Quitting My Job... For a Self-Employed Music Career

My background is as a self-taught pianist and clarinetist, classically trained singer (Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Utah State University, 2010,) and composer (Master of Music in Music Composition from the University of Utah, 2014.)

I served an LDS Church mission to Rome, Italy from 2010 - 2012, and then taught band/choir/orchestra/latin at a K-12 private school from 2013 - 2016.

The purpose of this blog is to share the journey of surviving self-employment in a career that everyone tells you to "avoid!" I will share music composition, recording, engineering, albums, projects, and other things that help a 21st-century musician survive.

The following post from September 1, 2016 illustrates the beginning of the my self-employment/self-fulfillment journey.

In July of 2015, I received a phone call out of the blue from Jon Schmidt from the Piano Guys. He needed percussion parts transcribed (written out) from their cover of Rachel Platten's "Fight Song" so that they could perform that piece live in concert (and film their amazing music video in that Scottish Castle!)

I was taken aback. I was not expecting a call, nor had I ever spoken with him before (other than a book signing that he wouldn't have remembered.) He didn't know who I was either. I had been referred to him by our mutual friend, Clive Romney who apparently told him that I could do stuff like that.

In an effort to impress, I then spent the next 8 hours of my day transcribing the snares, toms, and bass drums. When I finished transcribing the parts, I polished up the music to give it a visually-pleasing aesthetic.

When I presented the score back to Jon Schmidt, he must have liked it, because he called me back the next week with a piano arrangement project. I then spent the next four months (August-November 2015) co-arranging and transcribing piano pieces for The Piano Guys' new book of intermediate piano solos: Covers.

Around the same time, I began to feel a spiritual prompting that my career would be taking a turn into having a broader audience and producing music for the masses. I didn't know at the time (nor do I yet fully understand) how this turn was going to happen, but I decided to act on that prompting and do something about it.

I decided that I needed to take some extra composition (orchestration) lessons, which I took from my friend Merrill Jenson. I had already earned a Master's Degree in Music Composition, but I knew that I needed something else.

I also invested in studio recording equipment and many online courses to supplement my knowledge of being a studio-running musician.

In January 2016 I had my studio operating and I began recording friends for free, and then giving my voice students recording opportunities. I then started working on writing some pop-genere tunes and orchestral demos with my equipment.

I kept on doing small transcription jobs for The Piano Guys (such as organizing midi data, transcribing other new tunes into sheet music,) when I emailed Paul Cardall and offered my services to him.

After meeting him at Stone Angel Music in Salt Lake City, I signed with his label to compose an album of orchestral music which we will release in Spring 2017.

In the meantime, I arranged and orchestrated his newest album, "A New Creation," which I also had the privilege of conducting, playing, singing, and midi-programming.

So that's a really long way of trying to tell you that I've quit my job [teaching school], and I'm writing music for a living now.

It's been beautiful to see how these items have fallen into place to lead me and my family along the path that we feel inspired to follow at this time.

This is not without its hardships: we've never been poorer! But we're happy to share this new journey with you, our friends, and thank you for your support as you've liked this page which we'll be using to promote my new album of orchestral works: "Cinematic [correction: since this article was published, the word "Cinematic" has been replaced by the word "Classical"] Hymns" to be released in the Spring 2017!

So I quit teaching in the Spring of 2016, and officially started a business that makes money by writing music and teaching lessons. There will be separate posts for those projects. But we're almost a year into this adventure and we love it!

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