Artist Development

Young musicians today are entering a competitive and ever-changing profession, in which it takes more than being a superb performer to forge a sustainable career. We want you to leave the Academy fully prepared for life as a working musician; as such, we are at the forefront of delivering provision that will empower you, the next generation of artists, to make the most of your individual skills in the professional realm. 

Our artist development strand is an integral part of your degree course, preparing you practically, creatively and strategically for the road ahead. Through a series of lectures, one-off events and individual guidance, we cover topics including the creation of industry-standard promotional material, curating your web presence, how to practise, starting and running ensembles, the audition process, how to work with promoters, and tax for the self-employed. 

Alongside this proffssional skills development, we encourage you to engage with your artistic identity – how you might nurture and have confidence in your individual talents, and integrate them into your future professional life. With this in mind, the sessions we run are given by speakers working in both the mainstream and more diversely, so that you have a broad range of experiences to draw on when considering your own trajectory as an artist. Together with orchestral players and soloists, agents and festival directors, our speakers might be West-End fixers, improvising musicians, or musicians who have started their own companies. We also engage with the particular health and wellbeing concerns for musicians, inviting speakers who are experts on injury prevention and psychological resilience. 

Masters graduate Katy Ovens writes:

‘Sitting in the welcome talk amongst fellow first year students in my introductory week at the Academy, Neil Heyde’s words rang crystal clear: ‘Learning how to be a great musician is as much learning how to communicate with your peers and the world at large as it is honing your skills. Artistic identity is formed through the links you make with others.’

A musician’s job description stretches far beyond instrumental competence to include self-promotion, networking, management, and much more, therefore our training should encompass this. For this reason, the role Professional Development plays in the Academy’s education is crucial. What could be better preparation than editing your CV with an employee of one of the UK’s leading musicians’ diary services or receiving tax advice from an accountant specialised in freelance performance careers? Needless to say, attending the Academy’s Professional Development day is invaluable for developing our ‘artistic identity’.

Drawing inspiration from the hints at the bottom of the Ten Rules for Students and Teachers, popularised by John Cage, I encourage all young musicians to be curious and critical of themselves and the professional world they will soon enter. Go to talks, lectures, and concerts, both inside the Academy and the music world and, perhaps even more importantly, outside of it. Talk to your colleagues and share ideas, for to be the ‘whole musician’ we need to nurture all aspects of ourselves – not just the self that exists in a practice room.’