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I've been composing for most of my life. Lately, I've started to accumulate a rather large number of completed pieces. I recently realized that it may be time for me to start looking for musicians to play them. I would record them myself, however most of the pieces are for instruments I don't play, and those that are written for my instrument are too complex for me to play.


I would pay people to play my music, but I can not afford to, as I have had a steady job for several years. I also do not have equipment of a high enough quality (I still have a computer with a beige casing) to create anything more then a midi file.


I was wondering what kind of advice you guys could give me pertaining to this topic.

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This is a great question for a Really Big Topic and I could probably write a book about all this stuff. Here are two solutions: 1 in general and 1 for you specifically:

1.) Especially today, people need “buy-in” to play your music. Be it personal connection / money / opportunity / mutual gains / or they just like your music. Whatever it is, it has to be there. One of the biggest blunders composers make is that they do everything in a vacuum. Get people / organizations involved from the very beginning. Don’t write a note unless you’ve got people land a deadline lined up.

2.) In your situation specifically I would reach out to local music schools, if there are any in your area. Aim to get the students to play some of your music (even if it’s just a reading session). Record it. They’re students so if you offer soda / pizza as payment they’ll likely do it. I highly recommend not initially contacting them through email. Go to some concerts; pick out some notable performers; talk to them afterward (compliments, ask about careers, etc); see if they’ll agree to read something of yours. If it’s good and they dig it, maybe roll that into a performance.

Do not bother with orchestras. They don’t have the time or money. Every conductor has a stack of cold call scores about 2 feet tall. Everyone wants to write for orchestra because it’s a big sound and the idea is romantic and glamorous. In reality, it might account for 10% of your output. They never have enough time to rehearse you, you’re fighting against indoctrination of outdated thought (a lot of the time) and fear of ticket sales. Why do I mention this? Another classic blunder I see amateur composers make is that they only write these huge, sprawling pieces for orchestra. Typically orchestras will only play your music under one of three conditions:

1.) You have a commission. 2.) You won a competition. 3.) You are part of a festival that offers orchestral readings / performance.

Unless one of those things is the motivation for your piece, don’t use your valuable time writing for it. Focus instead on chamber music, which is MUCH more likely to get played.

Last, the subtext here is that for those three things, go find them! They will not come to you. You have to go find the things you want to have happen in your career.

A little bit of a tangent in the middle there, but I think it still appropriately addresses the question. Seeing someone else pipe in about orchestras as part of the solution; I just had to latch onto that!

Hope that helps and happy composing.

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  • Music shops can be good places for putting up notices too. Except most people play guitar. – Pyromonk Jan 11 at 2:00
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This is a common problem for us aspiring composers. Obviously if you have musician friends, then they would (or should) be happy to play through your music. However, as we all know, money talks. I was confused by your statement "I can not afford to, as I have had a steady job..." I presume you meant that you have NOT had a steady job in years?
Anyway, there are other avenues to explore. You could contact your local (or nearest) orchestra and also music school and ask if they have any ideas. Professional orchestras often have composers' workshops, and music schools often have small concerts that would happily involve local composer talent. Good luck.

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