Member focus: Karl Younger

From the age of 16, I wanted to be a musician. The mission statement was simple: earn a living from playing music. I never really gave much of a thought to what achieving that would actually entail or what life as a self-employed musician would be like, but the goal was clear.

This coming December and the year’s end will see me turn 30 and since then I can say for better or worse that I have achieved that goal and have been working as a self-employed musician since completing my degree at the Academy of Contemporary Music in 2011.

I’m sure the dream of rock n roll stardom was as strong as any aspiring guitar player, but the reality of my day to day working life might not be so glamourous but it is extremely varied, interesting, challenging and a lot of fun.

My professional playing takes me across the UK all year round for weddings, corporate events, musical theatre productions, tribute shows, and pantomimes. The performing side of the job is always fun but only accounts for half the work I do. The nature of gigging culture means that for most musicians it is feast or famine. Regular work upon which you can build a family can sometimes be difficult.

For many musicians, I know teaching holds an odd stature. It is an inescapable part of their work which means regular income but is secondary to performing.

For me, this isn’t so. I have always enjoyed teaching and as such, it is a large part of my workload. I teach at several local schools and A-level colleges, as well as building and running my own teaching studio at my home in Sudbury, Suffolk. I provide 1-1 Guitar, Bass and Drum kit lessons to a mixture of students ranging from young beginners to retirees and advanced players.

I love the personal interaction with students and forming a bond, watching them progress in skill and knowledge will always be a fascinating and rewarding process. Without great teachers through my own musical journey, I wouldn’t be doing any of the work I am today and I will always be indebted to them and respectful to all musicians who teach.

As such, I decided to undertake my formal teaching training and gain my PGCE which has been immensely useful in helping me secure regular teaching work. I will be honest, I didn’t enjoy the paperwork that much, but the rewards have been great.

As I write this now, I am sitting in the back of a band sprinter van traveling to the first of three wedding gigs over the weekend. Next week will be musical theatre combined with finishing my school teaching for the summer term. How rock and roll would my 16 year old self think this is? I’m not sure but I am certainly enjoying working life!