Professional Musician and certified elementary teacher.
The best days I have are when I get to be creative and someone finds a value in what I bring to the table. I get paid to do what I love. Music can be many things and in my case it has ranged from: recording in a studio to playing a gig for 2 people to leading a drum circle of 200 CEO's of Fortune 500 companies. It is a constant challenge to find people and places to hire you and is extremely competitive so there is much work "behind the scenes".
Any skills needed in the arts are best supported by a solid foundation of education, varied exposure or experiences and a lifelong dedication. The most famous musicians who earn the most money do not have a formal college education but they do share a drive to become excellent at their craft. For me it was listening and imitating drummers that I admired which led to getting together with other musicians where I was exposed to new music and new concepts. I.E. I had never heard jazz or reggae.
Here's the first step for high school students
I chose the career path I am now in at a very late age compared to most people. I explored as many musical avenues as I could before choosing to get my undergrad in music and then attend teacher's college. If I had decided in high school to become a musician AND teacher it would have shaped my career in a more positive way. Knowing that YOU ARE GOING TO GROW UP and AGE and not be 16-17 forever is an important first step. Ask questions of people who seem like they are enjoying what they do.
"Music is not a profession. You should quit and get a real job. Ok you play music in a band but what do you really do? When are you going to grow up? I guess you take drugs and party all the time and get involved with many groupies."
My parents came from another place and another time and a different reality than the one they had created for their children by moving to Canada. I don't think they had a true understanding of the opportunities available to us. They were worried and wanted the best for me so tried to steer me in a direction that was known and comfortable to them. I overcame the Noise by playing the game until I was in a position to take my own career path. I gained much experience and knowledge along the way.
My father would only pay for a college education that the people at his mining job recommended. I asked to study music but ended up in Power Engineering Technology, all math-my worst subject. It was rough but did provide other skills and my own money.
The range of opportunities was not known to my parents. They had a grade 3 education and were very poor growing up so the thought of me going into the arts was extremely unpopular. I also wasn't allowed to practice when they were home. I found time.
I was the seventh of 8 children with only one income coming in so tuition money was an issue. None of my older siblings were ecouraged to go to school. My parents did agree to help pay for some of my expenses. In the end, 3 kids ended up with degrees.