Skip the starving artist phase and forge a career in music



Over the last 35 years, Portland-based pianist Jill Timmons has created a sustainable career, without losing sight of her passion for classical music. And after 10 years of research and writing, her latest book, “The Musician’s Journey: Crafting Your Career Vision and Plan,” is finally set for release this month. In it Timmons shares her formula for a success-sans-starving career in music.

“I spent a lot of time researching before I began writing. I found a lot of books on the vision process – getting in touch with what you want to do in music most. And I found a lot of books on the nuts-and-bolts business aspect of having a career,” says Timmons. “But I couldn’t find anything that joined these two together, so I thought, ‘Well, I’m going to have to write it.’”

Timmons received her doctor of musical arts degree from Washington University, and her master of management from Boston University. She owns her own company, Arts Mentor, which consults teachers, artists, nonprofits and students on their artistic ambitions.

Over the years Timmons has performed at Carnegie Hall, founded an arts consulting business and reached tenure at Linfield College, along with a slew of other gigs and “reinventions.”

But all of her work has been related to music, and she encourages other musicians to embrace a similar piecemeal approach.

“I think the biggest mistake that most artists make is calculating their career based on what is outside of them, rather than considering the question, ‘If I didn’t have to make a living, what would I do?’ Because that’s the focal point, and everything needs to grow from there,” says Timmons.

“Making a living and being an artist are two separate things. Sometimes they intersect, but not always. To let your happiness hinge on, ‘I must get a job, tomorrow, in my field, or I can’t be an artist,’ is just self-defeating.”


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