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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

The Entrepreneurial Musician: Jim Stephenson

Andrew Hitz

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Jim Stephenson is a full-time composer and arranger based out of Chicago. His story is a fascinating one.

Jim was a trumpet player in the Naples Philharmonic before he began to arrange and compose. His writing career eventually took off to the point that he quit his steady job with the orchestra to focus on it full-time. Who does that? People as driven as Jim, that's who.

His career path is reminder after reminder that you never quite know which direction you are about to head in in the music business.

Topics Include:

  • How his first ever arrangement was for a professional brass quintet and that he volunteered in spite of having no experience whatsoever
  • How he backed into becoming a composer by trying to write an intentionally bad piece to fulfill a very creative assignment and failed since it ended up being good
  • How excited he was initially about being a published composer
  • The advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing
  • The value of humility in a sustainable career