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Angela Myles Beeching | Beyond Talent Consulting
The Professional Musician's Roadmap
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Beyond Talent:
Creating a Successful Career in Music
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The Sustainable Career

MONDAY BYTES — August 29, 2016

I recently read composer Dale Trumbore’s terrific article Sustainable Composing, in which she addresses how her idea of success has changed. She now takes a longer view of how to build a career over time, with relationships built on trust, to make a satisfying and sustainable life in music.


As Dale writes, “Maybe the business of being a musician isn’t a race to the top as quickly as possible, but a longer quest to find the people who are our people, the ones with whom we’ll collaborate to bring gorgeous new music into the world.”

I’m all for having goals with deadlines—they can keep us motivated and on track. (I’ve got a book deadline and a self-imposed article deadline gnawing at me now.) It works great for short and long term projects.

But not so much with whole careers, as Dale points out.

Too many of us early on create career limiting deadlines: that by a certain age we should have “made it” and be earning our living solely by performing or composing. That’s a zero sum game: you either make it or you’re a failure. And this produces stress, resentment, and short-sighted thinking that hurts careers in the long run.

I’m convinced that if each of us invested in thinking about our longterm careers for just 45 minutes each week, that we’d find ourselves making better choices—in how we use our time and money and in how we interact with others.

Take the challenge: invest 45 minutes this week in longterm thinking: assessing and planning about your future. Ask yourself the following questions and write down your answers and any specific and measurable actions you can this week to work more efficiently towards your desired future.

1. Relationships What are you doing each month to help cultivate and maintain long term relationships with colleagues, mentors, and fans? Anything you want to change or build as a new habit?

2. Finances How are you planning financially for the future? Which of your multiple income streams do you want to work on increasing? What can you do this week to get started on it?

4. Time Do you have scheduled and designated time for taking care of both immediate urgent projects and time for work on the longer term important projects?

Think of your career as a marathon, not a sprint.

OK, so I’m not a runner, but this metaphor still works because I know that running 26.2 miles means pacing, stamina, and mindset are key. Marathoners need to plan for the whole so they don’t exhaust themselves on the first incline.

Same with music careers, if you want success over the long haul, your mindset and plan of action need to help you focus and deal with one mile at a time while still keeping an eye on the horizon.

As always, I welcome your feedback: email me at

And we’ve just scratched the surface. If you’d like to discuss this or perhaps receive coaching click here to find out what that might look like!

Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well

Bibliotherapy: the reading cure

MONDAY BYTES — August 22, 2016

Has this ever happened to you? The right book suddenly “appears” — you find yourself reading something perfect that offers the perspective you most need. Whether fiction or non-fiction, the book seems to directly address your needs, providing the solace, example, or challenge that helps you move forward.


Books can be incredibly therapeutic for making change and improving lives. That’s the idea behind Bibliotherapy — “a therapeutic approach that uses literature to support good mental health,” according to

How it works: you visit a shrink (or fill out a form remotely) detailing your reading habits, lifestyle, state of mind, and current dilemma, and this professional then prescribes a particular set of works chosen especially for you. The plan is for you to be able to identify with characters or the narrators, and then experience catharses and gain new perspectives to help you cope better with your reality.

Check out The School of Life: they offer remote biblotherapy.

I confess that here — with absolutely no authority or credentials to practice bibliotherapy — I’m going to recommend two books for you.

Not that I’m assuming anything about what you might need or want. But I’m guessing you might be curious about two books packed with insights about human nature, motivation, and how to deal with challenges. I’m crazy about both of these: not just for the practical help they provide, but for the realistic hope they offer.

Prescription #1: The book I’d recommend is one my friend John Steinmetz has talked about for years and I had bought not once but twice but hadn’t read.

Well, I finally read it last week — it must have been the right time! The book is Steven Pressfield’s fabulous “The War of Art.” It focuses on creative work: what gets in the way (resistance in all its guises), and how to overcome obstacles.

I find the book hugely inspiring. It’s a quick and powerful read with a slow after burn — gave me surprising new perspectives that helped me connect other ideas.

Note: the book refers to a higher force, but you do not in any way need to be religious or even spiritual in your orientation in order to get a lot from the book. It’s for anyone who’s ever wanted to commit to a project.


Spoiler alert: here’s is the fantastic last passage of the book (pg. 165). This isn’t giving away a punchline, but I hope it may inspire you to read (or re-read) the book:

“If you were meant to  cure cancer, write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don’t do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself. You hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet.

You shame the angels who watch over you and you spite the Almighty, who created you and only you with your unique gifts, for the sole purpose of nudging the human race one millimeter farther along its path back to God.

Creative work is not a selfish act or bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.”


Prescription #2: I’d suggest the next book to anyone who deals with procrastination, jealousy, fear, or negative thoughts. Which is all of us.

This book might be a harder sell, especially for those squeamish about therapy, but you may be interested that the two authors, “Hollywood shrinks,” treat some of the most successful actors, agents, and writers in the business, and that they specialize in helping people make real change. The 5 tools they cover in the book are in-the-moment interventions to get you to take the actions you’re avoiding and to stop undermining yourself.


Read The Tools: Transform Your Problems into Courage, Confidence, and Creativity by Phil Stutz and Barry Michels.

The tools themselves can seem a little new age-y: that is until you start using them regularly and start noticing the changes in how you feel and how you behave.

For this week: What books have helped you move ahead in your life? I would LOVE to hear your bibliotherapy recommendations — please write with the titles and why you recommend them and send to 

PS: Want to know what a bibliotherapy session is like? Hear a mini therapy session in this quick NPR piece.

PPS: Hear from The Tools authors in this short interview.

Specifics about coaching with me are easy to get right HERE.

Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well


Peeling Onions: Writing Teaching Statements

I’ve been thinking that writing teaching statements is a lot like peeling onions. Both should reveal multiple layers while avoiding tears.

[This beauty found on wikipedia, yellow onion.]

[This beauty found on wikipedia: yellow onion.]

Writing a teaching philosophy statement is challenging because it’s often the first time we’re asked to describe our own teaching. We get hung up on finding the right “layer” to focus on. Think onions: it’s a matter of peeling off layers to reveal who you are as a teacher.

On the surface there’s the immediate content of our teaching: the method books, repertoire, and assignments we use, and how we organize and structure lessons or classes. But this is basic information and not usually all that revealing since many other candidates use the same repertoire and methodologies.

Peeling down a layer, there are the particular focus areas we emphasize in our teaching. For studio instructors this would include emphases on technique, sound quality, and stylistic appropriateness. Again these are what 99% of all the candidates would also write, so still there isn’t much that’s distinctive.

If we peel the onion further, there is how we set up a rapport with each student or class, and tailor the teaching to fit students’ needs and interests. And that’s a good thing of course, except every teacher does this (or professes to).

Writing that you customize your teaching is only useful if you go beyond description, peel down further and illustrate with detailed anecdotes HOW you tailor your teaching to specific students.

In an anecdote, describe what the student’s challenge was, and how you worked with the student to address the challenge. (Make sure it isn’t just the standard drills with encouragement.) And include what the results were. That will absolutely help distinguish you from other candidates.

But you’re not done yet, because even results have layers.

Peel further to find the results beyond improved musical skills. Consider the overarching learning goals, the transferable life skills that institutions hope students will attain by the time they graduate. Things like critical thinking, communication, and leadership.

How do you help students become not just skilled musically but skilled for life?

What skills, habits of thinking, and behavior are you modeling and coaching them on? How do you work on these with students?

A teaching statement that peels down through all these layers and provides convincing examples as illustration will absolutely stand out from the crowd.

Great teaching is like an onion: multi-layered.

Don’t just scratch the surface — show your layers!

As always, I love getting your feedback, questions, and comments—reach me at

Specifics about coaching with me are easy to get right HERE.

PS: Other posts on writing teaching statements are HERE and HERE.

Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well