Learning a musical instrument is both a pleasure and a challenge. If you love music and you have a passion for your instrument, learning and playing will become a lifelong hobby. As you become more accomplished as a musician, you may find that you can start to earn some money from your skills and talents. Most professional musicians have had formal lessons and Conservatoire training. But there are gifted instrumentalists performing with little in the way of paid instruction.
To become an ensemble musician, you must have a natural ear and an inner feel for the pulse of the music. Most solo and ensemble musicians perform without the sheet music. But even the professionals will read from the score if it helps them feel more comfortable in their playing. To memorise an entire programme of works is incredibly challenging. It usually takes years of practice and training to get right. If you have been learning the violin, your lessons may include music memorisation. This is a good skill to have if you wish to perform with other string instrumentalists. There have been plenty of string quartets for hire that have been successful. As an ensemble member, you will need to be able to play in tune and meld well with the sound of the other players.
As a paid ensemble member, you are also likely to need to meet regularly to practice the repertoire. Much of the programme will be crowd-pleaser material, but there will always be some pieces you may not have heard before. It is important to be prepared to play whatever is thrown your way. Often in rehearsals you will need to sight-read the material, so you are likely to need to be a good reader. If you are part of a Jazz group, you need to be very articulate in your improvisations and solos.
Many small ensembles find work performing at functions like Weddings and Anniversaries. You are usually paid a flat fee. This fee may seem like a lot of money, but you have to share it out between all members of the group. Then you need to consider the hours of practice you put in, and the travel time and mileage on top of the performance. Needless to say, it is difficult to earn a good living this way. You would need to be with a very high profile group to command a high performance fee.
Most musicians love performing so much they rarely mind about fees at all. There may be opportunities to earn a little money, but most musicians remain enthusiastic hobby players. Professional musicians have usually won formal musician’s competitions and graduated from Conservatoires. If this kind of education and training is beyond you, there may be open auditions from time to time that you could try for.
As part of an ensemble, you may need to have a particular look or style to your instrument that matches the group. You may also be required to wear a costume or outfit to complement the rest of the group too. Musicians often have to work late into the evenings that can be very tiring, and you may have to work away from home frequently. However, if you love music, none of this will matter at all!