Become a Thereminist

By Eric Hammer

Imagine playing a musical instrument without ever actually touching it. If you can't think of anything like that, then you've probably never seen a thereminist perform. A thereminist plays a theremin. It's a music instrument created in the 1920s by a Russian scientist of the same name and it is controlled by moving your hands over the sensors on the device.

The music a theremin can create is considered to be pretty eerie sounding, however, it is used in some classical music compositions and it is especially popular in some movie sound tracks where the eerie sound is appropriate.

Wikipedia describes the device as being deceptively simple to learn how to play while being incredibly difficult to master. The problem is that since you never touch the device, there is no tactile sensation to know where you need to place your fingers so that the sounds are made exactly as you want them to be made.

How Much Can You Make?

Given that the theremin is so unusual, it's impossible to find jobs data for a thereminist. Jobs are typically offered in concerts, working on movie sound tracks or in avante gard music festivals. However, the average salary for a musician, according the Bureau of Labor statistics is $23.68 per hour with the low side approaching minimum wage and the high side being around $59.92.

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There are precious few professional thereminits in the world and as such, work can be difficult to come by. If you really want to play this very unusual instrument, consider learning another, more conventional instrument as well so that you can find work when working on the theremin is not practical.

In all cases, be prepared to travel to wherever work is available as it is extremely unlikely that you will be able to land a job working as a thereminist in only one location.

Qualifications / Requirements

Bottom line, you need to know how to play the theremin. The better you are at playing, the more likely you are to land jobs working in this field. There are no other formal requirements.

First Steps

Start by learning to play the theremin. If you've never seen or heard one, there is a video in our resources section which will give you an idea of what's involved. Then, start looking for avante gard music festivals where you can show off your talent. Look at the other resources listed below to find out if there are jobs available to play the instrument.


Check out these helpful resources to find out more about becoming a thereminist:

Theremin World - Everything you need to know about becoming a thereminist is right here. Check the forum to ask where to find jobs.

ThereminVox - Another website devoted to the theremin. Some great information here too, along with a forum where you can ask more questions from fellow devotees of this musical instrument.

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