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Can I make a living off of performing?

I'm a Junior in high school and I love to sing, act, and play instruments. I would love to sing professionally and I have a good singing voice. I want to be able to do what I love doing but also be able to make enough money to support myself along with a family. Ever since I was a little kid I have loved to sing and I would love to be able to do that for my career. #music #singer #performace #singing #music-industry

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Tracy’s Answer

Absolutely! There are many performing jobs available. I always suggest reading biographies of artists you admire. If you're going to be a vocal perfoermer you'll want to train classically. Make sure you train with someone whose voice you like and who is supportive and knowledgeable. You should never feel intimidated by your teachers unless it comes from a place of admiration. For acting,Read books by Uda Hagen. and Stanley Meisner and look for an acting class that teaches you how to inhabit a character and find their truth. Acting is believing in pretend circumstances in real time. Start auditioning now. And remember, they WANT you to be good!! Never forget that you do this because its fun.

Being able to play an instrument really well, and especially being able to sight read will guarantee you an income, as well.

Most of all, you have to believe that you're good. Believe in yourself but also work your but off to be the very best.

Thank you! Noah M.

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Debbie’s Answer

Noah, first of all, congrats on thinking through this so thoroughly! This is a decision that will impact you for many years to come!

I don't want to discourage you from doing what you love or trying to have a career in performance, but I want to give you a few things to think about. There are several paths you could take in performance - here are a few for consideration:

1) Rock star, movies: It's really difficult to be successful here. A very low percentage of people who pursue this path are successful, and are typically "discovered" by the time they are in highschool. It's truly probably a 1 in a million chance.

2) Professional performers, including broadway performers, people who do back up in studio gigs, tour with #1 above - again, it's ridiculously competitive and very difficult to break in. Where you live is very important - if you aren't in LA, New York, Chicago, London, Nashville - it will be difficult to get the gig. Connections are also very important! Getting a recommendation from someone with ties to the job will definitely give you a boost, so think through how / where you can make those important connections. Also, with both this and #1, think about how you'll handle rejection. I've watched self-esteem and confidence melt away when getting rejection after rejection. You have to know yourself well enough to know you have the persistence and tenacity to stick to it, even if you get 20 rejections.

3) Community / city performances - there are more opportunities here and you could have a very lucrative career focusing on community opportunities. When I say community, whether you are with a "Children's Theater" group, or a "Seattle Met" group, there are varying opportunity sizes. Don't get me wrong, it's still very competitive. They probably try out 100 people for the lead role in a big city musical, and one person gets the job.

4) Education - being a music or theater teacher can be so rewarding. The opportunities are more vast, and think about it: you could make a real difference in a child's life. You could give them a passion for something they will carry with them for life - like you are! Whether you end up pursuing music as a career, you will always have music in your heart.

A couple other things to consider:
- Consider a career where there are backup opportunities - look at degrees such as the sound engineering degree at Montana State University (for example), which combines music with engineering. You'd have an engineering (EE) degree to fall back on. (I'd probably look at a school which is more well known for music, such as Michigan, but that's a good program to emulate)
- Do your research on the opportunities in that field including what jobs are available and what the competitive field is like, as well as how much it typically pays. A simple Google search will give you a great idea - here's one idea for the lower end of option #3 above for pay scale: https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/performer-salary-SRCH_KO0,9.htm - probably couldn't raise a family on this.

Performance is hard. Performance is competitive. Performance takes patience. If you decide to pursue it, set your goals, understand the pathway to reach your goals, make connections, and don't look back!! I wish you the best of luck!!