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'How to Get Work', by Anne Collis

In a world where the opportunities for professional musicians seem to be shrinking, it is important to know how to maximize your advantages and put yourself in pole position in the race to get the jobs!

1. First Rule, be the best! There is absolutely no point in doing anything to push yourself forward unless you really are good! There are lots of people around who ‘talk the talk’, but that is not enough. Practise, practise, practise, then practise some more!

2. Second Rule. Be the best!

3. Know everybody. Find ways to meet people, go to concerts, apply for auditions. Even if you don’t get the job at an audition, you will have met some of the movers and shakers and if you were good enough, they will remember you.

4. Send your CV in to all the orchestra and fixers. Be sure to put everything you have done in your CV. If you are a string player, it is important to say if you were a Principal in the music college orchestra and whether you were a 1st or 2nd Violin.

5. Be versatile. Especially for Percussionists, study all the styles. Only a handful of people can make a career as a solo Marimba player. Make sure you can play all the basic instruments. Don’t neglect the Triangle and Tambourine, but also study Latin American styles and maybe study something unusual, like Tablas or Cimbalom.

6. Always look good. Be clean and tidy at least. If possible look memorable. I know an American who has a small beard, which is going prematurely grey, so he dyes the sides brown and leaves the middle grey, giving the impression of a friendly badger.. Perhaps that is going too far for you, but check your style. Do you look cool or old-fashioned? It matters.

7. Stay sober and don’t touch drugs! There is no such thing as a cool drunk and no fixer will book you if you are not reliable.

8. Stay fit and healthy. You will enjoy your work more and be able to stay alert on long days in the studios.

9. Be polite to your elders! They have the knowledge and the experience and you can learn from them. There are too many youngsters around who behave as if they know it all, in spite of the fact that they only left college last year.

10. Be punctual – always!

11. If you are a young Percussionist, try to own as many basic instruments as you can. It is getting harder and harder to find players with their own gear. Sure it is a struggle, but we did it when we were your age, so you can too!

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