#1
I'm of the deep opinion that a degree in music is absolutely worthless to those wanting any other job except for teaching or being a historian. But for those who are on the path or have completed it, can you share your experiences about how getting the degree has impacted you as a musician? Any invaluable knowledge?

I'm curious.
We're all alright!
#2
If you think degree == job then don't even consider a degree in music or any art in general. I'm pursuing a degree in music and if everything works out as planned (it won't) I'll never be "employed" or have a "job." I'll hopefully have work to do and make money doing it, but the idea of a job in music isn't a thing and isn't really relevant to me. I've just completed my third year of a Bachelor's in composition and it's been completely worth it.
#3
A degree is essentially just a bit of paper, but the experience you'll get and the contacts you'll meet whilst getting your degree will be invaluable.
#4
The contacts I got with my music degree were paramount to my success. I never would have gone anywhere with my music without the connections I made in college. I have no desire to teach for quite a few years and absolutely no desire to be a historian.

One of my teachers broke me into the performance world and because of him and people I met through my school I play 4+ nights a week. I also did recording engineering on the side my entire time, recording recitals et all, he got me a job at a recording studio and a GA at nearly any grad school I want to go to.

It would have been significantly more difficult to be a successful, professional musician without the connections and education I got.
Winner of the 2011 Virginia Guitar Festival

Protools HD
Lynx Aurora 16/HD192
Mojave, Sennheiser, AKG, EV etc mics
Focusrite ISA828 pres
Waves Mercury
Random Rack Gear

65 Deluxe Reverb
PRS CE 22
American Standard Strat
Taylor 712
#5
I had a few friends who obtained music degrees. None of them were able to use the degree to jump into a career, but two of them did use the bachelor's degree to get into grad programs. One of them went to law school, and the other one was somehow able to get into Harvard Medical school. I'm still not really sure how he pulled that off.

If your aspiration is to get paid to perform, then I've heard the contacts you make from getting a music degree are invaluable, but if your goal is just to learn how to play music, getting a music degree is a very expensive way to go about it. You can learn how to play just as well without it.
#6
Degree in music is useless, I started a Music Performance degree then switched to a Music Technology degree after 1 year (which is also useless). Some of the guys who got their degree's were genuinely crap musicians, specifically the guitarists.

Some (though not all) of the guys doing the Music Technology degree we're equally shite. At the end of it there is no job to be found where the degree will help you. One of my friends ended up working as a nightclub security/doorman and the other works for the waterboard. Both completely unrelated to music and in both cases the degree was worthless. I'm a careworker aswell as a guitarist and I do occasional recording/production work, the latter 2 are not making me any real money. Most of my production skills I learned at home by myself, rather than as a result of my university studies.

If you want to make money out of music you need to be in a covers band or you need to be exceptionally good, know the right people, put in the work and invest the money to launch a career with an original band, it aint easy!
Cornford Hellcat
Peavey 5150
1994 Ibanez Jem 7V
#7
I actually am a music ed major, so the degree is very important to me. That said, a performance degree will not help you get a performance job. The skills that you learn while completing the degree will help, but the certification saying that you passed is just a scrap of paper.

Joe Alessi got into the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra when he was 16, before he went to college. He got into the Philadelphia Orchestra while still studying at Curtis.
Strauss!
"I am hitting my head against the walls, but the walls are giving way." - Gustav Mahler.

Quote by AeolianWolf
absolutely what will said

Yay, my first compliment!
#8
If there's any question in your mind whether or not you should major in music, you should not major in music.
Quote by CLVPX
Wow, SkyValley = Epic win.
#9
As iterated many times above, its all about the contacts.

Unfortunately the vast majority of people studying music do not gig whilst in uni, do not use their contacts and finish their degree expecting to be picked up by a famous jazz fusion trio. Of course they don't, leading to seeking money elsewhere.

Why is this? Well I know my local jazz conservatorium has "jazz nazis", students whom will judge you if they see you playing music that is not within a certain sub-genre of jazz. For fear of being judged, other students opt not to gig at all. And what use is a musician with no band experience? Quite useless for a professional band.

I don't know if its the same situation elsewhere. On rough estimates of the jazz school (as supplied by jazz students) roughly a quarter play live, and a third of those who play live play non-jazz music. You can understand that the very nature of the school limits the students opportunities to make money, as they are denying experience and opportunities before they even have jobs.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#10
My honours degree in music (merely from an employment point of view) got me a job at Manpower Temporary Services.

Fortunately, it also got me into Teachers' College.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#11
There are a lot of extraordinary limited views on this thread. AlanHB hit tje nail on the head with a lot of students not using the resources they have available. Simply getting a degree is worthless. Playing out, going to festivals, studios, et al and meeting as many people as you can, all while learning about our musical heritage, is what makes you successful.

Being in a band is not the only way to "make it" in music. I haven't been in a band since I was 16. I don't play covers either, and never have. As I said earlier, the connections are the most important part, yes, but so is the ability to collect income from multiple sources. If you think your metal band is going to make it big, you're wrong. I make a lot teaching lessons, a good deal doing recording engineering and probably just enough to support myself playing shows. The three combined actually make a pretty comfortable life.

I'm on my way to grad school as well and after that I'm going to try to get an electronic music or composition job at a university. At least that way I'll have included benefits.
Winner of the 2011 Virginia Guitar Festival

Protools HD
Lynx Aurora 16/HD192
Mojave, Sennheiser, AKG, EV etc mics
Focusrite ISA828 pres
Waves Mercury
Random Rack Gear

65 Deluxe Reverb
PRS CE 22
American Standard Strat
Taylor 712
#12
With any career or field you pursue in life, the knowledge outweighs the degree. You don't have to a degree to be a successful musician, but if you're really good at what you do, you shouldn't have to have a degree to do anything.
Having a degree shows others that you spent the time and put in the hours and worked really hard for a long time, and it's your job to deliver, so to speak.

There are kids at my school that are really serious and don't need a degree, but then there are kids who are only here for the degree and unfortunately, I don't think they will go anywhere.

You also have to be in a place where music is a part of the culture, you know, since I started going to school, I've met people and recorded with people that I never dreamed of in my life. I've recorded and performed with one of my musical heroes, and maybe I'm the exception you know, but I just worked hard and sacrificed to get where I am, and I continue to do so to get to where I want to be. You just have to be around people and take opportunities and get your name out.

All of the people that I work with, and are my teachers they do it all. They've performed all over the world people like Robert Plant and Art Garfunkel and they also teach music, so they do more than one job. That's how you survive as a musician.
And we will weave in and out of sanity unnoticed
Swirling in blissfully restless visions of all our bleary progress
Glowing in radiant madness
#13
It's sad that you're going into a creative subject which you know is saturated and are judging the education and experience based on how much cash you're going to get from it. As said above, it's about knowing the right people and having the right skills to impress them. However the fact you're putting the money a degree may give you access to over your love of the art is pretty sad. If you're going into music you should already know you'll likely be poor.

EDIT and what the above guy says. thing is a lot of the popular experimental musicians like SoMa and Adian Baker get where they've got because of the above, and because they're relentless. They live and breathe music; playing all the time (often for free) and record and collaborate as much as is possible. If you want to get somewhere, you'll need all the aforementioned and an actual **** to give. Because people like that started out with little and got big because of luck, having an angle, knowing/meeting the right people, and most importantly, what caused those: an obsessional love for the art.
they're coming to take me away
ha-haaa
Last edited by Banjocal at Apr 24, 2013,
#14
What do you want to do with music? Do others that are doing what you want to do have a degree in music?
#15
Quote by Artemis Entreri
There are a lot of extraordinary limited views on this thread. AlanHB hit tje nail on the head with a lot of students not using the resources they have available. Simply getting a degree is worthless. Playing out, going to festivals, studios, et al and meeting as many people as you can, all while learning about our musical heritage, is what makes you successful.

Being in a band is not the only way to "make it" in music. I haven't been in a band since I was 16. I don't play covers either, and never have. As I said earlier, the connections are the most important part, yes, but so is the ability to collect income from multiple sources. If you think your metal band is going to make it big, you're wrong. I make a lot teaching lessons, a good deal doing recording engineering and probably just enough to support myself playing shows. The three combined actually make a pretty comfortable life.

I'm on my way to grad school as well and after that I'm going to try to get an electronic music or composition job at a university. At least that way I'll have included benefits.



It sounds like you're in a good position, but I'd like to also promote that teaching music should not be considered a "back-up" option that you will only really do if your music career takes off - teaching is one of those things that you're naturally attracted to or are not. If you are in the latter category it will make your life hell.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#16
Im currently studying a dual degree in Business (Economics) and the Creative Industries (Music). With a 4 year course I get one degree in something I love and 1 degree that will make me highly employable for a "real" job. The most respected university in my area for music also has a Music/Business dual degree for a four year program. Sadly that universities business components are terrible with very little respect.

Putting it out there that it is possible to study both music and a 'smart' subject too. I agree with the statement about making contacts being the most important thing.
Last edited by danresn at Apr 25, 2013,
#17
Great posts guys.

Quote by Violet Heart
What do you want to do with music? Do others that are doing what you want to do have a degree in music?

I want to perform, write, and produce music professionally with a band.

I'll explain my current education path: I'm getting an Associates in General Studies and two Accounting certificates. I have taken two semesters of private lessons and music theory. I'm in the planning/practice phase of my life by keeping my originals and ideas to myself and practicing to be the best at my instruments. Sure that sounds counterproductive to getting out there and doing it, but a band isn't what I need with school and work in the way. The importance of getting my degree is to be marketable for future jobs, have automatic transfer to state universities (if I choose to go), and really being able to prove something to myself.

In the next year I'll have my degree, plan to take more private lessons, get a band together, study electronics, take classes/volunteer at a recording studio, and keep working.

I don't know anyone with a degree except those pursuing it now. Some of them are training to become teachers (not my path) and some are young guys in performing groups (my path). The one guy I know who's both been a musician all his life and earned his Associates in Music is kind of a sad sack. He's got like six degrees but doesn't do anything with them (not even anything with music). He's not a role model I want to live under.
We're all alright!
#18
I have a diploma in Music Composition.

It was a good experience taught me a lot about music and a bit about composition. It also landed me a decent part time teaching job which has taught me a lot about the realities of being a teacher.

That being said I would not spend any more money in music except for private lessons. In my opinion, music degrees are simply not worth the effort or the money imo (unless you are rich and are already financially secure). All the skills you get in a degree, you can gain on your own (with a private teacher) at your own pace for much less money. If you are really interested in contacts I suppose it makes sense but $40,000 is a lot to spend for contacts when you could ask for private lessons from the professors or talk to them after going to a gig of theirs. School isnt the only way to make contacts.

Music alone is tough to make a living off of, especially at first I say; dont quit your dayjob until its holding you back financially. Its much better imo, to play and write what you love in your spare time (sacrificing 8 hrs a day for financial freedom) without the pressure of having to take everything that comes your way because you need the money. You also have a means of funding your music and in essence investing in yourself. I feel that playing mustang sally for the 300th time just to barely scrape by would make me hate something I love.

You could spend that money better on a different degree or diploma that will get you a decent job that has some regularity and more demand (preferably something you enjoy as well) so your not waiting tables as your day job while your career picks up and your also not starving and/or stressing out over where your next paycheck is coming from.

You could also buy a car or put a downpayment on a house. Its a lot of money. Most of the masterful musicians we study today in almost every style have no degree what so ever.

Quote by The Spoon
Unless you're sure she likes you, telling her you like her has a 110% chance of failing.

But hey, at least you have a 10% chance of absolutely guaranteeing failure.
Last edited by British_Steal at Apr 26, 2013,
#19
So, its all about using all the resources available during your studies , meaning to take all the opportunities available for gigs and to never deny opportunities because you will end up without any real experience and contacts at the end of your studies...

And to make a decent living out of music, it would necessarily mean to have multiple sources of income from gigs, teaching privately and/or at schools, and studio work.
Could someone expect to make a decent living as a recording/studio engineer (with a background in music - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonmeister) ?
#20
Look at it this way.

Yes, you can begin a career in music without a degree. However, spending the time getting a degree allows you to establish skills and knowledge from known experts in the field. This way, you gain experience while in university; which I have found to be in valuable. Further, a degree gives you credibility. This is always handy when applying for church jobs, teach positions, etc. If your goal in music is to try and "make it" as a singer- songwriter, rock guitarist, etc. No, a degree isn't needed. However, the chances of success are still pretty low. That said, I have always been certain music is what I want to do. I'd rather be a bum on the street and play music than be stuck in a business office all day. However, I have set myself on a path for success and I utilized my contacts. In fact, I am starting my graduate music degree this fall and I am hoping and I know I will be able to land a university job after I obtain that degree. I also know that I will be able to make some money from freelances, since that's my living right now.
2010 Gibson SG Honeyburst
I'm a musician, a composer, and a theory nut. Pleased to meet you! Check out my websites and drop me a line.

"The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude. " ~ Freidrich Nietzche


My Website
#21
School is important. AFTER SCHOOL IS MORE IMPORTANT.

Many people have knowledge. Most do not know how to make it work for them or develop a career they truly want to work at.

Your aim determines what 'type' of education you'll need. Most professors and teachers aren't familiar with what it takes to secure gigs, keep a band or yourself going, how to even succeed let alone survive the industry. Two different worlds. Two different knowledges.

It takes an enormous amount of time, energy, investments, and commitment to make anything real. Be patient. But clarify what you truly want and your reasons for it.

Reasons first. Answers second. Hope this helps too.