School Experience

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Elow
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School Experience

Post by Elow » Thu Nov 26, 2020 11:02 pm

Hi, im wondering what college is like when pursuing music. Im not sure if thats what i want to do yet, but i think it would be a fun option. Im just curious as to what the daily life is, and what kind of stuff you do. Also curious in the difference between the experiences of a performance major and a education major. If anyone has been to one of the top tier schools like curtis or all the others id really be interested in that, or fsu. I imagine ill go there, unless i get scholarships elsewhere. Thanks
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BGuttman
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Re: School Experience

Post by BGuttman » Thu Nov 26, 2020 11:17 pm

I went to an Engineering school that had no music program, but I can answer part of your question. Music Education majors need to learn how to teach and spend a lot less time on playing. In fact, when you teach music in a school system you have very little opportunity to play. Many of the music educators I know play in a Community Band or Community Orchestra to get satisfaction playing music.

As to choosing music as a vocation, understand that for most it doesn't pay well. Yes, there are some who can make a very good living as a musician. But they are many fewer than the number of excellent musicians pumped out by the conservatories. To succeed you need great ability and a good bit of luck.

You may find that a different profession keeping music as a sideline can be more satisfying. You seem to like tinkering with instruments, which is a hallmark of a good engineer. Engineers eat well and I know more than a few who play in various musical organizations.

I'll leave the course of study to the folks who have walked the walk.
Bruce Guttman
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harrisonreed
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Re: School Experience

Post by harrisonreed » Fri Nov 27, 2020 4:56 am

Don't go to school for music. Take lessons, get into the studio if they let you as an elective, but don't major in it.
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LeTromboniste
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Re: School Experience

Post by LeTromboniste » Fri Nov 27, 2020 6:06 am

Elow wrote:
Thu Nov 26, 2020 11:02 pm
Hi, im wondering what college is like when pursuing music. Im not sure if thats what i want to do yet, but i think it would be a fun option. Im just curious as to what the daily life is, and what kind of stuff you do. Also curious in the difference between the experiences of a performance major and a education major. If anyone has been to one of the top tier schools like curtis or all the others id really be interested in that, or fsu. I imagine ill go there, unless i get scholarships elsewhere. Thanks
Depends a lot on the college and the way their program specifically is built, but for performance the contents often looks something like the list below. Some schools have very rigid credits structures where aside from a few elective credits slots you pretty much have mostly mandatory classes, while some schools have a course block system where you have to have taken enough credits in each block to graduate but have some freedom in which classes within these blocks you want, and basically are free to take whatever you want with the rest of your credits.

Normally, credits reflect the number of class hours (a 12 credit semester means you're in class for 12 hours per week, and every class being 3 hours is worth 3 credits). In a performance degree it actually doesn't quite work that way, as instrument lessons are often worth more credits (3-5 despite being only 60-90 minutes long) to attempt to reflect the very long practice hours outside of the class itself. Ensembles however often weigh less than the class time (I had 2 credits for 5 hours/week of orchestra rehearsals for instance)

There is no typical day at school because your schedule will vary widely between days of the week and from one semester to the next.

Performance degree contents often look like this:

Practical subjects (normally all every semester)
-Trombone lesson once a week (60-90 minutes)
-Secondary instrument (i.e. piano) lesson once a week (some schools have them, some don't or you have to pay extra, sometimes it's group lessons) (30-60 minutes)
-Large ensemble (symphony, concert band, big band, etc) 2-3 times a week. You often have an obligation to audition for certain ensembles and get placed in others if you don't get in. (5-7 hours total)
-Brass ensemble (brass choir and/or chamber groups) 1-2 times a week. (2-3 hours total)
-Trombone clinic/trombone choir 1 time a week (1-2 hours)
-electives may include other ensembles (early music, new music, chamber music with non-brass people), orchestral excerpts reading session, sessions where people play solos for their peers and get feedback, etc.

Theory and other subjects (usually 2-3 per semester)
-Ear training and dictation (sometimes separate) 1-2 times a week (usually 3 hours total)
-Harmony once a week, probably not every semester (3 hours)
-Analysis, once a week, probably not every semester (3 hours)
-Counterpoint, once a week not every semester, sometimes mandatory, often not but available as elective (3 hours)
-Music history, probably not every semester (3 hours)
-various electives, may include things like acoustics, psychoacoustics, electronic music, ethnomusicology, classes using non-western music theory approaches, preparation to the professional life, musician yoga, musician's health classes, Feldenkreis, Alexander Technique, etc

Non-music classes
Many schools that are part of universities require you to take 1-3 elective courses (3 hours each) outside of the music department over the course of your Bachelor. Sometimes it's completely open and you can take whatever as long as you have the prerequisites for that course, sometimes you have to pick from a list (which often includes language classes in particular - if you can take German or French or Italian or Latin, those can then be particularly useful to you as a musician)

Homework
-For your trombone lessons, you'll be expected to practice at least 3 hours per day, 6-7 days a week, so that's the bulk of your time.
-For piano lessons if you have them, also at least 30-60 minutes daily.
-Ear training and dictation, probably exercices and practice at home.
-Harmony, analysis and counterpoint will usually give you 3-6 hours of homework every week, sometimes less but also sometimes more (I had counterpoint classes where I regularly had 9 hours of homework). You'll probably only have one of the three on your schedule though (i.e. you'll take them during different semesters)
-music history often has no homework, but one big research paper due at the end of term, plus studying for exams. If you're bright you'll work 3-4 hours a week on the research from as early as possible, if you're dumb like I and most of my friends were, you'll cram all the work at the end of term and have to pull a few all-nighters and likely ask for an extension...
-workload for electives will vary depending on the classes but usually isn't too heavy.


So overall, you'll probably have around 12 or 13 hours of lessons and rehearsals, 6-9 hours of theory classes, 20+ hours of practice time, and at least 6 hours of various homework, plus anything else you have outside of school or not part of classes (youth orchestra, student-organised projects, playing on other people's recitals or chamber concerts, etc). That's a solid 45 hours/week commitment on average, easily. If you're in the orchestra, the days before a concert or an opera production will often have extra rehearsals. Your least busy week in the semester will probably be 35 hours, the most busy probably closer to 60. Some days you'll be in classes as early as 8AM or as late as 9PM (and sometimes maybe both!). You might have long days with 9 or 10 hours of class, other days you might have only one class or none at all. You'll likely have lots of downtime between classes. If you live nearby and can practice at home, lucky you, you can use that time to practice. Otherwise you'll probably spend it on homework and socializing, as practice rooms are typically hard to get in the middle of the day. In that case you'll probably end up avoiding the practice rush hour (which is basically the whole day) and adopting an early bird or night owl routine where you get most of your practicing done before 10AM or so, or after 6PM when the rooms are freer. If you don't live close to school, public transit is better than driving even if slightly longer, because you can use the commute time on homework, study and readings. If close enough to walk or bike, do it, it'll help you stay active and it's good for your brain, learning and concentration.

As you can tell, it's not very conducive to working at the same time. If you do, it'll probably have to be very part-time lest you cut into your practice time. Best is to get a job on or near campus (or better, at the music school itself, like working admin help, or stagehand at the concert venues). Lots of people I went to school with worked 15-20 hours in retail/food jobs, most of them either struggled in school or just didn't get as good as they could have had they not cut into their practice time as much.
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Re: School Experience

Post by timothy42b » Fri Nov 27, 2020 6:18 am

I'm going to speculate wildly and repeat some stereotypes that may have no validity. My angle here is personality fit.

But it seems like the life of a classical performance major, besides being pretty hard to find employment in, demands a rather high level of conformity. The standards for tone, articulation, interpretation, dress, etc. are rigid. There is only one right way to do it, and you probably need to fit the mold. Jazz would be a bit freer, I guess.

Without trying to psychoanalyze you or anything, you don't seem like the high level of conformity type. <smiley>

There is a book I'd encourage you to read. I've been pushing this one since I read it, I suspect few people have taken my advice, but I'm convinced this guy is onto something that would really benefit many people who aren't a fit for the corporate world.

It's called Shop Class as Soulcraft, an Inquiry into the Value of Work. by Matthew Crawford. I don't think anybody should go to college without reading it. I wish I'd read it before I went to college. I would have ignored the advice probably because I knew everything when I was 18. But I might have remembered some for later.
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LeTromboniste
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Re: School Experience

Post by LeTromboniste » Fri Nov 27, 2020 6:30 am

Something else I'd add, not related to daily life but to your making the decision to go for music or not.

One of the most frequent advice I've heard or read is "choose the school for the trombone teacher". The sentiment is right in that you absolutely must have a good teacher (and not only good but that you get along with), but the advice is wrong in that it shouldn't be your sole concern (or maybe not even the most important one). Many schools have great teachers. You have no way to know in advance which teacher would be the best fit for you. Also, a good teacher must not only prepare you to win auditions but also encourage artistry and individuality. So as long as you're comparing schools that have good teachers, you should absolutely weigh in the differences in the rest of the music program. What level their ensembles are, what the concert season looks like, how often guests are invited to give masterclasses, how strong are the other performance areas (orchestral, jazz, early music, new music...) and what are the opportunity to take part in their projects, how strong is the composition department, etc. Most performance majors see theory classes as chores to be done, but they're wrong. It'll make you a much better musician if you care about it, and not all schools have good theory departments. If a school has a large research department with reputable professors and many PhD students, that's usually a good indicator.

And as I mentioned in the other post, some schools offer much more flexibility in the course choice than others. It's not automatically better, but it's one more aspect to consider. If you're curious about learning different things and being versatile, that extra flexibility can be really important.

I concur with the above post about the level of conformity, with one precision, it's not so much the classical world as the orchestral world (and particularly in North America, and particularly brass playing) that has that high level of conformity. Like I said in a previous thread of yours I think, if you're a classical player, don't study trombone in college unless you're prepared to be flexible with your definition of professional success.
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harrisonreed
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Re: School Experience

Post by harrisonreed » Fri Nov 27, 2020 6:48 am

I have always thought that music should be an apprenticeship-only type business. Apprentices have to work, and work well, or they are dismissed. Students are really just customers. They think they passed an audition and got in, but not before the school made sure they could pay first. Even if the student is garbage, they get to earn their degree eventually.

If you pass an apprenticeship, you get the job. As long as you're the apprentice, you are working, and guaranteed to succeed your master. There are exactly as many apprentices as there are jobs/masters. No one is misled.

If you get a degree, you are left with no job, a load of debt, and a piece of paper that doesn't necessarily mean you are a good musician. And you're in good company. Especially in the post 2020 world.
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Re: School Experience

Post by GabrielRice » Fri Nov 27, 2020 7:03 am

Wow, Harrison, you're dark. A lot of people have great experiences in music school, even if they decide to do something else for a living.

In music school, you take classes like any other college. Most of them have something to do with music: music history, music theory, ear training. You will also take classes outside of music; what kinds of classes will depend on that school's general education requirements, but it's pretty much like any classes you would take outside of any other major.

You'll play in ensembles for credit, including large ensembles and chamber music. You will have a weekly private lesson. You'll need to be practicing consistently, something like 2 to 5 hours per day. Practicing will be just as important as doing homework for your classes, particularly if you're a performance major.

Most importantly, if you choose the right school you will be surrounded by other students who love music as much as you do.
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LeTromboniste
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Re: School Experience

Post by LeTromboniste » Fri Nov 27, 2020 7:25 am

harrisonreed wrote:
Fri Nov 27, 2020 6:48 am
I have always thought that music should be an apprenticeship-only type business. Apprentices have to work, and work well, or they are dismissed. Students are really just customers. They think they passed an audition and got in, but not before the school made sure they could pay first. Even if the student is garbage, they get to earn their degree eventually.

If you get a degree, you are left with no job, a load of debt, and a piece of paper that doesn't necessarily mean you are a good musician. And you're in good company. Especially in the post 2020 world.
That is certainly true in the US indeed (and to some extent in Canada, and in many other places I would imagine). The system is pumping out so many qualified musicians, on top of many more who have no chance but are accepted anyway, compared to so few jobs available. To me this is partly tied with the big upspoken issue in the North American classical music scene: the top orchestras have too busy seasons and are overpaying both their management and musicians, and monopolizing too much of the available money. The pay discrepancy between the top tier orchestras and regional orchestras or pick-up gigs is insane. That limits both the number of orchestras that can exist and the resources available to the non-orchestral or operatic classical scene, which ends up marginalized. And then the overpaid players of top orchestras also get lucrative professorships at universities where students are sold the dream that you might someday win an audition, and end up underprepared for other alternatives. It's of course a generalization and there are many exceptions, but as a system it's pretty easy to observe.

It's not nearly as bad in some other places though. Europe has much lower tuition (Germany and France have free tuition). Europe also has both much fewer music schools and many more orchestras per capita, so the chance of actually winning a position is much higher there. The best orchestras don't overpay and monopolize resources as much. More money available to more orchestras, and also to the non-orchestral scene (of course more public funding helps with that!). Being a new music or early music specialist, or a chamber musician, things like that, freelancing in general, is much less marginalized here. It's not assumed that you do that because you're not "good enough". The requirement for conformity seems to not be as big, and more than one path to success are considered valid.
Last edited by LeTromboniste on Fri Nov 27, 2020 8:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: School Experience

Post by Mamaposaune » Fri Nov 27, 2020 8:01 am

You have already been given valuable advice by everyone who has taken the time to respond. It has been many years since I have been in music school, so I won't waste your time with my experiences, although more has stayed the same than has changed.
I will add this: If you are so passionate about music, and the trombone, that you cannot imagine yourself doing anything else, by all means major in music. The hours spent practicing, studying music theory/history, and rehearsing in ensembles will not feel like work, because there will not be anything else that you would rather be doing.
If you love the idea of teaching, spend some time with your band director, see what he/she does on a day-to-day basis. Again, if you can see yourself in a similar position, working with young mysicians with enthusiasm and passion, you will likely enjoy your 4 years in a music education program, and have a positive effect on your future students.
It will take an enormous amount of time, commitment, and $ to get the most out of a music degree. If you are not sure, that is your answer - it is not for you. Persue a career that you will enjoy and that will pay the bills - and play your trombone on the side. It can be even more enjoyable if you do not have to rely on performing for a paycheck.
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Re: School Experience

Post by JohnL » Fri Nov 27, 2020 8:15 am

LeTromboniste wrote:
Fri Nov 27, 2020 7:25 am
That is certainly true in the US ineed (and to some extent in Canada, and in many other places I would imagine). The system is pumping out so many qualified musicians, on top of many more who have no chance but are accepted anyway, compared to so few jobs available.
I think part of this is due to the American approach to education in general. Harrison equated students to customers, but in some ways they're more like a product, and our large universities resemble (at least in some ways) mass-production factories (this also contributes to the conformity mentioned earlier).

At the same time, I look at a typical large music school and it seems to me that only a small proportion of the students have all of the qualities necessary to be full-time professional musician. A few more have most of the tools and could potentially get there. The rest? They're there to fill out the ensembles so the top level students have someplace to play, and to keep the numbers up in the classes (as well as helping to pay the bills). I call this "feeding the beast".
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Re: School Experience

Post by vetsurginc » Fri Nov 27, 2020 8:36 am

Adding to what BGuttman said.

My son completed a music education degree from FSU just in time for the government offices to suffer a massive slowdown in their licensing section, followed by curtailment of funding for "arts" teaching, followed by the pandemic. Jobs in music ed became sparse to say the least. Wanting to be able to work, he is continuing training in computer programing (started in HS) and loving it. Tuba playing will continue as a fun thing. The gov promises it's "all caught up" on licensing (it isn't) so teaching may become an additional choice. He is also an excellent chef. Point, be ready to multitask!

Good luck wherever you go! :D
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Re: School Experience

Post by VJOFan » Fri Nov 27, 2020 9:13 am

harrisonreed wrote:
Fri Nov 27, 2020 6:48 am
I have always thought that music should be an apprenticeship-only type business. Apprentices have to work, and work well, or they are dismissed. Students are really just customers. They think they passed an audition and got in, but not before the school made sure they could pay first.
I grudgingly have to agree with this part of Harrison's points. My grad school auditions were exactly that story. Two rather big time schools "wait listed" me. At the first audition I was asked a lot of questions about my financial plan for my Master's degree. At the second I actually got to just have a lesson with the teacher, who basically said he looked forward to seeing me in the fall.

I did a summer clinic with the same teacher several years later and he wondered why I hadn't come to his school- no money I guess so wait list.

Now if I had been a drop dead superstar either school may have found a TA ship or some way of helping me out, but I passed the auditions.

As for staying away from music school... I really had a worthwhile experience in both my undergrad and grad studies. I would not have finished school studying anything else. If I hadn't finished school none of the other opportunities that presented themselves later would have happened.
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Re: School Experience

Post by cmcslide » Fri Nov 27, 2020 10:58 am

Another path that is worth considering is going to a smaller school, maybe one with a BA program and a teacher that you like. In a place like that you’re going to have more non-music classes and more interaction with students who aren’t music majors, which might be great as it gives you the opportunity to check out other fields. It might not be as prestigious as the schools that you’re looking at, but nobody’s looking at your degree at an audition anyway.
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Re: School Experience

Post by Burgerbob » Fri Nov 27, 2020 1:04 pm

Elow, this is quite possibly the last forum I would ever ask about this subject. Feel free to pm me.
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Re: School Experience

Post by Kdanielsen » Fri Nov 27, 2020 2:24 pm

Burgerbob wrote:
Fri Nov 27, 2020 1:04 pm
Elow, this is quite possibly the last forum I would ever ask about this subject. Feel free to pm me.
I’d try asking the “trombone pedagogy and repertoire” group on Facebook. It’s probably the single biggest collection of trombone professors anywhere on the internet.

Music school/a career in music is never the prudent financial choice, but it can be a good life choice. You’ve got to ask yourself who you want to be, and what’s important. At your age, those are tough, possibly impossible questions. But that wasn’t your question...

I’ve got degrees from three music schools. Even though I finished undergrad ten years ago, I still talk to my therapist about how difficult doing a music degree at a very competitive conservatory was. I’m not talking about academic difficulties or musical challenges, I’m talking about what its like to be in a tiny school full of entitled confident kids who almost got into Juilliard but wound up at this place instead. I’m sure the people sitting principal in the top orchestra had a great time, but everyone else was miserable. I learned a ton though, both about music and myself.

Short answer: as a music major you will be busy all the time. Nobody outside the music school will understand this, including your family. Life will constantly put up roadblocks to practicing as much as you should.


Full disclosure: I have a DMA and am just starting to teach at the college level. I also freelance when it’s not covid.

Feel free to PM me if you’d like.
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Elow
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Re: School Experience

Post by Elow » Fri Nov 27, 2020 2:33 pm

Thanks for all the replies, i guess i forgot to mention this. I get free tuition anywhere in florida because of a program im in. Im also knocking out some college classes in high school so hopefully i wont have much to worry about classes piling up.
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Re: School Experience

Post by PaulT » Fri Nov 27, 2020 2:35 pm

Only because it hasn't been mentioned.

It could be that there is an opening for a trombonist in your state's National Guard (or another state you are willing to move to). If there is, and if you pass the audition, you will go through regular Army Basic Training and then go to Army Music School. While Basic isn't the most fun thing you will ever do in your life, odds are you will love Army Music School and it will expose you to a lot good fellow musicians and musical experiences... and give you a glimpse of what life in a military band might be like.

Once you are in the Guard Band, you will pull band duty one weekend a month (concerts/rehearsals for concerts), and you will receive a small but helpful salary, and you will have access to Army education benefits that can help a great deal with education expenses.

My son got a vocal music scholarship to UND (which along with other scholarships took care of college expenses). He declared a music major and entered the Pre-Med program (a not un-common pairing, the two work very well together time-wise). He then joined the N.D. National Guard Band (they needed some more trumpet players).

Guard duty has worked out just fine (he really enjoys it) and it doesn't interfere a whit with college (the Guard allows him to prioritize a school concert over Guard duty should a conflict arise...there are ample opportunities to pull extra duty to make up any misses or pick up extra pocket money).

My son has now just been accepted into Med School and the National Guard will pick up the tab (and he will transition from being in the band and start training as a National Guard Medic).

In conclusion:

#1. Consider the National Guard, or even a full time enlistment, as a path to both music and help with the cost of education (and maybe even find wherever it is you are going).

#2. Sometimes you just have to start. Start at anything, just to put the gears into motion, otherwise, nothing changes. A start on one path may lead to another, one you didn't envision when you took that first step. But, without a start, nothing happens. Pick a reasonable plan (not the circus) and get started on it.


(originally typed on my wife's phone... it was a mess)
Last edited by PaulT on Wed Dec 23, 2020 8:53 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: School Experience

Post by PaulT » Fri Nov 27, 2020 2:39 pm

Cross posted.

My son didn't need the Guard benifets for his 4-year (ok, 5-year) undergrad degree. There is a fair amount of flexibillty in the Army Education Benefit package.
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Re: School Experience

Post by harrisonreed » Fri Nov 27, 2020 5:59 pm

GabrielRice wrote:
Fri Nov 27, 2020 7:03 am
Wow, Harrison, you're dark. A lot of people have great experiences in music school, even if they decide to do something else for a living.

In music school, you take classes like any other college. Most of them have something to do with music: music history, music theory, ear training. You will also take classes outside of music; what kinds of classes will depend on that school's general education requirements, but it's pretty much like any classes you would take outside of any other major.

You'll play in ensembles for credit, including large ensembles and chamber music. You will have a weekly private lesson. You'll need to be practicing consistently, something like 2 to 5 hours per day. Practicing will be just as important as doing homework for your classes, particularly if you're a performance major.

Most importantly, if you choose the right school you will be surrounded by other students who love music as much as you do.
Gabe, obviously what I wrote can be seen as an attack on your livelihood and your profession, and any teacher would take offense. It's not really an attack on music teachers, especially instrumental teachers. They are great people and they have a really important job. I don't think music programs should go away. The best thing I did in college was to learn how to play the trombone. But my major was in a completely different field. I got to work with an amazing, open minded trombone professor, got lessons every week, practiced a few hours a day, and was able to play in a few of the ensembles because they were merit based, rather than reserved for majors. I was surrounded by students who loved music.

There are many many issues with music performance programs, and you don't need to complete one to go as far as you want in learning to play an instrument. I think the "oh I can always fall back on music education" mindset is wrong, and it turns out far too many students than there are jobs, even in education. I think that students in a trade skill, which music most certainly is, shouldn't be customers who get a degree if they persevere long enough. I don't think the issue exists with other trade fields, like fancy furniture making, where trained craftsmen are out of work, unable to make furniture.

You and I have clashed in the past over students who were in the "you really should find a different path" category bring persuaded to buy a custom Shires setup by their teachers after a trip to the factory, but you also worked for Shires at that time. I often say unpopular things, and I call it as I see it.

I don't think music education should go away. Not at all. But it needs to change. It's goals need to change. I can't recommend people go into the way it is right now.
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Re: School Experience

Post by spencercarran » Fri Nov 27, 2020 6:44 pm

harrisonreed wrote:
Fri Nov 27, 2020 5:59 pm
You and I have clashed in the past over students who were in the "you really should find a different path" category bring persuaded to buy a custom Shires setup by their teachers after a trip to the factory, but you also worked for Shires at that time. I often say unpopular things, and I call it as I see it.
OOF. I feel this. As a STEM grad student who sometimes hung around the music department (at a school that had some talented musicians but was not exactly Curtis) I saw a number of music majors pressured to buy Shires even though it was painfully obvious they would never pay the rent as performers, and no fancy trombone was going to change that.

To the OP - I, and many others, love music as a hobby and a passion. It enriches our lives greatly. There are ways to stay involved and continue to grow as a musician without making it your full-time profession. For many people this is healthier - once you try to turn your passion into a job it becomes, well, a job, and jobs often suck. If I get frustrated or sick of trombone I can shove it in the closet for a week or a month and then come back when I'm feeling better about it, and I still get to eat in the meantime.
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Re: School Experience

Post by ChadA » Fri Nov 27, 2020 6:51 pm

I’m a full time college teacher. Feel free to PM me for more info. :)
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Re: School Experience

Post by harrisonreed » Fri Nov 27, 2020 7:23 pm

Elow, is there not a school where you could study machine tooling or skills that relate to building brass instruments or CNCing mouthpieces, a huge interest of yours, where you could also participate in the trombone studio?

I look at shops like Griego Sound Innovations or Osmuns repair shop, where they sell a fantastic product, and see that as a real career opportunity for you. Turning a $1 brass blank into a $250 mouthpiece is something not a lot of shops can say they do. Maybe you can learn those skills?
Elow
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Re: School Experience

Post by Elow » Fri Nov 27, 2020 7:40 pm

harrisonreed wrote:
Fri Nov 27, 2020 7:23 pm
Elow, is there not a school where you could study machine tooling or skills that relate to building brass instruments or CNCing mouthpieces, a huge interest of yours, where you could also participate in the trombone studio?
Ive thought about that, and ive actually got to talk with a trombone tech who said he would teach me for a summer in georgia. So thats definitely something that i could pursue, but im not really sure id want to. Its fun for now, but i would much rather play full time. It is always something i could fall back on, but not my first choice.
CalgaryTbone
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Re: School Experience

Post by CalgaryTbone » Fri Nov 27, 2020 8:44 pm

This is a tough question to answer for several reasons. First of all, all of the people that say "only do a music degree if you can't imagine doing anything else" are right. Now, if that's the case for you now, there's no way to be sure that you'll feel the same way after a year or two of school. Still, you will have tried to follow your dream, and university credits can transfer to a different degree path, or can just look good on a resume when applying for a job.

Another tough part of the question to answer is - "what kind of degree - where?" A degree from Juilliard/Eastman is different than one from a large University program, which is different than one from a small University program. You need to try to figure out what you will need in terms of culture and support. The smaller the school is, the more personal attention you are likely to get, while large departments and conservatories may leave you fending for yourself, but will offer more high quality performance opportunities. Some great players have come out of those smaller schools, sometimes choosing to go to a bigger program just for graduate work.

Whatever you choose could end up not working out. You might not get along with your teacher, or the competition may be hard to take, or you might need more competition. I went to school with people who either transferred in, or out to find a better fit, and I did that myself halfway through my Bachelors. It happens.

Lastly, while I agree that finding a great teacher is probably the most important thing in choosing a school, don't underestimate the value of having good players on all of the other instruments to play with. Also, if you are interested in orchestral music, a program where the orchestra(s) is/are good enough to perform real repertoire with some frequency is important. You can translate a few words in that sentence to make it apply for jazz study. Do you want to study both? Some places are better than others for that. Are you interested in doubling on several low brass instruments, or concentrating more on one? The other courses like theory, music history, ear training can be useful in a performing career, or might be essential if you're applying for a teaching job. Also, occasionally there might be something offered (like instrument repair) that could give you a secondary skill that could be useful to keep food on the table (like in a pandemic).

You are going to get 100 different answers to this question and all of them are both right and wrong for you. You can get information from us as to what worked or didn't for each of us, and some of that may be helpful for you, but you won't have the exact same path as anyone else. I don't have the same skepticism that some people have about music degrees, but I also know that they don't produce as many positive results as studying a trade does. It worked for me, and I'm in my 40th year with a professional orchestra. Life's good overall (maybe not 2020!). Good luck!

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Re: School Experience

Post by Cotboneman » Wed Dec 23, 2020 1:03 pm

CalgaryTbone wrote:
Fri Nov 27, 2020 8:44 pm
This is a tough question to answer for several reasons. First of all, all of the people that say "only do a music degree if you can't imagine doing anything else" are right. Now, if that's the case for you now, there's no way to be sure that you'll feel the same way after a year or two of school. Still, you will have tried to follow your dream, and university credits can transfer to a different degree path, or can just look good on a resume when applying for a job.

Another tough part of the question to answer is - "what kind of degree - where?" A degree from Juilliard/Eastman is different than one from a large University program, which is different than one from a small University program. You need to try to figure out what you will need in terms of culture and support. The smaller the school is, the more personal attention you are likely to get, while large departments and conservatories may leave you fending for yourself, but will offer more high quality performance opportunities. Some great players have come out of those smaller schools, sometimes choosing to go to a bigger program just for graduate work.

Whatever you choose could end up not working out. You might not get along with your teacher, or the competition may be hard to take, or you might need more competition. I went to school with people who either transferred in, or out to find a better fit, and I did that myself halfway through my Bachelors. It happens.

Lastly, while I agree that finding a great teacher is probably the most important thing in choosing a school, don't underestimate the value of having good players on all of the other instruments to play with. Also, if you are interested in orchestral music, a program where the orchestra(s) is/are good enough to perform real repertoire with some frequency is important. You can translate a few words in that sentence to make it apply for jazz study. Do you want to study both? Some places are better than others for that. Are you interested in doubling on several low brass instruments, or concentrating more on one? The other courses like theory, music history, ear training can be useful in a performing career, or might be essential if you're applying for a teaching job. Also, occasionally there might be something offered (like instrument repair) that could give you a secondary skill that could be useful to keep food on the table (like in a pandemic).

You are going to get 100 different answers to this question and all of them are both right and wrong for you. You can get information from us as to what worked or didn't for each of us, and some of that may be helpful for you, but you won't have the exact same path as anyone else. I don't have the same skepticism that some people have about music degrees, but I also know that they don't produce as many positive results as studying a trade does. It worked for me, and I'm in my 40th year with a professional orchestra. Life's good overall (maybe not 2020!). Good luck!

Jim Scott
All great points in this thread. I can only add that the experiences in today's market are very different than it was for me coming out of a major university in the late 1970's. I enjoyed my time at DePaul University, 1975-79, graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree with a major in education. So much so that I went back a year later and eventually completed the Masters program by 1984.

For me, finding work in the tight education job market in the Chicago area in 1979-84 was very tough, and it eventually led me to leave my hometown, where I found a greater number of opportunities in the desert Southwest. I eventually retired out here, after putting in 34 years of doing what I could only see myself doing; teaching and conducting bands. I also found time to play in community and professional groups along the way, so there was that added benefit.

Experiences are going to vary widely by school choices and the job market itself. We have to throw out 2020, because it is unlike any other we have ever seen. I still do believe that for those dedicated to education and performing, the opportunities are still there, albeit it undoubtedly not the same as I experienced.
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Re: School Experience

Post by harrisonreed » Wed Dec 23, 2020 8:35 pm

Throwing out 2020 (or any of the last twenty years) is not something you can do. Let's try a thought experiment:

We are headed towards a very uncertain future. The information age we're in is set to hit the singularity in 2036. At that point, you'll be able to ask the computer for a device to solve a problem, and the blueprint it gives you to build will function in a way that is impossible for a human being to understand. You can build it, or have machines help you build it, but it might appear to break physics and you'd have no idea why.

99.9% of music today, even live classical music in a concert hall, is recorded, conditioned, fixed, and composited so it sounds perfect. I was in a very low profile orchestra's concert hall watching a rehearsal, and they had a million microphones and speakers everywhere making it impossible to tell if I was hearing the actual instruments or the digital audio out of the speakers.

Shift to other forms of media -- there are videos right now of important people doing political things that are completely fake, and indistinguishable from real videos of these people. That's relatively new, but music videos and televised performances have been edited and fixed and patched up for decades. Standard practice.

Why is any of this important? Well, live performance is basically not relevant right now because of COVID, and the last few times I've been to an orchestra the live performance was equally not relevant. It wasn't exactly live. Increasingly, the beauty of a performance comes down to technology. How is the audio processed, how is the fake acoustic created?

Now imagine a world (in 16 years) where you can ask your computer to show you the greatest performance of classical music that never happened. Not only do you not go anywhere, you don't even put on headphones. Maybe you don't even experience it in real time. The performance just occurs via a connection to your brain, populating as a memory. Your computer can help your brain relive the memory as many times as you like, in the span of a few seconds. The music was never composed by a person, the people who performed it in your memory never existed, and the acoustics are better than any concert hall ever built.

If that's where the average person is in 16 years, where did that leave music education? If a composer can just cheat and accept or reject drafts of a piece over the course of a few moments with the oracle, where does that leave music theory education?

Sound scary? Sound like it could never happen in a million years? Well, maybe you're right! Let's meet halfway. Do you still think you have a place studying music traditionally in a world that is halfway to the singularity described above?

I don't fully believe that any of that will be possible, but it's something to think about. Will any of this be relevant?
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Re: School Experience

Post by PaulT » Wed Dec 23, 2020 9:03 pm

harrisonreed wrote:
Wed Dec 23, 2020 8:35 pm

...
Now imagine a world (in 16 years) where you can ask your computer to show you the greatest performance of classical music that never happened. Not only do you not go anywhere, you don't even put on headphones. Maybe you don't even experience it in real time. The performance just occurs via a connection to your brain, populating as a memory. Your computer can help your brain relive the memory as many times as you like, in the span of a few seconds. The music was never composed by a person, the people who performed it in your memory never existed, and the acoustics are better than any concert hall ever built....

Hmm... You know, I had some brownies that could do all that and more, no chips or implants required.
Last edited by PaulT on Thu Jan 14, 2021 7:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: School Experience

Post by mbtrombone » Fri Jan 08, 2021 12:05 am

First, I want to say I only quickly skimmed the responses, so I won't address them and may repeat somethings.

What ever you decide to do it will be unique to you.

Here is my journey thus far: I knew I wanted to major in music in the 9th grade after my first summer festival experience. I thought by the time I finished my Bachelors I would be ready to win an audition. That wasn't the case. I finished my Bachelors at the University of Southern California, and auditioned to many large conservatories and universities. I was only re-accepted back at USC (I tried to take too many auditions, 10 I think). I started my masters at USC on tenor trombone. I decided to take a bass trombone audition and took a lesson with the professor from the University of Michigan (I had met him in the 9th grade at the summer festival), and he was impressed with my bass trombone playing. I was later accepted and went to the University of Michigan for a Dual Performance degree in Trombone and Chamber Music. I graduated and auditioned at three schools: USC for DMA, San Francisco Conservatory for a Diploma, and Colburn for a Masters. I got into USC, but didn't get into Colburn (I was one of three people who auditioned for bass trombone, my best friend got the spot at Colburn). SFCM was a weird option, they said I wasn't ready for the Diploma, but if I wanted I could be in the Masters Program, so I decided to do that. I had a horrible medical problem occur in my last semester of school at SFCM and this resulted in a delayed graduation to the end of the summer. I had auditioned to USC for my DMA again, and was accepted, but took a year off before starting my DMA mainly to recover from the medical condition and get my chops back into shape (I was unable to play for about 2 months). I then took three years to complete my DMA. I have been out of school for about one year. Not the best year to be looking for a performance or teaching job!

A typical performance undergrad day will be filled with a few classes: Music Theory, Music History, Ear Training, etc. There will be a few more performance like classes: conducting, orchestration, recording, etc. There will be electives: Rock drumming, Guitar, etc. There will be General Education classes: Science, Anthropology or something, Earth Science, etc. You will be in a chamber music ensemble (brass quintet, trombone quartet are common), and a large music ensemble (orchestra/wind ensemble), and maybe a larger brass ensemble. You will have studio class where you whole studio comes together once a week and plays either together, or for one another (trombone choir, excerpts in sections, mock auditions, solos), and you will have weekly private lessons. The combination of these classes depends on your year in college. I think for my undergrad I had 18 units most semesters.

Depending on the school you will have juries at the end of each semester/trimester or at the end of each year. What you have to play on them will be determined by the teacher you study with.

What I can tell you is that college will be the experiences you make of it. You can meet great people, and work very interesting jobs, and play wonderful music. The most important things I have done in college were working different jobs related to music. I have alway qualified for Federal Work Study money. I have held positions as: Music Librarian, Music Operations Front Desk, Ensembles Manager, Equipment Manager, IT assistant, Admissions Assistant, Admissions Tour Guide, and Stage Manager. These have led to many opportunities to work for other Arts organizations for the summer, and now a temporary job in IT for a college.

I still get to practice many hours a day, I have two small chamber groups I am a member of, and I teach private and group lessons in trumpet, trombone, bass trombone, euphonium, tuba, and french horn (one of my DMA fields was brass pedagogy). I also teach group classes in music theory (my academic field in my DMA), group classes in conducting (one of my DMA fields) and group classes in breathing and sound.

I also want to point out I was able to do all of this college because I am lucky enough to have gotten very wonderful scholarships and jobs while attending school. I left with less debt than most people who do an undergrad and got 5 degrees. I would not ever suggest paying full tuition for any of the degrees I got.

I really also second the idea that you need to pick a school based on the teacher. They must be good and be a good fit for you. Someone who will tell you what you need to hear to make you better that you trust and believe in.

I also really believe you must really love this, and love to practice and audition. You must like or at least be ok with not getting the job. It will be a long road of "failure" and it won't be fun always, but you have to be ok with this if you want to pursue a career in music performance (at least classically). I also have to say the most happy people I know in the classical music world are willing to take opportunity when it knocks: a switch to bass trombone, or a job with an orchestra as a music librarian, or ensembles manager at a big university. It can allow you to make a good living and then play what really interests you.

If you are flexible classical music is still a great profession (well at least until COVID! but orchestras will bounce back to some extent).

Feel free to message me if you have any particular questions.
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