A little while ago I reviewed a strangely titled book called "Making Music in Looking Glass Land" by Ellen Highstein. A labour of love, this book became the seminal "text book" for the classical musician and, now it its fourth edition, is still the book I would recommend to any musician either starting out on their career or working actively in the industry. However, this year an equally good, authoritative and comprehensive book has been published that aims to equip the classical musician with the tools and techniques required to make a success in this career.
Angela Beeching, an author who has gained a tremendous amount of experience through her work as the director of career services at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston brings to this book real life problems and practical solutions that can help any and all musicians. Staring off by talking about the entrepreneurial musician, Beeching embeds in the mind of the reader the thought that success in this profession is up to you, the musician, and no one else. The characteristics a musician needs, Beeching writes, include "flexibility, resiliency and the ability to find opportunities in the midst of difficulties or challenges". It is from this position that she then moves the reader onto some of the key soft skills required to run your career such as the art of networking (or "Schmoozing for Success" as she puts it), time management, dealing with performance anxiety and the fundamental questions of what you, as a musician, actually do. However, it is the practical advice that really sets this book apart.
Each chapter deals with a different topic including information about creating promotional material (brochures, biographies, etc.), recording demo CDs, using the internet to promote and advance your career, securing performance opportunities, raising funds, tax (although this is geared towards the American market), writing letters and press releases, publicity photographs, contracts, setting up and running residency or community education projects and on and on. For a relatively short book, Beeching manages to cover a lot of ground without being too detailed nor too information light. Each section is liberally peppered with real-life examples, case studies, handy tips and checklists in order to provide a complete start-to-finish tutor covering all of these vital subjects.
All too often I have reviewed similar books in these pages with the recurring caveat that, while they are useful, they are very much aimed at the non-classical musician. Here, in Beeching's volume, we have a useful and informative book that is aimed solely and directly at the classical musician. Buy it now!