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Bassists with music degrees?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by IamGroot, May 27, 2019.

  1. IamGroot

    IamGroot Inactive

    Jan 18, 2018
    Has your music degree made you a better bassist/musician?
    Nashrakh likes this.
  2. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    I would first like to know what falls under the term 'music degree' for you. College education only? Trained professional musicians? Also those that work with music professionally?
  3. Beetfarm615


    Feb 15, 2017
    I’d be surprised if I wasn’t better after dozens of credit hours of music courses. Are you asking if one could attain the same level of skill without college music courses?
  4. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    There are three components of musical competence:
    Talent, Knowledge, and Practice.

    Formal musical education can provide knowledge and, to some extent, practice. The knowledge helps especially in being able to communicate with other musicians.
    Ranger459, dbsfgyd1, Amano and 2 others like this.
  5. IamGroot

    IamGroot Inactive

    Jan 18, 2018
    Examples of music degrees in the US are Bachelors or equivalent or higher degrees from a college, conservatory, or music school.
  6. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Thanks to my kids being involved in music, and playing music myself, I know a lot of musicians with and without degrees. And people know that I play in decent bands without having a degree myself, so they're surprised when I tell them that I think the degree is valuable.

    Taking 8 years of classical lessons on cello, and playing bass for 40 years, has taught me a few things. I can hold my own on the bandstand, and play gigs with professional bands. But today, the upright players who are above me in the local pecking order, all have degrees. "Kids" who have been playing seriously for maybe 6-8 years, but have spent that time in focused study, can run circles around me technically. They can also compose, arrange, teach, and so forth. They are exposed to a larger variety of new ideas in the academic setting. Meanwhile, the value of my knowledge, such as the jazz "standards," is fading into the past, and is mainly relegated to gigs playing background music. I think this is a good generalization of the difference between degree and non-degree musicians in my locale.

    With that said, I have no regrets. I've got a degree in something else, that has led to a rewarding career in its own right. And a music degree is still a license to struggle -- the job situation is known to be pretty bleak. A large fraction of music majors at the nearby university, have a second major in something that could help them make ends meet, such as math, computer science, and so forth. A lot of the kids who were the top music students in high school were also quite competitive in a variety of subjects, and came from supportive families.

    Incidentally, if you go to a web forum for computer programmers and ask if the computer science degree has made them a better programmer, you will get a range of answers.
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  7. jallenbass

    jallenbass Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    Indiana Mike and gebass6 like this.
  8. Indiana Mike

    Indiana Mike

    Nov 18, 2005
    I like waffles.
    Smooth_bass88 and JC Nelson like this.
  9. Indiana Mike

    Indiana Mike

    Nov 18, 2005
    Yes ,if the person has actually participated in the education then yes.
    Me ? I dont have a degree in music. It appeared to me it was asked for those with a degree to answer, but I'll pitch in.

    My high school age daughter plays cello, has taken extensive lessons and busts her ass. She plays with the junior Philharmonic in this city ,has actually performed with the actual (adult)Philharmonic, has taken gold in many music competitions, made and performed in all kinds of honor orchestras etc...
    She actually teaches other students and gets paid for it.
    I'm not bragging ,but explaining how much work is involved to attain a professional level. She still has a long way to go.
    Praying for a scholarship . Assuming she'll have a double major.
    My son got music scholarship offers ,but declined as he saw no money in it . Going for something else.
    If you guys think bass guitars are expensive go shopping for a nice professional cello
    Last edited: May 27, 2019
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  10. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Been there. Don't forget the bow. :eek:
  11. Indiana Mike

    Indiana Mike

    Nov 18, 2005
    That's right. Just like guitars, plectrums not included.
    JC Nelson likes this.
  12. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Ask a quack doctor if a degree made him a better doctor. It made him a doctor, but if you don't put anything into it beyond what you're learning in class, or if you don't learn how to apply it to its best use, then it's meaningless. I don't have a degree in music and wish I did. Overall, I do believe that degrees help those who have an affinity and work ethic for it reach their true potential, giving them skills they might not have ever known they could do, exposing them to people they never would have met otherwise, etc. But without the affinity and the work ethic, they're just pissing money away.
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  13. Smooth_bass88

    Smooth_bass88 vaxx!

    Oct 31, 2006
    Western Hemisphere
    Has your PhD made you a better doctor/surgeon?
    74hc likes this.
  14. Esteban Garcia

    Esteban Garcia bassist, arranger, aelurophile, ਵਿਦਿਆਰਥੀ Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2018
    Portland, OR
    I don't have a degree, but study and practice have made me a better musician. IMO a lot of payers with music degrees are better because they practiced their booties off in a competitive environment while their brains still had some plasticity. That kind of work pays long-term benefits. It's harder as you get older and/or are focused on other things (family, day job, recreational drugs, etc.).
    Wasnex likes this.
  15. Ekulati

    Ekulati Supporting Member

    Jan 2, 2016
    Richmond, VA
    DEFINITELY. No doubt about it.
  16. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006
    I think it’s a perfectly valid question if by “better musician” it’s asking how relevant you found what you learned to earn your academic degree was to your actual work as a musician.
  17. For sure. I learned a lot practicing with my private instructor each week. Playing in the ensembles at the college definitely helped too.
  18. Ampslut


    May 15, 2017
    Barrackville WV
    Studying music theory, and playing in college jazz band definitely made me a better musician. The degree enabled me to get a job teaching music.
  19. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    My question is “compared to what?”

    If you would have spent those 4 years playing video games at home, then the time getting your degree was well spent.

    If you had the opportunity to tour for 4 years with a fantastic artist or group, then doing a degree might not have been the right choice.
    Lobster11 and AndyPanda like this.
  20. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    Yes. I didn't complete my associates through traditional class room studies, but I went through three semesters of theory, private lessons, and solfege training at a traditional junior college. Also took music history and class piano. The three semesters of theory took me through diatonic classical theory and gave me enough foundation to learn how to read and interpret jazz chord notation with a little help from mentors.

    Between experience awarded to me as a military musician, and additional online course work to finish off basic core class requirements, I was eventually awarded an associates in Applied Music degree from the CCAF.

    I wouldn't say I am a great bass player, but I think I was probably above average.

    In my career I performed in about 40 countries and entertained royalty and high level national leaders on a number of occasions. I also got to perform with a few celebrities and musical headliners. My forte was versatility. I played in pop groups, concert band, and big band on 6-string electric, 6-string electric upright, and string bass. I was competent enough with the bow on string bass to play orchestral transcriptions of major symphonic works, providing the range did not go into thumb position. I also played quite a bit of what we called cocktail music...basically jazz trio where each player is expected to solo on most tunes.

    It's unlikely I would have ever become a professional musician without those first three semesters of traditional class room studies. Honestly I never dreamed I would be a professional musician, but somehow it worked out. The Air Force band program was a near perfect match for my skills and aptitudes, but I had to work really hard when I was first hired. Luckily they were desperate for bass players as I was not really qualified when I cross trained into the program.
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