Ideas on careers in the performing industry

Career Options for performers and much much more. . .

Those of us who have talents and gifts in the areas of performing (music, dance, theater, etc.) may be looking at whether we want to use these skills as a means of income (career) or keep it as a hobby for spare time enjoyment.  A particular talent and passion does not necessarily make a good career choice. It is important to get the facts on whatever occupation you choose. If you are considering in any way using these talents as your “career” here is the beginning of some ideas to consider.

The term “performing arts” first appeared in the English language in the year 1711.The term “Performing arts” usually includes dance, music, and opera, and theater. In a performing art the artist’s uses their own body, face and presence as the medium to convey their art. The performing art can be either a live show or a recording to be shown to the audience later. Performing arts are also supported by people working in related fields, such as songwriting and stagecraft.

A person considering a career in music should have a genuine love for music, musicality and rhythm, creativity and also confidence. The same is true of any genre you choose, with specific skills needed and especially passion and dedication. But making a career out of your talents demands regular devoted practice.

-First, start by listing your strengths:  i.e. singing, song writing, performing (stage presence), directing, teaching, producing, stage managing,  etc.  Then list other areas you are interested in but maybe haven’t pursued yet.

The following is again, not an exhaustive list, but something to get you thinking:

*Music:  perfomer (music theater, concert/recital performer, opera, band vocalist)

Other music careers could include: Jr. High/Sr. High Choral teacher or College Professor, private teacher, songwriter, studio vocalist, film/tv score      composer, music publisher, voice-overs and radio/tv jingles

*Dance:  performer, choregrapher, dance teacher

*Theater:  stage actor (Equity), film actor (SAG), radio voice, acting voice overs, Jr. High/Sr. High Acting teacher or College Professor, Stage Managing, Directing, Producer, Script Writer, Technical Director, Properties

*Misc.: Art/Entertainment Law, Entertainment Journalist, Event Coordinator, Agent

-How to proceed:  Remember that you may start in one field and move to another as you make discoveries about the industry and about yourself.  Once you have a plan, look into the education needed to move forward.  If you are in HS you will begin seeking out colleges that offer specialties in your field.  If you are in College and undecided on your major you might find what you need at your current college or you may have to consider transferring schools to get the specialization you require.

One thing to consider is that the performing arts industries vary widely in their political stance and morality.  As in any career you will need to know what you value and what your priorities are.  Most people are asked to compromise who they are for the sake of the “art” and you will have to make a choice.  I want you to be prepared for this reality.

Most colleges and universities have some sort of Music Major program.  Often it is classically based, so if you are interested in Contemporary music or the recording industry, make sure you know which schools offer this specialty.  There are currently several schools in UT that have Musical Theater programs, but it is more rare to find a program offering Music, Dance and Theater equally.  There are many Universities around the country that have fantastic undergrad and graduate programs.  You need to consider cost and whether you want to move out of State when looking at these.  Often, going to a school in your State is more cost effective and you can find great programs closer to home.


-Remember that you don’t have to major in a fine art to become extremely proficient at it and to get work in that field.

-If you do major in Fine Arts, be sure you are extremely passionate about it- to the point that you can’t imagine doing anything else!  It’s a brutally difficult industry and your self-confidence can take a beating.


-As much as possible, plan ahead and be prepared since most of the major programs require early auditions.

-Really get to know yourself and what YOU in particular have to offer.  It’s ineffective to compare yourself to others- there will always be someone better than you.  It’s not about that.  What can YOU do?!

-Be flexible with yourself and your goals.  OFTEN, we start along a path that feels right, and somewhere along the way the path changes.  It can be surprising, but that doesn’t make it wrong.  I didn’t start my major to be a voice teacher, but during my preparations to go perform on Broadway, I discovered my talent for teaching.

-Most of all- put yourself out there!  Find out if you have what it takes.  If you want to pursue, performing- then perform as much as you can, RIGHT NOW!  If you want to do songwriting, then write like crazy RIGHT NOW!  AND, if you want to just keep the arts as a hobby, then be happy and still work to make yourself as great at it as you can.


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