3 tips for breaking into the music scene in a new city

                               photo cc by dronepicr via  Wikimedia Commons

                              photo cc by dronepicr via Wikimedia Commons

You’ve just received your Master of Music degree from ______ School of Music. Since this school was located in a small town, you’ve decided to take your chances and move to a bigger city in hopes of jump-starting your professional career in music. You’ve already found an apartment and will be moving in two months from now.

Now is the time to create a game plan for breaking into the music scene and making a great first impression.

Below are some strategies to help make this transition a successful one.

1. Contact all friends and former colleagues already living in this city

Compile a list of every musician you know who currently works in your soon-to-be city’s music scene. The violinist from your undergrad, the clarinetist you met at Aspen two summers ago...get in touch with these people in the 1-2 months leading up to your arrival. Let them know that you’re very excited to join the music scene and that you’d love to catch up once you’ve arrived.

Meet them for coffee/drinks/dinner, and treat them. Use this time to learn about their experiences in the local scene. Find out how they started getting gigs. Ask them to share the contact information for the big contractors in town.

After picking their brains, make sure to catch them up on any exciting updates in your own life. Even if you’ve just left school and haven’t had any professional gigs, talk excitedly about a really fantastic experience you had in a recital, a lesson, or a music festival. Present yourself as an enthusiastic, driven musician and they will want to help you get gigs.

2. Attend as many performances featuring local classical musicians as possible.

In addition to seeing the big symphony in town, look for the smaller groups performing in smaller venues. In San Francisco, the Center For New Music and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music both present multiple shows every week. These venues tend to feature the rising stars of the city and have either low ticket prices or free admission.

Seeing smaller shows that feature the musicians who are a few steps ahead of you will be extremely beneficial. These performers are the ones making a living freelancing and you need to know who they are and who they perform with.

3. Play for the big dogs in town

When you are feeling settled in and confident in your playing, contact the principal and section players of the big orchestra. Write a brief introduction email and attach a resume. Tell them you are eager to perform in the city and would love the opportunity to play some excerpts for them at a time/location convenient for them. If you are preparing for an audition, bring the audition repertoire with you. Don’t ask them for lesson. Instead, phrase it as “playing for them.” You don’t want them to view you as a student, but as a potential colleague.

A new move presents new opportunities. Use these suggestions to get yourself up and running in your new city as soon as possible.