#2
Does anyone here have a music degree, and what is your experience?  Did it really make you a far better player than what you could do on your own?
#3
Is music what you want to do for as a career possibly for the rest of your life? A proper music degree isn't one of those things that has general applicability in other fields. If you are unsure that music is your life's passion, I wouldn't get the degree. To be clear, I don't have a degree, but I do play out as a professional and most of my musician network do have degrees.

For the most part, yes, it will make you a better player. You don't earn a degree in performance without getting some serious chops and musical skills. Whether you do anything interesting with that is entirely up to you. What you get from music school is a skill set that you can obtain on your own, but not nearly as reliably or quickly. Although I'm in league with degreed players, they have certain skills that I don't. Of course I have skills that most degreed guitarists don't, but their unique abilities are arguably more useful than mine. Plus it took me 10 years of woodshedding on my own time to get as good as a lot of 'kids' are when they finish college.

And the real value of schooling isn't that you have ridiculous chops, it's that you can get a job doing what you love. Most music takes very little chops, but a whole lot of sensibility.  The ability to read, hear, understand, and interpret music is far more useful than being able to shred and those abilities only come with a lot of focus and experience. Getting a degree also means you have a network of other musicians who you went to school with, which is absolutely invaluable when it comes to finding work. 

You probably won't be famous or rich, but you do get to play guitar all day while still living indoors and eating regularly.  How would you feel about doing stuff like playing in the pit for musical, playing at weddings, and solo jazz gigs? Do you enjoy teaching? Those things are your bread and butter as a typical professional guitarist. If you're really motivated and creative, you might also make some money in the original scene, or doing cool composition/recording gigs.

To do this for a living I think you have to love music more than you love your own musical tastes and ambitions. You work in service of your audience, your fellow musicians, and the music itself. If you enjoy music no matter what kind and love performing, then consider the degree.
#4
cdgraves is pretty spot on with this one.

It depends what your end goal is really. If you want to be rich and famous it's not going to do anything for you, but if you want a potentially stable job in the industry then it's your best option.
#6
A music degree will probably help you get a teaching job but it won't help you get performance work.

Much of the arts is down to how good you are, how reliable you are, meeting the right people, making the most of opportunities as they come up etc...

A degree will always involve written work and doing things that you might not be interested in. Potentially if you want a career performing, you could be better off tracking down a master and committing to highly focussed lessons.

Having said that, doing a music degree is very good discipline, and you will quickly develop a network of fellow musicians that you could potentially keep for life.

You might find this helpful: http://www.stuartbahn.com/how-to-make-money-as-a-guitarist/
#7
Quote by StuartBahn


1. Bring your guitar to your day job.
2. Take money from the register when nobody is looking.
3. Stuff the money in the sound hole of your guitar.
4. Leave with a guitar full of money.
5. ???
6. Profit!
Quote by Hal-Sephira
Shut the mother#%$& up, $^%got. You have a #$%^ing terrible muther&@$#ing taste in %#$@ing music, @&%$ing movies and %&$#ing video games. Every time I see you on the forums, you are always saying something overrated and some $@&#ing sh*t. You are just mother$^@%ing ignorant as a whole.

Get a #%$@ing life or you will get banned for life.
#9
The downside of pursuing a high level of ability on your own is that it takes more time than you have as working adult. Speaking from my own experience, it is hard to stay motivated and apply the necessary discipline. Not because those things are inherently difficult, but because I know I don't actually have to. Nobody is cracking the whip for me to finish large amounts of work, no classmates to compete with, very limited time for practice.

It's worth pointing out that most music degrees focus on institutional musics: classical and jazz. You gotta like at least one of them. They don't have to be your favorite musics, but you need to enjoy what you're studying. If you want to play popular styles that's something you have to do on your own. The music degree can bring a lot of skill to whatever you do want to do with music, but it's mostly up to you to figure out how that works.
#10
I did a music degree, and it really depends on what kind of university you go to and what kind of course you do. I took a music tech BA, and found it difficult to find work immediately after. I probably could have gone into teaching pretty much straight afterwards, but I've only ended up in that place within the past six months or so, but that's mainly due to being unsure of what I wanted to do as a career. The course I was on offered a second and final year module on teaching and education, but I didn't take it, however, most of the people I know who took it came out of uni and went straight on to teach in one way or another, and many of them are still doing it.

In terms of performing, or working in a hands-on environment in relation to music (i.e. as a full time musician and/or sound engineer), I know a handful of people who have managed to become fairly successful in that regard, and I think that a few things that they have in common are -

A) They are very skilled musicians and/or sound techs.
B) They are very adaptable and are open to playing in most settings and/or take most paid opportunities that come their way, even if it's dep work or something outside of their comfort zone.
C) They are good at making connections.
D) It sounds kind of arbitrary, or even bitter saying this, but they tend to get a lot of lucky breaks.

On point D, I'd say it may not be a factor worth considering, as the luck of the draw changes, and for some of my friends, it's very much been a case of peaks and troughs in terms of how successful they have been - there have been points where they've been stuck doing bar work or something as a day job, just because the gigs weren't coming in. I'd say that if you were going to do it, then good for you, but make sure that you're going into it for the right reasons, and even though you may not think about it at the time, try to come up with a plan of what you're going to do after graduation while you're still studying, rather than trying to think of one afterwards. 

I don't really regret taking that particular course, as I did become a much better musician and sound tech, but I reckon that if I took a subject that would have given me the skills to go into a more "standard" job, I would have probably found it easier to find work at above minimum wage after graduation, and I probably still would have made friends with the music students at the university. 

But like I said, it depends on what kind of university and course you are going for, and what you are looking to get out of it.
WHOMP

Think of that next time you are not allowed to laugh.
Last edited by donender at Jun 11, 2017,
#11
Quote by cdgraves
The downside of pursuing a high level of ability on your own is that it takes more time than you have as working adult.

Even if you work full time, you still have 8 hours a day to pursue your choices.

To be proficient in a skill they say it takes 10 thousand hours, at 8 a day that's less than 4 years, at 4 a day less the 8 years.

A side note, any time you see "habits of the successful" stories, guaranteed every time you read what they are, you will find "time management".
Last edited by 33db at Jun 10, 2017,
#12
Quote by StuartBahn
A music degree will probably help you get a teaching job but it won't help you get performance work.


The theory and general discipline should be helpful if you want to become a studio- or orchestral-style musician, and many "household name" musicians have had formal training, eg at Berklee.

EDIT My daughter is doing a performing arts degree, and in her case, contemporary dance, two of the advantages she claims are that you make good contacts in the industry, and meet like-minded people.
Last edited by Tony Done at Jun 11, 2017,
#13
Quote by 33db
Even if you work full time, you still have 8 hours a day to pursue your choices.

To be proficient in a skill they say it takes 10 thousand hours, at 8 a day that's less than 4 years, at 4 a day less the 8 years.

A side note, any time you see "habits of the successful" stories, guaranteed every time you read what they are, you will find "time management".

Have you ever actually tried doing something 8 hours a day consistently outside of work? By the time you factor in stuff like commuting, hygiene, eating, errands, and other obligations, if you have 8 hours outside of work it's because you're not getting enough sleep.
 
And it's not just the time, it's the focus and direction. It's very easy to waste time unintentionally. 
Quote by StuartBahn
A music degree will probably help you get a teaching job but it won't help you get performance work.


Most of the people I play with have degrees in performance. It's tremendously helpful because there's just no way to get a 4 year degree in performance and still suck at your instrument. Being a reliable performer and quick learner are the most valuable skills players need, and those are the skills you go to music school to attain.
#14
Quote by cdgraves
Have you ever actually tried doing something 8 hours a day consistently outside of work?

Yes I have, lasted 2 years before I needed a break.

In any case you can scale the hours, so you could do 6 hours a day, or 4 hours a day.
You can also build your life so that there isn't as much commute or other logistical problems in the way.

All this stuff is called commitment, this is the sort of thing that people who are successful do.
#15
Quote by 33db
Yes I have, lasted 2 years before I needed a break.

In any case you can scale the hours, so you could do 6 hours a day, or 4 hours a day.
You can also build your life so that there isn't as much commute or other logistical problems in the way.

All this stuff is called commitment, this is the sort of thing that people who are successful do.

... and is guitar/music what you do for a living?

I think it's very arrogant to simply throw around "commitment" and "time management", as if people with jobs and kids and mortgages aren't facing very serious choices in committing to transitioning to full time musicianship. Having a lifestyle that accommodates a huge but unprofitable commitment to music tends to result in a lot of poor life choices. I tried this for years, and while I got to practice a whole lot, I was also consistently broke. The areas with high paying music scenes tend to be expensive (good luck getting a bunch of high end wedding gigs in South Dakota). Maybe if you're like 19 and really do have the rest of your life ahead of you those things are easy choices... but that's exactly what music school is for.

There's also a whole lot more to being a professional than being a decent player. You don't become a professional just by practicing in your bedroom. You have to active and meet people and do things that aren't practice. Even on the nights my band rehearses or has shows, I play less than on normal days simply because of travel and other logistical obstacles. 

I'd opine the hours don't really scale, either. At some point the practice time simply doesn't support the ability level and it's totally unrealistic to expect to build a career on it. It's not like you get to stop practicing once you hit 10,000 hours. That's just how long it takes to get good, and it takes at least as much effort to stay good. That's also not to mention the pace. Once your daily hours get too low - like under 3 or 4 hours - your improvement is not going to be as quick or as broad, simply because you're not doing enough. And the quality of practice matters. If you're missing sleep to practice or can only practice when you're already exhausted, you're just not going to get much done.

You'd have to be practicing a very narrow set of skills and music in order to make 1-2 hours a day to yield significant improvement over time. And to be a serious professional, you need to be good at more than one or two things. 
Last edited by cdgraves at Jun 12, 2017,
#17
33db so not only do you admit that what you espouse is untenable; by your own admission you 'needed a break', but you also propose that people restructure their whole lives to make this happen?  Do you have any idea how fucking insane that sounds?

In order to do what you suggest I would need to:

Get a different job, in a different area of the country.
Meaning I would take a significant pay cut.
Meaning that I would have to move house.
Meaning that my partner would need to move with me.

And that's just scratching the surface of why what you're suggesting is nuts to me.  I don't even have anyone other than my partner to consider, what of people who have kids?  What of people who are already having financial issues?

Commitment is one thing, but I would bet that for anyone who is "successful" by doing what you say, they already have a whole lot of privilege helping them stay stable.
R.I.P. My Signature. Lost to us in the great Signature Massacre of 2014.

Quote by Master Foo
“A man who mistakes secrets for knowledge is like a man who, seeking light, hugs a candle so closely that he smothers it and burns his hand.”


Album.
Legion.
#18
Quote by cdgraves
... and is guitar/music what you do for a living?

I think it's very arrogant to simply throw around "commitment" and "time management", as if people with jobs and kids and mortgages aren't facing very serious choices in committing to transitioning to full time musicianship. Having a lifestyle that accommodates a huge but unprofitable commitment to music tends to result in a lot of poor life choices. I tried this for years, and while I got to practice a whole lot, I was also consistently broke. The areas with high paying music scenes tend to be expensive (good luck getting a bunch of high end wedding gigs in South Dakota). Maybe if you're like 19 and really do have the rest of your life ahead of you those things are easy choices... but that's exactly what music school is for.

There's also a whole lot more to being a professional than being a decent player. You don't become a professional just by practicing in your bedroom. You have to active and meet people and do things that aren't practice. Even on the nights my band rehearses or has shows, I play less than on normal days simply because of travel and other logistical obstacles. 

I'd opine the hours don't really scale, either. At some point the practice time simply doesn't support the ability level and it's totally unrealistic to expect to build a career on it. It's not like you get to stop practicing once you hit 10,000 hours. That's just how long it takes to get good, and it takes at least as much effort to stay good. That's also not to mention the pace. Once your daily hours get too low - like under 3 or 4 hours - your improvement is not going to be as quick or as broad, simply because you're not doing enough. And the quality of practice matters. If you're missing sleep to practice or can only practice when you're already exhausted, you're just not going to get much done.

You'd have to be practicing a very narrow set of skills and music in order to make 1-2 hours a day to yield significant improvement over time. And to be a serious professional, you need to be good at more than one or two things. 

I think you're looking for an easy way, and will attack anything that smacks of hard work.
#19
33db just so you know, Calvin here already is a professional musician.  That already comes with it a huge workload just to make ends meet.  The idea that he is at all afraid of hard work is utterly laughable.
R.I.P. My Signature. Lost to us in the great Signature Massacre of 2014.

Quote by Master Foo
“A man who mistakes secrets for knowledge is like a man who, seeking light, hugs a candle so closely that he smothers it and burns his hand.”


Album.
Legion.
#20
I don't think a degree in music is much different than any other degree.  The job and professional market is flooded in most sectors, so depending on field of study and your geographical location and your willingness to move and how good you are at said thing, I'd say it's a level playing field to some affect.  

Value is subjective.  Asking if a degree in something is worth it is like asking about stock tips, like some form of advise is going to ensure you make a profit on your academic investment.  It's my belief that if something is important enough to you and you feel complete with it, a career outcome is of little relevance.  I'm the black sheep on this philosophy.  We've been culturally brainwashed to believe that school = success, and that degree = job.  Instead, I believe that higher education is about self discovery, becoming proficient in something, being passionate about something, having the credential to open you up to opportunities in the field, overall - options.

I find in creative and artistic fields of study this is the case.  You find a lot of people with degrees in art, music, film, theater, writing, dance, etc, who lead double lives.  They work professionally to some degree, but they also pursue other means of employment - often to the point that they lead two careers, two paths, however you want to look at it.  I know people with degrees in all the above.  Some of them work professionally, others have day jobs and they work on their personal stuff when they have the time and as the opportunities present themselves.  Relating to my very first statement, equally, you find business majors working for firms or whatever, who are also plugging away at starting their own business - in my eyes the difference between that and an arts degree/career is minimal.

I think you need to define what outcome you are looking for, and how hard you are willing to work for it.  Do you want to teach, go to grad school, work on the orchestra or symphony, do studio work?  What is your goal?  More often than not in the arts, its the work you do not the degree. But under certain circumstances, it's the degree that gets them to look at you in the first place - again, the opportunity builder.  I know dozens of people with MFA's in various practices.  Some of them are content working at grocery stores and working in their studio, and the MFA earns them the community credit to get the shows they want.  Study contemporary art history and literature enough, you'll find some of the most prolific creative minds had/have day jobs - and the ones who didn't struggled, and the 1% who didn't struggle and didn't have a day job were lucky enough to get the break or that damn good. 

The only reason I say all this is, anyone looking into a degree and career in the arts is going to be met with a lot of opposition.  You're going to hear a lot of people say something isn't worth it unless you make your money or you have a title.  Your personal ambition is what is at stake.  For some people, going through 4-10 years of training in painting, guitar, cello, film, etc, is instantly worth it when they get to give a 5 minute talk before their short screens at Sundance, or when a university invites them to give a guest artist lecture, or when they pass an audition to play their instrument in the pit at the big play that's in town.  It's all about personal victories and how you define that.

Cheers.
"I definitely don’t write all my music in a blackout, like I used to, although I did come up with some good stuff in a blackout."
-Matt Fucking Pike
#22
Tony Done And one step further, it's about satisfaction in life over a career, the proverbial "work for a living" vs "living to work"

"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you."

 That there is BB King
"I definitely don’t write all my music in a blackout, like I used to, although I did come up with some good stuff in a blackout."
-Matt Fucking Pike
#23
Quote by 33db
I think you're looking for an easy way, and will attack anything that smacks of hard work.

Buddy I'm a professional musician and hold a day job... without the music degree. It's cost me a lot - money, relationships, other professional opportunities...During the wedding season I'm working 6 and 7 days a week, with travel every weekend. It's a miracle if I have more than an hour or two a day in which I don't have to do something (or rather, in which I have the choice of doing something). It's a ton of fun and I love it more than anything, but it's not as if I don't question whether I'd have more peace of mind if just did my 9-5.

What you suggest is doable, sort of, but if I had had the foresight to get into a music program back when I was 18, I'd do it a heartbeat. A lot of people have the passion for music, but it's frankly a terrible decision to make it happen for most people. There are more important things in life, which is why it's so advantageous for a passionate musician to get a degree while they're young and don't yet have serious responsibilities. Pursing music as an adult comes with no guarantee of success, and a good chance you'll end up sacrificing your own well-being, or worse yet, letting down people who depend on you.

And as an adult, you have to accept limited scope of development. Stuff like sight reading and experience performing all kinds of music. The degreed performers I play with make their real money doing stuff like arrangement, musical direction, accompaniment, and education. All areas you can take specific classes in as a music student, but in which there are precious few learning opportunities outside of the classroom.

There is no easy way, and that's my whole point. It's hard as shit, and you've only got a few years to make it happen before the odds stack up against you. Jump into a music career when you have the most realistic opportunity. Don't wait until you realize that nothing else makes you happy.
Last edited by cdgraves at Jun 15, 2017,
#24
I have a music degree and have done fuck all with it.

Starting a music-related job next week, but Im sure the degree had nothing to do with me landing the job. I've held the degree for 3 years now and have worked jobs with nothing to do with music until now. 

I learned a lot about theory from some great professors though. I had the opportunity to make connections, but I basically did it all wrong and just went to school, did my work, got good grades, and went home.
#25
CD has this one covered.  

I got a business degree with minor in music.  The BA keeps food on the table and the wolves from the door with a day job that pays well and gives me a lot of choices in life.  The minor in music taught me the language, the big picture in music, and keeps me sane.    On the weekends I gig with some very skilled musicians who spent 20 yrs touring or as LA session players.  We understand each other and play well together, making some cash along the way.  This path I took has not been all roses and has certainly been difficult and challenging at times.  I like to play percentages and this path looked like it would suit my personality and lifestyle well.  It does.

If you wish to get a music degree, plan to teach full time and gig on the weekends.  Only do this if you don't need student loans to get through school as it will be a long and difficult road to pay them back.  Nearly any other degree has a greater return on investment than a music degree.

FWIW my 3 kids got degrees in History, Communications, and Photography.  Not the top STEM choices most counselors recommend.  All have good jobs ($60k-$110k) as a HS teacher, MRI tech, and Volunteer Coordinator for a major charitable organization.  The degrees opened the door and they did the rest.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis
Last edited by Cajundaddy at Jun 18, 2017,
#26
I completed my undergrad with degrees in classical guitar performance and recording technology. The curriculum definitely made me a better musician, but if you are looking to make a lot of money, or have a full time job based off of your music degree, you won't. 
#27
No one goes to music tertiary college/universities for the piece of paper at the end, not unless you're getting a teaching job. You do to expand your musical horizons, meet new people, grow your alumni network, and improve your overall musicianship. You're never going to get a gig because you got a bachelor or whatever, but the people you meet while taking your courses will, and the network your college of choice will give you plenty of contacts, and the skills you learn will probably help you secure more work. It also never hurts being able to say you have a degree, it won't get you gigs per say but it's a nice little icing to your cake if you know what I mean.
Quote by Fat Lard
post of the year, thank you