An orchestral performer aspires to playing in the greatest orchestras in the world, playing to concert halls full of music lovers. In order to become one you must have a deep passion for music of all kinds, a commitment to becoming the best player you can be and a special something that makes you unique as a performer.
In order to be accepted into an orchestra, it is usual to hold a formal qualification, such as a bachelor of arts (BA) from a university or conservatoire. While at university you will be taught to improve and refine your playing as well as having many opportunities to perform in student orchestras and begin to ‘make a name for yourself’. Leaders of orchestras often have strong links with universities and conservatoires to be able to keep an eye on upcoming talent and may offer you a position upon graduation.
Like most universities you will need at least five GCSEs including maths, English and science graded A*-C. After this you can either study a B-TEC national diploma or A levels in music. The B-TEC route is a more vocational approach to music and will involve more practical assessment, while taking A level music is often more academic in its approach, however you will be able to study other A levels at the same time in order to get a broader education. As well as these you should aim to gain performance and music theory qualifications to stand you in good stead during the selection process and the course itself.
Gaining experience as a performer will be greatly beneficial as you progress through your career. Playing in local groups and societies will help you develop as a performer and give you an insight into the industry you will be in after graduation. If you are taught by a music school they will often be able to put you in touch with local groups and openings in performances in your area.
Career pathways after graduation
Once you have graduated you will be a self-employed performer. Unless you take employment with a company you will have to find work opportunities from a variety of places. This involves becoming your own marketing agent and accountant as well as being a full time performer. You may find work performing in an orchestra, in a theatre company, in teaching, or all of these things.