I'm Alleya, and I'm a musician
Describe your job
My role as a musician spans session work, performing, touring, recording, arranging and orchestrating. So, my job is different every day, depending on the project! Being a freelance violinist, I am able to work with many areas within the music and entertainment industry.
Some nights I am performing with a DJ at a nightclub, sometimes I am on tour with an artist or band. Sometimes I am performing with a symphony orchestra or theatre production. I also work with television and film productions when they require background musicians or doubles (basically a stunt double for a skill, like playing the violin!)
A lot of my work is recording. I either go to a studio with a producer or artist and record string parts for their project, or I record at my home studio. Some sessions I just play what the artist has written, either by ear or reading sheet music, and other times I am asked to write what I think would fit with the project.
I also hire and organise groups of string players with my colleagues when requested. We play a lot of weddings, private and corporate events. This means sorting out all the music needed, providing or knowing how to use sound systems and performing for guests. This is a large portion of my work between tours, because hit songs aren’t recorded every day but people will always be celebrating and getting married.
I started a string group called Solas Strings (@solasstrings) with a focus on touring and recording, as well as event work. We’re a supportive community of femmes that creates paid opportunities for our players and also provides resources for dealing with the music business world as young women (and female identifying).
What are the most important skills you need to do your job?
Music wise I think it is vital to be able to both sight read written music AND work by ear.
This will only give you more opportunities to work with people who use either or both methods. It can also be handy if you jump onto a job last minute and don’t have a lot of time to prepare.
It is important to have some sort of sales skills, in a way, to be able to pitch yourself and open up auditions. Getting to know your audience in a personal way before actually pitching anything business related is an important skill that will help you build more genuine relationships with your colleagues and clients that will last longer and be more creatively rewarding.
And it’s always important to be on time and be nice and kind to each other! You never know who may be hiring for the next gig.
I left school and...
I bought a plane ticket to London and found a flat. After 4 months of finding my feet, I responded to a casting online and got cast to play on The X Factor as a session musician, my first violin job in London!
I also got a job at Metropolis Studios London to learn more about the recording industry. I continued to audition for anything I could and network until I started to grow a list of clients. I was eventually able to quit my bartending side job and focus solely on growing my self-employed work.
I'm most proud of...
I’m most proud of my new promo video that isn’t out yet. I’ll be setting a release date as soon as I get the final cut back from the director. Watch this space!
Before I started my career, I wish I knew…
Promo is just as important as any CV.
Save up and put your money into it so it is exactly what you want and how you want it to show you off! When you’re a student, you may also have more time to focus on it and when you finish school you can apply for more jobs faster.
A mistake I made which you can avoid repeating is...
Don’t worry about what other people are doing.
Anyone who says you aren’t very good or won’t get far isn’t your friend. Focus on your creativity and find your community. The more you support your peers the more support you get back!
So, what’s next?
1 year - Hopefully getting back to my theatre show and live performances! Potentially working with two big artists that have been put on hold for the pandemic.
2 years - Touring more internationally, getting back to festivals and playing my first arena show.
5 years - Write my own album and hopefully perform at many bucket list opportunities locally and internationally as a session musician.
Beyond - At some point touring less to make time to have kids and teach/manage and book younger musicians to pass on exciting opportunities and help them navigate the music industry as instrumentalists. I hope to still be recording and playing when I am old.