College decision...

How and what to teach and learn.
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tigerduck72
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College decision...

Post by tigerduck72 » Wed Apr 11, 2018 11:21 am

Hi, my son was accepted as a trombone performance major freshman at a couple of schools. Does anyone here have an input on which one of these does a great job placing their graduates in paying jobs after the 4 years? His choices are Oberlin, Miami of Ohio, Stonybrook SUNY Long Island and KSU (Kennesaw State University in Georgia).

Thanks,
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Matt K
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Re: College decision...

Post by Matt K » Wed Apr 11, 2018 11:33 am

I would start by contacting the the schools for their official placement rate numbers as well as how they are defining that number. (In music ed it isn't uncommon to have a "100%" placement rate but in some cases that counts having a part time job or being a substitute teacher.) They should also have some kind of salary information. If the school of music doesn't have it, sometimes the university will have a recruiting office with that information. It is going to be shifted in their favor for sure, but on the other hand it should be the rosiest view and can be a high watermark for the decision.
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Re: College decision...

Post by CharlieB » Fri Apr 13, 2018 3:51 pm

Doug Yeo is a highly respected professional trombonist who frequently posted at the old "Trombone Forum" and elsewhere. Here's what he has to offer on the subject:
http://www.yeodoug.com/resources/sympho ... aud03.html

If your son's music is the passion of his life, then he absolutely must pursue it. He should be aware, though, that
earning a living playing the trombone can be very difficult financially, even for the extremely gifted player. In addition to majoring in trombone, a good backup plan is to carefully select a minor that has good prospects for employment that will pay the bills until the trombone career is solidified.
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Re: College decision...

Post by SaigonSlide » Fri Apr 13, 2018 9:47 pm

Not to be a negative Nellie, but I don't think any universities will be placing him into a paying job. That will likely be mostly up to him. Oberlin definitely has a great reputation as a renowned music school. Can't comment on the others though.

I second CharlieB above. A backup plan is important. Preferably a plan that is practical. I prefer to keep my finances separate from my trombone. I was a performance major myself, and I have no regrets. I just do something different to put money in the bank.
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Re: College decision...

Post by tigerduck72 » Sat Apr 14, 2018 6:11 pm

Thanks for your input! We, the parents, like the idea of a backup minor and we hope, he'll get to that after a semester or two. At this point we're not sure he could handle the workload.
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Re: College decision...

Post by Matt K » Sat Apr 14, 2018 7:07 pm

tigerduck72 wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 6:11 pm
Thanks for your input! We, the parents, like the idea of a backup minor and we hope, he'll get to that after a semester or two. At this point we're not sure he could handle the workload.
It's always easier than handle the first years rather than the latter in my experience.
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Re: College decision...

Post by Largobone » Sun Apr 22, 2018 11:24 am

First of all, I decided a couple of days ago to accept my offer at Oberlin as a freshman trombone performance major in the Conservatory (as well as a computer science major in the College). I was really stuck deciding between Oberlin and another closer school (St. Olaf) and while I think I would have been happy and successful at either one, I think Oberlin presents more opportunities than most schools anywhere.

There were a couple of turning points that helped me decide in the last few days:

1) Another prospective tbn perf major and I have been talking for a little while, especially about the news that Dr. Allen gave us a couple of weeks ago. He was visiting Oberlin the other day, and decided while he was there that he was going to accept. Between getting to know him and also his being willing to jump into a potentially risky situation, I became willing to do the same.

2) At some point, I realized that I really love talking about Oberlin and the people there, what the town is like, what is happening at the school, etc. Listen to your son and try to discern if there is one school that he talks about more than others. I think that deciding which school to attend is less about job placement rates and avg salaries and more about how well you fit in at the school and your connections with professors and students (ESPECIALLY your applied professor and studiomates). Job placement, grad school prep, etc. will have to come from him anyway; if he doesn't really want it and work hard at it, it isn't going to happen just because he's a student at ______ University.

If you or your son have any more questions or want more insight from an incoming freshman trombone performance major or Oberlin specifically, feel free to shoot me an email at CameronTrombone17@gmail.com and I'd be glad to help out in any way I can! Also let me know if your son has a Snapchat or something, I'd like to get to know all of my potential studiomates before next fall if I can!
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Re: College decision...

Post by BflatBass » Sun Apr 22, 2018 5:43 pm

I was going to start a new thread on this but it looks like it has already been done. I've not done any research on this subject so please fill me in where I'm missing info.
For those thinking about or starting to get a trombone/performing degree in music (4 year or beyond), what are the benefits to your career as a performing trombonist other than the experience and the opportunity to learn and grow. How many times will your degree help you in finding work? And I mean directly. Like when you audition for a position or when someone calls you to see if you can fill in, will they ask you, "do you have a degree in music?". I was always under the assumption that there were only a few places where a college degree was required for a place in a particular situation like say an established and reputable symphony orchestra that gets you a salaried position (does that even exist any more?). And I'm not even sure if it's required for some of those.
If your a working musician and your relying on word of mouth and your reputation how far will a college degree take you? I have a bachelor's degree (not in music) so I understand the benefits it offers in personal growth. I've also seen what is expected of students for the final "senior recital" and to obtain that level shows quite a bit in your ability. But does it really help you get work? I'm just wondering. There's a lot of you out there with plenty of experience so I'm sure you would know. Maybe the only people that wouldn't benefit from the experience that a college degree offers is those that are exceptionally gifted and even then they wouldn't get those positions that require college if they didn't go.
Please don't get the wrong idea, I'm not knocking the idea of a college degree. In fact I'm thinking of going back to college myself (I'm 58 years old and returning to the trombone after 36 years off). I'm just wondering what those with experience know on the subject.
And for those that get accepted to reputable colleges/conservatories my hats off you. I never thought I had what it takes to accomplish that.
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Re: College decision...

Post by StevenC » Sun Apr 22, 2018 6:19 pm

I guess my daughter's decision to go to Oberlin was similar to Largobone's. Her decision basically came down to Oberlin and one other school. Conservatory versus conservatory, Oberlin was not a slam dunk, but everything else pointed to Oberlin. She's happy, but stressed, like any college student. Next year should be a strange exciting time in the studio.
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Re: College decision...

Post by BGuttman » Sun Apr 22, 2018 7:03 pm

A conservatory degree will help you hone your skills as a player. It will also give you some peripheral skills (like arranging and electronics) that can help you win a gig. You will also make some connections that may or may not be useful in the future.

A conservatory degree will not guarantee you a job. Those days are OVER. Nor will a fancy instrument. Although if you show up to the audition on a Bundy you probably won't win regardless of how well you play.

Getting a job as a professional musician requires a lot of hard work at finding a job. You have to leverage all your acquaintances, play lots of "freebies" to get yourself known, and network, network, network. Most will not make it, but if you would rather play than eat you may find that "golden chair".
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Re: College decision...

Post by Davidus1 » Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:18 pm

SaigonSlide wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 9:47 pm
Not to be a negative Nellie, but I don't think any universities will be placing him into a paying job. That will likely be mostly up to him. Oberlin definitely has a great reputation as a renowned music school. Can't comment on the others though.

I second CharlieB above. A backup plan is important. Preferably a plan that is practical. I prefer to keep my finances separate from my trombone. I was a performance major myself, and I have no regrets. I just do something different to put money in the bank.
+1 - Universities don't place musicians into paying jobs. There are so many gifted players today. I highly recommend a backup plan. Making a living playing music is not an easy endeavor. My son is a sophomore in high school and he plays upright bass. He is a very good and I think can go far. He wants to go to a music program. I am encouraging him to pursue that but to also double major with a degree that he can get a job with if music doesn't work out. Best wishes in your search.
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Re: College decision...

Post by jrobin9 » Fri May 04, 2018 4:39 pm

If an option you should look at Columbus State in GA. It's where they hold STS every year and Bradley Palmer is a great guy.
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Re: College decision...

Post by Burgerbob » Fri May 04, 2018 6:04 pm

I have two degrees in trombone, so I am biased...

But making someone do a minor or second degree as a "backup" is just planning for failure, and takes valuable time away from the horn and other things.

Will a degree get you a job? No, but in the process of getting one, hopefully you are learning, getting miles better at the horn, and meeting people. If you're just practicing at home and doing engineering, you have some chance of achieving that same level... But the odds are much lower of it happening.

I make my living playing trombone and teaching, with two degrees in performance. This is entirely due to people I met, practice I did, and situations I put myself in when I was in school.
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Matt K
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Re: College decision...

Post by Matt K » Fri May 04, 2018 8:14 pm

That depends on your definition of failure. There are jobs and career paths that can utilize multiple degrees. A business degree, or even a minor, can provide some exceedingly useful skill sets that are very generally applicable. Even if you do win a full-time gig, people often also do other non-musical work for the position involving organizational, accounting, or other technology related services.
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Re: College decision...

Post by Burgerbob » Fri May 04, 2018 10:47 pm

I'm using a limited definition, of course.

If someone feels like pursuing trombone is their life goal, then that is what they should spend their time doing.
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Re: College decision...

Post by Kingfan » Fri May 04, 2018 11:35 pm

Several people told me to get a double major, performance and music education, so I could teach and pay my bills until I made it as a performer and fall back on if needed. I went to Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory of Music (less than 30 miles from Oberlin, which was not as well regarded back then) as a performance major in 1975-1976 and lasted two quarters. If I had not tried it, I would always have wondered if I could have been a pro trombone player. No regrets.

One factor to consider is net cost. I would hate to graduate as a performance major with a ton of debt. Oberlin, for one, is pricey! If you are in Ohio, Miami could be significantly cheaper. Look at the net cost after scholarships, grants, etc. I am far out of the loop regarding the quality of each school's trombone program, though.
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Re: College decision...

Post by blast » Sat May 05, 2018 2:28 am

Life is a gamble.... to study performance or not is just such a gamble. You have to go with your gut feeling..... and ask a lot of people who know your playing for advice and go for what you think is best.
Getting a full time playing job is VERY rare, however you study. Understand that fully.
Finding the right teacher is very important for high level progress.... might be one, might be several. Masterclasses, internet.... soak it up.

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Re: College decision...

Post by imsevimse » Sat May 05, 2018 3:24 am

As having experience of first studying music and later changed to something else I've thought about this. I have come to the conclusion I could not have done better. First learning music to make life fun and then adding computer science to make a living.

I think music needs that commitment early in life and if you don't do it then it will be more difficult. As other have said the teacher is important and so is student mates. It is a business that very much depends on getting contacts. As a "young coming man" he will have some advantage towards an "old coming man". I decided to educate myself to another job near 30, and sure it took six years to get my first job as a computer programmer and later yet another four years of studies to remain in business but it was worth the struggle. To day I'll have 18 years experience as a system developer AND still play with professional players. There are a lot of retired professionals that continue playing and forming bands at semi-pro level. I'm happy about things. I don't think I could have done this if I had reversed the order of things.

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Re: College decision...

Post by Redthunder » Sat May 05, 2018 10:33 am

Kingfan wrote:
Fri May 04, 2018 11:35 pm
Several people told me to get a double major, performance and music education, so I could teach and pay my bills until I made it as a performer and fall back on if needed.
I saw this during undergrad, and still see it touted as a good idea by many to younger students considering careers in music.

Besides what others have said about padding your educations with "backups", the LEAST appropriate "backup plan" is to be a teacher. There are enough lousy teachers who are bad enough on their own, so the field doesn't need any more "performers" looking for teaching work just to "pay the bills", while keeping one eye on the horizon for something better so they can bail the moment they get the chance. Absolutely infuriating. They always do a bad job teaching too, no matter how skilled of a trombonist they may be. Not saying that you were advocating for this, Kingfan.

Just please please PLEASE don't ever do this, or suggest it to anyone else.
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Re: College decision...

Post by norbie2018 » Sat May 05, 2018 10:42 am

They always do a bad job? What evidence do you have to support this statement? None is my prediction. It is possible to do a good job teaching while looking for something better and/or different.
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Re: College decision...

Post by Burgerbob » Sat May 05, 2018 11:40 am

Unless you feel the need to teach (and many do) then you are doing the kids a disservice.
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Re: College decision...

Post by deanmccarty » Sat May 05, 2018 12:53 pm

I have been lucky enough to have a successful professional career on trombone. With that said, the college I attended had very little to do with that success. Individual practice, and networking is what got the ball rolling. Don’t get me wrong... I’m not advocating bypassing college. Finding a good private instructor that has a good rapport with your son is crucial. You do need to realize that having a performance degree DOES NOT assure a job. What it WILL do is allow your son to have more “in depth” training, and hopefully more rigorous expectations from his private instructor and professors.

I wish him all the best. :good:
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Re: College decision...

Post by LeTromboniste » Sat May 05, 2018 1:54 pm

BflatBass wrote:
Sun Apr 22, 2018 5:43 pm
I was going to start a new thread on this but it looks like it has already been done. I've not done any research on this subject so please fill me in where I'm missing info.
For those thinking about or starting to get a trombone/performing degree in music (4 year or beyond), what are the benefits to your career as a performing trombonist other than the experience and the opportunity to learn and grow. How many times will your degree help you in finding work? And I mean directly. Like when you audition for a position or when someone calls you to see if you can fill in, will they ask you, "do you have a degree in music?". I was always under the assumption that there were only a few places where a college degree was required for a place in a particular situation like say an established and reputable symphony orchestra that gets you a salaried position (does that even exist any more?). And I'm not even sure if it's required for some of those.
If your a working musician and your relying on word of mouth and your reputation how far will a college degree take you? I have a bachelor's degree (not in music) so I understand the benefits it offers in personal growth. I've also seen what is expected of students for the final "senior recital" and to obtain that level shows quite a bit in your ability. But does it really help you get work? I'm just wondering. There's a lot of you out there with plenty of experience so I'm sure you would know. Maybe the only people that wouldn't benefit from the experience that a college degree offers is those that are exceptionally gifted and even then they wouldn't get those positions that require college if they didn't go.
Please don't get the wrong idea, I'm not knocking the idea of a college degree. In fact I'm thinking of going back to college myself (I'm 58 years old and returning to the trombone after 36 years off). I'm just wondering what those with experience know on the subject.
And for those that get accepted to reputable colleges/conservatories my hats off you. I never thought I had what it takes to accomplish that.
Well, the short answer is your degree might not be of much use directly (although if you ever want to be eligible to teach in a college/university, having a master's degree, let alone a bachelor's degree, is generally required and having established credentials can really help getting funding for projects), but the process itself is extremely important.

1) you get colleagues to play with and opportunities to play in various types of formations and genres of music - which is one of the most aspect of learning to be a professional musician.

2) in a good school, you get training on all the very important stuff that is not directly playing trombone but make you a much more complete and competent musician (I.e. Ear training, music theory and composition-related skills, music history, research, career planning, musicians' physical and mental health, etc). Granted, many of those skills you could learn by yourself, although probably not as well and not as fast.

3) you get a structured environment where you are held accountable for your progress by an institution and environment (teachers and fellow students) that have a certain stake in your success as opposed to being accountable only to yourself in a vacuum. You constantly get pushed by the people around you and learn from them all the time, most often without consciously realizing - also the relationship with a teacher who doesn't depend on keeping you as a student to earn their salary is somewhat different than the relationship with a private teacher whom you pay directly.

4) you get to do things that may change your career plans entirely and open new doors that you might not have had a chance to explore otherwise (taking myself as an example - I would never have been introduced to or had opportunities to try either early music or orchestral conducting had I not gone to college, and those the two main focuses of my career.)

5) perhaps most importantly, that's where you get to meet most of the people you will ever work with or who will ever hire you or refer you for gigs - teachers, colleagues of your generation and alumni that still gravitate somewhat in the orbit of your school, and the people that you meet through that first circle. Networking is exponential so you want your first circle of acquaintances to be as large as possible. A music school is a huge networking place. That's how you enter the scene. There's already too many good, highly trained musicians for the amount of work - why would anybody hire you or refer you when they have tons of colleagues that are better trained and whom they saw everyday and played with and organized projects with and got drunk with for years? Not saying someone who didn't study music in a university will not get any gigs or even that it's impossible they will ever have a substantial career - but there are reasons why so many of the people with substantial music careers did get higher education in music.
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Re: College decision...

Post by Redthunder » Sun May 06, 2018 5:56 pm

norbie2018 wrote:
Sat May 05, 2018 10:42 am
They always do a bad job? What evidence do you have to support this statement? None is my prediction. It is possible to do a good job teaching while looking for something better and/or different.
Is it really that controversial of an idea that people that aren't interested in or invested in being a teacher are NOT going to be great teachers? Is it possible? Sure. But how many people do you know that invest time, energy, money, etc. into becoming great at something that they're looking to leave whenever they get the chance? Spending hours and hours lesson planning, or trying to find the most effective way to teach all of their students? Or constantly reflecting, refining, and adapting their own craft? How many great instrumentalists do you know that invest that kind of energy into becoming great musicians, who also don't really care about what they are doing? I would guess none. I don't see how anybody possibly could do more than simply check off the boxes in ANY profession if they truly did not want to be there. I certainly have never seen that, especially not in teaching. Maybe you are the exception. Or maybe it's just that your definition of doing a good job is vastly different than mine.

Not to mention, most teachers I know (myself included) talk about how it takes several years of teaching before most people find the swing of things, meaning that if someone takes a teaching job to "pay the bills" while simultaneously looking to get out, by the time they do get the hang of what they're doing, they're already out the door. And that is only IF they've spent that time teaching truly practicing and honing their craft, which again, I have yet to see from someone who doesn't truly want to teach.
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Re: College decision...

Post by Matt K » Sun May 06, 2018 7:44 pm

I don't see any anyone saying that if you want to spend zero time investing in teaching that you should use it as a backup anyway. There are plenty of players who don't mind teaching, but would prefer performing that have ended up making excellent teachers though.

In particular, perhaps one of the best educators that I am acquainted with did exactly that; he graduated from Duquesne back about 40 years ago with a masters in performance after getting his certification in his undergraduate. He took a job in a fairly rural area teaching with the intention of paying bills while he did the audition circuit. He did take some auditions and I understand did fairly well, but when it came time to renew his contract the first year, he decided to sign on again. And he did so for another 30+ years. Eventually he transferred to a less rural area. Again, he's perhaps the most passionate and quality educator that I know.

On the other side of the spectrum, you have someone like Matt Niess, who taught High School for a few years before making it in the Army Blues. He is likewise a great teacher, of which I can personally attest, as well as a tremendous performer. The teaching didn't seem to hamper his ability to win a gig.

More recently another friend of mine taught elementary ed. for a few years in rural WV. Eventually he auditioned for one of the... Division II I want to say... military bands and now does that. I observed his classes; he was great at it. He's now taking auditions when he's allowed for other division military bands and doing quite well in those as well.

I could go on and on with other acquaintances of mine... and of course there are exceptions to every rule, so not everybody can or should be a teacher... but I think indicating a one-or-the-other mindset isn't particularly helpful to anyone in a vacuum. Obviously it is possible to switch gears while having your feet in both worlds and if you were going to be so incompetent a teacher, you aren't going to get hired. Way too much competition for that.
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Re: College decision...

Post by Burgerbob » Sun May 06, 2018 7:54 pm

If you're only getting the ed degree as a backup because you don't think you can make a living playing (and/or teaching outside of certification), then it's a bad idea. Being a band director is not an easy job and doesn't leave you a lot of time to hone your trombone playing.

If you want to be a teacher? Great, by all means. We need more better teachers.

I teach a lot as a consultant, and the difference between the two above is instantly obvious as you show up to a program.
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Re: College decision...

Post by Redthunder » Sun May 06, 2018 8:26 pm

Matt K wrote:
Sun May 06, 2018 7:44 pm
I could go on and on with other acquaintances of mine... and of course there are exceptions to every rule, so not everybody can or should be a teacher... but I think indicating a one-or-the-other mindset isn't particularly helpful to anyone in a vacuum. Obviously it is possible to switch gears while having your feet in both worlds and if you were going to be so incompetent a teacher, you aren't going to get hired. Way too much competition for that.
I should clarify a couple of things in regards to my comment.

I definitely do not believe that it's a one-or-the-other decision. I am simply stating that those who aren't interested in teaching besides the paycheck, simply shouldn't waste everyone's time by taking up space in a world where passionate people are desperately needed.

On the contrary, I find that teaching has done nothing but improve not only my musicianship, but my overall work ethic and desire to practice at the end of a long day. Additionally, my abilities to communicate, empathize, and find creative solutions to new problems are constantly improving. I may not have as much time as others to practice, which is a downside, but this has also helped me at learning to practice more efficiently.
so not everybody can or should be a teacher...
I disagree wholeheartedly on that not everybody can be a teacher. I see this attitude as well amongst performers. They often seem to think that being an educator is something that you're born with, rather than another skill set that needs to be constantly practiced and reinforced. It is no different than playing an instrument, but yet some how this mindset is not understood by many. Anybody that wants to be a good teacher can become one through diligent practice, hard work, and persistence. But often I see people who try it once, decide it's not for them, and write off teaching. Or even worse, they decide that only the students that really "want it" deserve there time and attention, and everyone else is SOL. Nevermind that part of being a truly effective educator involves helping young people FIND their motivation.
if you were going to be so incompetent a teacher, you aren't going to get hired.
Also not really true in many areas of the country. I know quite a number of people, both my age and much much older, that manage to keep tax payer-funded employment, and do more than their fair share of damage. Which is partly why I may come across as very outspoken at the mention of education listed as a backup plan.
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Re: College decision...

Post by imsevimse » Mon May 07, 2018 1:03 am

There are different teachers to teach different levels for a reason. Young kids need one type of teacher to learn and college students need another kind of teacher. It is a tough job to be a teacher of young low motivated kids. Not the same skills required to be a teacher of highly motivated young grown-ups for example.

When you start your education you don't know where you eventually will end up.

There are a lot of people who in time realise they want to do something else. Some never finds out what to do about it and some do the change.

There are a lot of people in wrong places. It goes for teachers as well as for other disciplines. If it happens you should think of what is best for your own future. It will in the long run be best for all if you are passionate with whatever you do.

/Tom
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Re: College decision...

Post by LeTromboniste » Mon May 07, 2018 6:07 am

imsevimse wrote:
Mon May 07, 2018 1:03 am

There are a lot of people in wrong places. It goes for teachers as well as for other disciplines. If it happens you should think of what is best for your own future. It will in the long run be best for all if you are passionate with whatever you do.

/Tom
OH yes this. I would add this is valid for performing too. Having a career performing is no guarantee for happiness and there are plenty of people with orchestral careers that are completely jaded and have no fun doing their job and performing anymore, think every conductor without exception is a a fraud who knows nothing, hate half of their colleagues, and are constantly negative or defensive on the job...sadly
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