Music schools?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by j_sun23, Jul 21, 2003.

  1. j_sun23


    Feb 24, 2003
    Baton Rouge LA
    I was wondering what people's thoughts and experiences are on music schools. You know the ones, the tech college types, like Muscian's Institute, or any others that I can't think of right now. Are they worth it? Anyone been through one?

    I've just been doing some thinking, and I'd really like to take my music to the next level. I want to be a better musician, but I find it hard to apply myself to this goal on my own lately. I've never had any formal instruction and I think I'd like to. I think it would help me stay focused on developing as a musician. I'm thinking a complete change of enviroment, an immersion in nothing but music, would be just the thing to help give myself that extra push. I just don't want to waste a ton of money on some school if it's not worth it. I know someone is gonna say it's only worth as much as I put in, effort-wise, so I beat you to it. I don't really care about earning some diploma (even if it would be of some use in and of itself). I don't want to go through the program just to get a piece of paper to prove to some guy that I can do the job. I want to be challenged and grow. I want to be in the sort of atmosphere where I can find myself, musicallly, along with other like minds. I want to live music. And I want to know if one of these schools is the way to go for any of this.
    I'll stop now. Let me know what you know. Thanks.
  2. ConU


    Mar 5, 2003
    La Belle Province
    Without any previous formal training most of the type of schools you are referring to would still take you,they want your money.;) Having said that,some if not most of them still have excellent programs.
    But,if you can't read standard notation reasonably well,follow a chord chart correctly and have a basic working knowledge of harmony,you would find it immensely difficult.Some schools have a 1st year program specifically for students like yourself that begin with "this is the major scale"etc.
    I would suggest you study privately for a few months,it would be ALOT cheaper.Then once you have some strong fundamental skills in place,look to finding a place like BIT.
    Look for a private teacher and tell him what you are planning on doing.With a little elbow grease,inside of 6-9 months you could be ready for a "regular" first year program at BIT or even Berklee.:)
  3. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Your profile doesn't say if you are in a band or have played in one. One cheaper way to immerse yourself in music and really "live" it is to play in a band.

    Being in a band will elevate your music skills more than you can imagine, plus it will show you in a hurry where you are lacking. That should give you the motivation to do what you need to do (examples: work on groove, timing, learn to read, learn some theory, develop a repertoire of songs, learn a variety of bass lines for differing music styles)to be ready for a formal music school.

    If you do decide to attend a music school, be advised that some have more of a jazz orientation--which may or may not please you. Also some university level music programs are for double bass, not electric. Many music schools will also require you to learn to play piano or keyboard. My local community college has a music program that does have training in electric bass.

    Let us know what you decide to do and how it goes.
  4. j_sun
    I go to berklee and i definatly say it has its pros and cons. Some pros are being totally immersed in music 24/7 and getting a lifetime of stuff to work on. They throw tons of information on you. The only complaint i have is the cost(but there is ALOT of money they give away on scholarships). But what i like about is it seems like a regular music scene on a smaller and less harsh atmosphere level. For instance everyone needs each other to work on their projects, such as getting musicians together to record your arranging project. These organizational skills and people skills will help in the long run. And good bassists are ALWAYS in demand. You can learn a lot.
    I agree with ConU about making sure you have many of the basics down (scales, arp., very basic theory) because those gaps will only slow you down once you get to school.
    If you are still interested i would suggest looking into the "basslines" week in the summer at berklee. Well if you made it this far reading then i wish you good luck in what you decide

  5. j_sun23


    Feb 24, 2003
    Baton Rouge LA
    Thanks guys for your replies.

    Boplicity, yes, I am in a band and have been in bands since I was 15 give or take a few off years (oh, I just turned 24). That's maybe part of the problem. I'm not satisfied with the music we're making, and I feel like these two guys I'm playing with, my good friends, are holding me back in a way.

    They are both naturally talented but not very well developed, much like me. The real problem is I think in where our ambitions are. I want to create music that means something to me, music that I believe in and care about, and if possible music that other people will CARE about and be positively affected by. While they say the same, their actions don't agree. They seem to be concerned with being cool or fitting some preconceived mold, like, "I want to be heavy, and melodic, with a singer that can really sing but can get aggressive and scream/growl too...." etc. etc. (how familiar does THAT sound?). It seems to be more of the "get signed and get rich" dream than anything else. They just don't really seem to be able to push themselves beyond what they already know and listen to. It all ends up sounding contrived and old hat, to me at least. For me, the bottom line is NOT money, it's my happiness in my life's work. I'll be poor as dirt before I ruin making music by being a corporate whore.

    There's not really much of a music scene here in Baton Rouge and I know most of the local musicians in one way or another, and I don't think there's really anyone around here that would be on the same page as me, at least not anyone who's not already tied up in other bands (and if there is, it'd take forever to find them). I just thought that moving to a different place and immersing myself in music education would fill that longing I have which I can't seem to satisfy in my present situation. Which brings me back to my question about music schools.

    I really just wanted to hear about people's actual experiences with them, or reccomendations for them, etc. I'm not real sure 100% that it's what I want to do, but part of me finds it very appealing. Another part of me (the pessimistic realistic part of me) thinks it'd be a waste of time and money and I'd be kidding myself. I just wanted to hear what the realites of these schools are. If anyone needs more info from me to be able to answer my questions, just let me know. Thanks again.
  6. ConU


    Mar 5, 2003
    La Belle Province
    The realities are:you're there to train yourself to be a professional musician,sometimes that may mean being the "corporate whore" if you want to make a living off it(pay the bills).Don't kid yourself or let others kid you,you don't go to school to find gigs or your way to the "top".You go to learn,because you want to.
    If you're ready to really open your mind to what it means to be a real musician,ready to have your thought process,and every misconception you have about music blown away,then go to school.It will happen.
    I read your post carefully,I don't think you're there yet.You're questioning things,which is good,but your still hanging on to an idealized view of musicianship.If you want to make it "big" in a rock band,you don't have to go to school.
    I was pretty much in your exact same situation when I decided to go the school route.I had alot more professional experience,but still basically no formal training.I "faked" my way into University and literally put in 10-12 hour days the first 2 years just to get by.Because I wanted it.Am I a big solo NAMM guy now?No.Am I up for the metal act of the day gig?No.Can I hold it down in a variety of musical situations with good time,tone and professionalism.Absolutely.Can I sight-read?Yes.Can I improvise with good rhythm's and note choices?Yes.Am I LIGHT YEARS from the musician I was 4 1/2 years ago?Without a doubt.
    If stuff like that does'nt appeal to you,don't go to school.You will quit within the first term.Believe me,My first year theory,ear-training class started with 29 students,at the end of the year there was 8 left.Think about that.
  7. j_sun23


    Feb 24, 2003
    Baton Rouge LA
    Ah, ConU, I can see I wasn't very clear in my post. I do play rock music, but it is NOT all that interests me, listening or playing-wise. That's probably actually why I'm left unfulfilled. I do not really want to "make it big" in a rock band, and this is all I meant by corporate whore. It was a bad choice of words, an emotional choice, and it didn't communicate what I was trying to get across; my mistake. I do not want to go to a school to "find gigs" or find "my way to the top". I want to play music for a living. I want to expand my horizons and become a better player. I ALSO want the experience of being in a musically charged atmosphere, surrounded by other musicians. I want what you described in your post

    I'd like to be able to say that.

    I really do appreciate your forthrightness and honesty. I'm glad to hear you've had a good experience. I'm just trying to feel my way around this whole idea, as I know very little about any music schools. While I'm at it, can I ask what school you went to? And if it's not out of line, how well did it work out for you as far as a career path goes?

    I really do appreciate your insight ConU. Thanks.
  8. ConU


    Mar 5, 2003
    La Belle Province
    I graduated from Concordia University,Montréal Québec,Canada in December 2002 with a BA in music.I went into the programme as a mature student,it took me 4 1/2 years(full time)to complete it.The first year was probably one of the most humbling experiences of my life.The last 2 were the toughest.
    As a career route for anybody,all I can say is it's a long haul.You have to market yourself as a player that can cut it.And then you have to find those situations that will pay you for it.Lot's of people want you to play for free
    :eek: It's somewhat more advantageous(and competitive)if you're in a major market like LA/NY.
    I'm doing alright,scrambling for gigs,because of my education,I had the ability to produce,compose,arrange,play on an album for a "semi"big artist here.(it's sold 20,000 copies in 6 months).
    But's it's still tough,looking at other guys your own age making 6 figures in the real world.
    It's a choice you have to make for yourself.Sometimes I regret it,and sometimes I don't...especially when I'm reading(not chords,the LINE baby) down a funk chart with a 10 piece band,and I'm groovin',movin' and shakin' like a mutha!!!
    I could'nt do that a few years ago.
    I sincerely hope this helps.

  9. InfinityJaco


    Jun 5, 2001
    my friend and i are heading to berklee this fall and are extremley excited! (bass for me, acoustic guitar for him) Berklee seems to have an amazing amount of stuff to learn from. Def have your basics down before you go (scales, all 24+ of them, major/harmonic and melodic minor = 21, then wholetone, half-whole and whole-half diminished), your arpeggios all over the place, triads and 7ths, up the neck and down from lowest possible note in the chord to the highest, and theory (we bought Berklee Harmony 1-4 and read through them, plus the supplement tests, very good!), Ear Training, arranging, basic writing methods, etc..
    thats the best prep i think, we'll see what happens
  10. OldDawg


    Jul 4, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    I've been to MI and Grove School of Music, and known many Berkelee instructors and students. Bottom line its all what YOU put into it. If you work hard, take advantage of being around lots of players and great instructors you can really improve your playing. The key is having your bass in your hands 24/7 for a year or so. Playing that much is an education in itself. Especially at places like MI having the chance to sit in small rooms with great player to jam and ask questions is invaluable. I think I learned more in those little sessions than I did in the formal classes.

    Avoid hanging with the guys who only came to school to get away from home. School will be over before you know it and you'll wish you had spent more time with your bass in your hands.

    Good Luck,
  11. James S

    James S

    Apr 17, 2002
    New Hampshire

    Many young musicians go to school looking for inspiration. If you are not studying and practicing now chances are you will not do it at school. It is quite easy to just "hang" at school also.

    Yes, the school environment can be quite stimulating but practicing is hard work.

    You already have all the talent and creativity you are ever going to get. It sounds to me like you need to learn to play the bass! This can be done at school or not at school.

    The quote from ConU's post pretty much answers the question.
  12. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    There's another thing you should consider,too: the cost of attending a school such as Grove, Berklee, BIT or Berlin's School in Florida. These schools are not cheap. Plus they demand your full attention. It is hard to go to these schools and work part time to defray expenses.

    Do you borrow the money, then pay it back with all the gigs you get from great contacts in the school?

    I feel you should think long and hard about what you want to do with your bass playing. Do you want to be a full time professional when you finish that expensive training or do you want to be a part time, semi-pro? In the case of semi-pro work, you will need a "day job." But after you have spent a year or two in music school, will you be able to get a good day job right away to sustain you until you get regular paying gigs?

    These are practical issues you need to address. Forking over big bucks for music school and a possible relocation to another city to attend such a school are serious career and financial decisions.

    Maybe before you go make such an important choice, maybe first taking lessons with a good teacher will help you. A good teacher can motivate you, too, and help clarify the path you want to take as a musician. He might also have contacts to set you up in a band that better challenges you and provides a more satisfying setting for your desire to be creative musically.

    I'm not trying to discourage you from going to a reputable music school. I'm just saying, go in with your eyes wide open about the sacrifices you may have to make to do so. Have a well thought out plan.

    I attended a music school that was far smaller and more informal than the ones mentioned above. Yet, a lot of students washed out or dropped out of it. By the time I was in fourth level, MOST of the students who started first level with me were gone. In fact, many dropped out after just a few weeks of classes. It takes dedication and committment to study only music day in and day out. If you feel you really have that, go for it. Chase your dreams. Don't let anyone hold you back.
  13. If you want to be a great musician, going to music school is definitely not a waste of time. It's one of the most time-efficient ways of learning all that stuff. If you want to be a professional musician, it may well be a waste of money.

    The one financial advantage of paying to go to school is you can get student loans and live off them while doing nothing but playing music. Versus trying to work enough at a normal job to support yourself and also practice 6 hours a day.

    When you graduate however, your debtload may be enormous, and I don't know how you could get by as a working musician. Scrappling makes you a better artist though, so maybe it's all for the good!

    If you really, really want to be a musician, you can be. I mean, it does happen. You have to give up a lot of things though, like any semblance of comfort.