In my last post I gave an overview of the costs of living in Paris, and now I will address the other side of the euro coin: working.
The easiest way to make ends meet in Paris is to get a massive infusion of free money. There are a few grants available that are worth looking into: Fulbright, Harriet Hale Woolley, Frank Huntington Beebe. I am not sure about the exact amounts, but each of them is worth about $20,000; easily enough to cover your €10,000 expenses for one year.
I applied several times for the grants and got rejected flat out every time. From what I have seen, the best way to get one is to have a degree from a big school like Northwestern or Indiana. For the Fulbright, most of the grant winners are in fields other than music and most of them come from schools like Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cornell, etc. The same is true of the Wooley grant, which in the last few years has gone to students from Rice, Indiana University, New England Conservatory, Cleveland Institute of Music, and Northwestern. One year a pianist from IU won both the Fulbright and Wooley grants in the same year. I never applied for the Beebe grant, but it actually has a playing competition, so it might be worth considering for someone who is already playing at a professional level.
I would still suggest applying for all three of these grants. Even if it doesn’t work out, the process of writing your application and organizing the materials might turn out to be useful eventually.
If you are not well-connected enough to get $20k in free money, there are other possibilities to make ends meet.
Personally, I decided to try to work only in my field and avoid taking a job outside of music. I have been able to make it work mostly by teaching, a little from competitions and concerts (very little), and a little help from my parents.
I have been somewhat lucky in finding students over the last three years, but it has never been enough to cover all my expenses. In total I have taught about 12 students, but several of them were only in Paris for a year or two, so at any given moment I have had about six students at the same time. I teach each student on average three lessons per month because of cancellations and vacations. I charge €35/lesson, so on average that is €100/month for each student. Six students would be €600, which is pretty much the best I have done.
Teaching english can be possible, as well. This year I had one private student who I gave english lessons and did some translations for him, but that wasn’t a very significant source of income. Some of my friends teach english classes or private lessons, but the problem there is that the going rate for English lessons is much lower: €15-20/hour unless you have some significant credentials as an English teacher. There is also a lot of competition for these students, so you have to be extremely proactive to make this work.
Other Work Opportunities
I have some friends who have done other kinds of work: one who worked for a year at a bar (which she had trouble balancing with her practicing), another who has been working at a call center, another who has some kind of job where he sets up conference halls at a convention center, several girls who have done some babysitting, a Tunisian friend who used to work at a hotel and now as a hall monitor at a middle school, and one flutist who plays in a metro tunnel near the Louvre museum, making €20-50/hour.
Another possibility is to try to work during the summer and save money, which some people have been able to pull off, or to do a study abroad through your University and take out student loans in the U.S..
<For anyone who previously or currently lives in Paris, please share your own employment suggestions for inclusion here!>