Before we start, I have a favor to ask of you that will be beneficial to you, and to me. Please go to: for iClassical-Academy (Click Here). and peruse the whole site to see master teachers in classical music, teaching their students and playing solos. I have written a 9 video course for the Music Career section of the site, entitled, "The Music Business," that explains the basics of making a living in classical music. You can access that page with this link https://iclassical-academy.com/ld-self-management/ Once on that page select the tab that says The Music Business to take you to my page. I can guarantee it will be worth your time to see the whole site, and my page. You will find it to be a valuable resource, with new teachers being added all the time.
Wear your mask! ....Mike Vaccaro
Write your plan down !!! NOW Put it where you can see it every day, Work the plan daily, and wait for your success. ....Mike Vaccaro
Why let your attention get hijacked by trivial matters beyond your control? .....Dan Jacobs ....The Natural Laws of Selling
Each of us has a unique life. For better or worse, it effects our whole being and our music. There are those lucky ones who grow up in a musical household. They have a better chance at success. For the rest of us must make it happen by something internal, that demands that we play music, or participate in the arts. There may be death, disease, or a myriad of other conditions that take us off the path. We must persevere and participate at what ever level we are able. Always coming back to the path. For those that really want it, It's worth the ride. ....Mike Vaccaro
Educate yourself and we will need all your intelligence. Be excited because we will need all your enthusiasm. Organize because we will need all of your strength. ....Antonio Gramsci
People that live only for themselves, and not for others, are only half alive. ....Christiane Brahms
I have a new CD. It is now released and for sale. This is the first classical CD I have come out with in a while, as I have been recording in the Jazz and Pop idioms as of late. I think you will enjoy this CD quite a lot. It features the original Chamber Music of John Scott, with a Clarinet Quintet and a Saxophone Quartet, and the music of Damon Zick with his Jazz/Classical oriented Sax Quartet. The CD is finished off with the unaccompanied A Minor Sonata of Bach (Mvt1) for flute, and also the unaccompanied Du Style by Theo Charlier, which was originally written for Trumpet, and performed on Clarinet. Visit our website While you are at the web site, check out the other CD's that are available and give them a listen, as you are bound to find a style you like.Please take a moment to peruse the rest of the website too.There are videos of various groups and reed, mouthpiece, and ligature videos, and under the article tab older versions of today's e-broadcast. Other articles in this series can be found in more articles (Click Here).
These Times We Live In
So, we have COVID-19!
Most auditoriums are shuttered, festivals are minimized, as are jazz and other music venues. Instrumental conferences are done. We must face the fact that the disease is likely not to end soon.
So what do we do?
Find a way to play and get paid. Start a porch concert on your front porch and invite the neighbors, and have one of them pass the hat. Pick the same day every week and block off the street if you can. The audience can sit on your lawn, properly distanced, or in the street or across the street.
Try and get with an institution that is selling tickets for online concerts. Or figure out a way to do your own video concerts and get paid, or ask for a donation to a PayPal account.
Make recordings, DVDs, and files. Get them out to the public. People are staying home, so we must go to them, if they can't come to us. I had a friend that sent out a message on social media that said he had a new CD. His intention was to sell 100 and if he sold those he would make up 100 more. It was a simple package with a cardboard sleeve with his picture on the front and the names of the tunes on the back (his tunes). It was a fantastic Latin Jazz presentation too. That's just one idea. If you have money you could even hire a publicist or some other person to help you sell.
Another idea is to stream your music. Don't panic, that just means to video tape a performance or a finished rehearsal. Then get an institution to play it or sell it as a DVD. An institution might even produce the video for you. The 92nd St. YMCA (92Y) in NYC puts on a streaming classical video series as does many other Jazz and Classical entities. Try Jazz on the Tube, or Chamber Music America, that has a streaming directory, or whomever you can think of to create or play your stream. Remember that many people listen with their eyes. And in fact that is even part of a live performance.
We all only want to play music, write music or words, or do our particular kind of visual art. We really don't like to do the work to sell our efforts, in most instances. But take an hour every day and promote yourself or your group or your whatever. Or you can do your music and art, and do it again, and again, and don't sell anything. At least you are doing what you want, if you can afford it.
But for those in the business of music, sales is a requirement. You can make that happen. You have to ask for the money! A word of caution. Make sure you get clearance for any music or work that is under copyright protection.
Do something even if it doesn't work. We all love live music, but whether live or recorded, it is important to keep creating and keep your art in the community. And once again, I remind you to not to forget to ask for money. You are a professional.
With the sad news that Columbia Artists has closed it's doors it is vital to perform in some way. The dumbing down of the world, along with the COVID-19 virus will look the other way and forget us if we don't persevere. We can't help that only a minority of people understand what the arts bring to them. So we have to scream until they hear us.
We don't know what the musical and artistic landscape will be post COVID-19, but there will be something. Some of you on the cusp will find other work because it is necessary. Those that are left, will mostly have to adjust to a new way of thinking. I suggest you look forward and see how you can reinvent yourself and your music.
Read this before you are done with this segment for iClassical-Academy (Click Here).
I want to talk for a moment about something I feel is important. It’s about opportunity and persistence.
One of my favorite concert pianists grew up with a father who was also a concert pianist and a mother who was a piano teacher. She started study at the age of 3 and gave her first recital at the age of 6, which was very good. She now has many recordings and is busy with recitals, and symphony concerts.
That is the ideal scenario to become a concert artist. However, we all don’t have that opportunity! So how do those of us that came to music in a more random form pull off a solo career or any career in music?
Desire and Persistence !!!
My parents worked for a steel company, and though not rich we had a good life. My music experience was private lessons from 4th grade on. Our only recorded music source was AM radio and Perry Como 78 recordings (he was a former barber turned crooner with a television show in the late 50’s and early 60’s). We never even thought of live performances. There were 5 television stations, 1 Classical radio station, no Jazz stations, and lots of 50’s R&R and Country Western Music until I got into High School. I studied with a private teacher who worked at the local music store and worked at the local Civic Light Opera until I went to College.
College is when my serious study began. My father died from cancer the week after my high school graduation. My mother told me she would do whatever she could to help me but advised me, to try not to hurt myself. My relationship with her was what most likely what kept me from hurting myself more. The best start in life is of course to have great parents. Which I did.
Do you see where I am going with this?
By the time I was in my junior year of College I had finally developed a deep love of music. All music, classical, jazz, and pop etc.
Though my musical education was mostly classical, I had good teachers in college and continued my studies until I was well in my thirties. Actually, I still study today. I guess we never quit trying to be better at our craft. We aim at perfection when very little in life is perfect. With the current COVID-19 crisis it is an opportunity for me/us to go back to basics and tighten up technique that slipped a bit when working. Also recording the fourteen movements of John Scott's "Pentatonia," for unaccompanied clarinet hasn't hurt either. And now I have just finished the 8 unaccompanied saxophone pieces entitled "Alpine Suite".
The years in my life between 20 and 65 were jobs I loved, jobs I hated and even jobs I was not qualified for. And I usually never felt quite qualified enough, though I really was. But I did not let fear keep me from playing music, ever. And now when I listen back to my early recordings I love them. I learned on the job. Two things I really enjoyed were playing Baritone sax with Stan Kenton and solo Clarinet on Ratatouille and other Pixar movies. Also my Chamber Music Trio "Musique" was the highlight of my life..
Throughout all those years since I left college, I played in chamber music ensembles, orchestras, did solo performances, opera, jazz bands and anything else I could do to play the music I really loved. I even spent 10 years only playing for fun while I was an entrepreneur in the entertainment industry. After 65 it was more music and less “jobs".
My point is this.
Whether you get to start early and have opportunity, or you start late and have to carve out a niche for yourself, or even if you take a very bumpy road to success, the secret is commitment to a standard of excellence, and not to give up when the hurdles come.
One must only have the desire, the will, and spend the time. to stay with music. It starts by practicing one minute a day. See where that takes you. If you belong to music it will embrace you and at the very worse, if you can’t make a living, you will have found a new love.
Until next time......
AND REMEMBER: Always be happy with where you are at, while you are trying to get to where you want to be.