Stay in music school or go to work on a cruise ship?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by UnderDogbassist, May 20, 2012.

  1. I've just finished my first year studying jazz at Capilano University, and I was planning to stick it through the 4 or 5 straight years it would take to get my bachelor's. However, I've received an offer from my friend to audition for a cruise ship gig that would start in September. I have no idea how to feel about this.

    On one hand, I think that going on the cruise would be great for gaining experience in the real world, and I'm sure constantly performing will help my playing for miles. Alot of my teachers talk about how the best way to learn your tunes and your instrument is just by playing it in those situations, where you have to apply it to the real world as opposed to a test in a classroom. In fact, I know one teacher that never went to college and got his chops from playing on cruise ships.

    On the other hand, to temporarily put my studies on hold in order to work has it's re precautions as well. If this were the end of my 2nd year, it would be a totally different situation. I feel that right now I am in the middle of the most vital part of my education at Capilano, and I'm worried I could possible "stunt" my education by leaving for a year. I feel like If I had a little more education and experience, I would be able to get a whole lot more out of the cruise ship than I would now. I also really enjoy being with my classmates, and it would be depressing to come back after a year and have them all be a year ahead of me.

    Another factor is my health. I have been dealing with tendinitis all throughout the year, and I have had to take a month off at the beginning of summer to give it some time to heal. I have no idea what it's going to be like in September, I hope that I will be good to play, but what happens if I do get on the cruise ship and I get injured again?

    As you can tell, I'm having a tough time deciding what to do. I know I haven't even started the audition process, but If I tell my friend yes that means I've made a deal with her to be her bass player, and the thought of me telling her that I changed my mind after we've recorded and sent the tape in OR even after (hypothetically) get accepted doesn't sound too good on my part. I don't want to be the person that flakes out, I've already had to do it to others from tendinitis and one of the guys did not take it too lightly. so please, any opinions or thoughts in this matter? anything helps. Thanks.
  2. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    Unless you are in dire need of money right away, my answer would be that it's generally always better to stay in school and get your degree (so my answer next year would be the same - finish your education first).

    You can always find other playing situations and an added bonus is that if your tendonitis flares up, you'll have more contol over how many gigs you accept.

    One thing that is not clear from your post is whether you would be auditioning for the bass chair for the cruise ship gig or if you would be agreeing to play bass for a band that is auditioning for the gig. Your post suggests the latter. If that is the case, that is even more reason to stay in school and see your degree through to completion. My opinion is that at your ages (I'm assuming about 19 or 20ish) it would be a challenge to have a full band commit to the cruise ship gig. If things run into trouble, you've left school for nothing.

    If, on the other hand, you were to be auditioning for the bass chair of an established cruise ship band, it would be a safer bet (the band is established as a cruise ship band and just needs a bass player), but I would still recommend finishing your degree and finding other gigging outlets.
  3. jmattbassplaya


    Jan 13, 2008
    I vote school. Gigs will always be available, and while school will technically always be available as well I think the best choice would be to finish it up first while you still have the time, ability, and drive to do so.
  4. punkjazzben


    Jun 26, 2008
    First off, health comes first. Whatever you do, you're going to be in an intense playing situation. Talk to a doctor about what you can realistically expect to be able to handle, playing-wise.

    Health permitting, there is nothing inherently bad about taking time off study to get some professional experience in the field you are studying.

    As a musician, experience counts for everything. Doing the cruise ship, you could set yourself up for good gigs when you come back, and you get your foot in the door with the cruise ship crowd. Youll also learn a gut load of tunes by memory. Perhaps you could talk to your teachers, too, and get their perspective. But I think they would agree that getting out there and getting real life work experience as a musician is going to be beneficial. The first thing my bass teacher told me was that, if I really wanted to be a musician, I should never get down about my music degree. The greatest jazz musicians did not go to university, he said.

    And don't stress about being a different year to your current mates. Social life is important, but when you're trying to invest in your future, you need to prioritize. You'll still be friends, and over the course of your studies you will become friends with people at all different levels of study, especially when you're doing music.

    I say take the plunge and go for the audition. Get the gig, have fun, make some money. Come back to study with some incredible experiences and a bit of musical maturity under your belt.
  5. N.F.A.


    Jun 25, 2009
    In a blue funk
  6. Staredge


    Aug 7, 2010
    Damascus, MD
    Ship. You regret the things you don't do more than you'll regret the things you do.
  7. There is nothing you gain from the cruise ship that you can't get by gigging around while you stay in school. Cruise ships will still be around for another 4 or 5 years. Treat yourself to the cruise ship experience once you get your degree.
  8. jmattbassplaya


    Jan 13, 2008
    So what if he regrets not doing school when he could of? :eyebrow:
  9. Finding time for school gets harder the older you get. Things get in the way, marriage, babies, food and shelter. Then a new job offer leads to moving and there is no time for school as you have to devote all your energies to the new job plus, wife, babies, food and shelter.

    I started college in 1951. Finished my degree in 1983. Reason it took so long - wife, babies, food and shelter.

    Why did I go back to school? I hit the glass ceiling and was told without a four year degree I could not expect to advance beyond what I then had. Went back, finished, and enjoyed another 17 years. Ended up at World Headquarters doing what I love to do.

    In the 50's it was a lot different than it is now. Now days a bachelor's degree is necessary to just get the interview.

    Finish what you have started. Your job right now is to finish school.
  10. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
    I'm inclined to agree with the hard-easrned wisdom of Malcolm. The experience will be great but that experience immediately widens your world with further possibilities, making returning to school all the more difficult.
  11. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    You'll never regret getting an education.
  12. kopio


    May 8, 2012
    Boise, ID
    In my opinion a well rounded education is always a good thing. I would certainly advise you to stay in school. This also gives you time to deal with your health issues in a non catastrophic way. If you are half way through the gig and have to quite....that's fairly catastrophic!

    In the few years you can still gig in your area (I'm guessing B.C. has a good jazz scene...and I know Seattle does) while you get your degree. I would say that AFTER you get your degree look for a cruise gig. I have a good buddy who did just that, and it turned him into an even more respectable upright player.

    Just my two cents worth.
  13. Randyt

    Randyt RAAPT Custom Wood Productions

    Jul 21, 2010
    Barrie, Canada
    i think it all comes down to the type of person you are... When I went to university...many left in their third year to travel and get experience...with the full intention of returning to school, but knowing these individuals personally ...I gave them a 10% chance of returning...Out of 9 of my friends that left University ...only 2 returned to finish their degree...Are you driven, motivated?...if so ..take the time off to experience your field of at it!!!...this is work...not play time!!..take the audition...what can it hurt???...worst thing they can say is NO thanks!!..
  14. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's

    If this is a critical time in your eduction, than there is no question.

    After your finish this part, and THEN you find a cool gig - I think you will get more out of school after spending a year in the real world - IF and only IF you are 100% certain to go back and finish school afterwards.
  15. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Cruise ships are a rough gig unless you are a guest performer. Sounds like if you're auditioning, you're going for the show band or lounge band. Have you researched the living conditions of crew members on ships?

    Look, you're studying music. The classroom has less relevance to the real world than in most other majors, imo. Health permitting, I think it would be good to do the contract. You'll get a lot of perspective on an industry that actually still pays musicians. And by the end of the contract, you will either swear to yourself "NEVER AGAIN!!!!" or be in a position where you can just ask for another contract and get another pretty quick.

    That said, you REALLY need to be sure of your health. If you're on a ship, you're the only guy to do the gig, there are no subs. And depending on which cruise line it is and which band you're in, you could be playing A LOT, every day, no days off. Oh right, you should know that 99% of everyone that works on a ship works 7 days a week. Just FYI.
  16. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    It's been my experience that students who leave for a year generally don't come back. I was tempted to leave NTSU my Junior Year with a showband who was playing in Las Vegas lounges. I didn't and that let me graduate and then get a T.A. to go to The University of Miami and get a Masters in Music. My life and what I do for a living would be totally different had I left. I might still be in the Business but I would probably not be teaching at a University in Nashville.
    Cruise ships, wedding bands, theme park gigs and the like are "jobs" and not necessarily "careers". We all do them, they pay good money, no one went to Music School in hopes of a date book filled with "jobs" but they can be mighty handy to pay the bills later. I only advised one student to leave his university studies, and that was when Aaron Sands was offered the bass gig with Jars of Clay-clearly a "career move" rather than a "job".
    They will still be hiring for Cruise Ships when you graduate and you'll be a much more experienced player and better able to take advantage of other playing opportunities that "jobs" inevitably lead to.
  17. DaveAceofBass

    DaveAceofBass Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2004
    Charlotte, NC
    Oh my gosh! Cruise ships are a nice summer job while you're in music school but don't drop out of school for that. The music is sub par on ships. Sometimes you'll get a good ship or a good band, but DON'T EVER drop out unless you're going on the road with some incredible artist who's already famous. By the way cruise ship gigs are fine for a short time, but lifers on ships are not normally great musicians, and they tend to drink their paychecks away.
  18. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    If you are in a music ed. program, stay in school. If you are in school to learn to play for a living, take the gig. Performance degrees are only worth something IF you finish and use the paper to move on to some other line of work.
  19. DaveAceofBass

    DaveAceofBass Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2004
    Charlotte, NC
    This is not great advice. I've been in ships. It's fun for a while but not worth dropping out for. Go out on a ship over the summer then do it for a while to save money after school, but ships will not lead you to success with your playing career unless you want to stay on a ship forever.
  20. School. Cruise ship jobs are a dime a dozen.
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