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Music Performance Major for Professional Working Musicians... Does it really matter??

Discussion in 'Ask Justin Meldal-Johnsen' started by the aXeman, Aug 19, 2012.

  1. Hey JMJ,

    I posted this in the "Misc" section on here and a couple guys told me to re-post it here because you might be able to give me some advice...

    What do you think? Comments/thoughts??
  2. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen

    Mar 25, 2005
    Jeez. This is tough, because I don't want to steer you wrong, but here's my two cents:

    I wouldn't PERSONALLY do it. Because it worked out for me where I am to just keep going after high school and bypass the college route. BUT: there's a bunch that I wish I learned that I still don't know how to do!

    But me personally: I think I'd just keep on working/gigging/having fun/expanding my horizons.

  3. Coughdrops

    Coughdrops Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2008
    South Florida
    I have some input as I went the degree route. I learned a lot from my professors and other students and players from around town. Some of it very strongly shaped my views on music, for the better I would say.

    In reality though it's not necessary. You can learn all the things you need to from records and in a scene that is not created by a college. If it were me and I were 18 again, I'd move to a city with a real scene and simply work my ass off, to become both a better player and a professional that people want to work with.

    Also, from an extremely practical point of view, a music degree doesn't throw around a lot of weight if you ever do go serious job hunting. So it's peripheral benefits beyond learning more about music aren't that far reaching.

    Again, if it were me to do over, I'd get my ears together, move to a city and learn how to get and keep gigs.

    For what it's worth and all those other disclaiming acronyms...
  4. shriekback


    Nov 25, 2007
    Eugene, OR
    You asked for views as to whether it would advance your efforts to become a successful professional musician to go to college, and the previous two replies respond to that precise question well.

    As someone who both went to college and now teaches at a university, however, I can assure you that there is much more to be gained by furthering your education than just professional development. In fact, I regard the common view of higher education as an undertaking largely in service of vocational aims as the product of an unfortunate marketing strategy that colleges and universities have cynically adopted to attract more students. Career training is not remotely what universities and colleges do best, in my opinion, and that such a function, to whatever degree they do perform it, pales in value in comparison to what else they offer anyway.

    As a musician, successful or otherwise, you will remain a whole person, and there are all manner of reasons you ought to seriously consider seeking further education than just advancing your career goals. Knowing more about history, poetry, psychology, biology, hell, even business, would likely make you a better musician and artist, as well as a more insightful, sensitive, and able partner and participant in the world.

    By the way, I am not suggesting that either JMJ or Coughdrops in any way devalued the larger worth of education--they were, again, answering your more narrow question--nor do I want to claim that an extensive and worthy education may not be gained outside of formal schooling, but I thought I would try to encourage you to broaden your consideration beyond the limits of your question, if you have not already done so anyway, as I think much more is at stake in the decision it concerns.

    Best of luck in any case.
  5. Thanks for the replies guys. My main concern with going for a Music degree is that it'd help me because of the connections I'd make and who I'd meet.... There's no doubt in my mind I could just hit the streets and gain the same knowhow of the instrument from records and books.... But I don't wanna drive myself waaaaay into debt that I'll be paying off for the next 10-15 years that's gonna make things even tighter for me for something I could do WITHOUT... If that makes sense...
  6. brad houser

    brad houser

    Jan 4, 2008
    I had two years at community college in Dallas. my theory prof., Jerry Wallace, was awesome. had freshman and sophomore theory, ear training, did jazz band and jazz improv class. and music history. 20 yrs ago it cost me $160 per semester. highly recommended. gave me the ability to learn on my own. didn't take bass lessons during that time, just gigged a lot. community college is a great way to go.
  7. brad houser

    brad houser

    Jan 4, 2008
    my bad. 30 years ago. 1983-85. there are some great teachers lurking about at community college.

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