#1
Iam open to anyones suggestions/advice/opinions. Specially interested in those who have a career in music/makes their living off music. Those with music degrees (even if its not in guitar), those who gig/tour and know from personal or shared experience how the music industry is like for guitarists in this day and age and economy, anyone who can contribute would be appreciated. Thanks


Would you recommend a guitarist to go to music college if they want to pursue a career in music?

In your opinion, do you think its plausible for a guitarist in america in 2014 to graduate from a music college and be able to pay off their student debt? In this day and age an economy, whats your opinion on someone going to music college to pursue a career in music? Anecdotes that are as true as possible would help me get a better idea on making my choice, giving me things to consider and help reflect on.

What about not going to college and just pursuing a career in music as a guitarist without a degree? How have you seen people with degrees and without them fair? (Please mention those you know or seen their career path unfold, but try to mention the average joe. Not necessarily the Steve Vai's and Frank Zappas, but your average person whos a guitar player that survives playing guitar and doing music related jobs.

Any kind of insight would be appreciated. Thank you in advance, again.
__________________________________________________ _________________
The ideal path of this "career in music" I could see myself doing is as follows:

-Session work
-Original music (touring & recording artist)
-Guitar teacher
- Songwriting Composing (scoring for tv/film/movies/video games/commercials etc.)
-Freelance guitar player
__________________________________________________ _________________
Some background on me:

-Age: 24
-Location: New York City
-Genre/Styles: Metal, blues, classic rock, classical, & jazz
-Guitar Ability Level/Musical Skill: Intermediate
#2
That's a tough one. If it was me I'd look for a college where I can study music AND learn another skill in case the music thing didn't work out.
#3
Just a question. How much formal musical training have you already had? For example, can you read SN reasonably fluently?

EDIT - I'm wondering about auditions, and how much catch-up you might have to do. My daughter did performing arts (dance) and had to audition for a university place - about four times as many applicants as places.
Last edited by Tony Done at Nov 27, 2014,
#4
The chairs in a big city orchestra for guitarists are few and very far between.

Regardless of ability, I'm certain there's a lot of, "it's not what you know, it's who you know", going on.

Even mega stars of the 60's and 70's are making the rounds in quite small venues.

Then too, 90% of people with a degree in any art, fail to find work in their chosen field.

I suppose you can always teach guitar. But it's the reverse of the old adage, "those that can't teach". Now it's more like, "even those that can are forced to take on students".

Tell the truth, I'd start working on a backup plan before you do anything else.
#5
I personally would value the contacts I might develop more than anything else. A good music school can be a good place to meet good musicians.
#6
I would say 100% YES, go to college for music if that is truly what you want to do. I'm a part o the Tom Hess Music Mentoring Program and he makes SO much sense when he talks on this topic. Me, being a musician who went to school for something else (communications degree) regrets that I didn't go to school for music. Tom pretty much leaves us with the realization of things like, If you want to be a doctor, you don't go to law school. If you want to be an architect, you don't study biology. If you want to be a musician, why waste your time studying anything else? Will studying anything else lead you closer or farther to your goal. He talks about how yes, its understandable that people want a "Plan B" etc. but Plan B should always be in SUPPORT of "Plan A". You have to believe in yourself. Examine all the possible careers you can have as a guitarist. You can be in bands, be a studio musician, be a music TEACHER, there could be many other options you can't even think of right now but that some research will uncover. If you believe you can be a successful musician in any capacity, then you owe it to yourself to put all your energy into and not waste your energy on something totally unrelated "incase it doesn't work out". People are professional musicians, they DO it, so why can't you be one of those people? GO FOR IT and do not take your eye off the ball.

As for the route of not going to college, I think that is a bad idea. I think you need to be smart about what college you choose, however. I am in piles and piles of student loan debt. Try to avoid that any way you can. The first thing to consider is the school's tuition. Can you go to a state school with a great reputation and get lower tuition? It might be great to go to Berkley, but I think it might be just as beneficial to go to a lesser known school and it will still be impressive that you have a real degree in music (it's just another tool to put you above other future musicians) but at half the cost. Also, try for any scholarships you can get, even if you don't think you will win the scholarship, you dig enough and you might be able to find one that does help you out.
Last edited by JamieShields at Nov 27, 2014,
#7
People should go to college to better equip themselves for the profession they want *with the expectation that they'll make an appropriately greater amount of money to justify the extreme cost up front*.

The examples above are poor comparables. Doctors, architects, etc cannot become such without the college degree, in some cases many degrees.

There are folks that make horrible decisions to go to college, go $80,000, $100,000, and sometimes way more in debt for the expectation to make no where near enough money to justify. It's a poor choice.

This is coming from someone who has a master's degree, who's wife does, all my siblings do, my mother has three degrees (unusual for someone from her generation), and my mom and wife are teachers. Education is very important to me. Education is huge!

However, not all formal education is worth paying for and not all life /career paths require formal education.

I've also been paid to play in a city orchestra and paid to teach private lessons. Both of which were when I was younger, and music just wasn't for me professionally.

The first question I have is what in music do you want to do? Does that require a degree? Want to be a school music teacher? Obvious answer.

Is one far preferred by employers? Probably a big plus should one want to be in an orchestra. Might be hard to fit in when a bunch coworkers and the lead employer all hold PhDs???

Want to be a studio musician, guitar tech on tour, rocker, maybe not, might not be a good thing even for some things.

So, how will the *degree* help you. Getting good at music does not require a degree. And can even be somewhat detrimental since some of your time is spent going to class that doesn't require playing.

Getting good at music can probably done much, much cheaper outside of college, and probably more efficiently.

So what do you want, and how will an actual degree make that happen and will it be commensurate to the cost?
Last edited by gr7070 at Nov 27, 2014,
#8
This post had me confused, because it appears in two different sub-fora.

My daughter has good paper qualifications in dance, so I can tell you this from personal experience:

Paper will create opportunities to teach, not so much to perform.

It will help with contacts and knowing where to look for work.

The performing art world is highly competitive and full of very good wannabes. If you want to perform as opposed to teach, then I think you need have a long history of excellence in your chosen style before you contemplate doing it at tertiary level. - My daughter started at the age of four, and has been working continuously at it for the past 19 years.
Last edited by Tony Done at Nov 28, 2014,
#9
Quote by gr7070
People should go to college to better equip themselves for the profession they want *with the expectation that they'll make an appropriately greater amount of money to justify the extreme cost up front*.

The examples above are poor comparables. Doctors, architects, etc cannot become such without the college degree, in some cases many degrees.

There are folks that make horrible decisions to go to college, go $80,000, $100,000, and sometimes way more in debt for the expectation to make no where near enough money to justify. It's a poor choice.

This is coming from someone who has a master's degree, who's wife does, all my siblings do, my mother has three degrees (unusual for someone from her generation), and my mom and wife are teachers. Education is very important to me. Education is huge!

However, not all formal education is worth paying for and not all life /career paths require formal education.

I've also been paid to play in a city orchestra and paid to teach private lessons. Both of which were when I was younger, and music just wasn't for me professionally.

The first question I have is what in music do you want to do? Does that require a degree? Want to be a school music teacher? Obvious answer.

Is one far preferred by employers? Probably a big plus should one want to be in an orchestra. Might be hard to fit in when a bunch coworkers and the lead employer all hold PhDs???

Want to be a studio musician, guitar tech on tour, rocker, maybe not, might not be a good thing even for some things.

So, how will the *degree* help you. Getting good at music does not require a degree. And can even be somewhat detrimental since some of your time is spent going to class that doesn't require playing.

Getting good at music can probably done much, much cheaper outside of college, and probably more efficiently.

So what do you want, and how will an actual degree make that happen and will it be commensurate to the cost?



My examples of doctors, architects etc....has nothing to do with the level of degree one needs, although I understand what you are saying; You CAN'T be a doctor without a degree, and you CAN be a musician without a degree, but the point I was trying to make was obviously not clear.

My point was... you study the subject material of what you want to be best at. You don't study something that has nothing to do with what you want to excel at. If you want to be a musician, you don't read a million books about history and maybe one book about music and expect to be a great musician. Your focus became history, even though that's a "fall back plan".

When people have a 'fall back plan", in case music "doesn't work out", the fall back plan is usually totally unrelated to music. Someone wants to be a musician and wants to go to college b/c having a degree is valuable, but instead of going to music school, they go to a different program and study a totally unrelated topic as their fall back plan. I think that going to college is a great experience and very important and that a musician with a degree has an edge over musicians that don't, especially if they end up in the teaching realm of music. Plus, having a degree is a fall back plan in itself, b/c many jobs might just want to see that you have some kind of degree, no matter what it is. It's true, not ALL musicians need formal education. Many successful musicians do not have college training. But, if you want the college experience, and you want to be a musician, then I think it would be wise to go to college FOR music.

It might also be wise to take a year or two off from school and just do independent music study and see what kinds of experiences and knowledge you gain that way. You may see for yourself that you want to go to school for music, or you might see that you don't even need to. You can always go BACK to college, but once you spend that money and invest the time, it's gone. It couldn't hurt to take a year off and explore.

The point that some people go to collage and spend WAY more than they can actually justify in earnings after graduating couldn't be more true.... that is the situation I am in right now. That's why I recommended going to a state school with affordable tuition and trying to get any kind of scholarships possible. I could have gotten my degree for MUCH much cheaper, but I chose to go to school out of state and took out many more loans than I needed, and boy am I paying for it now. So, if you DO go to school, I recommend finding the least expensive tuition, and be super careful about what kinds of loans you take out.
#10
I have a bunch of friends who make their living with music touring, session work, and also in film and television. They are pretty amazing players and some have music degrees, others do not. The general consensus is, get a degree in music if and only if you can do it without accruing a bunch of debt. Work nights, teach guitar lessons, dig ditches, anything besides a bunch of student loans. Student debt will crush a music grad quickly.

The music biz is tough and really good gigs come and go. If you want to pay rent and eat regularly you need to be a successful teacher generating a regular paycheck or have another day job.
"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

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
#11
Quote by JamieShields
I recommended going to a state school with affordable tuition and trying to get any kind of scholarships possible. I could have gotten my degree for MUCH much cheaper, but I chose to go to school out of state and took out many more loans than I needed, and boy am I paying for it now. So, if you DO go to school, I recommend finding the least expensive tuition, and be super careful about what kinds of loans you take out.


Excellent advice!
#12
Quote by Cajundaddy
The general consensus is, get a degree in music if and only if you can do it without accruing a bunch of debt. Work nights, teach guitar lessons, dig ditches, anything besides a bunch of student loans. Student debt will crush a music grad quickly.


More great advice!

And, frankly, this advice can be extended beyond music. Far fewer degrees are worth a big chunk of debt than most would recognize.

Entering the real world with the equivalent of a higher interest mortgage, but with no house to show for it, and no high income profession to justify it is a recipe for failure.

Even the high paying professions like engineering usually start out with low pay and a "mortgage" payment can be a heavy weight around one's neck.
Last edited by gr7070 at Nov 28, 2014,