English IV, 6th Hour
11 October 2012
Musicians play instruments for a living and may work in symphony orchestras, bands, rock groups, or jazz "combos." Most musicians study for many years before they become professionals. They usually train in some area of specialization such as popular or classical music. Musicians who specialize in the trumpet, trombone, clarinet, saxophone, organ, or a rhythm instrument such as the piano, string bass, drums, or guitar may perform in nightclubs, in restaurants, at parties, and at receptions. Classical musicians play in operatic and theatrical productions, symphony orchestras, concerts, and recitals. They generally play string, brass, percussion, or woodwind instruments. Pianists usually accompany vocal or instrumental soloists or choral groups. They may perform on the concert stage, for television, or in a small club. Organists play in churches and often direct a choir. Some musicians become distinguished artists. For instance, a classical musician may appear as a soloist with a symphony orchestra. Popular musicians may play alone or with a group on a concert tour. Many well-known musicians are recording artists as well and earn a good income from the sale of their records. Others work as house musicians for television shows. Since thousands of musicians cannot support themselves by performing alone, many have other jobs to maintain a steady income. Some give private lessons in their own homes or in students' homes. Others work as studio musicians, operate music stores, or play the background music for a featured singer or group at recording sessions.
Because of the irregular hours and unsteady work, many musicians choose not to perform. Some teach at music schools or conservatories. Others teach in colleges or secondary or elementary schools. These musician-teachers provide instruction in music appreciation, music theory, and voice or give lessons on individual instruments. Musicians who understand the mechanics of their instruments may do repairs and tuning. Libraries for the performing arts hire musicians as librarians. Music libraries in schools and in radio and television stations also employ musicians. Some musicians give music therapy to emotionally and physically disabled people and to the aged.
Almost all professional musicians begin their training at an early age. They continue to study for many years, either privately with a music teacher or in a music school. Technical skill and manual dexterity are necessary for playing an instrument well, but mechanical skill is not enough. Musicians should have an "ear," or ability to hear differences in pitch, as well as a feeling for the style of the music they play. In addition, some kinds of music, such as jazz, require the ability to improvise. Musicians should also possess strong mental and physical discipline. Only through long years of study do musicians gain a thorough knowledge of music and the ability to interpret it. Besides developing their musical abilities, musicians must acquire poise and stage presence. They must be strong enough to handle long hours, travel engagements, auditions, and practice sessions. After studying with one teacher for a number of years, a student may wish to study at a conservatory, or special school for musicians. Many schools accept students on the basis of auditions. Only those judged to be the most promising are accepted. As students at the college and university level, musicians follow a course of study either in instrument or in voice: both areas include music history and theory, music interpretation, composition, and conducting as well as performance. A conservatory degree or a bachelor's degree in music allows a musician to pursue the state certification needed for elementary and secondary school teaching positions. Either a master's or a doctoral degree in music is generally required for college and university staff positions; however, some schools...