This is a short list of skills I encourage young students to target. Will this ensure success? Not entirely. Effective practice, performance experience and creative entrepreneurship will also be needed to be successful, but this is a great start.
- Play in ensemble settings. Good section players are very valuable.
- Sight Read accurately. Read new material as part of your everyday practice routine.
- Improvise. You don’t have to be Coltrane (yet), but you should be able to improvise in key centers and follow basic chord changes.
- Double at least one additional woodwind instrument proficiently. Pit orchestra work goes to players who can play multiple woodwind instruments. Saxophone/Flute – good combination. Saxophone/Clarinet – also good. Learning all three – even better. Once you have a good handle on these three, it is time for Oboe. I know a several Bari players who double on Bassoon.
- Learn Piano or Guitar. In addition to performing, you can use these tools to help with arranging and composition.
- Study as much Music Theory as your brain can hold. Knowing how this stuff works makes it much easier to learn and perform.
- Listen. Hear excellent music. Listen with your ears and your heart wide open. Always seek the emotion in what you are hearing.
- Feel deeply. Emote fearlessly. The audience will feel it. And that is what it is all about.