off YouTube so I can get live gigs as well.

Time Constrained: Get started within a year.


Performing mixed with teaching offers a lot more money than I initially thought. Although it isn’t my only option, it is a job I would prefer, with copyist being a close second. I think that the thing that draws me most towards performing is the ability to influence people and have them get to know me through my music. Although I find myself a little self-conscious at times, I find that once I start playing my nervous energy turns into positive energy which hopefully fills me for the set. This is a job that pretty much has to have me going out and making connections, some of which I already have. Another thing that I like about performing is that many of the gigs happen at night, which means I have a lot of time to warm up my voice and run over a couple of things instead of freaking out last minute at 3 in the morning. However, I understand that there are risks as Vancouver doesn’t have the nicest reputation for a live performance scene. Not very many places expect to pay for a live performance, especially some of the small business coffee shops. If it comes down to it, I’ll probably end up moving somewhere and pursuing studio engineering as it would be too hard to perform with the laws set in place to prevent foreign performers in the states. There are parts of my personality that I need to work on to be a better performer, but it gives me a goal and helps me strive for as close to perfection as possible. Altogether, this is a very achievable goal with many different levels of success, and I hope to get as far as I can.


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