Teaching matters

One of the strangest repeat questions I’ve gotten about the List over the years is this:  “Why are there so many teaching jobs on the site, but fewer performance opportunities?”  It’s mostly couched in those polite terms, but there’s always a sense of menace from the asker, as if we have some agenda contrary to their needs.

The reality is, there are more individual teaching listings in the world than there are for an opera role or concert soloist, for instance.  A chorus opportunity, which might provide dozens of jobs, will only be posted once.  Most principal roles, and many soloist opps, are cast either through private channels or through artist management.  And there are always the clients who prefer not to post their information, but to get private referrals from us instead:  in these instances, we carefully choose several candidates who might be a good fit for that particular situation, and those Listers may hear from the client directly.

Here’s what you need to know about your business:

  • Only a very small percentage of qualified performers can maintain a full-time career for more than a few years, if at all.
  • No matter how talented you are, you’ll probably have to work very hard to attract work in the long-term.  It doesn’t just happen.
  • The vast majority of lifelong performers have day jobs or teaching jobs of some sort.  This is a good thing, providing a measure of stability and a means to choose projects that are more meaningful.
  • Teachers and part-timers are still artists:  they just have a different business plan than the soloist chasing full-time at any cost.

…and here’s what you should know about how we do business at the List:  we work hard every day to find good opportunities, coordinate with clients, attract more gigs, and draw attention to your projects.  Our overall goal is to support artmaking and the nurturing of real artists. That means supporting working performers, as well as those who find and train new ones.  We hope that many of our talented members will choose to teach at some point, whether privately or as a regular job.  It’s a personal choice, but as so many of our teaching Listers are gearing up for the new year, let’s give those colleagues a little cheer of solidarity for the work they do.

Some days, even academia feels just like this.

Teachers, thank you for fighting the good fight.

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