The Skills Every Modern Musician Needs to Succeed
Music has changed immensely over the centuries – and with it, so has the role of the musician. From the ability to manage large-scale projects to technical knowledge of the best scoring software available, here are some of the most important skills for a modern musician to possess.
With so many areas and disciplines of music overlapping and feeding into each other, a musician working today needs to get to grips with an ever wider array of practices and to develop a particularly diverse skillset.
Even for musicians whose focus is primarily in one area, an insight into other, complementary practices and disciplines can help to broaden youroptions. For example, instrumentalists may find that by brushing up on their arranging or copying knowledge, they can supplement their income with roles in those areas.
Even non-musical employers have been known to think highly of the diverse array of adaptable, transferable skills that musicians have the opportunity to develop – alumni surveys from the University of Nottingham have shown music graduates cropping up in industries ranging from publishing and broadcasting to law.
Technology has completely transformed the entire process of creating music, from MIDI keyboards for creating the raw material of a composition right through to the advanced post-production functions of Digital Audio Workstations (DAW).
Whether you’re crafting futuristic electronic soundscapes or composing large-scale orchestral symphonies, a comprehensive knowledge of the range of tools and programs available to you will prove to be extremely beneficial – especially as many projects involve work spread across multiple programs and tools.
Fortunately, advances in technology have only served to make these tools easier, more rewarding and more intuitive to use. Whereas a tool such as music notation software would have previously required a significant level of specialist expertise, the developers of the scoring software Dorico have included AI features that allow for a more intuitive creative process.
One of the consequences of the growing sophistication of music production tools is their portability. As they become more advanced, they also become more capable of being used anywhere, at any time – and it’s a skill that the modern musician needs to be capable of replicating.
As well as portable mixing and production equipment that can be operated from a laptop, there are even apps that create basic compositions based on hummed input – the results may not exactly be industry standard, but tools like this could become the ideal way of capturing unexpected bursts of inspiration.
To take full advantage of the range of recording tools and techniques open to you, you’ll need to be as comfortable working in the space of a high-tech studio as you are tucked away in a quiet café with only a tablet or laptop to hand.
While many musicians, like most other creative types, might balk at the idea of bringing business acumen into their music, it really is a crucial factor. The great classical composers may have been able to rely on the backing of wealthy patrons for everything they needed, but today’s composer will, more often than not, need to persuade others to commission their work – and this requires a certain degree of self-promotion, maximising of income and, yes, entrepreneurial flair. The life of the romantic bohemian artist might sound attractive, but having your work heard by others isn’t too bad either.
Although each of these skills is important in their own way, perhaps equally important is a sense of perspective – the ability to view them as individual components working together to produce a greater whole.