Percussionists: home grown or hired guns?

Most of the time we percussionists are working as performers or teachers, and further, we hope to get paid by the institution that hired us. In my case, local clubs, churches, colleges and public schools have been the main sources of my income. Recently I had an opportunity to put myself out of a job. I rented equipment to a local church and taught the musicians that would be playing for the service. I was already booked for the same date, and could not make the schedules work to play both gigs. Since one of the players was a former (now a current) student, it was enjoyable and rewarding. I worked with my student so he could get through the timpani parts (he hadn’t played timpani for several years), moved equipment, and finally, got a check for my efforts.

The long term goal of my studio is to teach students who then go on to play for the rest of their lives. I would love for all of them to become professional percussionists/drummers who make their living from playing drums and percussion instruments. The reality is that this profession, like many others has always been competitive, but is even more so now. I have a number of students who excel at mathematics, computer science, chemistry, and engineering as well as being accomplished percussionists and drummers. Those individuals will make their living at another discipline, while continuing to play. I would be extremely happy to see my students play for their churches, local clubs and all the places that I currently play, mostly because the point of learning these instruments is so that we can play them!

So yes, I’m working myself out of a job…but enjoying the results!


Thanks for this blog – great topic!
I am also a drum/percussion instructor and performer in the north suburbs of Chicago, and have had this same discussion with other teachers. We all feel the same. Although I would love to gig for the rest of my life, I would hope to mentor some players who excel and are out there having fun and hopefully making some money do what they love. I have a few high school and elementary students who have earned accolades for their accomplishments, so I know I’m doing something right 🙂 BTW – I am also a busness teacher, so it is possible to have a career as well as enjoy playing and teaching the next generation of players. God Bless!

Jeff Fite June 1st, 2011, 7:36 pm