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Input - Musicians Institute Guitar Craft Academy

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by GrooveWarrior, Nov 17, 2004.

  1. My brother-in-law is going to be starting at Musicians Institute Guitar Craft Academy next October, and I was just curious if anyone had any comments (good or bad) about the program.

    He is a smart kid and will have a degree in regional and urban planning by the time he goes out there, and he is worried about job placement, and then making enough money to pay bills, etc. I know that it is a tough business to get into, and any advice would be great.

    He is a gui#*r player, but I know some of the luthiers here are on the west coast, and I think it would be great if he could do a quick visit to some of the shops out there to see what goes on.

    Any input you could give me regarding the program (or housing options near Musicians Institute) would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Hmmm

    There was a discussion about this recently with some very good responses. Look here and read the entire thread. There's a significant response from a top notch luthier who details all the things that should/must be done to get hired.
  3. I would like to respond to this but not in strict reference to the Musicians Institute or any other division of the school.

    What I would like to discuss is the nature of "corporate schools". I have experience with these having been a student at the Art Institute of Atlanta and there is much to know before deciding to get into such an endeavour.

    First and foremost - you must keep in mind that the schools main focus and goal is to make money for the corporation. It is not the noble goal of education. What you get in the form of instruction might be adequate but there is no guarantee and there is the distinct possibility that the curriculum will get sacrificed for the bottom line. Once in the school, you should be ready for tuition increases every quarter or semester. This is just the way it's done. There isn't a warning or a way to predict the increase. It's just dropped on you about 3 weeks before the end of the term and you've got to deal with it. In my case my first semester at AIA was about $1200 while my last term was over $2200 about 18 months later. Get out the checkbook.

    Second - Unless the school has been accredited by a recognized accreditation entity, your educational credits won't be worth anything at any other institution. If the school is only teaching luthiery, that might not be an issue, but if they require other subjects like math, languages, or labs, you won't be able to transfer them to another school. Just something to think about.

    Third - I've found that the level of expertise shown by the instructors in this type of school is often somewhat lacking. In my case, with only about 4 years of graphic arts under my belt, I was more than qualified to take over the teaching duties of several of my instructors. Most were so out of touch with the industry that they, themselves wouldn't likely be hirable in the field. In fact, after completing my time there, I was asked to teach at night adult courses for professionals in the field. That's how lacking in talent they were.

    Fourth - It may be related to the quality of the instructor but I found that they actively allowed naive students to form totally unrealistic views of the industry. Rather than work on the absolute basics that would have been necessary for the types of jobs the graduates would actually be getting, they would have them designing projects that only the top 5% of advertising agencies would ever get the opportunity to tackle. The result was a graduating class that had paid through the nose for an education that looked good on paper and in the portfolio but was sadly lacking in the actual skills needed to be successful in the field. It's a shame but it only took 4 years of experience in the real world before the school to see this easily as it happened.

    So beware. There are lots of details and angles to consider when picking schools that teach for profit.
  4. Hmm.

    Yeah that's how it works in "schools" in the computer industry too. I think the school should be given the benefit of the doubt but what I would strongly suggest is that they provide a list of graduates who are currently working in the field of luthiery. I'd also find out how long the school has been in existence, if there are any complaints with the Better Business Bureau and the local Chamber of Commerce. I'd also find out how many students they have in a single year. Multiply the number of years the school has been operating times the number of students per year and then compare that number to those that are current working as luthiers. If the last number, the number of working luthiers, is absurdly low, run for the exit.

    I'd also suggest contacting at least 3 people on that list to make sure that they are still working as luthiers. Find out what their experiences at the school was like and how well it helped, or didn't, their career. I'd also strongly suggest finding out exactly what kinds of work these graduates are doing. If luthiery schools are anything like computer schools then they'll severely inflate the success of their graduates. Often absurdly so.

    Sweeping a broom every day in a luthiery shop isn't exactly a sign of success. It might eventually be a successful career but the school should be able to point very proudly to actual working professional luthiers who spend their days producing instruments.

    And.... I wouldn't accept training at any school that wasn't accredited. You'll find that getting educational loans to non-accredited schools is a real pain.
  5. Thanks for the link to the other thread. Very helpful.

    I will try to respond to some of the other things that were brought up.

    Regarding the school and it's accreditation, it is accredited by NASM (National Association of Schools of Music), which is the same organization that accredits the University of Miami's music program, the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins, along with hundreds of other major universities. And as far as credits transferring, he will already have a degree from Miami University of Ohio, which is consistently in the top 20 public schools in the country, and is often called "The Harvard of the Midwest" so credits and transfer will not be an issue. He is getting into this for the joy of learning the craft, and does not already have a career.

    As for the instructors, John Carruthers and David Maddux are listed as full-time faculty members. I'm sure there are more, but it doesn't say. The final project of this six month course is making an entire guitar. One of the reasons he chose this school is because he will also take some music courses. Ear training, theory, private lessons, etc. It seems like a pretty intensive course load.

    I'm sure there are always issues to consider, and it sounds like you guys didn't have a very good experience in the training you had, but this place seems to be decent. Some of it's graduates include: Norman Brown, Scott Henderson, Oscar Cartaya, Alex Al, Keb Mo, Jennifer Batten, Frank Gambale, Chad Smith, John Frusciante.

    Time Will Tell.
  6. Hmmm.

    Sounds like a good school so I hope everything goes well.

    For me the single most important reason to be cautious is that a lot of the training I've seen personally, and in many coworkers, isn't anything remotely real-world. In my profession, programming computers, it generally takes about 3 years to retrain a college graduate. Much that get's learned in an academic structure doesn't have applications outside of school and can often concentrate on unsubstantial things.
  7. eosdallas


    Jan 9, 2006
    Riverside, CA
    i am interested in MI for the CGA course. i have several buddies of mine going there for the RIT course. some thing you get are: seminars done by billy squier, and other major bands (includes rush, and several people who have graduated form the school) lessons on your choice and other stuff.

    my concern is, is it worth nearly 10 grand for this course, and are luthier college's worth it?
  8. gfried84

    gfried84 Commercial User

    May 7, 2005
    Owner Fried Guitars Inc.
    I attended Robero venn in phoenix. I chose it because MI only teaches how to build an electric while rv teaches both electric and acoustic construction and repair.