Sunday, August 29, 2010

To Audition or Not to Audition??

That is the question for me right now.

Preparing for an orchestral audition is very stressful, at least for me. I've been super busy with Kinship Music Studios and weddings and teaching and so on. So much so that I have not taken an audition in almost two years. Finally, I decided to take on a couple of auditions because now I'm in a place where I don't really need an orchestral job to make money. It's not as much pressure as it was two years ago.
The week of the first audition, I had four shows with Victoria Vox. Needless to say, Beethoven Symphony No. 8 Trio was not on the brain (along with all those other excerpts). I went in to the audition totally unprepared and didn't get it.
For the next, I did prepare as much as a could. I practice six hours a day for five days. Hoping that would be enough, I drove the four hours for the audition. Yada, yada, yada...I didn't win that one either.
Now, I'm having an identity crisis. Can I be a cellist and not in a symphony? Does it still "count"? Do I keep practicing six hours a day, preparing these orchestral excerpts for the next audition? Or, do I spend that time preparing something else? And, what would that be? Do I call myself a "solo cellist"? I have been performing solo for sometime now, and making a living at it.
So, now I will resolve to dedicate myself to being the best solo cellist I can possibly be. To keep working on my wedding/event repertoire, getting more gigs and recording work, prepare a whole concerto (just in case). And of course keep my eye out for openings at the National Symphony!! ;)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Three Weddings and a Funeral

It was a crazy weekend! I guess this is what it feels like being a working, free-lance musician. But I will take it! Going from one event to another can be very exhausting. I feel like I'm always late, throwing my cello in my car and having to carry all my stuff around. Then, I have to play amazingly! Its easy to forget what is happening and why I'm there in the first place. This is someone's wedding or funeral. These people will remember this day for the rest of their lives. They will never get another opportunity to get married again or to bury their parent (well, ideally). I think its really easy for musicians and other event vendors to forget the importance of this event. I know I sometimes do.
Us vendors do so many events that its hard to keep them all straight and keep them fresh and different. Honestly, a lot of people want the same thing for their wedding: the same music as they walk down the isle, same dress, same venue, same flowers, cake, colors, etc. I can understand why, its tradition. Traditional wedding goods make everyone, members of the party and guests, feel comfortable and they know what to expect and how to conduct themselves.
However, I think that vendors, including myself, are to blame for assisting this "traditional style". As far as music goes, I have the Bridal Chorus, Wedding March and Canon down! For me, they are easy and sound beautiful. That's why I keep suggesting them to brides. I suspect that its the same for other vendors. Certain cakes are easier to make. Certain flowers are easier to arrange. Certain dresses are easier to design.
So, I will challenge myself to step up my game. To start suggesting music that is outside of the box. Its going to be unexpected and maybe make people uncomfortable, including myself. And, I want to challenge other vendors out there to do the same. Don't wait for a bride to come to you with a new idea. Come up with that idea first! I want to start making each wedding/funeral/party unique and individual. I want to make each just as important and memorable to me as it is to the bride and the families.
Stay tuned!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

"What's Your Rate?"

As a free-lance cellist and someone who never considers herself a business person, I hate this question! Honestly, I would play for free, but I know I can't afford to. But, how do I know how much I should charge? By how many people will be in the listening to me? Am I just playing background music, not holding people's attention? By how far I have to travel? By how long I have to be there? Do I have to learn new pieces, which requires more time preparing before the performance? There is a lot to consider.
For example, I played a gig this weekend and feel like I should have charged way more. I had to play six pieces between speakers to an audience of almost 500 people. Before the gig, looking at the information that was given to me, all I saw was a 90 minute funeral and I would play six pieces of my choice. But I show up, and feel the pressure of all these ears getting ready to listen to me. I was so nervous. Also, adding insult to injury, these people (I believe) have money. I'm beating myself up because I should have charged more! In end, they seemed to like what I did, so I'm pleased with that.
Anyway, here's what I've learned: I need to ask more questions. How many people, will I have the attention of the audience, how far do I have to travel, how long/much do I have to play, what do I play, and what's the budget. All of this information is key and affects how much I should charge for a certain gig. So now, how much?.....

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hello World!

Alright, here we go! I am Katie Chambers a Cellist with Kinship Music Studios providing amazing music for any occasion as well as quality cello, piano and violin instruction. I want to use this space to provide the reader with my thoughts on how to find live musicians in the Washington DC area, working as a professional musician, finding a quality teacher in DC, and the etiquette surrounding performing and teaching. Not to mention all of the crazy situation that only Cellist, Katie Chambers gets her self into!
For example, I made my first small business "no-no": accidentally booking myself for two weddings on the same day! I am on GigMasters (; a great source for hiring live music for literally any occasion). But, I guess GigMasters allows the performers to book two gigs on the same day. My first client didn't pay the $20 booking fee to GigMasters, but my second couple did. Hopefully, the second couple can get that booking fee back. God knows that I don't see any of that booking fee.
Quick note for all of you couples using GigMasters. Here's the deal. The only reason that the booking fee is good for is to give the performer a hiring rating. If you look at my rating is kind of low, but I'm always getting gigs. My clients and I just go around GigMasters' booking fee and we use a contract that I wrote. But don't worry. is still getting money. I pay them to let me post on their site, and I'm happy to do so.
So, ask the performer first before going ahead the paying that fee to GigMasters. Please let me say, I am so grateful for the service that GigMasters provide. And, I feel very privileged to that the problem of double booking myself. The the big picture for my career, its a good feeling!