Your career as a musician, and as an artist, will largely be defined by your relationships.

You may have heard the term network and the idea of networking to build a career. While these two terms are indeed integral to building a foundation to your artistic endeavors, I often observe them to be self-serving. All too often musicians will reach out when they need something or they want something and then disappear until a need or want of theirs surfaces once more.

Imagine you had a friend that only ever contacted you for favors… I doubt you would feel valued in this position and perhaps more to the point you would feel used. Whatever the case you might not keep this “friend” for too long with such a one sided approach. Your relationship, therefore, would be short lived.

Similarly, imagine a stranger came to you asking for a favor or opportunity. You have never heard of this person, you have no relationship with them, so it is unlikely that you will go out of your way to provide them with what they want.

As most relationships are a two way street so must your relationships be with colleagues, students, and teachers. It is a short sighted attitude to think that you can take what will benefit you, whether it be money or opportunities, and then not follow up with any semblance of a continued relationship. Likewise it is a mistake to only build relationships with people that you think will serve your career.

The relationships you develop at university, in music societies, through teachers and fellow students are the ones that grow into your professional network. These professional contacts will be your friends, and vice versa.

With all this in mind, I encourage you (the career minded musician), to treat your fellow musicians with respect, to support them with attendance, to give opportunities and time, to always be professional, and to be honest.

Many people can play an instrument well, more than ever this is true. It will be your relationships that define your career and make it a joy to pursue.