How to Find Playing Opportunities

School is the easiest place to find opportunities to play music. Most schools have multiple ensembles open to students. The problem comes when you graduate. It can be hard to find playing opportunities outside of school.

Hannah B Flute | How to Find Playing Opportunities

I am lucky enough to live in a large metro area. The bigger the city, the more playing opportunities you will have. If you live in a smaller city or rural area, don’t worry. The internet has allowed musicians from all over to world to show their work.

In this post, we are going to talk about how musicians can find playing opportunities outside of school. Let’s get into it.

Church/Worship

If you belong to a church or other worship center, ask around about playing in a service. Many churches love having musicians play on Sunday. Even if you don’t attend service, you can contact local churches and offer to play for them.

Any place worth playing for will be accepting of guests. I have played for a couple of different churches, and it is always a treat to play music in that setting.

Whether you get to play at a regular service or at another special event, church is a great place to play music.

City/County Offices

Offices aren’t really a place to play but a place to find music ensembles. A lot of cities and counties have local music groups, like orchestras or bands. You can check online or go to your city or county hall.

If you live near other cities, check with those as well. One of the bordering cities where I live has a community orchestra each summer. I played with the group last summer and will play again this year.

Local offices may not play music, but they can lead you to groups that do. They are a great starting point for local ensembles. Whether you are returning to your hometown or moving somewhere new, city offices might be the easiest place to find a music group.

Your Teachers

If you live near your college town, ask your (former) professor if they know of any groups. Not all groups are affiliated with the cities where they operate. So you might need to look elsewhere.

At least in my state, the musicians know other musicians. And so they know the different groups in cities throughout the state.

Your teachers guided you through school, and they can still guide you after graduation. If you’ve left school, a simple email to your teacher is all it takes. Even if they don’t know of groups in your area, they can still help you find other opportunities to play.

The Internet

It may be obvious, but the internet is a great place to find places to play music. You can learn about local busking laws, if that interests you. You can also connect with other musicians, near and far.

With apps like Instagram and Acapella, you can collaborate with other musicians wherever you are. I have made a ton of online music friends through Instagram, and I just downloaded Acapella for myself and for collaborations.

Facebook groups are also great for connecting with other musicians. A lot of groups allow musicians to share links. This includes music camps and festivals.

Music Associations

I am a member of the National Flute Association (NFA), and that allows me to attend the annual NFA convention in rotating cities. This year’s convention is in Orlando, Florida, and there are a ton of opportunities to play flute.

You can find the entire convention schedule of events here. There’s an option to search for participatory events.

Other instruments also have associations of their own, like the International Clarinet Association and the International Double Reed Society. If you can’t go to these associations’ conventions, they can still help you find places to play your instrument.

One of the benefits of a membership with the NFA is a membership directory. You can use it to find local musicians who might want to play with you.

There are tons of other benefits that can further your development as a musician.

Your Own Self

If you are out of options, you can even make your own opportunities. Offer to play at senior centers, community events, and other places. Put up posters asking for musicians to play with you.

This route is definitely not for everyone, I don’t feel comfortable advertising myself around town. But if you are confident enough and willing to do a little work, this could be a great choice for you.

Just remember to be safe, don’t give out too much personal info, and screen people before you play with them. Especially if you are younger, don’t agree to meet just any random person. Be safe and smart about it.

So…

How have you found playing opportunities outside of school? Did you find them yourself or with the help of a teacher or friend? Leave your answer in the comments below.

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NFA: How to Save Money

Welcome to this month’s installment of the NFA series! Today, we are going to talk about how to save money, specifically for a big event like a convention.

Hannah B Flute | NFA: How to Save Money

I have spent the past few months saving up for my first trip to NFA, and I have a few tips to share with you. Some of these tips do work for other areas of life, like a new instrument. So even if you’re not going to any big convention this year, hopefully you can learn a little something.

Without further ado, here are my biggest tips for saving for a big trip or event.

Start Early

As soon as you know you want to attend a convention or go on a trip, start saving. The more time you have to save up, the easier it will be. If you have, say three months to save, you won’t have to be as strict as if you only had one month.

I knew last fall that I wanted to go to the 2018 NFA convention, so I upped my savings game. Since I don’t have a ton of expenses right now, I took the money I would have been spending and put it into a savings account.

Each time my paycheck comes in, I put the majority of it into savings and leave just enough in my checking. This keeps me from being tempted to go and spend that money, and my savings account earns interest, so I can save even more.

Research Expenses

Some things, like convention registration and membership fees, are fixed. But flights, hotels, and car rentals differ. Shop around to find the best deals on flight and hotel.

I personally wanted to stay at the convention hotel to cut down on ground transportation, but if you want to stay somewhere cheaper, do it.

Researching your various convention expenses will help you figure out how much the trip will cost you. Knowing the costs will also help you budget before and during the trip.

If you’re traveling to a higher cost city, like LA or NYC, plan to spend more on food and other accommodations. If you’re traveling to the Midwest, you can get away with spending less.

Know Your Deadlines

Some conventions will have early bird registration fees that come with a discount. If you register by a certain date, you can get your ticket for cheaper.

Some hotels will also fill up quickly, so if you want to stay where the convention is, book your room early. Same goes for flights. As you get closer to the trip, seats will be taken and ticket prices will rise.

If you plan to participate in any special events or competitions, be aware of those deadlines, too. Some events will accept participants at the convention, but others will require previous registration.

Plan Ahead

Plan on bringing snacks, an empty water bottle, and other necessities with you. Sure, it will seem like a lot of money, but you will save. A bottle of water at the airport can cost over $3. Snacks are also ridiculously expensive.

Bring your own toothpaste, toothbrush, and other toiletries. Those costs add up, too.

And because not all hotels have free breakfast, or your schedule won’t match up, have some breakfast bars in your bag. That way, you can eat in your room and not be tempted to order expensive room service.

Expect the Unexpected

When buying your convention ticket, don’t forget about any potential membership fees you’ll have to pay. If you plan to spend $300 on the convention itself but there’s a $70 membership fee, you can easily go over budget.

And for traveling? Flights can be delayed or cancelled, rental cars might not be available, there could be a ton of traffic, etc.

While you can’t expect everything, don’t be surprised if your plans get derailed. Know what you need to do in case something happens.

Know How to Transport and Store Your Instrument(s)

If you will be bringing an instrument, make sure you know how to transport it and store it during your journey. Know if you need to buy an extra plane ticket for your instrument.

Splurge a bit on insurance. It may sound like you’re not saving money, but a $200 insurance plan is a lot cheaper than replacing a $2000 flute.

And of course don’t let your instrument get checked. Don’t get on that plane without your instrument in hand. That’s the only way you can guarantee its safety.

So…

Have you even saved up for a big trip like a convention? What are your tips? Leave a comment below!

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Reflecting and Planning

As we bring 2017 to a close, there is a lot to look back on. I know a lot happened to me this year, from graduating with my bachelors in music to changing the name of this very blog. I have some reflecting and planning to do.

Hannah B Flute | Reflecting & Planning

This past year brought with it many changes. I moved back home from college, worked a part time job before finding one full time, and I became more serious about sharing my music with the world.

I also have a lot of exciting things planned for 2018. One of my goals for the year is to write and publish a couple different ebooks. I also am working on a method book for older flute students.

Graduating from College

Getting my degree was probably my biggest accomplishment of the year. I got my bachelors of music in flute performance from a state university back in May. My college experience was not a normal one, but I am thankful for the experience I did have.

I got to experience commuting and living on campus. My last two years of college gave me the chance to learn a different form of music performance: marching band. I took an on campus job as an opinion writer. I, somehow, managed the writing side of my life with music side.

I even stayed close with one of my best friends since kindergarten. Even though we went to different colleges.

Moving Back Home

At the time of graduation, I did not have a job or any income. So I decided to move back home. I have been able to save money, and I could take a job without having to worry so much about money. I could consider other factors, such as the drive and the job itself.

It did take awhile before I found a job, but that’s okay. I was able to enjoy my last summer break of sorts. I did work part time for a couple of months still, but again, finances weren’t a huge stress.

Moving home has also allowed me to reconnect with family and friends in my hometown. I have stayed super close with my parents. I even joined a couple of community music groups.

Blogging More

Since being out of school, I have had more time for other things. In college, I tried to blog as much as I could, but classes took precedence. Now that I am not a student, my time outside of work is mine.

Yes, I have a day job. No, I am not ashamed. That day job allows me to spend my free time working on my music and this blog. I don’t have to stress about finding paying gigs or jobs. I can focus on what I like.

Maybe I will be able to make some money online one day. That is definitely something I want to work on in 2018. But the beauty of a day job is that I have more freedom to do what I want with this blog. I can grow it and work on products, but I don’t have to stress about paying the bills.

Changing the Blog Name

If you haven’t been here long, you may not know that this blog used to be known as Killer Harmony. I had the name for almost two years before changing it to Hannah B Flute. The decision was hard, but it was necessary for my growth as a blogger.

The old name no longer fit. I had niched down to writing about music and the flute. I needed a name that reflected that. Killer Harmony was too general and not very professional. Hannah B Flute fits the blog more.

Growing My Instagram

At the beginning of the year, I hardly used Instagram. I wasn’t a big photographer, and I didn’t think it would do anything for me. Boy, was I wrong. I started posting about my life as a young musician back in April, giving up on it as solely a personal social network.

Now, I have kept up with posting almost daily, sharing videos and behind the scenes photos of work for the blog and as a musician.

I even reached 200 followers, a big deal for me. Check out my 2017bestnine!

Hannah B Flute | 2017 Best Nine

Looking Ahead

As I already mentioned, I have a couple of ebooks in the works as well as a flute method book. I also want to work on composing and arranging, too. Over the past few months, I have realized that I want to show others that you don’t have to be a “typical” musician to be successful.

You don’t need to play in an orchestra to have a good career. Heck, you don’t even need to be a professional musician to be good at your instrument.

I want to bust all of those myths about what it means to be a musician.

So…

What are your biggest accomplishments of 2017? What are you looking forward to in 2018? Let me know in the comments!

Save the Internet

Unless you have been under a rock for the past week, you probably heard about the FCC’s decision to end net neutrality. Net neutrality is what makes the internet open and free.

Hannah B Flute | Save Net Neutrality

Even though the FCC’s decision is final, there is still hope. Multiple state attorneys general are suing the FCC, and we can even get Congress involved. But we have to act.

In today’s post, I am going to stem away from the normal music content. I’m going to write about how the whole issue of net neutrality affects us all, and how it affects this blog.

What is Net Neutrality?

Net neutrality was officially put into place by the FCC in 2015 under the Obama administration. The order barred internet service providers (ISPs) from charging more for certain websites or for a faster connection.

Basically, it required ISPs like Verizon and Comcast to treat Facebook and Twitter the same as email. To treat small blogs like this one the same as larger sites like Google.

It’s a pretty big deal. Without net neutrality, internet costs could skyrocket.

The Argument Against Net Neutrality

Some people argue that the government should not be regulating the internet. That taking away net neutrality would spur competition within the internet market.

The problem with that logic is that companies are money hungry. They know that the internet has become a vital part of many people’s lives. ISPs know that a lot of people will pay for internet, no matter the price.

If ending net neutrality is anything like giving tax cuts to the rich, it will not help the average person. I don’t want to get too political, but trickle down economics doesn’t work.

Deregulation doesn’t work.

The Future of Blogs Like This One

The future of this little blog is bleak, especially if the end of net neutrality takes effect. I’m a solo blogger with a full time day job. I can’t afford to pay ISPs to make my site faster.

I may not even be able to run this blog anymore. It may not be worth it.

Other small bloggers would probably agree. It takes a lot of work to run a blog, and most bloggers don’t have the same capital as huge corporations. We can’t afford to be in the so-called fast lane.

Blogs and bloggers need net neutrality. Blog readers need net neutrality.

The only groups that benefit from the FCC’s decision are the extremely wealthy and the larger corporations. The people and companies that can afford to pay a premium for internet service.

What Can We Do?

You can start by signing this petition.

Share posts like this one. Share the posts that list what you can do. Let others know that there is still a (small) bit of hope.

You can contact your local representatives and tell them what you think.

Check out articles like this one to find an ISP that still believes in a free and open internet. Avoid the ones that don’t or face premiums.

So…

Have you participated in the fight to save net neutrality? Will you do something? Let me know in the comments!

Net neutrality is super important, especially for smaller websites like this one. In order to continue sharing my content with you all, I need to know that I can do that for free. I need to know that it is worth it.

Gift Ideas for Musicians

With Halloween being over and the holidays coming up soon, I thought it would be fun to write a post about gift ideas for musicians. Whether you are a musician or you know a musician, this post is for you.

If you aren’t a musician, but you know one, it can be hard to think if gift ideas. If you are a musician, hopefully this post can give you some inspiration for your own wish list.

Killer Harmony | Gift Ideas for Musicians

Gift giving is one of the best things about this time of year, and I want to share my ideas for gifts that every musician needs. So without further ado, here are my top gift ideas for musicians.

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links. For my full disclosure policy, click here.

Music Stand

And not the teeny tiny wire stands. As a musician starts to progress and work on more and more music, they need a better music stand. Those folding wire stands can barely hold anything before they collapse.

You don’t need the most expensive stand out there, but you need one that is durable and can hold your music.

I have and love this Gearlux music stand. It is super durable, but it is also easy to take with me to rehearsals or performances. The top part is vented, with holes, that make it a little lighter, but still a great stand.

So if you have an advancing musician in your life, a new music stand is a great gift!

Instrument Stand

This is different from a music stand, because it holds an instrument, rather than music. There are stands for almost any musical instrument.

Almost any musician, beginner or professional, can benefit from an instrument stand. Putting your flute, violin, or saxophone on a stand keeps it safe when you’re not playing it.

Setting your instrument on a table or chair is not safe. You never know if it could get knocked off or roll onto the ground. Some one could sit on it. It’s just not a good idea.

An instrument stand saves you from that issue. Good quality stands are built to keep your instrument on them and secure in their place. My favorite brand for instrument stands is Hercules. They are made super well and don’t cost an arm and a leg.

Pencils…lots of pencils.

When writing on sheet music, you never want to use pen. The music might be a rental, or you may want to change something later. That is why pencils are the way to go.

But pencils can get lost or left behind at rehearsals. So an abundance of pencils is necessary. You could get the simple wood ones or some cute ones with music notes on them.

Another great tool to go with pencils is a pencil guard or holder for a music stand. These things keep pencils out of the way of your music, but still close by for when you need them.

This one is a great way to keep your pencils secure, right by your side. Another great pencil holder that can also hold other accessories is this one.

Blank Notation Paper

Notation paper is perfect for budding composers, aspiring teachers, and anyone else who wants to write their own music. Notation paper is also great for music majors, because they often have assignments that require blank notation paper.

There are a few different styles, but I really like this Hal Leonard one. It can fit in a binder, which is great for students, and it is also not too bulky.

While there are countless music notation programs, there is something about putting pencil to paper. You aren’t bound to the limitations of a particular program, and you can write anywhere. No need to have room for a laptop or tablet.

Case/Cover/Gig Bag

Most instruments come with good cases already, but it can be fun to give someone a cuter or more stylish case or bag. For flutists as well as clarinet and oboe players, Fluterscooter is a great brand.

I do not have any of their bags yet, but I think they are so cool and pretty. They are more expensive than other brands, so you want to be careful before giving these bags as a gift, but they are worth it.

I think the black patent leather bag is so chic and professional, and it puts any other case cover to shame.

Another great brand for cases and bags is Protec. They make cases and case covers for almost every instrument. I have their flute case cover, and it has lasted over four years now. They are insulated, and they come with an awesome shoulder strap to make carrying your instrument easier.

So…

If you’re a musician, what’s on your wishlist this year? If you know a musician, do you think you’ll get them any of these items? Let me know in the comments below!