Hi I am wondering if it is a good idea for me to become a professional musician? Currently I am 16 and learning piano Grade 10 (RCM) and preparing for the exam. I want to finish it, but I don't think piano is where my passion lies. When I was 12 I picked up the trombone and played it in the school band but I didn't take it too seriously. This year, I decided to try another instrument. I tried Violin, which is fun and I play in the school orchestra. I also tried flute, saxophone and trumpet, but I did not enjoy it as much. This term we are playing Jupiter (holst) and the band needed more French Horns. So I decided to take up the French Horn part. After playing for a two months. I found that I really enjoyed playing the horn and I am considering taking private lessons and getting good. I do feel that if I were to take French horn to a professional level, I would need to start pouring my life and soul into it as soon as possible, which I am willing to do. Could A horn player like me at this age hope to make a living off playing horn?

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    I'm not sure if we can answer this question or if it's on topic. That said, I think anyone can have a career in the arts if they are willing to work hard and are willing to do the jobs that need doing. If you can become a good french horn player and find the right market, you might have a good chance at finding work because french horn is a hard instrument. If you are willing and able to teach as well, that will only help. If you learn as much as you can about as much as you can, you'll have more options for ways to make money. Music happens in the evenings, so a day job is a good idea also. Commented May 9, 2017 at 2:09
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    Do the math. You seem to be focused on "classical" music. The total number of professional orchestras in Canada is about 45, looking at musicalchairs.info/canada/orchestras. Suppose they have an average of 6 horn players each - that's 270. If an individual player has a working career of say 30 years, that means there are just nine new jobs available per year in the whole country. Sure, you (and any anyone else) can hope to be a pro horn player, but whether you actually become one is a different matter.
    – user19146
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 2:40
  • Do your parents support it? That's a huge factor on funding. You can do it, just understand the hardships. It isn't going to be as easy as getting a desk job - that is for sure Commented May 9, 2017 at 2:44
  • @alephzero (and Anthony Dang), luckily horns are needed outside of classical music. In fact Canada has a thriving movie and TV production industry, and soundtracks for both have become more and more important. Plus rock and pop still bring in the "real" instruments from time to time. Learning a little self recording and audio production one can hang out a shingle on the internet to lay down horn tracks task rabbit style and make extra money that way. Commented May 9, 2017 at 2:48

3 Answers 3


It's a possibility. You sound very musical, turning your hand to many diverse instruments. And grade 10 pno is pretty good at 16 ( equivalent to above gradeVIII ABRSM).Although it's said that that level is only a starting point for becoming a pro.

However, being a professional musician is far more than just having a passion for and playing music. Lots of pros just about exist on their'day job' as a musician. Money may not seem too important to you at 16, but with a mortgage, family, etc, later, it'll become more so.

If you stick to just horn, you'll have to be not only a brilliant sight reader, play by ear, have a large repertoire, be a team member, be prepared to travel, be away from family, but turn up for rehearsals on time, prepared.

Sounds at the moment that the classical route beckons, but there are opportunities for all sorts of different music making that you'll need to explore to be professional and survive.

As said previously, a lot of pros eke out their existence by teaching - you may- or may not - find this successful.There may well be mileage in pursuing the playing of several instruments to a high level (you could say 'having more strings to your bow'...) - more chances of teaching, and if you get into recording studios, you get paid for each instrument you play. Some may well see advantage in having you play all/most of the tracks!

"I'm wondering if it is a good idea to be a professional musician"

I'd say a majority of professional musicians had no clue they would be professional until it happened; it is perhaps wrong to think of music in terms of an end goal (like being professional).

Most people think that becoming a professional entails 8 hours of practice a day for a lifetime... becoming the next Buddy Rich on drums, Miles Davis on trumpet, etc.

The truth is, you need to be good at the business side, maybe even more so, than being good at your instrument. Most pop musicians made a living because they're creative with how they sell themselves. It is about how well you can network... how well you can sell an idea to people. Why should they choose you instead of someone else?

I've seen people completely ruin their passion for music in attempts to become a professional.

Many have had to moderate and stray away from performing to achieve a viable living... essentially turning music into a job.

Just remember always, the reason you started playing is because of passion and not recognition... and go for it.... you are young enough that you can make it happen if you apply yourself and have belief in yourself.


if you can reach conservatory level by age 21, then you go do it.

French Horn is one of the rarer instruments to compete for but also not a lot of openings (hence I wouldn't recommend it).

Else, you can just be a musician as band.

Otherwise, don't; you can still do it for as a hobby.

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