On Friday I got a call about an Easter Gig from the church that hired me last year.
I didn't have to go prospecting, ask for the work, or do any marketing whatsoever for this one. Actually, I take that back. This originally came from a referral from another trumpet player.
But I did a good (... not perfect... there was one song where there was a solo part and I accidentally played the melody) job and got called back the next year.
I had made plans to go to Minnesota for Easter, but changed my mind, and so I was pleasantly surprised to still get the last minute call.
I shared this in the Trumpeters with Real Gigs group, and encouraged everyone to call a few churches and ask if they still need someone. Who knows? There may be other churches who are still scrambling to find a player. And even if they are all set, there are other holidays coming up, not to mention spring weddings.
My making a non-pushy and helpful phone call you will get on the rolodex.
The gig-getters chimed in with their experiences.
Brooke Privett DeArman seems to have things figured out. She said,
I'm playing for 8 different services for Holy week: 3 tomorrow morning, 1 Maundy Thursday, 1 Good Friday, and 3 on Easter. There are so few trumpet players who play for churches in town that I'm usually booked a year in advance for Easter. Churches around here get into bidding wars for trumpet players on Easter, so I have a "guaranteed rate" that I ask for Easter...meaning that I won't go to another church even if that church offers a higher rate...I have a really good relationship with the churches I play for, so I also wouldn't want to risk burning any bridges, but they are all understanding of my guaranteed rate. I will give those other churches the names of some students around that could handle the job."
She is a great player, but she is also keeping herself busy by being available and focusing on her customer's needs and being professional.
Other people were feeling frustrated with the situation. One player said, "
We used to have “good” stuff to play on Easter. The Trumpet Shall Sound, Hallelujah Chorus, etc. Now it’s elementary level hymn accompaniment. I’m not playing this year."
(I think my advice to call five churches would apply doubly for this player. There is always another church that puts more value on good music.)
Another player lost two gigs because the choir director chose to have young players from the parish play for free.
And this is where I jump on the marketing soapbox.
The fact is that there are a lot of trumpet players out there. Some of them will be straight up better than you, others will be willing to work for less, others will have better connections. But from the customer's perspective (whether it's a church or a bar or a wedding planner... anyone looking to hire) if all the trumpet players appear to be the same they will have no choice but to pick the cheapest option.
If you can't show how you're different than the kid in the church who will play for free, then you won't get paid.
Setting yourself apart doesn't have to be hard. Post a video of yourself playing your favorite piece in a church setting (it will sound great), be available, establish rapport with the people who will hire you.
Chris Coletti has a funny story about how he stood out when he first joined the Canadian Brass.
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