On Thursday last week, I was invited by The Royal College of Music (RCM) to present the benefits of The Tutor Pages to its leavers and graduates at their private careers event Fast Forward.

The RCM Woodhouse Centre has been one of our consistent supporters since we launched in early 2008, and I was really pleased to meet the students and graduates, not least those who are already using our services to find work.

As well as insightful presentations given by the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), the Musicians Answering Service (MAS) and others, four RCM alumni came to open a window on their current careers.

So, how does a musician become successful in today’s increasingly harsh economic climate?

From the four alumni presentations, two important lessons stood out for me:

  • don’t limit your possibilities with a narrow view of success. As a musician, having a rigid idea of what success means for you is almost a recipe for disaster. All four RCM alumni demonstrated an openness to new challenges, and welcomed opportunities that were perhaps initially only in their peripheral vision. Despite the private ambitions they nurture, they haven’t closed their eyes to the bigger picture. Phillip Neil Martin, one of the speakers, demonstrates what’s possible: according to the PRS website, his work ‘crosses the divide from experimental concert music, electronics and installations to fashion, film and new technology, concept and artistic direction, regularly collaborating with fashion designers, filmmakers, architects, artists and dancers’.
  • become an educator to complete the circle. Al Mobbs, one of the other contributing alumni, is a bassist, writer, producer, manager and label boss. But like his fellow presenters, he also put strong emphasis on teaching, education outreach and ‘giving something back’. The music business is a two-way street, and all four speakers acknowledged the phenomenon of planting seeds which will one day grow into opportunities. Not only does teaching keep you part of the community, it keeps you sharp and learning all the time from your pupils.

Looked at in this light, The Tutor Pages is another opportunity for musicians to get their names and their skills out there. It’s another chance to showcase  talent, and to become receptive to opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise exist. And with recent improvements allowing tutors to upload music and video files (see an example here), there’s never been a better time to sign up.

(Many thanks to Howard Felton and to Diana Roberts for organising this event, and to Maria Marchant and Robin Ashwell of the Sacconi Quartet who also gave talks).

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