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Changing Main Instruments

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by max23k, Aug 1, 2012.

  1. max23k


    Aug 1, 2012
    So I have been studying Music Education for the past 2 years at college and I have two years left to my degree :) My goal with what I will be doing with this degree is kind of undecided as of now, but for sure I know I will be teaching privately in my home or be teaching music theory and conducting bands in highschools.
    My main instrument was piano simply because when I started my first year at community college before transferring the head of the department was a Beethoven-classical-music maniac who preferred music majors to have "classical" instruments. AND it was the instrument I have been playing the longest. So I chose piano :p
    But as I studied piano during college I never had teachers whom I admired or who made me love what I do. In fact, most of the piano instructors I had look like they hate their job. I am honestly not enjoying piano and would rather do bass guitar! I have been playing the bass for the past 6 years and wished that I had started college with bass guitar as my main instrument. After talking with my advisor it is not too late for me to change main instruments from piano to bass. Her only concern with that is that when applying for jobs after I graduate, bass guitar will not be as impressive as piano and I will have a difficult time for looking for jobs. BUT it is not like I do not know the piano. I don't know...is this a wise decision? Changing my instrument in my junior year from piano to bass. I LOVE my bass!:bassist:
  2. You are correct your teaching certificate will come in handy.

    It is my understanding most other instrument take piano as their second instrument. So you are OK here.

    Bass is great after your graduate, however, as a high school band director, I would think you would be better off with an instrument the kids would be using in a marching band. Tuba, perhaps trombone - which would help your understanding of the bottom end. Kill two birds with one stone.
  3. max23k


    Aug 1, 2012
    Thanks, Amos. Sorry but did you mean that most other Music Ed majors take piano as their second instrument?

    And about the bands, I will be learning brass techniques this semester so I think that will help me become more familiar with band instruments.

    Thanks for the reply! :D
  4. Yes. Back to your other instrument - how to get sound from the instrument. Woodwinds, horns, etc. Unless you've gone through this, going to be hard to explain that basic concept to a student. Talk to your advisor about this aspect of what instrument you should chose.

  5. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    I have a Mus. Ed. degree and have been teaching in public schools for 33 years. My main instrument was trumpet (undergrad) and French horn (grad school). Bass was something I picked up on my own.

    I'd say you're in great shape with piano as a teaching tool for theory, and with that the ability to accompany students at solo performances (adjudicated and for parent organizations and church). The bass will come in very handy if you direct small bands that need a bass line. Very few small school bands have Tuba, Bass Clarinet, Bari Sax and it will always make the ensemble sound better if there is a bass line. I can't tell you how many concerts I directed with a bass guitar strapped on me. And, if you've done your job well as a teacher, they kids rarely need a director to get through every measure of the music... just start and stop with a few cues along the way.

    Now, as to your question about changing instruments. I'd say anything in the wind department would be of value. I would strongly suggest baritone horn (reads both clefs, no hassle for you as a piano player) and alto or tenor sax. Small school band will have plenty of trumpet, flute and drum players. Clarinet (if played well) is a tad more difficult than sax. Bassoon (expensive) and oboe are even more difficult and fussy (reed issues abound). French horn is expensive and difficult. If you end up teaching a in a large music department, a lot of problems with instrumentation are solved with the larger number of students. It has been my observation that band directors who do not play a wind instrument have a very difficult time teaching music to wind players. Most of the problems they have are with teaching tone production... a problem piano and bass players don't have.

    Good luck with it all. Regardless of the instrument(s) you play, the number one thing to work for is good musicianship.
  6. She is likely right. Very few people will value bass as high as piano. I would stick with Piano if I was you!
  7. max23k


    Aug 1, 2012
    Yeah that is true, but it is not like I do not know how to play piano if I do choose bass. I have been playing it the longest for about 16 years now and have accompanied choirs as well. This year I am accompanying my school's Women's Chamber Choir and I am also taking all of the piano pedagogy courses along with my Music Ed course of study. Wouldn't that also look good on job applications?
  8. max23k


    Aug 1, 2012
    Thanks for your input BassChuck! It is very helpful :)
    I agree with how knowing piano helps so much with Theory! I am such a Theory geek and I am super thankful that I know the piano. It truly helps
  9. placedesjardins


    May 7, 2012
    Well, at least you had someone be honest with you rather than tell you what you want to hear.
  10. boristhespider9


    Sep 9, 2008
    Yea, but the real issue still comes down to what you really want to do when you graduate. Do you REALLY want to go teach or be a band leader? Maybe piano is better for that.

    But what if you wanted to be a working union musician playing theatre gigs and the like? You may be better positioned as a bass player even if the compeitition is still stiff. It sounds like you'd enjoy your life more and, depending on the locale, could be in greater demand than a piano player. So, I think you need to focus less on how it "looks" on your resume and think harder about what you'd be happy "doing" with your degree. If you don't actually take a steady teaching job and decide to be a performer instead, the path is tough to make a real living, but wouldn't you at least want to go down that path playing an instrument that makes you happy?

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