Teach music/play jazz in Taiwan?

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Teach music/play jazz in Taiwan?

Postby Ihoop » 15 May 2012, 06:14

Hi all,

I am a 24 year old American male. I recently traveled to Taiwan and really fell in love with it......The people, the culture, the atmosphere. I find it all so amazing.

I have decided that I want to spend a serious amount of time abroad in Taiwan. As a native English speaker, I know that my best bet would be teaching English. I would be fine with doing this, but there are things that I enjoy more.

I am a professional jazz musician. I have had the opportunity to play with some great people, and also have a Bachelors degree in Jazz performance. Honestly, my dream job to land in Taiwan would be some kind of contract gig for a hotel or club where I play Jazz Standards for several nights a week with a trio or quartet. Based on the collective knowledge here, do you think this is somewhat feasible? Or am I just dreaming? Where should I send my press kit? Should I get an agent? Are there any hotels in Taiwan that have steady live lounge music like this?

If this was not possible, I would love to teach Music in Taiwan. Would this be possible, in any capacity?

I welcome all replies, and thank you all for taking the time to read this.
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Re: Teach music/play jazz in Taiwan?

Postby ironlady » 15 May 2012, 06:29

Performance -- maybe. I didn't get out much when I lived in Taiwan (understatement) but I know of a number of clubs in Taipei that had acts booked in, usually for several weeks or months at a time. I'm not sure that any had an in-house band. You would need the proper visa if you want to do this risk-free.

Teaching -- I have to ask frankly: why would anyone want to hire a music teacher who can't speak Chinese to teach in a Chinese-speaking country? (Yes, yes, I know, jazz originated in the US, improvisation is not something Bach-trained people are good at, etc. etc. But they won't be looking at it that way, most likely, unless you are seriously famous.) Also, you need an MA or better to get into a school of music as faculty -- and very likely a Ph.D for most in Taiwan. As an adjunct, it might be different, but that won't buy you residence rights since it would be part-time.
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Re: Teach music/play jazz in Taiwan?

Postby the bear » 15 May 2012, 08:43

My suggestion is come here and teach English and then pursue the music by gradually networking with other musicians. You can get underground gigs for sure. Gigs in hotels exist, the big hotels often have dinner time jazz duos, technically illegal but people do them. The big house band gigs are often Philipino-type bands working the Asian circuit who get one month performance visas. if you really have serious chops as a jazz educator you might be able to get work; I think there's one pro music school here. But you'd probably have to get a name here first. Bottom line is there's no way you can just show up and become a professional muso without contacts. What instrument do you play?
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Re: Teach music/play jazz in Taiwan?

Postby Ihoop » 15 May 2012, 09:05

Hi all,

Thank you so much for the insight.

My main instrument is guitar. Yes, it sounds like I would certainly have to be on the ground in Taiwan to try and get a gig. I would love to just play in hotels a couple nights a week and live modestly. I really just want to experience the true beauty of Taiwan! If anyone else has more advice please chime in!

-Ihoop
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Re: Teach music/play jazz in Taiwan?

Postby Rotalsnart » 15 May 2012, 11:27

Ihoop wrote:Hi all,

Thank you so much for the insight.

My main instrument is guitar. Yes, it sounds like I would certainly have to be on the ground in Taiwan to try and get a gig. I would love to just play in hotels a couple nights a week and live modestly. I really just want to experience the true beauty of Taiwan! If anyone else has more advice please chime in!

-Ihoop


The next time you are in Taiwan, look at the music listings for the Riverside Music cafe and the Riverside Live House (you can find the live music schedules for these online). They are owned by an early-middle-aged Taiwanese guitarist named Geddy Lin. Find a time that he is playing at the Cafe and go introduce yourself and ask him for advice. He's a graduate of the Berklee jazz school in the US, and, apart from the major venues such as the National Concert Hall, is the person most active in bringing professional jazz music to Taiwan (he has brought Stanley Clark, Scott Henderson, the Yellow Jackets, and others to the Riverside Live House in recent years). He will personally know pretty much everyone who is involved in jazz music in Taiwan. (Taiwan's jazz scene is very, very small.) Another venue that has regular commercial jazz (veering more towards easy-listening type jazz standards, soul, and ballads) is the Brown Sugar Lounge. Their house band gig is I think sort of a prized gig among foreign jazz musicians here but would probably be very hard to break into.

As Ironlady and bear mentioned, how to work legally (get work permits), if possible, is also a difficult hurdle that you would need to look into.
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Re: Teach music/play jazz in Taiwan?

Postby Ihoop » 24 May 2012, 21:38

Hey guys,

I just want to let you all know that I have been keeping up with the posts on this thread. The advice EVERYONE has offered me is great. I really appreciate you all sharing your knowledge of Taiwan with me. I'm not sure where else I could have received this information....So, thank you all!

I have figured out that I will have to get a job teaching English to at least get my feet on the ground in Taiwan. I would love to get a gig just playing jazz music in a lounge several nights a week, but I know that I probably can't find this type of gig without being in Taipei actively looking for it.

If anyone else has more input, please let me know!

Take care
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Re: Teach music/play jazz in Taiwan?

Postby ironlady » 24 May 2012, 22:42

I am not telling you this, because of course it would be inconsistent with the purpose of your visa if you were teaching English in Taiwan. But theoretically, if a person were to be in Taipei, and that person were to be an accomplished jazz musician, and that person were to cultivate private English teaching relationships -- er, I mean, language exchange opportunities in which one party expressed its gratitude by way of cash, simply to "invite" the other party for a tea or whatever, you understand, though there might theoretically be significant cash left over after that tea were purchased -- it wouldn't be outside the realm of possibility that the English orientation of said relationship might evolve into a musical orientation. Or, theoretically, if such a person were to put up an ad at local colleges that offered music programs, he might meet some people interested in both English and music. He might also find that teaching non-majors was a more rewarding endeavor in Taiwan, since the non-music-majors would be more inclined to delve into the music without obsessing about grades and "the right way to do it", which, again theoretically, probably aren't the best drivers for increasing jazz improvisation skills. :D (He might also find, probably to his theoretical dismay, that people might tend to value his native English more than his musical skills, and rely on his English knowledge more than his musical knowledge. :roll: )
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Re: Teach music/play jazz in Taiwan?

Postby Ihoop » 26 May 2012, 08:42

This is great advice!

Hopefully I can begin to market myself as a musician/native English speaker.

Thanks for the suggestion!
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