Not sure if a new thread was necessary for this question but:

To play jazz at a professional level, is a performance degree necessary? Or does it just help you get to playing at a higher level?

...modes and scales are still useless.

Quote by PhoenixGRM
Hey guys could you spare a minute to Vote for my band. Go to the site Search our band Listana with CTRL+F for quick and vote Thank you .
Quote by sam b
Voted for Patron Çıldırdı.

Quote by PhoenixGRM
But our Band is Listana
Sure, it is networking. But you also need the actual skills to back that up. I'm just saying going to school for this won't necessarily make you a better artist. At most, school can make you more functional, but it is completely reliant on yourself to go above and beyond that, which is what you'll need to be a compelling musician (aka have a chance of making adequate money).

...modes and scales are still useless.

Quote by PhoenixGRM
Hey guys could you spare a minute to Vote for my band. Go to the site Search our band Listana with CTRL+F for quick and vote Thank you .
Quote by sam b
Voted for Patron Çıldırdı.

Quote by PhoenixGRM
But our Band is Listana
Yeah...it's really not necessary at all. In fact, I've heard some very compelling arguments that the only reason musicians don't see as much money as they'd like is because of debt, usually to their label, but also to their schools if they got music degrees. It increases the amount of money you need before you see any sign of profit, sometimes by at least a decade depending on just how much debt a band/musician has managed to acquire.
Schooling can be help, but can cost, ask yourself can you afford it, are you going for the right reasons and are you going to get the most out of it. Many musician fall into the illusion of going to school and they think they're going to be an overnight success.

Sure you learn heaps of interesting/helpful theory, but that doesn't necessarily mean a living off music
I personally always found the idea of a degree in "performance" a little amusing, as I believe the best way you can improve at performing is simply by performing, and I don't really need to know the theory behind it.

Otherwise in terms of formal qualifications for music, performance included, there are only certain situations that require them. Working as a music teacher at a school, being part of a professional orchestra, working full time for the Army, and I think that's about it.

An interesting point was made above:

Quote by almudjk
Many musician fall into the illusion of going to school and they think they're going to be an overnight success.

I don't think this is limited to musicians. I'd say the majority of students fall into this trap. In a more traditional job field employers are going to favour workers whom already have experience in that field over those that don't. Studies do not count as experience. Studying can give you a really good theoretical background, but you have not proven that you can actually work in this field.

Unfortunately for many students (myself at one point included) they think they'll just graduate and life will fall into place. In the meantime one of their fellow students has actually been working in the field, and their graduation just scored them a promotion to the job that the former student wanted. The student with no experience starts applying around, and they don't get the response they were expecting.

We are currently in a situation where so many people have degrees that you need to separate yourself from your peers. Once heralded as a "money" subject, Law students are graduating and having trouble finding work in the Law field. Those with the experience will succeed, the graduation was just a formality as they'd also spent that time gaining real-world skills in the area.

Music is no different from any other field in this respect. Those with the experience will be favoured over those who do not have any. If you just spent the last 4 years studying music and you haven't played a gig, I would not expect you to play with a band very well. You probably wouldn't either, despite what your degree made you think.

However in music there is the further point that with the exception of those positions above there's no "actual" requirement to have a formal qualification to get those roles you want. So basically instead of studying for 7-10 hours a day, 5 days a week, you could use that time to be playing gigs, advertising yourself and networking, and this approach would be more effective than locking yourself in a room and reach an arguably higher skill level with strong theoretical knowledge.

If we were to compare the situation above to a musician who spent 4 years studying just entering the work field at the end of their studies against another musician who had been actively in the industry for that time, you can see the results. People are doing world tours by the time they're 20, and they don't have the debt from their studies.

Looks like I went on a bit of a rant there. I will continue. Another interesting feature about a career in an arts field (including music) is that due to the lack of demand and over supply, there's extremely little full time jobs that you can actually apply for, and a hell of a lot of competition for those slots. For most musicians attempting to score these positions is a fruitless labour - there's simply other people who are better suited for the role.

Faced with this situation the only choice is to become a small business. You are selling your skills on X instrument in terms of cash. Your clients will generally not care about how you got good, just that you are good and they will give you money to be good. You just need to find people who will pay you for your good product.

I'm going to stop. Basically I think you should focus more on selling yourself as a musician than being taught how to perform in a classroom, and that whilst a formal qualification is nice to have, and necessary for certain roles, if it is not coupled with experience it can do very little to help your musical career.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Everything besides law, medical, science and engineering is purely hobbie when it comes to going to school for its up to you to make something of it and also to pay ur debt then to get out in to the world and be the good little tax cattle we all are.
For Jazz I wouldn't say it is necessary. For classical... maybe. Getting a degree from a high up university can really push you career off. However, jazz is still considered to be a pop genre so networking and 'getting your foot in the door' is still the most important aspect to acquiring musical success.
No. It is not a necessity to learn jazz and in most cases (especially those who live in the US) it is a very bad proposition.


$100,000 of dept for a music degree is an absolutely insane proposition and will, in almost all cases, put you into serious financial trouble for a significant portion of your life.

Even for networking purposes, I believe that there are better ways to spend your money and time.

I'm from Canada where a music degree will run you about $30,000-40,000 and even that is too expensive. A music degree costs the same as a STEM degree (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) but with substantially less earning potential.

I teach guitar at a music store right now and there are people there teaching piano/violin/voice who have masters and even Phd and they aren't making more than $30/hr. Thats $50,000+ dept for a job you could get with a diploma ($10,000) or just a lot of experience. Getting a masters or phd in another field could easily bring you 100K+. In music it barely matters unless your trying to land one of the highly sought and extremely competitive university teaching positions which usually require a PhD.

The only way Id spend that much on a degree is if it provided serious earning potential, lot of demand and most importantly, if said degree was an absolute necessity to work in a chosen field with those prospects (ex: Engineering, Medicine).

Here's what I suggest:

1) Private Lessons from the best jazz guitarists you can find in your area. Yes this could mean the ones that are teaching at university; email them and see if they will teach you outside school. Try to get lessons from great jazz players that come into your city once you have the basics mastered as well.

2) Transcribe Transcribe Transcribe. Your favourite players. Listen to jazz all the time.

3) Practice all the things your teacher tells you and you feel you need to work on.

4) Go out and get some performance experience as well as network. Go to a few open mics. Meet people. Go to Jazz gigs. Meet and jam with other musicians. Get your own gigs.

You do not need any kind of degree to learn Jazz.


Read this article
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 Aug 30, 2013,
good advice, alan too
i have not much to add, just that if i would have lived in USA, I might have not taken the choice to join the music faculty, the debt is insane.
I am lucky enough to be a Canadian citizen in the province with the cheapest uni tuition fees, and TS seems to be from Manitoba, don't worry too much about the debt
you can get private lessons from qualified teachers at your local CC for cheaper than average (i think here it's $52 for a credit hour, and that covers 16 (?) weeks of instruction. just throw that onto your typical work/courseload and ask them about it.

if you plan on becoming a teacher at some point in your career, it would behoove you to major in either education or your discipline. on one hand, if you get educ out of the way first, you'll be clear to study as you decide later on what you'd like to teach (pragmatic). however, pursuing a masters in music would be quite difficult if you don't practice fairly religiously. at a school like UNT that has a competitive performance standard, it's not unusual to spend basically your entire social life working on mastery of your music (aside from your courses ofc) so i wouldn't want to enter in without proper instruction of some kind

but no a degree isn't very important, but if you feel you need it/can reasonably afford it with the proper channels of scholarships and grants, i wouldn't ever discourage the opportunity to further your knowledge. alan cited working in a professional orchestra, working in a military band, and teaching as requiring degrees, which is slim pickings for a guitarist, but in the scheme of music in general they're probably the most lucrative/stable job markets, and if you're wanting to make a living i wouldn't eliminate any possibilities.

i'm thinking more general music tho, if you played trombone and were in the same situation i'd encourage an education because there's a lot to offer a strong player in more traditional instruments. if you just wanna learn jazz guitar and play fast blues weedly like guthrie govan you'd be better off majoring in a more lucrative market and taking a music minor with your private lessons and a few musicianship/theory/keyboard courses.

also keep in mind that courses don't lock you into a classroom if you join an ensemble and get to play with living, breathing people and perform for the school, which you would certainly do in any jazz program.

or don't go to college at all and do general labor and wait tables or whatever people without degrees do idfk i'm working and going to school full time for the entire foreseeable future so what do i know
Quote by Kevätuhri
Hail isn't too edgy for posts, posts are not edgy enough for Hail.

Quote by UseYourThumb
You win. I'm done here.
Last edited by Hail at Aug 30, 2013,
I have a degree in Music Performance.

The qualification is completely useless, and I knew it would be before I did the course. The tutors themselves even tell you it's useless. However, I don't regret doing it for a second.

The main reason I did it was to have an excuse to spend all my time on guitar playing rather than study something 'sensible', as well as learn from some brilliant musicians.

The other reason was of course to meet likeminded dedicated players and form bands, network etc.
I really think somebody should make a master thread about this topic (should I get a degree in music) and maybe including 'making a living in music' topics as well (reality of making a living in music). The whole thing should be stickied. It would be a very useful resource.
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.