The professional music world . . . it's tough out there! Yet musicians manage to survive and even thrive in this competitive environment. And you can too-but in addition to superior musicianship, you'll need information and skills that you can't learn in the practice room. Lessons from a Street-Wise Professor sheds light on what every successful musician knows but most music schools don't teach-that a musician, regardless of instrument or specialty, is a small business and with that comes the need for entrepreneurial savvy. Drawing on decades of experience as a professional musician and educator, Dr. Ramon Ricker of the Eastman School of Music offers indispensible insights into this often overlooked but crucial aspect of a musician's education. Among the many practical skills you'll learn are: • developing an entrepreneurial mindset • understanding your musical marketplace • separating yourself from the pack • navigating professional relationships • maintaining your artistic integrity while striving for financial success Also included are inspiring stories from musicians who found their own paths to success. Perfect for music students just entering the professional world or for anyone considering a career in music-and a helpful read for non-musicians and old pros, too!
A Bittersweet Symphony: New Book Aims to Help Aspiring Musicians Avoid Becoming Starving Artists
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was an extraordinarily talented musician, perhaps history's greatest composer. He should have amassed a fortune. Instead, he died penniless.
Mozart isn't alone. Far too many musicians throughout history have suffered a similar fate, unable to turn their dedication and talent into a successful career. But today, aspiring musicians have a new resource in pursuing their dreams of a career in music; "Lessons from a Street-Wise Professor: What You Won't Learn at Most Music Schools" is a new book by Ramon Ricker, a senior administrator at the University of Rochester's Eastman School of Music and a successful musician in his own right. The book advises aspiring musicians to adopt proven entrepreneurial and marketing strategies that can help them avoid the fate of so many of history's greatest musical talents.
"Solid performance skills and dedication to your craft are essential requirements for a career in music, but they're not enough," said Ricker, a Senior Associate Dean for Professional Studies and Director of the Institute for Music Leadership, a center offering a proactive response to the changing state of music by challenging music students to think more broadly about the role of music and musicians in society. "A professional musician is a small business -- and small businesses fail at an alarming rate. If musicians use entrepreneurial thinking and add it to high-level performance skills and artistry, they will not only survive but they will thrive in their field."
Ricker says "the musician's toolkit" must include entrepreneurial thinking, a strong positive brand, a proactive attitude, versatility, flexibility, business savvy, familiarity with technology, and people skills. "Lessons from a Street-Wise Professor" offers street-level tactics and attitudes in a realistic and pragmatic context. The book provides suggestions and advice aimed at easing the transition from music school student to working musician. Among the many topics covered are: developing an entrepreneurial mindset; understanding the musical marketplace; separating yourself from the pack; navigating professional relationships; and maintaining your artistic integrity while striving for financial success.
"You can find plenty of books about how to become an overnight sensation as a pop star," Ricker says. "But those American Idol aspirations are fantasy; my book is rooted in reality. And the reality is, it takes a lot of effort and a good deal of business sense to find personal fulfillment in your career and still make a good living."
The book has relevance beyond music students; it is also ideal for prospective music school students -- and their parents -- researching whether a career in music is a reasonable option; professionals already in the music business will find important reminders about how best to market themselves and their services. Indeed, "Lessons from a Street-Wise Professor" can serve as a primer for any student about to embark on a career, offering effective strategies applicable in virtually any professional environment.
Ricker, a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, writes from his own experiences in a distinguished and varied career in music: working musician for more than 50 years, active performer in the studio and onstage, music professor, author of books on jazz improvisation and saxophone technique used by students around the world from beginner through professional levels, composer and arranger, and contractor and performer for hundreds of radio and television commercials and themes. A professor at the Eastman School of Music for 40 years, he has been instrumental in shaping Eastman's innovative programs within the Institute for Music Leadership, a model now being implemented at music schools everywhere. Ricker was a member of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra for 38 years and has performed and recorded with some of the most significant figures in jazz. His arrangements have been commissioned by the Rochester Philharmonic and the American, Atlanta, Cincinnati and North Carolina Symphonies, with works published by Advance Music (Germany), Alphonse Leduc (Paris), ATN (Tokyo), Alfred (USA) and Jamey Aebersold (USA).
Ricker and his wife Judy live in Fairport, New York.