Side Jobs Every Music Student Should Be Doing

Published November 6th, 2020

By Ellie Mckinsey,

Music college can be expensive. In addition to tuition and rent, students need to purchase scores, keep their instruments maintained, and sometimes buy new instruments.

To pay for their degrees, many students take up part-time work. If you’re desperate for money, any job will do. However, several side jobs can help you train the skills necessary for professional musicians.

1. Secretary/Admin

One of the best side jobs you can have as a music college student is in arts administration. However, any kind of secretary or admin job will give you applicable skills.

Most professional musicians are freelance at some point in their careers. To be a successful freelance musician, you need to have experience organizing schedules, self-motivating, budgeting, and interacting with potential clients and employers.

Working as a secretary will give you experience working with relevant computer programs, knowledge on how to interact professionally, and an inside look at how a small business runs.

2. Waitressing

Believe it or not, waitressing can help you become a better performer. Customer service workers must always have a smile on their face, just like musicians. Regardless of your personal opinions, food service personnel must also act kind and helpful. When you’re on stage, this training will come in handy.

If you forget your words, a string snaps, or someone in the audience makes a disturbance, you cannot miss a beat. Working in customer service will help you learn how to maintain a professional face, even when something goes wrong.

This skill also comes in handy when interacting with a panel after an audition or receiving a critique you disagree with. You’ll be able to either smile and nod, expressing your frustration later in a safe space, or disagree respectfully, by using the training you acquire at your customer service job.

3. Performing

This one might seem obvious, but many music college students feel they aren’t ready for the public. Consult with your teacher before starting, but generally speaking, getting performance experience is the best way to become a better musician. And you might as well get paid for it!

Instead of solo performances, consider a choir, band, or orchestra. Look into open mics that pay, or get into the wedding business.

You can also expand into other genres. If you’re a classical singer, talk to your teacher about learning how to belt. Classical pianists could look into playing bar classics at high-class hotels. Make an appointment with your career department to see if they have any opportunities for you.

4. Teaching Music

Music college students are not beginners. You’ve spent years honing your playing or singing. Although you won’t be able to teach professionals, you can certainly teach younger children the basics of your instruments.

One of the best ways to learn is to teach. Each time you explain a technique to your students, you will understand it better yourself. Before setting up a studio, check with your college to see if there are any requirements to work with children. As a bonus, a great way to get students is by performing at local open mics.

Find a Side Job That Benefits You

Working while studying can be stressful. Make it as beneficial for yourself as possible by choosing a side job that will hone skills you’ll need in your career as a musician.

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