Music School?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by air4me2, Apr 25, 2002.

  1. air4me2

    air4me2 Guest

    Feb 19, 2002
    Hey all,, I would love to make bass playing my source of income (ie as a job),, such as being a studio,, band,, demo or somesuch bassist. I've been looking at music schools and I don't have a clue what kinda jobs I could get if i graduated with a "Bachelors of Music" in Jazz! Any of you guys going/know people going to music schools,, and what kinda gigs are you hoping to get after this training?

    Also what are some good music oriented campuses.

    thanks a lot
  2. James S

    James S

    Apr 17, 2002
    New Hampshire
    Please do not think I am trying to impress you or any other viewer of this post. OK?

    This is quite a difficult question to answer as there are a number of seperate issues in your stated question. However I do feel qualified to give my opinion and I feel obligated to help if I can.

    A "Bachelors of Music" in Jazz will not guarentee you gigs or income. As with everything in life the title is not always a realistic representation of the content.

    Just because you study and graduate with a degree does not mean you can play worth a damn. If you want to make a living playing bass then develop a plan to learn to play well. If you want to go to school and get a degree you will then be qualified to APPLY for a job that requires a degree. i.e. Teaching in a public institution, School.

    To " make bass playing my source of income (ie as a job),, such as being a studio,, band,, demo or somesuch bassist" does not require a degree. It requires that someone wants to hire you. I am of the opinion that music school would not necessarily even help you reach these goals. Nor am I suggesting that music college is a bad idea. Just that it is important to know why we are doing something and will the reward be there when the work is done.

    I admire your desires, and I encourage you to set clear definable goals. Then you can get a clear direction.

    Jim Stinnett
    Associate Professor
    Berklee College Of Muisic
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Of course Jim is an a very good position to offer advice and I think he has raised some very interesting points.

    So the thing is that whatever you eventualy choose to do will require hard work and dedication and won't necessarily get you a job.

    Just because you like playing bass, doesn't mean that music will in any way be an "easy option" - in fact it is probably one of the hardest and most competitive areas in which to get a job.

    I can remember talking to some people at the Jazz Summerschool I attended, who were working as student tutors and were hoping to make a living out of teaching and playing Jazz. They were saying that it was incredibly competitive and most of their time was spent "networking" and trying to make "contacts" so that they might get enough work in music.

    Everybody who did this, tended to gravitate towards London as this was where most of the work was (I imagine it's the same with NY in the US?) and it meant that there was a very cut-throat atmosphere - trying to get somebody else's gig, for example.

    So I think what Jim is saying, is that the sort of skills that will get you work in the music business are not those that will necessarily be taught by any college - but rather are down to motivation, communication skills and a certain ruthlessness - to pursue your goals singe-mindedly no matter what!
  4. air4me2

    air4me2 Guest

    Feb 19, 2002
    Thanks for your input guys. I realize that NOTHING is guarunteed as far as getting jobs in the music field, I would imagine many of the great studio musicians have been out of work at some time or another.

    My previous post made it seem like I thought I would be an in demand player as soon as I got formal training (I was half asleep). While that would be a nice perk, I would like to go to music school to increase my own playing abilities and knowledge of the bass and music in general. Maybe a bonafide "school of music" isnt exactly what I should be looking for.

    So maybe you could reccomend some courses,, institutes,, wootcamp? something just to get me started.

  5. I’m also interested in perusing a career in music. Mainly because I suck at everything else, and I would hate a 9-5 office job or a hard labour job (yes I know, I’m just lazy :D )

    I finish my GCSE's in July an then I’m doing a music/entertainment technology course at my local college which is 3/4 days a week, during which time I’ll look at my options and see what further education is available. All I know is that it will involve music (whether it's teaching, recording, performing ect.)

    Even if, at the end of whatever courses and further education I decide to take, I don't pursue a career in music, I’ll still be able to look back on it and know I spent the time doing something I love, rather then something I hate

    So I think you should definitely pursue that career because even if you don't make it, at least you'll have fun!


  6. theJello


    Apr 12, 2000
    May I also add that Jim Stinnett has
    the *best* walking book in the world.
    Every bass player should own it.
  7. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    It is a coincidence that this topic came up because I was just wondering about the situation for pro musicians too. What made me wonder is recently I went into a Nashville music instrument store. Everyone in there worked in the store all day, then played local gigs (when available) at night.

    Most of them looked to be late thirties to mid-forties. These are probably very dedicated musicians, but what could they be earning in the store...slightly above minimum wage at most? What could their gigs bring in? If they had day jobs at the store, they probably couldn't do road tours of any length of time or distance.

    So what kind of money could these men in the prime of their lives be making? My guess is just enough to make ends meet. That is when many men their same age are already mid-level executives or professionals with big homes, big SUVs, expense accounts, luxury vacations, fat 401ks, etc.

    I would further surmise that for all but an extremely talented and fortunate minority of musicians who do well and prosper, for most musicians hoping to be full time pros, their work is almost like a calling, but one that brings with it great personal and financial sacrifice to do what they love.

    Yesterday I happened to be visting the campus of Indiana University that has a well regarded school of music. I saw a student headed to or from class with what looked like a French horn case. It made me wonder then how successful he would be. I wondered if IU has ever done a follow up study of their music school grads to determine how many actually are full time music pros able to live in comfort from their music earnings , say, ten or more years later. I also wonder the same thing about Berklee grads.

    Some do extraordinarly well, but what about the vast majority?
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well - I think that when it comes to choosing college courses, then you should do what interests you, as if you're not motivated enough then it is just going to be a waste of time - I chose Philosophy for this reason! ;)

    But I think the point Ed makes is that when it comes to a job, you may find that in practice, the "9-5" starts to look very appealing after a few years of the sort of thing he mentions in his post.

    So - out of my "regular" job, I get good pay, respect as an expert in my field, good source of friends and social events, good pension/sickpay, free internet access (!), time off for holidays etc.

    I have also done quite a few semi-pro gigs and in contrast - say on wedding gigs or similar - I have been made to feel very much the "hired help" and about on a par with the people who came to clean the toilets!! :mad:

    So - of course I envy the full-time Jazz pros I have met and talked to - but they have to be hugely determined to put up with al the minor hassles.
    Like the fact that they can't get a mortgage to buy a house, can't get any sort of loan or insurance, can't take holidays when they want to as this is the best time for gigs, can't have a regular schedule so lose touch with friends and family and don't get to socialise with them etc etc
  9. chrisbs


    Jan 12, 2002
    Music school is good for two things
    1)Finding a really good private teacher
    (if you can do this at a local school, so be it)
    2)Meeting and playing with musicians from all over the world
  10. pigpen02


    Mar 24, 2002
    You know, i've been pondering the same thing for a bit. i'm about to graduate with by b.s. degree, and i have a WONDERFUL GREAT JOB that only requires my presence 2 days a week, and its in my field. yeah! but, i'm starting to get an idea of what i'm like with five days off in a row: gluttonous, manic and chemically enhanced. so, i've been looking into music programs to save me from myself.

    to get to the point, the cool thing about music, and some old guy told me this once, is that unlike 95% of other vocations, its never going to be unavailable to you. get it? pursue the job first, spend your college years working on a degree that get's you paid, playing in college bands, taking some music courses (perhaps a minor?) and growing as a person and as an artist. hell, its not like you'll be old coming out of college.

    money isn't everything, but....i worked at a juvie detention center by day and bounced at a titty bar by night and took classes in between and damn, you really appreciate it when that stuff ends. get a haircut and get a real job.

    just my two cents.
  11. corinpills


    Nov 19, 2000
    Boston, MA
    It's actually not all that difficult to make a living playing bass, but it has precious little to do with playing what you like. An awful lot of people who got Berklee end up playing in General Business bands that play weddings and corporate events. Some of them make a decent amount of money doing it. My day job is at a booking agency and one of our bandleaders made over $70,000 last year doing this and never woke up before noon. The tradeoff is that you have to the cater to the musical tastes of 'civilians' and they'd like to hear "Brick House" right away, please.

    Oftentimes, music schools really offer a good musical discipline at a tremendously important point in a person's life. In my case, I was in the biggest fish in the little pond I grew up in, and I'd probably still be there if I hadn't left the farm for school. My biggest advice, if you find yourself wanting to play in a function band (and nobody starts off with that as a goal, they just end up doing it) is to be able to sing as well as play bass. That combination will make you incredibly valuable.
  12. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    Soooo, what's it called and where can I get it?
  13. James S

    James S

    Apr 17, 2002
    New Hampshire
  14. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    What do you folks think about the necessity of being in a big city? As Ed said, it may be easier to carve out a niche in a smaller city, but there are less opportunities also. In a bigger city, is the number of competing players usually offset by the number of gigs available?

    Also, by "big city" I guess I mean over a million in population. Ottawa is only a couple of steps above a small town by American standards, and the music scene is peanuts compared to many, many places... just considering... :cool:
  15. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I'd like to second everything that Ed and Jim have said - it's right on the money. Most of the professional players I know also teach. The fortunate ones are good at it, and the really fortunate ones also enjoy it.

    To answer the original question, a BM qualifies you to work at Burger King, and little else. If you want to teach at the university level, you need at least a Masters at most places, and lately more and more full time tenure-track positions require doctorates. So why go to music school? I can only think of one really good reason: because you have an insatiable curiosity to know more about music, and to expose yourself to all kinds of music that you might have a difficult time ever hearing about just wandering around on the street, even if you hang in a hip neighborhood. The bottom line is, if you decide to go to music school, the only compelling reason I can think of to do it is for your own personal fulfillment. Getting a job out of it should be the last thing on your mind. If it happens, great. If it doesn't, you will have the satisfaction of having completed something that you felt you somehow NEEDED to do, and you will still have a college degree to build on. But from my experience, if you need to ask the question, you probably already know the answer. In my case, it wasn't even a choice, since I couldn't even imagine doing anything else.

    Good luck whichever way your decision goes.

  16. chrisbs


    Jan 12, 2002
    The smartest thing to do is to get your teaching degree,,,,then you can land a nice teaching job, do gigs, etc on the side
  17. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Funny, most of the High School musica teachers I know are frustrated by the fact that they never get to gig. And of the few that do get to gig, they get to spend so little of their time practicing that they're quite substandard on the bandstand.

    In my current job (service band), I'm surrounded by former music teacher who just wanted to play.....
  18. ldiezman


    Jul 11, 2001
    The music business is a funny thing... not really a sure thing.. I am a music major in Voice and Bass (my bass teacher went to Berklee) but thats what i'm doing.Its also about devotion. Can you live out of your suitcase for months at a time? Thats what many singers I know are doing. Its great for some people.. I know folks who love traveling. My voice teacher did not like to travel.. he did for awhile, won all the contests he wanted to win... decided to teach.

    Making music you life is a good thing... but its not for everyone and surely you need to realize it might not be everything you want it to be. Its hard work. It can be fun or exhausting.... but if you really love it, then go for it.
  19. any music ed school suggestions? this is what i've wanted to do for a while, but i haven't really found anything impressive.

    my current teacher (high school) has a small combo-type ensemble that he practices with minimally but they gig all the time- sometimes i'll run into them at shows! talk about funny...but anyways, teaching is a job that takes up his LIFE, yet he finds room for his playing too. this is why i think teaching would be the best, most balanced out career. he graduated from UConn, which i guess has a booming music ed program. any other suggestions? i've been looking for a school that also has a performance sector, so i can major in ed and minor in performance or vice versa.