Balancing a Professional Career

Added on by Greg Anderson.

Hello Greg!,
You are such an inspiration for me! I've been playing piano since i was 8 and i am now 13 years old. Just a couple months back, I was thinking about my future, and I finally decided that I wanted to become a professional pianist. I know it would take a lot of dedication and time, but I have decided that once I get out of High School I am also going to be a Lawyer or Doctor, and I plan to make time for piano. I dont know how well that would go, because my mother does not approve of me becoming a professional, so she won't let me attend Julliard. So, do you have any advice to give me?..Do you think I would be able to become a professional after years more of training? I mean, I would like to perform, but not to big audiences and not at concerts...just at small things like Church, or weddings or such. I do not plan to travel the world and spread my piano playing. My teacher has told me that for the last two years i have been playing extraordinarily well! and he says that he is proud of me for that, but do you think with all my lawyer and doctor stuff that i'll still be able to become a professional? Once again, I dont want to be known worldwide or nationally..i just want to have the ability to play the most advanced piano pieces...thank you Greg! I hope you reply to this message!
 - Catherine

Dear Catherine,

Wow! You have big plans! ... a doctor, a lawyer, a musician! Good for you. The description you provided in your question sounds entirely reasonable. Unlike becoming a pianist, becoming a doctor or a lawyer does not require decades and decades of training. In other words, you can start training to be a doctor when you're 30, and you can still make a career out of it; it is highly improbable that someone could start playing the piano at age 30 and make concertizing their career.

I know dozens of medical and law students at Yale who majored in music before coming to Yale -- no pre-med degrees, no science degrees, no political science degrees before coming -- just music degrees. The medical school at Yale is so supportive of music that they have a full symphony orchestra; they had over 200 medical students and residents audition for the orchestra last year!

Practice hard and have fun. There is no need to stress out; with your goals, you should be able to do it all.

 - Greg (Oct. 25, 2009)