Playing to the tone of that dream career


Nykkö Grégoire turned uncertainty into triumph by establishing himself as a self-employed musician in the north of England – with the help of EURES. Self employment is an appealing and popular path to take. It allows freedom to pursue a lifelong ambition, with few restrictions. Of course, self-employment is not all plain-sailing and people attempting to set up a business or work on a freelance basis often need advice along the way.

EURES can provide specialised country advice and support for those who are self-employed, and EURES Advisers can put people in touch with other self-employed workers who are well positioned to give tips on the respective challenges and administration of this way of life. This support came in particularly useful for 31-year old musician Nykkö, now established in northern England and working as a freelance accompanist with two different choirs and several theatres.

Nykkö was living and working in Bordeaux as an organ and keyboard teacher but was looking for a change. He wanted a bit more independence to try out different things with his music, to experiment with new activities and to broaden his experience. He decided that a period of working abroad might in fact be the best way to do this and set about searching for opportunities.

After learning of EURES through the local Bordeaux Public Employment Service, he approached EURES Adviser Catherine Galharret to discuss his options and find out more about opportunities abroad. Exploring the different markets in Europe, Nykkö learned from Catherine that the UK presented good opportunities for musicians. In his experience, he found that, unlike France, where education qualifications are very important when applying for a job, employers in the UK are more open to taking on candidates based on their abilities or past experience.

What Nykkö needed now was a way of meeting potential employers and decided to take the plunge and move to the UK immediately. Catherine was on hand to support him by helping him with the appropriate administrative documents, relating to things such as social security. ‘The great thing about Catherine was that it was so clear she knew what she was talking about – she had worked in several different countries herself so she knew what the real issues were’, said Nykkö.

Nykkö settled in the northern part of England and began looking for opportunities. Today he finds he has plenty of work to keep him going, though he admits that things started somewhat slowly.

Economic cuts as well as the extra challenge of being from abroad made it difficult to penetrate the local music market. At first, he settled in the midlands town of Wellington and visited the local church to ask if they needed an organ player. Although unsuccessful in this pursuit, the church informed him of a private teaching opportunity which he went on to accept. Sending out CVs to various concert halls and setting up a website (, he also managed to secure several recitals in Sheffield and Manchester. Eventually, he started receiving a steady flow of work.

‘It was a tough couple of months, but at the same time, I could for once enjoy the complete freedom to consider all options. I also made sure I remained in touch with Catherine’. Nykkö also established contact with a Birmingham-based EURES Adviser that she recommended.

Nykkö is optimistic about his future. His experience highlights the difficulties, but also some of the benefits that come with being self-employed. EURES aims to help make life easier by assisting individuals over the administrative burdens and uncertainties so that they can enjoy the freedom to use their talents or ideas. But it is also important to have some determination, as the story of our young musician clearly shows.

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