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By Jillissa Anderson

When I was considering music as a career in high school, I was aware of two different options- music education or music performance. Little did I know that there was a whole world of musical career options but I was drastically underprepared and uninformed of other musical career opportunities! Experiencing many music jobs, and years of performance and teaching, I’m here to share two alternatives for young musicians.

Sharing career options in a declining community

There has been a 14% decrease in music educators in the last decade, and at least 77% of arts graduates have had to freelance. SNAAP data reveals that music graduates are still unsatisfied with the entrepreneurial training and business education provided to them as they prepare for their career field.

I have seen this in the community in which I work. Teachers have left their jobs, musicians don’t know how to get a job post-graduation, and many struggle to use their degree in a way that contributes to their music community. This needs to change! There are many career options outside the teaching and performing. High school students should be made aware of these career paths as early as possible.

Many high school students want to be involved in music but might not have the dedication to perform or the desire to teach; this does not eliminate them from choosing a long-term career in music. True pedagogy connects the simple music lover to the professional performer. And, as I say to my students, musicians and professors:

The big guys need us little guys, because they depend on us to carry pedagogical practices to the younger generations and the greater music industry…

Without instrument repair technicians, wind players cease to exist! Sure, performers learn how to clean their instrument and conduct some maintenance, but most professionals haven’t even taken their instrument apart or know how to fix simple problems in a performance… So yes, the big guys need the “little guys” because without them the show cannot go on.

There is a huge lack of woodwind repair technicians throughout the country! The average wait for simple repairs at your local store is 3-6 weeks, and some locations take up to 3 months to complete these repairs.

Properly trained repair techs can make $60-$90/hour, working part or full time. This is far better pay than many performance or teaching positions. In addition to the potential income in this career field, the training is quite affordable compared to pursuing further standardized education. Musicians can achieve professional level repair abilities in less than 2 years and for less than $10,000 (see links below). This is a fraction of the cost compared to any postgraduate music degree.

Repair work perfectly complements those who also choose to continue teaching and performing, as any of these musical endeavors do not have to be full time. Consider these qualities for potential future repair techs.

Traits of aspiring repair technicians

  • Musical background and an interest in expanding your career portfolio
  • Mechanically inclined and enjoys working with your hands
  • You are curious and enjoy learning new and different ways to accomplish a goal
  • A quiet work atmosphere and solo work is appealing

Consider having your local repair technician visit your band program to discuss this career field or having an Ambassador from Lisa’s Clarinet shop discuss their education programs with your studio’s. Choosing a repair technician job is both lucrative and esteemed in the music community, so let’s do better and create more job opportunities for the next generation by discussing repair on a regular basis with up-and-coming musicians.

For those interested in Repair Education- you can access more information from my website:

Do you have students that play sub-par because of their equipment? Or have no idea how to help them grow because your instrument education differs from your students struggles? We need better access to qualified instrument and equipment experts who use their training and expertise to help others succeed and improve. Equipment is an essential aspect of pedagogy. I’ll repeat that again…

Equipment is an essential aspect of pedagogy…

Learning cannot succeed without proper working musical equipment. Access to advancing woodwind equipment is usually gained through local music stores and instrument representatives. Teaching and training young musicians to use their passion and knowledge in instrument sales can positively affect their music community for musical advancement. Consider these qualities for potential future instrument representatives:

Traits of aspiring instrument representatives

  • Collaboration helps you enjoy assisting others in reaching their musical goals
  • Communication and organization come more naturally to you
  • You are creative and enjoy learning about new musical equipment
  • You are a self-starter and goal oriented person

Instrument sales jobs do not hinder you from performing or teaching. In fact, it perfectly positions a teaching/performing professional to use their access to quality equipment to train other young musicians and help other professionals grow in equipment knowledge.

More on pedagogical practices with instrument equipment:

Final Thoughts…

Instrument Representatives and Repair Technicians can find full and part-time jobs all around the country, many with benefits and pay packages that cannot compete with teaching, freelancing, or non-orchestral full-time jobs. High school musicians should be included into the conversations of these options so they can make well informed decisions when choosing a future in music.

Maybe Instrument Repair or Sales isn’t the typical dream music job, but it’s the foundation for your music community that helps other grow and learn. Highschoolers should know that by exploring these fields they can pedagogically improve their community, while making money and sharing their musical passions.

Jillissa is a Clarinet performer and teacher who also specializes in equipment and education as an Ambassador at Lisa’s Clarinet Shop.