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Age Bias for Conservatory (hopefully unlikely!)

Discussion in 'Orchestral Auditions [DB]' started by basspirate777, Mar 22, 2009.

  1. basspirate777


    Mar 21, 2009
    Latrobe, Pa
    Hey folks. Just wanted to first say that these forums have been a huge resource for me since I found them- I can't BELIEVE that was two days ago. ...newfangled internet ;)

    Hopefully some relevant info about myself;

    I'm an adult student who will be entering a conservatory DB program next fall. I'm 25 years old-studying electric now for 14 years and double bass for 2.5. My main focus has really gone over to the classical side over the past year and a half. I'm still trucking along in Simandl, but 500 performances, 10 albums 50 electric students over the past eight years PLUS an awesome teacher have at least given me a little bit of an edge up on progressing quickly through the initial 'method' phase of learning.

    Finally, my question;

    I notice though that so many opportunities; summer festivals, performance competitions, etc. have age guidelines. Considering that I will be 29-30 by the time I can attain a BA and 32 at the point I can reach a Master's; am I totally ****ed out of basically any opportunity that will help me to gain much needed experience for my career? Or would you assume that the matter more rests on the fact that most conservatory students happen to be a younger age than myself?

    Any thoughts? Impressions? Statements of a related nature?
  2. basspirate777


    Mar 21, 2009
    Latrobe, Pa
    Maybe I'm just too old.

    I would hope 25 isn't /old/!
  3. drew_bassmore

    drew_bassmore Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2000
    San Francisco Bay Area
    If 25 is too old, I may as well line my coffin now. (sarcasm- in a self-deprecating manner just in case anybody wants to take some sort of offense- too many threads of people misreading intentions. I had to include the disclaimer)

    You clearly have hours logged as you suggest by your post. I would assume you may have some old habits to work the kinks out of, and new techniques your foundation may already support.

    I am an 18 year E. Bass player/performer, with 3 years in on DB studies (Simandl/Classical and Jazz Studies).

    I am nearing 39, and I have developed a new found interest to pursue my Bachelors of Music in Instrumental Jazz Performance. I may have an appetite to continue on to a Masters in Classical Study or Music Education.

    Regardless, I believe the question you must ask yourself is what is your motivation?

    I don't see anything wrong with going back to school at any age, but to what purpose? Do you strictly want to study for competition? Then what is it that you feel you want to prove to yourself or others? Or is the ability to connect to the music for the benefit of others a greater factor? All of the above? Why? etc.

    Ultimately, your success belongs to you, and what you choose to do (in school or out) will decide your opportunities and how content you are.
  4. basspirate777


    Mar 21, 2009
    Latrobe, Pa
    Thanks for the reply!!

    I guess I just feel a little weird since it seems like so many students are younger than I am. I just want to have opportunities to become a great player and for some reason, I feel/felt my age could be a problem.

    I don't really want to compete to make myself feel better or to be better than anyone else; but simply for the sake of being really bloody good. Kind of that 'the only person I need to outperform is myself' mentality. Also, it seemed like those competitions provided travel opportunities as well as something to add to a resume. I was mainly focusing on the age limit. I also hope to someday, like many here, play in a professional orchestra as well as teach in a university setting. I also am fully aware that there is TONS of competition for those coveted jobs.

    I guess my motivation just goes back to the fact that my life has mainly revolved around studying music (and really studying) since I was about ten; so it's just kind of what I do, and what I love.

    Also, I spent years touring out of Nashville and working with artists on albums playing electric bass, trying to create a satisfying career, but I wanted to step into a realm where I would be with SERIOUS musicians and not just entertainers with fancy haircuts-or people who think they are serious musicians but just have fancy haircuts. (not that there's anything wrong with a fancy haircut). It took seeing the Nashville Symphony playing Bach's Toccatta and Fugue in Dminor to really drive the fact home, but since then it's a no brainer.

    Anyhow, thanks for reading and for your thoughts.

    I should also add that I was largely self taught for those years, and I was able to get myself to a point where I could earn a living teaching, playing a doing studio work, but studying with a teacher for the first time since I was 8 studying classical piano with angry drunk priest with an MA from Yale, has been a real trip!!!
  5. bejoyous


    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    Just skip over the festivals, etc and go straight to the real thing!
  6. manutabora


    Aug 14, 2007
    Iowa City, IA
    Well, festivals definitely provide great opportunities for intensive studies with people who really know what they're doing, but I would say that even if you don't qualify for those, there are still a number of things you can do to gain experience. For example, I don't think masterclasses usually have an age limit. Also, playing in a civic or community orchestra might be one of the most valuable experiences for your development.
    All this is coming from a traditional student (I'm 20 and a junior) so I may not know what I'm talking about. I've done festivals, masterclasses, and have been playing in a community orchestra since 2006, and I would say they have all contributed tons to my musical growth.
    And please, don't let your age discourage you. One of my best friends in college is a guy who used to be my music theory teacher in Honduras. Now we're both in college and we're classmates in a few courses :cool: He says that he envies the advantages I have in some areas (no wife, more flexible schedule, etc.). But he's also doing great in his area and he also has some experience that I don't, so I think it's all good.
  7. jgbass

    jgbass Guest

    Dec 17, 2003

    I would just go to the conversatory and put aside the age thing. I am considerably older than you, and am going for a music degree, although I am focused on both jazz and classical. I developed the attitude that my issue of age was more an issue with me than the other people I am in contact with at the university. It helps me maintain my focus.

    As far as festivals, summer programs, etc., yes, there is this age restriction and I do not understand exactly what that is about. But, I also know that, with careful searching, there are some more adult based programs, etc. that you can audition for.

    It really was not that many decades ago that there was a strong train of thought that questioned whether adults learned after being adults. Psychologists, etc., have long disputed this, people are living longer, and we generally know that most people are capable of learning throughout their life, but I do not think the classical music world has caught up with the reality of this thinking and is very behind the times.

    So, just be focused on your goals, do not limit your opportunities to just the university, but also consider other opportunities in the community, and be an example.

    A former classical student at my university was an older student. In fact, he received a lot of discouragement to even be in the undergrad program. He basically said screw it, got busy with his personal goals, and he ended up getting accepted at a major major university as a grad student.

    The more exceptions to the limited, age-restricted model of classical music, hopefully the more this kind of thinking will go away.

    And, as adults, we go to a university program with a lot more playing experience and life experience and can certainly use that to make this a successful experience despite any seeming outside obstacles.
  8. basspirate777


    Mar 21, 2009
    Latrobe, Pa
    Thanks to all for the replies!!! I feel encouraged and think that there is a lot of truth in what you've said. :)

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