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Volume 1, Issue 2: January 2009

Happy New Year everyone and welcome back for what will hopefully be a productive and enjoyable term for you all!! Last fall CaPS, MUSA and the Faculty of Music put on several career-related events for Music students as part of the new “Tools for the Professional Musician” series – the workshop “Making it in Music: Taking a Proactive Approach to your Career” and the “Music Café: Networking Made Easy” event – and we are all looking forward to continuing the series this term.

In this edition:

Career Advisor for Music Students
Bridge: Worldwide Music Connection
Music Café Review
Nelly Dimitrova’s Tips for Ambitious Beginners!
Upcoming Events

Career Advisor for Music Students - Jan Bottomer

As your career advisor, I have had the distinct pleasure of meeting and working with many of you over the past six months. The energy, passion and creativity of students at the Schulich School never fails to inspire me – you are a great group to work with! Whatever your career aspirations/questions, I do encourage you to stop by my office in Suite 2200 in the Brown Student Services building, or come to drop-in hours to:

To make an appointment please feel free to call our front desk (514 398 3304) or email me directly at jan.bottomer@mcgill.ca.

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Bridge: Worldwide Music Connection

Looking for summer music opportunities, an arts administration job post-graduation, competitions to enter or grants/scholarships to apply for? A great place to start your search is Bridge: Worldwide Music Connection, a comprehensive service run out of the New England Conservatory. Bridge provides 24 hour online access to over 2,000 opportunities in music in the US, Canada and around the world. To access Bridge through the CaPS subscription go to: http://www.myinterfase.com/nec/student. Login into myFuture to obtain log-in information.

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Music Café Review

On a Thursday evening at the end of November the mellow strains of jazz could be heard wafting from the 8th floor conference room. A peek inside revealed around thirty music students clustered around five different tables, drinking coffee and tea, munching on cookies and talking animatedly with each other and the professionals seated at the head of each table. In one corner, Kat Baulu from the National Film Board gave students a sense of what musicians and composers working in film can expect, and some of the interesting collaborative opportunities available through the NFB, while at another table, Alison Mah-Poy and Michael Nicolas from the Montreal Symphony Orchestra discussed their own career paths as strings players, tips for successful auditions, and the inside scoop on what it’s really like to play for a professional orchestra! Nelly Dimitrova, the current Manager of Publishing and Licensing at Justin Time Records (see her “Useful Tips for Ambitious Beginners” below!) shared insight gleaned from her own multi-faceted career path in the music industry in Europe and Canada and years of mentoring students, and Kelly Rice from the CBC held forth on the future of classical music on the radio and the kinds of skills needed to work in this domain. Groups of around 5-8 students spent 45 minutes at their respective tables and then switched so as to have the chance to speak to another professional for an additional 45 minutes. Information and ideas were swapped, strategies brainstormed, questions answered and hopefully insight and inspiration gained by all! After the main sessions were brought to a close many chose to linger and continue talking, snacking and swapping ideas. Response from both students and professionals to this inaugural Music Café event was positive and enthusiastic with many indicating a distinct interest in attending similar events in the future.

Stay tuned for information and registration details about the Music Café Part II tentatively planned for the week of February 9th!

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Nelly Dimitrova’s Useful Tips for Ambitious Beginners

Nelly Dimitrova was one of the professional participants at the inaugural McGill Music Café in November. She has experience in many different aspects of the music industry in Europe and in Canada, and is currently the manager of the Publishing and Licensing Department at Justin Time Records.

Where to start:

  1. Evaluate yourself. Write down three of your strengths and three of your weaknesses.
  2. Evaluate your situation. Write down where exactly you are with your music at the present moment and where you want to go. Think about both your short term and long term goal.
  3. Evaluate and write down your assets – money, materials, time.
  4. Think carefully about what you are ready to sacrifice – there are no rewards without sacrifices.
  5. Create a detailed action plan – break down your goals into concrete steps.
  6. Set deadlines for yourself and keep to them!
  7. Be creative – think of alternative and non-traditional ways to present yourself and to approach people.
  8. Be patient and persistent – if your deadline rolls around and you have achieved 50% of your goals – YOU HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL!

How to establish contacts:

The music business depends very much on people and networks. In order to build a wide circle of useful contacts, take the following ideas into consideration:

  1. Collect as much information as possible – read articles and news about the industry every week. Write down the names and information about key “players” in the industry at the local level as well as in Quebec, Canada and worldwide.
  2. Volunteer for as many music-related events as possible – go to festivals, seminars, workshops, meetings.
  3. Take advantage of your student status! As a student you may think that many doors are closed for you but in fact you have far more opportunities than you think. You can meet people, conduct information interviews, ask “innocent questions” for your coursework/papers. Later on, you can use this information to help develop your career.
  4. Make personal connections with everyone you meet. It is much better to shake hands with people than to send impersonal emails addressed “Dear Sir/Madam”. Try to learn you to make people around you feel happy and appreciated. Do not use your contacts only for business purposes, appreciate them as people too. People will remember your personality more than your skills.
  5. Never underestimate people. Even if you think that you will never need to call or meet someone again, show respect and a friendly attitude, because you never know what the future may have in store for you or others.
  6. Do not waste anyone’s time! Never go to meet someone if you do not know what exactly you can give and receive. People are busy and do not have time for you, unless you have something different and special to offer.
  7. Think big and be creative. You are who you think you are.
  8. Learn to invest in yourself. Continually developing your knowledge and skills will take you farther faster.
  9. Your contacts are the foundation of your future.
  10. Be smiling, friendly, optimistic and open-minded. Your efforts will be rewarded!


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Upcoming Events

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