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Should i go to school?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Manuel101, Jan 27, 2012.

  1. Manuel101


    Jul 4, 2010
    Here is my story, i have been playing bass for 10 years now. Even though my father is a professional bass player i basically taught myself and only asked him questions when i had doubts. I have already recorded for latin bands as well as rock bands and people usually tell me that i am a great bass player. I work as a math teacher full time and i also attend the harbor music conservatory. I am currently in a project which looks very promising. Recently i have become very disillusioned with my career as a math teacher because of the pressure and abusive i have been subjected to (english and math teachers have it the worst) by the administration (i can handle the kids they are not the problem).

    I was looking online and i found that the manhattan school of music offers a masters degree in performance/teaching which would be a nice added bonus because i can then teach music (music teachers have a lot less pressure). My question is will it worth it? will going to school help me increase my skills enough to upset the cost? The drummer from my band says that i already play well enough that i don't need the degree.

    Thoughts Please!!
  2. SLaPiNFuNK

    SLaPiNFuNK Commercial User

    Jul 28, 2006
    LA California
    Owner: BassStringsOnline.com
    You need to look at what you want to do long term.

    If its just playing with bands / recording... They are not really going to look at you differently if you have a masters in music. If you are going to teach music, then the masters degree will help more.

    What you may get out of it would be more musical connections, but you can do that by putting yourself out there more as a player locally and even attending some undergraduate classes just to connect with more players.
  3. Manuel101


    Jul 4, 2010
    Thanks SLaPiNFuNK, what i was wondering though is if what i will learn will be worth the cost. I am not saying i am a prodigy but i can play many styles well and i have been improving throughout the years and i don't want to spend all that money and then find out that i really didn't learn/improved that much more. I think as of now i really need to read better and become more fluent in improvisation, which i am already studying in the conservatory.
  4. SLaPiNFuNK

    SLaPiNFuNK Commercial User

    Jul 28, 2006
    LA California
    Owner: BassStringsOnline.com
    Well, you dont need a masters to learn how to read better or be a better improviser.

    Maybe checkout some studies camps? or programs at near by schools...

    Check out one of the Jamey Aebersold jazz workshops, you can get A LOT of information out of those, make some connections with people in the same boat as you and get a chance to work hands on with a lot of great people.

    Pick everyones brains around you / transcribe everything you listen to...
  5. My ex is a math teacher. It's amazing the abuse you guys put up with. The only thing I would worry about is that most music departments are being cut in this economic environment. If financial security is an issue, I'd keep the day job.

    My $.02
  6. nukes_da_bass

    nukes_da_bass Banned

    Feb 19, 2006
    west suburban boston
    Ever consider applying for a music teaching position in a school district that is begging for someone with your skills and experience? You already have a certification to teach, and a resume in both teaching and professional bass playing.

    How do you feel about 11 year olds and plastic recorders soaked in surgical fluid and kids that may never be able to play "hot cross buns" on said plastic flute?
  7. Manuel101


    Jul 4, 2010
    Sounds like fun hahahahahaha, the only problems is that i am only certify to teach mathematics and not music. I like teaching but i hate all the pressure and distress we get from the administration. The problem is that schools in NYC are mostly rated on their math and english performance so we got it rough, while the gym and music teachers are usually left to their own devices.
  8. Apply for a dual position. The music teachers in my high school had multiple positions (except for one). If you apply being able to teach math and music, you'll most likely teach mostly music if they're searching for a music teacher.
  9. Manuel101


    Jul 4, 2010
    the thing is that i was playing at a show and this bass player had an amazing solo (which i can play after listening to it, but i would not have created it myself). I could play everything he was playing technically speaking but creating that type of solo out of thin air was cool. He was also reading for some of the songs which were particularly cool, and i want to be able to sight read as well as he does. he told me he is attending city college (where i did my math bachelors and masters) under the tutorage of JOHN PATITUCCI (no wonder his solo was so awesome). I am incredibly competitive so when i see a bass player who is more proficient than i at a certain style or technique it automatically makes me one to work my ass off until i am at least as proficient as him at that particular style/technique. Without this competitive drive i would not keep improving.
  10. Manuel101


    Jul 4, 2010
    Thanks Woodsbass. i play electric bass not acoustic which might be a problem i guess since schools don't usually have an electric bass program.
  11. theretheyare


    Sep 4, 2010
    Brooklyn, NY
    Endorsing: Arkham Vacuum Tube Amplification
    Personally I would be very careful.
    I understand your frustrations with your current job. I used to be a full time music teacher back in the day, and I love teaching (just was worn out from the endless flocks of teenagers wanting to learn the Nirvana and Metallica stuff). Working in publishing now, and in that similar situation I've been thinking for a long time about going to grad school to get into 'proper' music teaching.

    I decided not to do this-for an important part, because my frustration in my current job was part of my wish of 'fleeing' to a music program, if you will. And that is NOT a good motivation. Who guarantees that what I would be getting myself into is going to be better? Even if I would land that coveted college level music teaching job-what will I feel if I run into similar frustrations there? All this besides the cost etc.

    Also: most music programs are geared towards 20-25 year olds; a lot of course material you probably already know; (I mean, a music history/analysis teacher at the Manhattan School of Music used to hand out clumsily photocopied album liner notes by way of 'study material'- ;-). At the level of where you seem to be playing and thinking you'd have to suffer through (and pay for) a lot of stuff you're way past already.

    Instead I worked on my frustations - because part of those is how I handle those. On the other hand I started to seek out name musicians to take lessons from, taking fiull advantage from the fact I am NY-based. (and from what I gather, you don't seem to be far away either). I work with Connie Crothers now, and what working with a person of that stature alone has done for my playing and deepening insights is priceless-all for the price of taking a 1-hour lesson a week after work.

    Frankly, right now i am happy i don't make my money from music anymore-my only concern in music now is figuring out what music i want to make. For me, a very liberating idea; I am not saying it is easy, but then nothing in music is. I could (and have been) be far, far worse off.

    Anyway, hope this helps. Take care and good luck
  12. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    If you're already a teacher in a local ISD or private school, then you already know you're going to need the degree. To teach music you're going to need to know a lot more about music theory, and all the instruments in the orchestra/band and their notation. You may also be required to know how to manage a marching band and construct marching routines, sight reading, preparing for competitions, and sectional instruction, just to mention a few things related to such a job, depending on which school system you may end up working for. Teaching music in a school usually involves all of that and more. It's not going to be like having a job as a coach and sidelining as a history teacher. Plus, and you already know this too, you're not going to find a school-public or private- that will even consider hiring you without you having a teaching degree in your applied subject. There are too many other qualified applicants out there competing for the same jobs who already have the credentials. So without them, you are going to be last in line of considerations.
    Yes, I'd advise you to to school if teaching music what you want to do with your career. Depending on your age and projected career expectancy you might have enough years ahead of you to pay back the expense of the music degree but you are the only who can do the math on that calculation.
  13. Manuel101


    Jul 4, 2010
    Currently i am 29 years old, most music classes in the city are music appreciation, piano and chorus many of the schools in NYC no longer have band or orchestra unfortunately. Don't get me wrong i love teaching i just all the bs that with the job specially for math and english teachers, last year for instance 10 teachers (out of 24) and the assistant principal quit. This year two teachers are quitting and i have been under a lot of heat this year (last year was so much easier), i almost quit myself this january because i have been so demoralized.
    I reason that maybe if i get that double degree i can hopefully improve my playing and become certified to teach music which is so much easier, but i am marry with a 1 year old daughter. My wish would be to live of music. I am praying for my music project to make some noise but i am realistic and i am well aware of the risk. Luckily my wife and i (mostly my wife) have a very decent amount of money saved up and in our home her mother and her sister split the bills evenly with us so i do have some leeway.
  14. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    I think maybe you are not quite seeing it all clearly. You know that music teachers often do a wider range of things than listening to flutophones. The music department often does drama and voice and chorus as well as band. And speaking of band, ever think about the pressure in a school where football is king? Not to mention that music is always the first thing cut when pressure is needed to pass a new tax levy. Math is never that expendable. But all these things "depend". I'm sure you already know that in the education biz any additional degree almost always translates into at least some measure of financial advantage and respect. As to whether it will be enough to cover the costs of said education, I don't think anybody can answer that ahead of time.

    As to moving over to music, I don't think the education is required and as others have said, except for contacts it really isn't going to be an answer. But that said, I must admit that I've met quite a few players well known in the pop/rock music business who I discovered had all kinds of music degrees. So I guess the rule is you can never learn enough and probably sooner or later it all is useful one way or another.

    As for what to do, I'm going to give you some advice that was given to me by a professor I once worked for: One day he said to me: "Do you know what success is? Success is thinking of what you rather be doing than anything else in the whole world...and then finding someone who will pay you to do it!"

    He lived it. And so have I.
  15. Mark Wilson

    Mark Wilson Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2005
    Toronto, Ontario
    Endorsing Artist: Elixir® Strings
    Really? I'm pretty sure most jazz-based schools accept electric OR upright.

    I'm at school right now in Toronto for Electric.
  16. Mark Wilson

    Mark Wilson Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2005
    Toronto, Ontario
    Endorsing Artist: Elixir® Strings
    Also, moved to Misc.

    Someone moved it before I got the chance...
  17. Ken J

    Ken J Hartford Hot Several Brass Band

    Aug 19, 2011
    Middlefield, CT
    It’s simple.
    If you can no longer play what will you do.
    Always have a plan B to fall back on.
    Teaching, sales, design, consulting and management in the music business at a level to support yourself and a family will most likely require higher education. And if you venture from music as a main source of income your higher education will help in a number of other fields regardless of what you major in.
    Hope this helps
  18. Manuel101


    Jul 4, 2010
    bassbenj great words of wisdom, i just don't see the need for me to be doing a job for which i am not appreciated or treated unfairly, for instance they take all and i mean all of my well performing students and give them to another teacher while i get the much weaker kids. Then my kids cant take the regents (the state exam) and the ones that do take don't perform as well because all the promising ones were taken from my class half way through the year. Also i despise when i am talked down to or when the administration tries to intimidate me. I believe that only a coward would spend his whole life working at a job that doesn't make them happy instead of taking a risk and doing something that ones love but the really is that as a father i need to look out for the future of my daughter and i cant just become unemployed.
  19. HypersoulRocks

    HypersoulRocks Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2011
    My wife is a high school math teacher, I have a BA and MA in Music Performance/Education, and an MA in Administration. I attended LIU Brooklyn for undergrad (jazz) and CUNY Brooklyn College (classical) for both master's degrees. I have been a teacher and administrator for 15 years, first in NYC and now in Texas...

    So, Manhattan School of Music is great, but in my opinion, no. It is not worth the money you will spend vs. the money you will earn as a music teacher. CUNY Queens College, to me, is much more bang for the buck, and next would be Brooklyn College. But be reminded, to get into any type program, you will likely have to pass a performance jury, as well as a written theory/history test.

    So, I guess my vote again would be to get the degree as cheaply as possible. I spent a long time teaching band in lots of New York City highschools. I know the ups and downs, and paying back a $30-100k student loan is not worth it.

    but, what do I know? I'm a schmuck from Brooklyn.
  20. oldsalt


    Mar 14, 2011
    Lowell, MA
    My suggestion to anyone is to not go to school for a performance degree. Instead, go for a degree in business, marketing, or even music business. My thinking is that you already need to be a proficient player to get into school. A performance degree doesn't go very far after school, in my experience. Get an education in something that can help you with the other aspects of the industry. As musicians, we are really small business operators. That's just my personal advice. I hold a BFA from Peabody.

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