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Old 10-06-2012, 04:22 PM   #1
ccannon1
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Degrees in Music

So it's come time for me to think about post-secondary education and I know that I want to earn a living with music, but I'm unsure of what type of degree I would be better off with, a Masters of Music in Performance (jazz guitar or voice) or a Masters of Music in Composition from McGill?

Would either degree actually be helpful in finding jobs? Would a Bachelor's suffice? (I don't really want to attend University for 5 years upwards from $20 000/year tuition)
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Old 10-06-2012, 04:34 PM   #2
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There are more opportunities with a performance degree, especially with the connections you'll be able to make at a university like McGill. Composition degrees are... let's say not particularly useful (read: it's extraordinarily difficult to make a living as a purely freelance/commissioned/grant endowed art music composer today). Not to say that performance degrees are extremely useful, but if you work your ass off and your teachers like you they'll often connect with the people you need to know to make a living (in addition to the connections you make yourself through attending school).

I highly recommend if you want to go to school for something that will offer job security you don't pursue either avenue. Also, if you're a performer at heart I don't recommend you pursue Composition either, it's a very different path.

Also, where are you going for $20,000 a year in Canada? I don't even think McGill is that expensive, I would guess it's about half that and even less if you're a Quebec resident.
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Old 10-06-2012, 05:06 PM   #3
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It's more about connections than anything honestly. I have a BA (music theory focus) but I've been doing an internship at a studio near by as a studio guitarist and a session engineer. When I graduate I'm either going to get a job there or go to grad school. Or both. Make connections. Study what you love.
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Old 10-06-2012, 05:20 PM   #4
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Ever consider music therapy?
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Old 10-06-2012, 05:39 PM   #5
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I've heard that getting a performance degree and some type of production degree really helps with getting work as a musician.
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Old 10-06-2012, 06:16 PM   #6
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I just recently decided to audition for College music study. I passed the audition just fine, they accepted me into the program.

And I turned the offer down.

I love music, but I don't need to go school to continue my study of it and improve. With the school, I realized that I was about to spend 1000s of dollars to study the exact same theory, techniques, etc. that I have been studying since I was 12-13 years old. I got my first "gig" composing music, for money, for an independent video game when I was 18.

Instead, I'm spending that money I could've spent on school on instruments, better software and travelling to game developer meetings and such so that I can network with developers I can hopefully wind up composing for.

Would going to school have made me a better musician? Likely, but would it have made me a successful musician? No.

You really must think this whole "make a living" at music thing over. Then think it over again...and again. There has NEVER been a point in history where a healthy percentage of musicians, of any speciality, made a living at doing what they love doing. This isn't the result of piracy, consumer apathy, etc. It's just the way of the world. There is no changing it.

I'm not trying to discourage you from going to school for music, but I was very recently in a position to pursue academic study of music and I can't say that I would recommend it in this day and age. You really need to be sure that the school route with music is truly what you want. As most of the alumni I've talked to agree, you will likely just wind up spending a LOT of time and money on a degree that will provide you with no skills you couldn't have learned on your own or elsewhere, and promises you nothing.

There is no formula for success, if there was we would all be doing it. All you can do is improve your music, love what you do, and most importantly, network your ass off. All that you can do from there is hope that one day your efforts will turn into a full-time, good paying job. A very sad thing you have to accept, is that even with all your hard work and networking, that day may never come.
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Old 10-06-2012, 11:44 PM   #7
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at the end of the day, what matters is the product you can put out. once you know the right people and can do the job, you can make a living off music

most people aren't in either position straight out of high school, so it's a gamble - do you think you'll be competent and have properly networked by the end of uni to justify the debt and significantly low likelihood for a stable position (compared to a degree like, economics or medicine), and, more importantly, do you think you'll feel the same way after 4+ years that you do now?
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Old 10-07-2012, 02:04 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Most_Triumphant
I've heard that getting a performance degree and some type of production degree really helps with getting work as a musician.


You heard incorrectly. How much work are you getting now? Are you currently getting some cash from your music?

Now imagine there's a piece of paper in a nice frame on the wall. How different would you expect your situation to be?

One of he curious oddities of music degrees is when you finish them, say around the age of 22, it's almost too late to be signed, and those people your age who will become session musicians are already session musos and have been for some time.
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Old 10-07-2012, 02:44 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by AlanHB
One of he curious oddities of music degrees is when you finish them, say around the age of 22, it's almost too late to be signed, and those people your age who will become session musicians are already session musos and have been for some time.


At the risk of starting an argument in an otherwise peaceful thread; bullshit.

Session musicians get hired if they are good and someone actually requires their abilities. Simple as that. A label signs you if it thinks you and/or your band's music is exploitable and will make them $, they don't give a damn how old you are.

I know a guy who's nearly sixty and people still hire him to play keys on their albums.

Age has nothing to do with it.
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Old 10-07-2012, 03:47 AM   #10
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^^^^ So you would argue that age is irrelevant in getting signed. How do you explain the abundance of young artists on the top 40 then? Most of them were signed at the age of 16, and not on the basis of formal qualifications they had in the area. Young bands need session musos of a similar age.

One you're in you're in, but you gotta get in early. Instead of working at a music degree you could spend a couple of years making industry connections and gaining experience in the area instead.
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Old 10-07-2012, 04:00 AM   #11
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Plus, there's an ugly statistic that says something like, "only about 10% of people who study for degrees in an art, ever find work in that field".

Methinks one might study nursing, computer science, or hell, even plumbing, and carry the music courses as a heavy minor.
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Old 10-07-2012, 04:10 AM   #12
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Some work places like staff with a degree and dont even care on the subject they studied.

But if you get those qualifications you wont have much problem.

Options for work are: Session musician (live or studio), full time rock star, record producer, Music teacher (private up to top level music schools), musical director, song writing, accompanist, deputy guitarist, gear demonstrator, theatre musician, music therapy, music shop staff, music journalist/lesson article writer.

But shop around for the best uni for you. The name of the uni you gained your qualification from makes a big difference. Take a look at Burkley if your in the states.

Quote:
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Plus, there's an ugly statistic that says something like, "only about 10% of people who study for degrees in an art, ever find work in that field".


But a lot of these people will do the degree at some average, non music specialist educator, and will not go to the highest level. They may not have also put the effort in to get the work.

If you study music at that level you should go some where specialist to music with a big reputation.

If your a guitar player more than any thing, do a degree in the guitar. Master your instrument inside out.
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Old 10-07-2012, 04:20 AM   #13
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Getting music degree in order to enhance music skills - cool
Getting music degree in hopes of getting a job that pays well, because of said degree - good luck
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Old 10-07-2012, 07:06 AM   #14
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Again, go for a big name educator. The name of the place you studied means a lot.
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Old 10-07-2012, 12:26 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlanHB
^^^^ So you would argue that age is irrelevant in getting signed. How do you explain the abundance of young artists on the top 40 then? Most of them were signed at the age of 16, and not on the basis of formal qualifications they had in the area. Young bands need session musos of a similar age.

One you're in you're in, but you gotta get in early. Instead of working at a music degree you could spend a couple of years making industry connections and gaining experience in the area instead.


you can make a healthy living without being signed, much less being a top 40 musician. i agree that the time in uni could be better spent working your ass off for 4 years (although, theoretically, that's the point of uni anyway), but you're going about it the wrong way.

in this day and age it's easier than ever to get into the industry "past your prime". look at hopsin, he's 27 and has several videos with millions of views. he's signed, but it's a label he created himself with some friends.
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Old 10-07-2012, 01:10 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by jkielq91
Again, go for a big name educator. The name of the place you studied means a lot.

Not really. The connections you make when you study there mean wayyy more.
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Old 10-07-2012, 01:17 PM   #17
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btw JRF can i live with you up in canada so i can go to a proper college without paying $40k+ a year

this state public shit is unacceptable
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Old 10-07-2012, 01:21 PM   #18
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Yep.
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Old 10-07-2012, 01:26 PM   #19
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omw lemme call into work
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Old 10-07-2012, 01:31 PM   #20
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