Altin Sencalar

The official website for Altin Sencalar.

Becoming a professional musician while being a student

After my tenure at the University of Texas and Texas State I'm coming to an end of my undergraduate degree. During my undergrad career I performed in school and became a working musician in the area playing 3-4 nights a week all while in school for about 3 years. How did I balance this? Well first it started with sacrificing a bit of sleep in order to make the "hang" or in other words, in order to network. Networking is one of the best way to get gigs/ performance opportunities. As a student in music school there are many things that music school doesn't teach in a classroom. What don't they teach you? How to talk to people, how to initiate a gig/ negotiate a gig, how to properly submerge yourself in the scene you're trying to get in with all while not seeming like "that annoying guy". From what I have noticed making all jam sessions and making all "hangs" where the most working guys in town are playing are where you make those networking connections. While we practice countless hours in the practice room, practicing networking is just as important. Learning to ask questions like, "can I sit in later, if that's cool?" is one of the best ways to get stage time and possibly even more connections with people in town who are playing a lot. Always have your horn with you no matter the situation. Most of the time guys are looking to have a "new" factor on their gig trying to keep it "fresh". What's more new than someone asking to sit in on the gig that is normally something else. Balancing school and professional playing is tough but by taking the technical and harmonic studies we have in school we have to combine our social skills along with the musical skills in order to assure or at least give you an opportunity to play as a musician. Performing will not only enhance your resume or musical experience but it will also enhance your awareness while in performance. Being aware of yourself during a performance is one of the best ways to have great performances because you're not only paying attention to what's going on around you but you're now in control of the time and hopefully not as/ or not at all nervous. Hope this helps younger musicians trying to break into a scene or others of course.