The Challenge of the Perfect Embouchure

The main instrument of any musician is their own body. From the brain to the limbs, to the internal organs, to the skin, different parts of the body interact with musical instruments, with other bodies and the world around them to create music. It's no wonder, then, that musicians and their health are a topic of interest in medicine.

An interesting example was presented by the British Dental Museum this year with the exhibition The Challenge of the Perfect Embouchure. Defined as "the way in which a player applies their mouth to the mouthpiece of a brass or wind instrument, especially as it affects the production of the sound," embouchure is critical for players of these kinds of instruments.

The exhibition was dedicated to Maurice Porter, a dentist and amateur clarinettist who became an authority on embouchure during the 50s and 60s. One of the first doctors to pay attention to how poor dental or facial health was specifically detrimental to wind and brass players, Porter wrote some...

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TRANSCRIPTION: "Success Beyond The Score" Podcast, S.3, EP. 6

Here is the transcription of episode 6 of season 3 of the podcast "Success Beyond The Score". Happy reading!

- Watch the video of the episode here: YouTube

- Listen to the audio of the episode here: Kajabi


Hello, hello, hello! I hope you can hear me. I'm just checking my mic levels. Of course, if you can't, please put a message in the chat. Now, today is scorching. It's super hot here, which is kind of nice! We don't get a lot of really hot weather, and then we complain, and then it gets cold, and we want the hot weather back. But it's great. So, at some point, I may have to put a fan on, because I've just kind of kept all the windows closed to stop the noise on the microphone. Let me just make that a bit closer to me. Yep. And, hopefully that should work. Just let me know in the chat if everything is fine.

Okay, today we have got an interesting hot topic, and that is: is playing for free a contradiction for musicians?

Thinking of this title, I thought,...

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The Impact of "AI" on the Music Industry

The boom of generative AI brings difficult challenges to the music industry. In an effort to keep regulations on par with the development of this technology, the Musicians' Union is pushing for copyright law to be upheld in relation to it, and for new rights to be introduced that will protect musicians and music creators from any unauthorised use of their works and performances.

Generative AI needs massive amounts of data —in the case of music, the input is millions of songs and sound samples— to train with, before it can generate pieces from given prompts. This data so far has been collected without explicit consent by its original, human creators. Developers argue that their LLMs (large language models, generally referred to as "AI") learn from the source data in a way similar to humans, therefore they can't incur in copyright infringement. However, these systems are unable to create their own ideas. Instead, they search for patterns...

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Nominations open for the MU's Executive and Regional committees

Nominations for the Musicians' Union Executive and Regional committees 2024-2025 are open until midday of Wednesday 27th September, 2023.

The Executive committee is the governing body of the union and it's in charge of taking major decisions that affect the working conditions of musicians across the country. The Regional committees are in charge of day-to-day management and perception of local concerns. If you, or someone you know, have a passion for social work and political change, consider submitting your or their name for a nomination. You could make a big difference! 

Click here to read all the information on what the positions entail and what are the requisites to apply. If you have specific questions about the role you'd have in a committee, you can contact our director Millicent Stephenson at [email protected] and ask about her experience. She was part of the Executive Committee for a few years, and she's currently part of the Regional Committee for the...

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Come to have a Drink, Chill and Chat with Time For My Music

After years operating online due to the conditions of the pandemic, Time For My Music will have a meeting in person! We are very excited to finally see each other in the flesh and share some quality time. In addition, we want to use the occasion to hopefully introduce more emerging female musicians to the community. If you are a woman in music who can attend an event in Birmingham (UK) this Saturday 10th June between 2pm and 4pm, please know we'd be delighted to have you there!

How to know if this event is right for you? Well, if:

  • You are a female musician (for example: pianist, guitarist, drummer, percussionist, wind player, singer, rapper).
  • Your music is your hobby, or side hustle, but you are not making much money
  • You are stuck with how to take your music forward
  • You are looking for a space to discuss situations that affect women in music, without cynical or negative feedback.
  • Knowing about mics, and what the buttons on an amplifier/PA system...
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Christine Anderson's campaign for female mediocrity

We know what you first thought was: Is there someone campaigning in favour of female mediocrity?! What's that supposed to mean?!

 In an article posted by the Musicians' Union as part of their guest blogs, Christine Anderson explains her point. This viola player, who's a member of Her Ensemble, as well as an orchestral and chamber musician, shares her experiences and thoughts on women and diversity within the classical music industry in a thought provoking article that starts like this:

The classical music industry is changing. Admittedly, the pace could generously be described as glacial: according to Donne - Women in Music, in the 2021-22 season, across 111 orchestras in 31 countries, just 7.7% of pieces played were by women, of which 5.5% were white (while 27.5% of pieces were by the same ten historical, white European men).

But this is at least a slight improvement on the previous year, where just 5% of compositions were by women. And out with the big, established...

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Take Action to Stop Job Cuts at BBC Orchestras

Following intense discussions with the Musicians' Union over several weeks, the BBC announced on March 24th that they will not be closing the BBC Singers on September 30th of this year. While these are positive news, the futures of BBC Singers and the BBC Concert, Philharmonic and Symphony orchestras are still at risk.

In order to protect these musicians, and keep the British music community stable and healthy as consequence, the MU is calling us to write to the BBC with the following suggestions:

  1. Maintain the BBC Singers as a full-time employed BBC Performing Group with a bright future.
  2. Withdraw proposals to make 20% cuts to jobs in the BBC Concert, Symphony and Philharmonic Orchestras.
  3. Commit to maintaining all six Performing Groups as an essential part of the BBC’s public service remit.

If you want to learn more before taking action, or need a template to know how to write your petition, you can find resources on this post by the MU. Consider...

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A Change Of Focus

Millicent has been part of the Musicians’ Union’s Executive Committee for a few terms now. The current one finishes at the end of December this year, and she has taken the decision not to continue because she successfully got on the NatWest Accelerator programme offered by NatWest Bank, which runs for six months. 

The programme supports and empowers entrepreneurs of the United Kingdom to scale their businesses to the next level. Millicent joined to boost Success Beyond The Score as a whole, but in particular Time For My Music, the online community for emerging female musicians that you can find in this link. 

The NatWest Accelerator sessions run on Wednesdays, which makes them overlap with the monthly sessions of the Musicians’ Union’s Executive Committee. Given that Millicent has already had the opportunity to contribute to the union through that committee for a meaningful and rewarding time, she decided to step down and focus on the NatWest...

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MU: Access Riders for Musicians


As musicians, we require that the venues where we play provide us with certain things in order for us to be able to offer our best performances. Some examples are tables to locate our equipment, dressing rooms to get ready after a long ride to the venue, parking space near or in front of the venue with the possibility to offload, ramp access, etc. While some might think those are a given that all venues offer by default, the truth is that many of them do not. This is particularly troublesome for musicians with disabilities. After all, if you require certain accommodations due to a disability, you might be hesitant to try your hand at gigging due to fear of venues ignoring your needs.

First of all, rest assured knowing that all musicians have the same right to perform at public venues, no matter whether they have a disability or not. To ensure that this is a reality, the key is that artists and venue owners communicate in advance to clarify the needs of the show and take...

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You Can Earn From Your Music!

We have the firm belief that every musician should be paid their worth. Even if you do music as a hobby, your effort, dedication, skill and passion deserve recognition. Now, it is easier said than done, right? When it comes to the business side of music, many artists get lost in calculations, transactions, invoices, and the uncertainty of how to communicate fees and conditions to potential clients.

Don't get overwhelmed, though, there is a way out! In the e-course "Maye Your Music Pay", Millicent will teach you how to:

- Set your fee and get paid regularly.
- Build your confidence to say your price without anxiety.
- Negotiate a win-win for your fee.
- Collect your fee with no drama.
- Set up a money management system.
- Prepare for your tax return.
- Grow a fans mailing list.

With this, you'll understand the steps you can take now to work out your gig fee, collect your payment and manage your music money. Sounds good? Click here to watch the introductory video, get more information...

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