So You Want to Play Trumpet for a Living

Well, you have many options! by Estela Aragon

It’s important to know that the music world is abundant in career options for those who love music, but don’t necessarily want to play trumpet professionally. Before we begin, know that a freelance musician is a professional musician who takes on multiple music-related jobs such as playing in a symphony, teaching private lessons and working in a university. Freelancers are self-employed and are usually able to play a variety of musical styles.

BE AWARE that most professional trumpet players are actually freelance musicians. They balance two, three or more music jobs, which may be a combination of the ones listed here. It is absolutely possible to have one single job that pays extremely well and manage to do just that, but most people don’t do that. This is because once you perform really well at one job you will often be recommended and requested at other jobs, and that’s how the majority of trumpet players end up playing with a lot of ensembles and teaching. I mean, who turns down work? The life of a trumpet player can be very fun and varied if you work hard, practice a ton, remain humble and listen to your mentors.

Whatever you decide to do, remember that in the music business everything is about good relationships and consistent good performances. Always arrive 20 minutes early, smile at everyone, say thank you for having you, BE PREPARED to play anything, be outgoing and talk to the other musicians, bring a pencil and all your mutes even if the music doesn’t call for one, and behave in a way that says “it’s great to be here.” People want to work with pleasant people.

Lastly, the music community and especially the trumpet community is a very tight group. Everyone knows everyone or at least has a friend that knows a specific person. The word runs fast and we are not shy to exclude a player who doesn’t represent the values of musicianship, good work ethics and camaraderie. This is true of ANY industry. Remember that!

Here is a non-conclusive list of CAREERS IN MUSIC divided into two main sections: involving trumpet playing and not involving trumpet playing. I hope this list helps steer you in the right direction or at least open your mind to possibilities.

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