Skip to Content

Diversify, Diversify, Diversify

I believe that this is advice given in the financial world…  Well, I would also give this advice in the music world!  This past week I did an interview with a contributing arts writer for  As we were talking about my career, we talked about my various interests and skills and what they mean to my career.

I grew up playing classical music, started fiddling in middle school, and fell in love with baroque music in University.  All three of these styles play an important role in my life, but also in my livelihood at this point in my life.

I live in a relatively small community.  Fredericton (the biggest city within an hour radius of my house) has a population of just over 56,000.  This means that it would be very difficult for me to make a full time career focusing on one area of music alone.  I manage to make my living by playing in Symphony NB, playing in three baroque music ensembles, playing in two Celtic bands, and doing occasional work with a couple of other groups. f5d62b8c73b937f67457b5ebd26e10ff

On top of the fact that I play these three different styles, I also have various skills which are useful.  I know how to read sheet music.  This has not only served me well with playing with Symphony NB and my baroque ensembles, but it has also lead to some studio work where the parts are all written out already.  If you can’t read, you can’t do that kind of work.

I started learning by ear while living in Ireland…  Due to being trained classically, I never really developed the skill of being able to learn by ear.  I began learning by ear while I was in university, and then when I went to Ireland I was forced to move in that direction.  I was recently called upon to play in a CD launch where the fiddle parts had been recorded and there was no music. I learned the music by ear for the show.

I am able to compose harmony parts and improvise back-up parts to songs.  I studied theory in university and can write harmony parts pretty quickly.   In the past few years I have also been developing the skill of composing harmony parts by ear.  These skills have served me well working in bands!

All of this has to do with the ways that my performance skills are diversified.  I am also an educator who has directed orchestras, run workshops and taught private lessons and group lessons to all ages.

Combining all of these skills has given me the opportunity to make a full-time living solely from music.  If I relied on only one of them (other than possibly the teaching), I would not be able to work solely in music in my community.  My advice for any young musician is to try various styles, learn different skills and techniques, and become as versatile and diverse as possible!

Back to top