Career Options in Percussion

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A photo of Adam Wiencken

Many young musicians in high school think about turning their musical passions into their livelihoods. Consider the following choices for pursuing a position in music.

Performing

Of course, making a living as a performer is one of the most common career paths for a musician.

Playing with a professional orchestra can be a full-time or part-time position. Nationally known ensembles may have year-long schedules while smaller, local ensembles may have shorter seasons. Percussion positions in national symphony orchestras are highly competitive.

Military units have various concert and marching ensembles that provide strong job security and benefits for the musicians and family members. Military musicians are serving the country by entertaining members of their service branch and/or the public. They often need to complete basic training or officer training.

Performers can also get gigs as studio musicians, also known as session musicians or backing musicians. Though somewhat challenging to find frequency in work, a diverse range of opportunities—from recording film soundtracks to performing live—are possible.

Teaching

Choosing to teach is another common music profession. High schools and colleges are the most common settings for full-time educators; however, teaching private lessons or serving in an adjunct position can be good options.

Composing or Arranging

For those who feel connected to creating music but are not necessarily married to performing, writing or arranging music is an excellent way to make a living or to supplement other careers within the profession. Compositions and arrangements are needed in many categories, including orchestral, film, chamber music, marching band, and concert band.

Working in the Industry

Another way to pursue a career in the music field is to work in the music industry. Jobs could be sought with instrument manufacturers, sheet music publishers, retailers, and recording studios, among others.

“Whatever you choose to do for a living, make sure you love it.” – My Dad

About the author

Adam Wiencken

Adam Wiencken is the percussion specialist for Broken Arrow (Oklahoma) Public Schools and the battery arranger for the Spirit of Atlanta Drum and Bugle Corps. He is an alumnus of the Madison Scouts and The Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps. He is a Yamaha Performing Artist and an educational artist for Innovative Percussion Inc., Remo drumheads, Zildjian cymbals, and MEINL Percussion.

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