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Topic: Should I pursue a career in music?  (Read 625 times)

Offline oli006

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Should I pursue a career in music?
on: March 25, 2023, 04:13:38 AM
I'm currently a 17 yr old in high school and getting to the stage where I will need to decide what I want to do after school. My current position is that I will go to uni and study something in science. I do pretty well in school and enjoy a wide range of things (both in and out of school) such as science, maths, music (piano mostly), sport, gym, even a bit of writing sometimes.

I have never really considered that having a career in music could be an option for me. I have played piano for about 9 years and getting to the stage where I can play some decently difficult music. I have always considered myself as good at piano, but not amazing, certainly not good enough to perform professionally. Recently my school music teacher (who went to high school at a fairly prestigious Conservatorium and is an incredibly skilled and experienced pianist) has been very positive about my playing, suggesting that I could do extension music (highest of three levels in my countries schooling) if I wanted. I am far from the child prodigy playing entire piano concertos from age ten, but I am realising that I have gained a good level of musicianship and I am able to play with good controlled expression, which makes up for some of the pure technical skill I lack.

For reference I am currently learning pieces such as Rach prelude in G minor, Grieg's opus 7 piano sonata (1st movement) and Clair de Lune for my leaving school exams next year. I also play some jazz and blues stuff.

It would be a dream come true to one day play with an orchestra, though quite possibly unrealistic for me. This has never been something I have really thought to be an option

Does anyone have some advice about careers in music, both performing and not performing? How do I know if it's for me or if I'll ever be good enough? What other options would there be aside from performance? How do I get into performing publicly? I love music. Playing, listening, writing, all of it, but I just don't know if a career in it is for me, or if I should just keep it simply as a hobby.

I know its a lot and most of it doesn't have a definitive answer, but any advice or help would be greatly appreciated. :)

Offline nick.burke

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Re: Should I pursue a career in music?
Reply #1 on: March 25, 2023, 12:21:52 PM
I would say that if you love music and are potentially interested in a career in music, audition and study a music degree somewhere. If you do something like a Bachelor of Music then it'll take you atleast 3 years, and in that 3 years you will not only see huge improvement on piano, but you will figure out whether it is for you. If you end up deciding that it is something you could do for your whole life, you could do anything from classroom teaching, university lecturing, private piano teaching right up to performing.
At worst, you will have become an amazing pianist and at best you can get a lifelong career doing the thing you love.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Should I pursue a career in music?
Reply #2 on: March 25, 2023, 01:22:57 PM
A career in music is UTTERLY DIFFERENT to doing music for enjoyment and just for personal development, think about that one very very carefully. 

I advise you to not pursue music as a career and do something else if you can. I say this to all my students who want to do music for a career, I advise them strongly not to. This tests one mettle as if you REALLY want to do it you wont listen to what anyone else has to say.
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Offline ranjit

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Re: Should I pursue a career in music?
Reply #3 on: March 26, 2023, 12:56:36 AM
I'll take the middle ground here. I don't think making it as a world famous concert pianist is on the cards at all. Over time, I'm realizing just how massively difficult it is to attain that skill level. As a beginner, it is almost unfathomably difficult. Even all of those people who learned Fantaisie Impromptu in 1-2 years are nowhere close to actually making it as a concert pianist of that variety.

It's best to have a clear idea, if possible. You can make a musical career in many ways, and many will likely be possible -- music teacher, accompanist, band gigs, etc. But attaining exceedingly rarefied skill level can veer towards impossible really quickly.

Quote
suggesting that I could do extension music (highest of three levels in my countries schooling) if I wanted
If this is what I think it is, I feel like you're overestimating the value of this. It may be possible for you to even get an undergraduate degree in music/piano if you really wanted it. The question is what, and how, would you like to make it into a career? What sorts of careers do you think you would like? And also, realize that music as a career is different from music as a hobby. Ideally, try to get some actual experience doing the kinds of things you would need to do to make it into a career. If you are thinking of accompanying or teaching, you are at a level where you could make your way into entry level gigs for those things. If you like it, that's great, but as lostinidlewonder says, doing it as a career involves a million things other than just playing your favorite music, and it's best to be cognizant of that.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Should I pursue a career in music?
Reply #4 on: March 26, 2023, 04:10:11 PM
I don't think making it as a world famous concert pianist is on the cards at all. Over time, I'm realizing just how massively difficult it is to attain that skill level. As a beginner, it is almost unfathomably difficult. Even all of those people who learned Fantaisie Impromptu in 1-2 years are nowhere close to actually making it as a concert pianist of that variety.
Being world famous pianist is like ridiculously small bottle neck and it really has not everything to do with your playing skills, it is a mix of exceptional skill in most cases (or providing a popular product) and a lot of business.

You can earn a good amount concerting without even being famous. I made more money than famous concert pianists playing the same venues and I am a miniscule fraction of their fame.

If you like it, that's great, but as lostinidlewonder says, doing it as a career involves a million things other than just playing your favorite music, and it's best to be cognizant of that.
Yep, for instance being a concert performer who makes good money has much less to do your playing skills and a huge amoubt more to do with your business skills and connections. This comes as a horrific shock for all those university music graduates who fail to achieve a concerting career because they were never taught the business of it all. And no wonder their lecturers and teachers are not successful performer and mostly play only within academic circles. Selling to the public is a whole new game which simply put, eats up the vast majority of musicians who are not flexible enough to become businessmen/businesswomen, and let's not forget about being an entertainer and not just a musician. If you have no connection to your audience and are not an entertaining performer your chances of success dwindles to near zero.
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Online lelle

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Re: Should I pursue a career in music?
Reply #5 on: March 27, 2023, 02:56:37 PM
A music career, based on what my friends on colleagues are doing, usually tends to involve some type of mix of the following:
- Practicing and performing solo repertoire in recitals or events, public and/or private. Either repertoire you choose, or that's requested by the client
- Practicing and performing chamber repertoire with friends and colleagues, dito
- Learning parts quickly and accurately to do session recordings
- Learning or reading music to accompany ballet/dance classes, or rehearsals for singers or solo instruments
- Teaching students of all levels and ambitions, but mostly beginner/intermediate
- Organizing concerts/festivals/performances for yourself/colleagues
- Networking, being an entrepreneur, finding gigs

Does most of this sound like stuff you absolutely adore and couldn't live without? Do you absolutely love and adore practicing, even when it's stuff you don't really want to learn but have to learn to put food on the table? Could you see yourself teaching beginner/intermediate students and loving it? Could you see yourself spend most of your days doing this stuff and still be happy doing it?

Do you play because of other people's validation (for example, applause after a concert), or because you absolutely love and can't live without the process of sitting for hours alone in your practice room, working on pieces?

Think long and hard about these things, perhaps explore doing some of them and see how you feel, and be very honest with yourself.

It's perfectly possible to do a degree in a field that you like that is easier to have a career in, and take piano lessons and progress with your playing on the side, even doing performances and stuff.

Online brogers70

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Re: Should I pursue a career in music?
Reply #6 on: March 27, 2023, 06:17:12 PM
I'm currently a 17 yr old in high school and getting to the stage where I will need to decide what I want to do after school. My current position is that I will go to uni and study something in science. I do pretty well in school and enjoy a wide range of things (both in and out of school) such as science, maths, music (piano mostly), sport, gym, even a bit of writing sometimes.

I have never really considered that having a career in music could be an option for me. I have played piano for about 9 years and getting to the stage where I can play some decently difficult music. I have always considered myself as good at piano, but not amazing, certainly not good enough to perform professionally. Recently my school music teacher (who went to high school at a fairly prestigious Conservatorium and is an incredibly skilled and experienced pianist) has been very positive about my playing, suggesting that I could do extension music (highest of three levels in my countries schooling) if I wanted. I am far from the child prodigy playing entire piano concertos from age ten, but I am realising that I have gained a good level of musicianship and I am able to play with good controlled expression, which makes up for some of the pure technical skill I lack.

For reference I am currently learning pieces such as Rach prelude in G minor, Grieg's opus 7 piano sonata (1st movement) and Clair de Lune for my leaving school exams next year. I also play some jazz and blues stuff.

It would be a dream come true to one day play with an orchestra, though quite possibly unrealistic for me. This has never been something I have really thought to be an option

Does anyone have some advice about careers in music, both performing and not performing? How do I know if it's for me or if I'll ever be good enough? What other options would there be aside from performance? How do I get into performing publicly? I love music. Playing, listening, writing, all of it, but I just don't know if a career in it is for me, or if I should just keep it simply as a hobby.

I know its a lot and most of it doesn't have a definitive answer, but any advice or help would be greatly appreciated. :)

As someone who loves music but did a career in medical science, I just suggest you think very carefully about what you want. There are many great things about music as an avocation - no pressure to perform, to teach, to hustle for gigs, or really to do anything except play what and as much as you want. A non-musical career can eat into your real music time, but then, I think, all the  things you have to do to string together a living doing music also eat into your practice time, too. You can almost certainly make more money with a technical degree in something scientific or mathematical than as a musician. Having seen my parents' finances collapse and them lose their house as a resuIt when I was a teenager, I had no desire to embark on a financially risky career. Your tolerance for financial risk may be higher. My experience is that the people who tell you not to worry about the money are often people who don't have to worry about it themselves. I'm happy I chose music as an avocation rather than a career; one plus is that now that I've retired I get to spend as much time as I like with the piano and there's nothing better than having tons of time to practice in.

Offline quantum

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Re: Should I pursue a career in music?
Reply #7 on: March 28, 2023, 03:10:53 PM
I would suggest looking up blogs / vlogs by working musicians that detail the day to day activities of the profession.  As music is a widely varying field, you may wish to focus your reading into those activities you are most interested.  For example: teaching, solo performance, collaborative performance, composition, etc.

Music can be a highly rewarding career, but you need to deeply consider if the lifestyle and income is a good fit for you. 

Is it the professional training and skill development you are after?  You can obtain a BMus for the musical training then go on to study a different field that has more potential for stable income afterwards.  Music could then become your evening/weekend activity, while a day job would be more financially supportive.

Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline quantum

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Re: Should I pursue a career in music?
Reply #8 on: March 28, 2023, 03:24:49 PM
A music career, based on what my friends on colleagues are doing, usually tends to involve some type of mix of the following:
- Practicing and performing solo repertoire in recitals or events, public and/or private. Either repertoire you choose, or that's requested by the client
- Practicing and performing chamber repertoire with friends and colleagues, dito
- Learning parts quickly and accurately to do session recordings
- Learning or reading music to accompany ballet/dance classes, or rehearsals for singers or solo instruments
- Teaching students of all levels and ambitions, but mostly beginner/intermediate
- Organizing concerts/festivals/performances for yourself/colleagues
- Networking, being an entrepreneur, finding gigs

A good list, to which I would add:

Teaching musical instruments outside of one's primary instrument(s) (Eg: band or choir teacher in the school system)

Teaching a large group of unruly children, most of whom have no interest in the subject (school teacher)

Directing a choir from the keyboard (church music director, music theatre director).

Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline rachmaninoff_forever

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Re: Should I pursue a career in music?
Reply #9 on: March 28, 2023, 09:56:59 PM
You donít have to be THAT good to make a career out of it.  I have a friend who went to school for viola performance but ended up playing piano at local dive bars and makes like 2k a weekend off of it and heís trash.  Heís always texting me being like Ďbro I donít even play piano helpí

Anyways Thereís like a minimum threshold (the guy I was talking about is an exception) for how good you have to be and then the rest is what city you live in, your personality, and connections you have in whatever discipline you go for.

People like to pretend itís this gnarly grind that only .00000000001% are good enough to make just enough money so you donít starve to death but honestly itís not that bad.  Iíve come across way more people who tell me they hate their 9-5 and they wish they pursued a career in music than the other way around.  So just go for it you can always switch majors later


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Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Should I pursue a career in music?
Reply #10 on: March 29, 2023, 05:36:21 AM
...and then the rest is what city you live in, your personality, and connections you have in whatever discipline you go for.
I certainly wouldn't underestimate how challenging these factors are especially connections and network. Windows of opportunity to make these are not always there and without the right business manner or being a likeable person, you just will never make good ones.


Iíve come across way more people who tell me they hate their 9-5 and they wish they pursued a career in music than the other way around.  So just go for it you can always switch majors later
Only a smaller % of musicians I know make a good living the others make average to below. Some people might wish for something only because they don't realise what it really comes with! Rose tinted glass. The early years of being a musician can be quite gruelling and many never climb out of that hole. No musician I know has ever said they pursued music for money opportunity!
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Offline cuberdrift

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Re: Should I pursue a career in music?
Reply #11 on: March 30, 2023, 07:28:50 AM
Music is certainly a financially risky career UNLESS you somehow get the right CONNECTIONS...

And that is the key. Lamentably, I think not enough conservatories are responsible enough to prepare their graduates for the reality of the business side of things.

Sure you can play Chopin etudes and Rach concerti at lightspeed...but where and how?

But I also think that one simply won't make it as a true artist if they put music "to the side".

How many master musicians do we know do music "as a hobby"? They are very few.

Online brogers70

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Re: Should I pursue a career in music?
Reply #12 on: March 30, 2023, 10:49:00 AM
But I also think that one simply won't make it as a true artist if they put music "to the side".

How many master musicians do we know do music "as a hobby"? They are very few.

Well, I think that's obviously true. But it may not be the right question. If you want to reach the peak of musical ability you have to spend your whole life devoted to it, although the converse is not true -spending your whole life devoted to music is no guarantee that you'll reach the peak of musical artistry. But there's an awful lot of joy and meaning that can come from playing music even well below the peak of musical ability. Most people, even professional musicians will not make the heights. So it's pretty reasonable to ask whether the difference in satisfaction between being a good amateur versus having a relatively low odds chance at becoming a master musician as a professional is worth the personal and financial risk. And indeed the OP was not framed as Barenboim or Schiff versus a hobbyist, but between a work-a-day pianist/piano teacher/church musician versus a scientist who does music on the side.

Offline rachmaninoff_forever

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Re: Should I pursue a career in music?
Reply #13 on: March 30, 2023, 02:21:31 PM
I certainly wouldn't underestimate how challenging these factors are especially connections and network. Windows of opportunity to make these are not always there and without the right business manner or being a likeable person, you just will never make good ones.

No yeah not saying itís easy or anything itís just something thatís overlooked by literally almost everyone pursuing a career and colleges donít teach that. 

Most schools are like practice the same rep as everyone else to death and work your way through comp ladder until your teacher winds up on the jury and gives you first prize and then you ride off into the sunset playing the same rep as everyone else the same way as everyone else.  They donít teach anything about stage presence, marketing, networking, building a good program, personality, building a website, bio, making friends with other musicians that arenít pianists, etc.  instead everything is wasted away isolated in a practice room playing the same solo rep as everyone else.



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Offline andoromano

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Re: Should I pursue a career in music?
Reply #14 on: March 31, 2023, 08:22:53 PM
It's great to hear that you have a passion for music and are considering it as a potential career option. It's important to explore your interests and talents to figure out what you want to do in the future.

To start, it's important to note that pursuing a career in music can be challenging and requires a lot of dedication, hard work, and perseverance. However, it can also be incredibly rewarding if you have a true passion for it.

One option for pursuing a career in music is to become a performer, either as a solo artist or as part of an ensemble or orchestra. To do this, you will need to continue to develop your skills and technique as a pianist, and also work on developing your stage presence and ability to connect with an audience. It's important to perform in public as much as possible, such as at local venues, community events, or even on social media platforms.

Another option is to pursue a career in music education, either as a private music teacher, school music teacher, or college professor. This would allow you to share your passion for music with others and help them develop their own skills and love for music.

There are also many other career paths in the music industry, such as music production, sound engineering, music therapy, music journalism, and music business. These fields require a variety of skills and interests, such as technology, communication, creativity, and business acumen.

To determine if a career in music is right for you, it's important to do some research and talk to professionals in the industry. You may also want to consider pursuing a degree in music or a related field to gain a more in-depth understanding of the industry and develop your skills.

Ultimately, it's important to follow your passion and do what makes you happy. If music is something that brings you joy and fulfillment, then it may be worth exploring as a potential career option. Best of luck to you in your future endeavors!

Offline cuberdrift

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Re: Should I pursue a career in music?
Reply #15 on: April 01, 2023, 01:46:38 AM
Well, I think that's obviously true. But it may not be the right question. If you want to reach the peak of musical ability you have to spend your whole life devoted to it, although the converse is not true -spending your whole life devoted to music is no guarantee that you'll reach the peak of musical artistry. But there's an awful lot of joy and meaning that can come from playing music even well below the peak of musical ability. Most people, even professional musicians will not make the heights.

Well I personally don't think it should be about "making it to the top". I think the better goal is to create music that will satisfy you.

Are you satisfied with playing half-finished pieces that are not particularly difficult? Or do you want to have stuff like the Alkan solo concerto or Hammerklavier under your fingertips?

Forcing people to work a boring job which will eat up most of his time for honing musical skills results in lots of missed opportunities. What if Mozart stuck to his old job and followed the advice of his father? We would never have had the chance to know his truly timeless works...

There certainly are risks involved, but I think as a society we should try to encourage more artists, if truly deserving of the name, to reach their full potential and create an environment conducive to that.

Again, it isn't about being X super famous musician or else you're a failure...it's about successfully being able to express yourself, to get out that artistic urge. After all, popularity or critical acclaim is subjective in the arts.

It's great to hear that you have a passion for music and are considering it as a potential career option. It's important to explore your interests and talents to figure out what you want to do in the future.

To start, it's important to note that pursuing a career in music can be challenging and requires a lot of dedication, hard work, and perseverance. However, it can also be incredibly rewarding if you have a true passion for it.

One option for pursuing a career in music is to become a performer, either as a solo artist or as part of an ensemble or orchestra. To do this, you will need to continue to develop your skills and technique as a pianist, and also work on developing your stage presence and ability to connect with an audience. It's important to perform in public as much as possible, such as at local venues, community events, or even on social media platforms.

Another option is to pursue a career in music education, either as a private music teacher, school music teacher, or college professor. This would allow you to share your passion for music with others and help them develop their own skills and love for music.

There are also many other career paths in the music industry, such as music production, sound engineering, music therapy, music journalism, and music business. These fields require a variety of skills and interests, such as technology, communication, creativity, and business acumen.

To determine if a career in music is right for you, it's important to do some research and talk to professionals in the industry. You may also want to consider pursuing a degree in music or a related field to gain a more in-depth understanding of the industry and develop your skills.

Ultimately, it's important to follow your passion and do what makes you happy. If music is something that brings you joy and fulfillment, then it may be worth exploring as a potential career option. Best of luck to you in your future endeavors!

This sounds AI generated hmm...

Offline klavieronin

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Re: Should I pursue a career in music?
Reply #16 on: April 01, 2023, 03:34:51 AM
This sounds AI generated hmm...

Haha, yeah it definitely has an AI vibe. No personality and no actual opinion. I guess we haven't reached the singularity yet.

Online brogers70

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Re: Should I pursue a career in music?
Reply #17 on: April 01, 2023, 11:05:43 AM
Forcing people to work a boring job which will eat up most of his time for honing musical skills results in lots of missed opportunities. What if Mozart stuck to his old job and followed the advice of his father? We would never have had the chance to know his truly timeless works...

If you go back to the OP, you'll see we are not necessarily talking about a boring job, nor are we talking about a person who aspires to be the next Mozart. It's not a shot at becoming Rubenstein versus a life spent sitting at a desk processing small loan applications and playing Chopsticks on the weekends. It's somebody weighing a modest career in music versus an interesting career in science with music as a serious hobby. Neither option is bad, it's just a question of the OP figuring out what they want.

And if you want to imagine extremes....."Albert, Albert, follow your passion. You have real talent on the violin; if you had more time to practice you could be the next Joachim. Why are you wasting your life in a piddling bureaucratic job in the patent office?"

Offline cuberdrift

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Re: Should I pursue a career in music?
Reply #18 on: April 03, 2023, 02:44:00 AM
If you go back to the OP, you'll see we are not necessarily talking about a boring job, nor are we talking about a person who aspires to be the next Mozart. It's not a shot at becoming Rubenstein versus a life spent sitting at a desk processing small loan applications and playing Chopsticks on the weekends. It's somebody weighing a modest career in music versus an interesting career in science with music as a serious hobby. Neither option is bad, it's just a question of the OP figuring out what they want.

And if you want to imagine extremes....."Albert, Albert, follow your passion. You have real talent on the violin; if you had more time to practice you could be the next Joachim. Why are you wasting your life in a piddling bureaucratic job in the patent office?"

Yes...in any case, the point is to encourage the person to satisfy this impulse for self-expression. If one truly desires to attain the heights of artistry (I'm talking about being able to create stuff that requires lots of time and effort) and his work gets in the way, then the goal might be impeded.

So it's relative to what the person desires to achieve artistically. In addition to this I think most people need to consider two things, firstly that artists are not doing what they do merely to satisfy themselves, but also to enrich others' lives - this is their contribution to society and I believe a reason why art should be considered an important occupation.
It's not always a self-pleasure thing (nor should it always be merely so). Secondly, society works best if each person puts his energy to what he truly desires and excels in.

If I only want to teach piano to beginners, then this should be doable aside a more mainstream job. But if I want to perform the complete Alkan etudes and Scriabin sonatas and my life is only complete if this happens, then I should find whatever means to attain it.

Offline ego0720

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Re: Should I pursue a career in music?
Reply #19 on: April 24, 2023, 06:57:58 PM
I'm currently a 17 yr old in high school...good at piano, but not amazing, certainly not good enough to perform professionally...I am far from the child prodigy playing entire piano concertos from age ten, but I am realising that I have gained a good level of musicianship and I am able to play with good controlled expression, which makes up for some of the pure technical skill I lack...
...
Does anyone have some advice about careers in music, both performing and not performing? How do I know if it's for me or if I'll ever be good enough? What other options would there be aside from performance? How do I get into performing publicly? I love music. Playing, listening, writing, all of it, but I just don't know if a career in it is for me, or if I should just keep it simply as a hobby...

I know its a lot and most of it doesn't have a definitive answer, but any advice or help would be greatly appreciated. :)

Hi!  You represent so many people.  You are exactly what my kids will be at in a decade. They aren't prodigies but they are amazing players.

When I grew up piano was esoteric. It was for prestige.  And only the best of the best made it.  It was either classical or nothing.  And if you didn't get the support of experts.. you have no road to go.  I still feel some of that exist today by many piano teachers but the tree has grown many branches since then.

The practical approach is to stick with music as a minor or 2nd degree while pursuing a "real" career.  And music composition is where its at. You can also play for a living.  Music is part of entertainment.  In this regard you just have to have ONE thing that makes you different from the rest. But because those opportunies are few.. this would have to be a backup plan rather than a dedicated career.

My point is the risk of going to a conservatory and getting burned out is high.  You can still try this but it's hard if you don't consider yourself a prodigy.  Going to a university that allows you to double major.. where music can be a secondary.. is better.  It gives one a platform to start a lifelong music journey with less chance of burning out.  You don't have to be the best to make a strong impact.  You have to be influential.  I think music composition is where its at for most people.  If you play decent and write good songs.. that's where the road leads.  We don't have enough creative musicians.  For pianist, so much focus on being the best player but there is little appreciation on making music fun.  Regular people can appreciate piano.  They just see more technical prowess than they hear musicality.  Think about that when you consider opportunities in the music industry as a pianist.  I think piano is getting more attention.  Thanks to digital pianos. Follow your heart but think pragmatically. 
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