Continuing Education + Job Training // Publishing since 1999
Love of Learning

Practical lessons for a musician

By MINA WONG - January 16 2022

Waheed Mufti in conversation with Mina Wong

Several years ago, Waheed (Wayne) Mufti sang for a party where I was a guest. The hosts appreciated his music so much that he stayed for dinner, and entertained us well into the evening. Recently, I found his business card and had a chat with him.

It’s wonderful to talk with you after all this time. How have things been for you since that beautiful party in Clarington?

Wasn’t that a gorgeous place and great party!

Things have been all right. I have been singing with Emile, a piano player I met that same year. I also like singing for different audiences. They always push me to be a better musician.

But to pay bills, I stock shelves for a discount store. I ride an old bike to save money on TTC. To scrape by, I rent the tiniest room in a small apartment that already has three other people.

There’s no easy career path for freelance singers. What I really want is to study music administration, so I can have a career in the music industry.

That sounds creative and practical. What would you like to do with such a cool education?

Ideally, I want to work in music licensing and publishing. If not, I am open to opportunities big and small, as long as they are about music.

You have obviously thought a lot about this plan. Have you always wanted a career in music?

No. In fact, until last year, I never thought there was full-time work for freelance singers like me.

After high school, I was just looking for work, and ended up singing freelance and hoped to work as much as possible.

Ten years later, I have met people who like my music, and now I also work with Emile whenever he needs a singer for his gigs. 

But to be a successful vocalist, I would have to be exceptionally gifted or incredibly connected. Practically, it’s not enough just to love music. I need a stable income, too.

That’s very sensible of you. Have you always been a practical thinker?

Not really. My folks are practical with strong careers. I’m the only dreamer in the family.

My mother manages an investment company’s regional office, and my father supervises transportation for a hardware chain. They don’t make millions, but they have been very successful.

My sister, Nala is only a year older, but she has done incredible things in human resources. Right after college, she was practical enough to start low at a tiny firm, but now she is a compliance officer for an electricians’ union.

As for me, I have always dreamed about financial success with singing, and also with music in general.

But practically speaking, my success should start with post-secondary training. With only high school education, it’s hard to build any career these days.

These are insightful arguments for success. What would your career look like?

Once I start thinking of music as an industry with markets, a lot of dots begin to connect.

With proper education, my work could expand to international publishing and licensing, or to production using creative technology for films, television, education, and many other markets.

My career could be very exciting and terribly busy. The impractical side of me is always tempted to just sing the songs I love, but my practical self says, “You can always customize music for an audience. That’s good business sense.”

“Good business sense” — that’s as practical as any musician can get. 

What are some pros and cons of studying music administration?

Lots of things are in my favor if I can show a school that I think about music and business together. I can also apply as a mature student, with ten years’ experience as a performing vocalist.

But financially, I will need a student loan, which means being in debt until I have a better income. I will have to meet more people who can give me gigs, and not spend very much for a while.

Another difficulty is actually studying business for the first time, but if I can think practically that business is a useful career toolbox, maybe I can learn to like my courses.

The final piece is meeting new demands, including changing technology, more professional development, and whatever else I will need to succeed as a music industry administrator.

You have charted a super-cool, but challenging career with vision and insight. I wish you all the best on this journey, and lots of success with good gigs, and also with audiences who love to hear you sing.

Thank you so much. I will take it slow, think practically, and learn from people who can teach me the skills I need.

Learning Curves

Personal Brand: Significance and Development Strategies

May 30 2024

In today's competitive marketplace, personal branding is essential for establishing a deep connection with your audience and differentiating yourself from competitors. By authentically representing your values and journey, you can build a strong, sustainable brand that resonates with people and creates lasting impressions.


Learning Curves

It wasn't just a pizza...

May 26 2024

A heartwarming story from a Lebanese friend highlights the cultural challenges and kindness encountered by immigrants, as two women collecting grape leaves for a traditional dish were unexpectedly gifted pizzas by a compassionate police officer. This anecdote underscores the importance of understanding and supporting the diverse needs of newcomers in our communities.


Teacher’s Voice
Learning Curves

Thinking about Exams

May 17 2024

Some colleagues and I find exams to be stressful experiences for college students who usually cram for them. Given viable options to traditional midterm and final exams, we want to try other learning components for the same marks. We’ve shared with each other reasons for choosing learning over testing. Over time, we’ve also seen administration’s interest in making exams optional.


Here In the House of Mirrors
Learning Curves

Coming to Canada

May 14 2024

Join Rob Herholz as he recounts his parents' courageous journey from Germany to Canada in the post-World War II era. Through vivid anecdotes and heartfelt reflections, discover the challenges they faced, the community they found, and the lasting legacy of gratitude they instilled in their family.