James W. Doyle



How do you build a collection of the music, mallets, and instruments needed to freelance, teach privately, and make a living as a musician? 

One purchase at a time.

Like all planning, think in the short, medium, AND long term. What types of gigs might you play? Do you currently have a vehicle to get you and your instruments to the gig with ample cargo space? What can you afford today? Save for tomorrow? Can you afford rent for the extra room these instruments require? Can you borrow instruments from your institution (either as a teacher or student) or the local high school? 

While ordering the custom built marimba of your dreams will be inspiring, give you the ability to practice marimba whenever you like, and a nice big piece of furniture to add to your home, do you think you'll make a living playing marimba? To be honest, I bought the marimba of my dreams when I started teaching college...one place where a marimba is requisite. She-e Wu mentioned in a master class recently that she got her first personal marimba when she got her first marimba endorsement. She-e was great before she owned her own marimba.

Make a list of what you need for the career you desire. Then price your list, considering quality versus price point. Update your list as you purchase and your plans change. Set money aside for these purchases, and don't beat yourself up if you absolutely have to have that pandeiro but aren't sure if you'll play gigs on it. If you get proficient, there's no reason you couldn't. 

Before the marimba, bills were paid with a drum set, concert snare, triangle, tambourine, an old Deagan glockenspiel, crash cymbals, a xylophone, etc etc. Lessons were taught on these instruments, and you know, they were affordable to acquire-one purchase at a time. 

It's never too soon to start collecting your tools of the trade. Keep an eye on Craigslist, Facebook Swap Shops, eBay, and the occasional estate sale. Although this is a dark statement, many of your peers bail from a career in music and are left with music, mallets, and more that are often sold for cheap. 

Before you buy that incredible chromatic set of tuned almglocken, ask yourself if it is the top of your list, will help distinguish your career, and bring personal and financial reward to your future.

Now get to that list!
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