Finance 101

#MusiciansandFinance is musicovation’s blog series exploring finance for musicians. All posts are contributed by graduate students in New England Conservatory’s Entrepreneurial Music course  Finance 101: What Musicians Need to Know taught by NEC alum Jessi Rosinski

by Sophia Bernitz


8 AM- Wake up

8:15- actually wake up

8:20- brush teeth and shower

8:30- get out of shower


Thoughts: “I have to be at school by 9, and I’m not dressed. I don’t have time to make breakfast! I guess I’ll just go to Panera quickly then head to school. That’ll be much easier.”

This would be bad choice number one of the day. Coffee and a sandwich at Panera will cost me about $6. This doesn’t seem like a lot at the time: I tend to just brush it off and go on with my day.

11:40 AM thoughts: “Well, I just got out of orchestra, and I have class at 1. Since I woke up late, I have to go buy lunch too, because I don’t have time to go home. Better also buy a snack for later too.”

There goes another $10 dollars. You get the point.

Why is it important for musicians to think about finance? Well, to put it simply, the average musician just doesn’t make enough money to NOT think about finance. Each day, we spend hours and hours working on our crafts: crafts that cost way too much money to maintain. Everyone always says time is money. Well, every day I try to practice about 4 hours, plus rehearsals and class. That’s 4-8 hours I can’t work and prepare food. As a string player, we have to think about so many things: bow rehairs, new strings, sheet music, replacing the mutes we lose every other day, and don’t even get me started on the recital dresses and shoes. No matter how much we try to avoid these things, they come up, whether we like it or not.

I will be the first to admit it: I am horrible about finance. I try to track my spending, and it just makes me sad. I am a frequent perpetrator of the “running late: let’s go to Panera” example shown above; I am a frequenter of the afternoon burrito from the place down the street because I didn’t plan my meals the day before. I am not going to pretend I am anywhere near being responsible with money. I currently need to buy new strings, but don’t have enough money until I get my next fairly small paycheck to buy them: my craft is suffering because of my irresponsibility. Depressing, right?

Every day is a new day, and every day comes a new discovery about how I spend my money. Being a musician is not a walk in the park (yay clichés). Yes, being a musician gives me great joy (almost) every day, and it is worth it. However, there is no denying the obvious: we just don’t make that much money.

What do I want you take away from all of this? Cut back when you can. Spend the extra couple of minutes the night before making a PB&J in case you’re running late in the morning and have to go buy that Panera breakfast sandwich. Actually, just do that anyways. PB&J’s are delicious. Maybe put a few carrot sticks in a bag, as well: make mom smile a bit from home. The little things matter.


Boston-native Sophia Bernitz is a recent graduate of Oberlin Conservatory of Music with degrees in Violin and Viola Performance, where she was a violin student of David Bowlin and a viola student of Peter Slowik. At Oberlin, she acted as concertmaster of Oberlin Orchestra and was principal second violin for their 2016 Chicago Tour, as well as a frequent performer in Contemporary Music Ensemble. In 2012, Sophia gave her Carnegie Hall debut at the Weill Recital Hall. She has given concerts in Finland, Sweden, Estonia, France and Italy. In addition, she has performed at numerous summer festivals including the Brevard Music Center, Madeline Island Chamber Music Fellowship Program, Foulger International Music Festival, Boston University Tanglewood Institute and Kinhaven Music School. An avid chamber musician, she has participated in masterclasses with the Brentano, Jupiter, Calder and Cavani Quartets, and worked extensively with the Chiara and Muir Quartets, as well as members of the Arianna, Pacifica, Brentano and Dover String Quartets. Most recently, she performed alongside world-renowned cellist Andres Diaz as part of the Madeline Island Chamber Music Fellowship program. She has done masterclasses with Christian Tetzlaff, Kyung Sun Lee, James Buswell, Jorja Fleezanis and Jinjoo Cho. She was a prize winner in the 2015 Tuesday Musical Association Scholarship Competition. Prior teachers include Peter Zazofsky, David Rubinstein, Deborah Buck, and Carlough Faulkner-Carroll. In the fall, she will continue her violin studies in pursuit of her masters at New England Conservatory under the tutelage of Kristopher Tong, second violinist of the Borromeo String Quartet.

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