School is the easiest place to find opportunities to play music. Most schools have multiple ensembles open to students. The problem comes when you graduate. It can be hard to find playing opportunities outside of school.
I am lucky enough to live in a large metro area. The bigger the city, the more playing opportunities you will have. If you live in a smaller city or rural area, don’t worry. The internet has allowed musicians from all over to world to show their work.
In this post, we are going to talk about how musicians can find playing opportunities outside of school. Let’s get into it.
If you belong to a church or other worship center, ask around about playing in a service. Many churches love having musicians play on Sunday. Even if you don’t attend service, you can contact local churches and offer to play for them.
Any place worth playing for will be accepting of guests. I have played for a couple of different churches, and it is always a treat to play music in that setting.
Whether you get to play at a regular service or at another special event, church is a great place to play music.
Offices aren’t really a place to play but a place to find music ensembles. A lot of cities and counties have local music groups, like orchestras or bands. You can check online or go to your city or county hall.
If you live near other cities, check with those as well. One of the bordering cities where I live has a community orchestra each summer. I played with the group last summer and will play again this year.
Local offices may not play music, but they can lead you to groups that do. They are a great starting point for local ensembles. Whether you are returning to your hometown or moving somewhere new, city offices might be the easiest place to find a music group.
If you live near your college town, ask your (former) professor if they know of any groups. Not all groups are affiliated with the cities where they operate. So you might need to look elsewhere.
At least in my state, the musicians know other musicians. And so they know the different groups in cities throughout the state.
Your teachers guided you through school, and they can still guide you after graduation. If you’ve left school, a simple email to your teacher is all it takes. Even if they don’t know of groups in your area, they can still help you find other opportunities to play.
It may be obvious, but the internet is a great place to find places to play music. You can learn about local busking laws, if that interests you. You can also connect with other musicians, near and far.
With apps like Instagram and Acapella, you can collaborate with other musicians wherever you are. I have made a ton of online music friends through Instagram, and I just downloaded Acapella for myself and for collaborations.
Facebook groups are also great for connecting with other musicians. A lot of groups allow musicians to share links. This includes music camps and festivals.
I am a member of the National Flute Association (NFA), and that allows me to attend the annual NFA convention in rotating cities. This year’s convention is in Orlando, Florida, and there are a ton of opportunities to play flute.
You can find the entire convention schedule of events here. There’s an option to search for participatory events.
Other instruments also have associations of their own, like the International Clarinet Association and the International Double Reed Society. If you can’t go to these associations’ conventions, they can still help you find places to play your instrument.
One of the benefits of a membership with the NFA is a membership directory. You can use it to find local musicians who might want to play with you.
There are tons of other benefits that can further your development as a musician.
Your Own Self
If you are out of options, you can even make your own opportunities. Offer to play at senior centers, community events, and other places. Put up posters asking for musicians to play with you.
This route is definitely not for everyone, I don’t feel comfortable advertising myself around town. But if you are confident enough and willing to do a little work, this could be a great choice for you.
Just remember to be safe, don’t give out too much personal info, and screen people before you play with them. Especially if you are younger, don’t agree to meet just any random person. Be safe and smart about it.
How have you found playing opportunities outside of school? Did you find them yourself or with the help of a teacher or friend? Leave your answer in the comments below.