High school bass player thinking about college

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by bassplayerx2, Apr 15, 2012.

  1. bassplayerx2


    Feb 21, 2011
    I've got another year of school before going off to college, and I know that I want to still play the bass but I don't think I am good enough to make a life out of it. What should I do?

    I was the number one high school bassist in our jazz allstate competition this year (New Hampshire), and number two in classical. I love playing the bass, but I have really great grades in school and I know that it would be hard to live off playing the bass.

    I am valedictorian of my class of over 300 kids, I am interested in science, particularly in physics. I would greatly appreciate some help in determining a school to attend, and whether or not I should pursue bass there. Thanks!
  2. aarono


    Feb 14, 2006
    Do as you please. If you don't study music in college it isn't like music is then cut off from your life. You can study accounting/engineering/mortuary science/etc, and still play bass outside of school.
  3. Herbie 80's

    Herbie 80's

    Dec 15, 2008
    Depends on your goals. If you want to study science, then study science. If you are serious about music and can see teaching / playing music as your career, then do that. It isn't an easy path, and takes an intense amount of dedication, but, if you are dedicated, it's worth it.
  4. I'm a UNH graduate, and changed my major a few times before I finally decided on Communication Arts at the Manchester campus. The major had a pretty wide variety of classes from audio and video editing to interpersonal relationships. What really intrigued me was the A/V stuff, and I ended up meeting a lot of other people with the same interests. I was still in a band when attending, and never let my interest in music die. If you have any questions about the program let me know. Posts if good info on the UNHM site too.
  5. JesusMetalFunk


    Aug 11, 2011
    I am in high school too, think about this. Some jobs a degree opens up careers. An example would be teaching, you need a degree to teach, but you won't need one for a lot of bass gigs.

    If you want to go play in a symphony, then you may need specialized performance study at some fancy music university.

    Physics is by far the toughest class I am in, (mechanics) but if you are interested go for it. My teacher ruined it for me.
  6. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    My background: I played cello and electric bass through high school, then went to college and did a double major in math and physics. Then I got a PhD in physics. While in college I started taking lessons on an upright bass, and that has become my main instrument.

    I went to a college that didn't have a super competitive music program, so there were spaces in the college music groups for non-music majors. I played in the jazz band for four years. I imagine that at a big college, you could probably get into an orchestra, but the jazz groups might be a bit more competitive due to the smaller number of bassists needed per group. But who knows?

    There is such a thing as music scholarships for non-music majors as well, due to shortages of some instruments in the college groups. They'd rather give you a scholarship than have to hire players from town. One of my band mates has a son who just got a full ride music scholarship, and is double majoring in music and physics.

    Today I have what I think is a pretty cool job at a company that makes the other kind of instruments -- scientific instruments. I'm not a "first call" bassist in my locale, but I definitely get my chances to play out. And I've managed to bring physics and music together in a modest way with my little business.

    @Jesus: Don't let yourself be turned off by just one teacher. You might have to do some of your own reading about the subject to see if it sparks an interest.
  7. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Number one All State and you still don't think you're good enough? Well poop, I'm up a creek without a paddle if that's the case :p

    Given what you've said, you sound like a smart kid and you probably have a bright future ahead of you regardless of what you do. May I suggest, however, that you use your brains and focus on something like physics, engineering, or accounting in college and continue to pursue music on the side (perhaps as a minor). I decided to take the business route, but I've continued to play music on the side throughout most of my stay in college. In fact, I've done fairly well at it and have become a bit of a 'go-to' bass guy for bands needing a sub on short notice. It's nothing crazy, but it's cool to say that I'm a somewhat in demand player considering I am not one of the jazz cats at my school. In fact, I tend to be employed just as much as most of those kids who decided to pursue music in college and make it their living!

    Ultimately, do what you think is best, but know that just because you don't go to school for music doesn't mean you can't continue to play and make music (even if only for a few years) a part time job for yourself. It's what I'm doing, and it has been an amazing experience.
  8. john_g

    john_g Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2007
    Not trying to rain on your parade, but...

    Honestly, it IS really hard to make a living off of music, even if you are a spectacular player. You usually have to be incredibly good, incredibly lucky, and most likely both to make a really good living from it. If you are valedictorian and interested in science/physics, I would pursue that and keep music as a hobby.

    I went to college for graphic design (which is what I do now for a living) but almost switched to music as a major in my first year. After alot of soul searching, I decided I would likely have a better chance for a good living with graphic design (and I was right).
  9. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    While I definitely am far from making it, I can say that this is very true. In addition, it's not always the best players who make it. A lot of the time it's the guys who are the most business savvy and who have the better networking connections that make it. Even in the minor leagues this still holds true. I'm definitely not the best sub bassist in my town, but I'm definitely never short of gigs if I want them because I know how to network and sell myself to other players and bands.
  10. Ric5

    Ric5 Inactive

    Jan 29, 2008
    I like 5, 8, 10, and 12 string basses
  11. bassplayerx2


    Feb 21, 2011
    Thanks for all the awesome replies.
    I think maybe I want to go to a good school, that also has a good music program. This way, I can still learn the bass on the side. Maybe making bass not my main focus will make it tougher to get into a good program, but if there is no competition what is the point right?
    Does anyone have any good ideas for schools that have good science programs and good bass teachers?
  12. One of my teachers always says "never pursue music as a career unless you cannot be happy without it".
  13. BassMom88


    Oct 17, 2011
    Hey, small world :) I saw you play at Jazz All State (my daughter was second to you) You were really good-- Good time/great feel! We were all impressed with your playing. That was an incredible group!
    Why not combine your interests? Some sort of engineering and you can incorporate music. Go with what you love and you can't go wrong. Congrats on being valedictorian too. It sounds like you will be successful in anything you set your mind to!
    Best Wishes
  14. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    I left a pretty spiffy conservatory program (in 1981) in part because I didn't feel like I was exercising the parts of my brain that weren't involved in music. If you're really interested in science you might wind up feeling the same way. But on the other hand, I never stopped playing. I'd like to think that I made progress as a musician even though I have made my living as an attorney for almost twenty years.

    Same with my kid. He was a strong high-school player but went to college for computer science / electrical engineering. He has never stopped playing and I KNOW he's made progress.

    Good luck and have fun with your search and your choices.
  15. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Follow your gut. FWIW, here's my story:

    Started at age 13 or so, private lessons all the way through into college. All-state, all-city, even a coveted student spot in a professional symphony. Despite all that, I knew I certainly didn't have the raw talent to be a professional musician. Majored in physics and psych in college but still played plenty. Played classical, bluegrass, small combo jazz, big-band jazz, theater, etc.

    Off to graduate school for a Ph.D. and stopped playing. Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb!!! Started up again years later, went for formal jazz training with fine teachers while having a day job.

    Now, I play jazz for the love of it. I'm a dedicated amateur, semi-pro, whatever you want to call it. It sure makes me happy! :)

    Best wishes with your decision!
  16. Matt Ides

    Matt Ides

    May 12, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN
    You can always minor in music and keep playing while at school as many have suggested.
  17. ethnotime


    Sep 24, 2006
    I would probably get into a school with a great science program in a city with a good music scene (pick any large city in the NE). That way you could take lessons, meet other musicians, get on the scene while pursuing your academic studies. You could not do it the other way around: major in music and study science on your own.

    If you're truly serious about music then you'll keep playing. When I was doing my master's at MSM there was a piano player there who did his undergrad in Physics at Princeton and a sax player who did his undergrad in biochemistry! Sharpening your mind with the sciences is a good way to ensure some degree of success in the music business.