Students' perspectives on life as musicians

Regardless of your chosen professional career, creativity should always be at the heart of what a performing musician does. Whether you are working as a full-time freelance musician or doing paid gigs alongside your permanent job, you will also need to know about the business side of the profession. 

Photo: NMH
Lisbeth Wathne Svinø teaches entrepreneurship at the Norwegian Academy of Music. Photo: NAM


Freelance careers and portfolio musicians

Many talented music students will go on to have successful careers in one of the professional symphony orchestras or military bands. However, a 2014 survey of creative and performing music graduates found that musicians are more likely than many comparable professions to be working as freelancers.

Job opportunities for musicians are changing due to factors such as increasing globalisation, technical innovations and changes in public demand. As Harald Jørgensen concludes in his book Research into Higher Music Education from 2009, music students need to build a portfolio to help them enter the labour market.

The Entrepreneurship module at the Norwegian Academy of Music seeks to help create such a portfolio and is associated with CEMPE's development project  Independent Music Careers .

 

Entrepreneurship is the individual's ability to turn ideas into action and the ability to spot opportunities and act on them.

Entrepreneurship in education

Educational institutions in Norway are making a concerted effort to incorporate entrepreneurship into their study programmes. The Norwegian government has signalled a broader interpretation of entrepreneurship than purely the business aspect. It describes entrepreneurship as the individual's ability to turn ideas into action and the ability to spot opportunities and act on them.

Traditionally, many people have considered entrepreneurship exclusively a business concept. At the Norwegian Academy of Music, however, we provide creativity training and work individually with each students' personal foundations.

Lisbeth Wathne Svinø teaches entrepreneurship at the Norwegian Academy of Music. Photo: NAM

Creativity

This year we recruited Raymond Olufsen to help provide creativity training. His past positions include that of academic supervisor for the bachelor course “Rock 'n' Roll Entrepreneurs” at the Arctic University of Norway in Alta. Many students have fragments of good ideas. The session was held in order to provide them with concrete tools to further develop their ideas. Olufsen introduced the students to the CPS model. Creative Problem Solving is recognised as one of the best approaches to creativity. See  Raymond Olufsen's own website for more information about the tools he introduced to the students.

Regardless of which career path we choose, it is important to think about what we want to achieve in life.


Photo: NAM

Personal foundations

Regardless of which career path we choose, it is important to think about what we want to achieve in life. By reflecting on where we are right now and what we want to achieve with our careers, we can draw up a plan to help us fulfil our personal goals and dreams. This is a personal and individual process, involving what I have chosen to call our personal foundations . This is a long process, but the students made a good start with their reflections.

Presentation

The students carried out a practical group exercise in which they had to think “outside the box” before presenting the outcomes to each other. Next they were asked to reflect on what generally characterises a good presentation and on what they had learnt from the exercise.

Presentation skills are important in many contexts, be it a brief oral presentation, a written programme note, or an application for funding. Some of the students' key conclusions were to always bear in mind who the recipient of the message is, to make the content comprehensible/simple, and to think about the best use of time and place.

Start-up projects

In this module we also looked at the interrelationship between the start-up phase of a project and the business aspect of it. Many students want to work on their own projects, productions and concerts. Adopting a few business-driven elements or approaches can help save time and resources so that most of the time can be spent on artistic content.

Written by
Lisbeth Wathne Svinø , lecturer in Entrepreneurship at the Norwegian Academy of Music

Last updated: 4. June 2015