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The College path to music!

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by klharper, Jan 17, 2006.

  1. klharper

    klharper Supporting Member

    Oct 16, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Basically, I've got a lot to decide in the coming year. I'm just looking for as much info/opinions as I can! (read at your own risk - haha it might be lengthy). Here's my situation.

    I'm currently a high school junior. My musical background - been playing the violin since I was 4, taking private lessons, classically trained the whole way. Within the past 3 years I have been taking my own path into "alternative" styles - I currently play (mainly) violin in 2 groups - one more of an acoustic/chill band with some rock edge sometimes, and one an indie rock/pop group with light jazz elements. I also play bass, guitar, and piano (I do some guitar in the first group, some keys in the second, along with some vocals in both). I've been playing the guitar about 3-4 years, bass a little under 2, and took private lessons for piano for about a year and a half (but stopped about 4 years ago). I keep up with each instrument as much as possible - in my short time with the bass I've gotten down (what I consider to be ) a fairly good deal of technique considering the time, but certainly know I have room to go. I have highest priorities for violin, then bass, the guitar and piano on the same level probably.

    In school, I'm currently taking 4 AP's, the three most important and relevant (to me) being Calculus BC, Physics B, and Music Theory. I'm looking to do a good deal of music in college, as well as looking to do some with the physics of sound and sound engineering, and maybe getting into a bit of recording, more electronics dealing with music, etc. Primarily though I'd like to pursue music then go from there and do a bit with the physics. I'd go for violin obviously, but definitely would like to do a lot with bass. Bass fascinates me sometimes, and I know its the basis for structure in song, which can make or break it. I spend a large deal of my free time browsing talkbass and getting in depth :bag: haha I know

    Being a junior, a bunch of decisions will be coming upon me quickly in the next year. I live in Georgia and my top 4 colleges currently are Berklee, UGA, Ga Tech, and UNC (in that order - I live in Georgia). By going to Berklee, would you describe that as "committing" myself to music and leaving very little backup plans? One of the main concerns my parents have about Berklee (and me too) is not only the cost (especially compared to how cheap in can get into Georgia schools) but whether I will get a good solid liberal arts education as well (if its relative at all, my other AP course is AP Language). Will Berklee offer a good sound engineering/phsyics/recording/etc. field of education as well? Hows the job situation after coming out of Berklee - because while my parents are supportive of my college education, they certainly by no means want to pay a fortune for me to come out of college and be unemployed/working some completely irrelevant low-pay job.

    Next year, I know I'll be taking AP Physics C as well. I was hoping to some type of internship at a recording studio, but unfortunately I think I'll be busy enough with decisions, college, outside life, etc. and may not have the necessary resources to get the best I can out of it (i.e a car to get there frequently, multiple open periods so I can get more time). Basically, any information/advice you have for me is much appreciated - I like to hear the input of others because sometime my thoughts just cycle. If I go for music at a school like UGA (which apparently has a good music program for a regular state school) will I be expecting to do much with it? Do you reccomend I try for Berklee? etc. the questions continue

    Haha well if you read all of that, thanks. Again, any input is appreciated, and I hope this can be a resource for others that are approaching a bunch of imporant decisions as well. Thanks!

  2. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    Sounds like you are a very smart person, and are way ahead of the game thinking through this stuff.

    I can't comment on Berklee, although I sure have played with plenty Berklee grads over the years... great music school. However, regarding a career in music, here's a few things to think about:

    I'm probably your dad's age (late 40's) and have been playing for many years. Back in the 80's, it was very common for musicians to gig 300+ nights a year. I had one year where I played 348 nights. There were tons of gigs in hotels, and clubs that paid very well. That scene is dead and gone. Almost all the players that I work with today are 'full time' (i.e., they do music as their primary career), and it's rare that they play over 100 gigs a year. When you multiply that out by the typical gig dollars of $100-$350, depending on the venue, and fold in the lack of benefits, etc.... it's a hard way to go.

    Teaching.... secondary schools are cutting music programs right and left, and there is a huge oversupply of performance majors who want to teach at the college level in jazz programs like Berklee, North Texas, SIU-E, or even to teach regular private lessons in general colleges and universities, etc.

    So, based on the above, my recommendation would be to go to a good general university, take some theory courses, etc., and find some good private lessons.... and maybe do a Berklee summer session of some sort, if you really want to get into it.

    Of course, get many other opinions, but that's my take as a gigging pop/jazz musician in the current environment.

    Good luck with whatever you decide.

  3. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    I'll actually be starting my second semester at Berklee tomorrow. Here's my impressions:

    You need to know that a degree in performance for your instrument isn't going to be worth a damn unless you make the contacts that lead to work. Going to Berklee, you shouldn't be concerned about a piece of paper for anything, least of all performance. Berklee is about meeting people, playing with them, and if you're lucky, recording with them, or even recording them if you get into the MPE major, all the while getting your homework done. In my case, I have four specific avenues I want to pursue, in this order: 1. succeed with my band (not as unlikely as it seems, as we have a lot of good contacts on the west coast), 2. succeed as an engineer/producer (also not completely unlikely since I am well acquainted with one of the most important producers in the country), 3. succeed as a session bass player (that's a little harder, since I'm competing with people that can kick my ass), and 4. play bass for Cirque du Soleil. The last one is what I'll do if the other three don't work out.

    Really, Berklee is about who you meet, and what they can do for you. That's really the whole deal in the music business anyway. It's not like a physics or math degree, where a piece of paper will get you a job. Music is about as far away from that as you can get. You need to be 100%, completely committed and/or insane to go for a school like Berklee. I remember at the first assembly during my first week at Berklee, President Brown asked the question to the audience "Who here applied to Berklee and only Berklee?" I'd say about 90% of the room raised their hands. That alone should tell you something. People who go here are single-minded about music, there is nothing else on their minds.

    As for liberal arts stuff at Berklee, it's definitely on the back burner. There are certain requirements (2 English courses, 2 history courses, a lab science, and probably a few more credits), nowhere near on the level of other schools. I think most of the gen ed teachers here know it's a music school and know that that's what every one of their students is focused on.

    It's a great school, I love it at Berklee, but it's tough, the competition is ridiculous, and you have to make sure you get those contacts. Oh, PLAY JAZZ, then play it some more, then when you think you'll die from playing too much jazz, do it all over again.

    Sorry for the ridiculous length of this post.
  4. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    I'm a freshman at the Chicago College of Performing Arts-i'm a jazz bass major. If you want it, go for it. Worst case scenario is you crash and burn. I'd rather go for it, crash and burn, then not live with the "what if" than to go for a guranteed job type degree and be asking myself "What if i woulda went to music school.....".

    The catch to all of this. Like KJung said, there's not half the gigs that there used to be. My professors have addressed this-we ever had a masterclass that talked about this. So in my mind, it comes down to this, are you willing to risk financial security, and state of mind to go after a dream/career that is easily one of the hardest to make a living at? If the answer is yes, welcome to the club.

    Something that i must restate that is prevalent in the other posts is-NETWORK!! I was doing a recording project back home and through that i got a gig playing folk/bluegrass up here. I'm willing to play right about any music. My dream gig-is playing for musicals, Wicked & Rent are the main 2 that i'd love to play for-i dig playing that kind of music and in that setting. So i'm in the process of taking lessons with the guy who plays in the Chicago casts of both of those. :) I figure, no better person to study with than the person doing what i want to do.

    Also-be versatile, i'd recommend reading the thread that Tomixx has going in i think Misc. about being a studio bassist as it has some great information about being a bassist in general.
  5. I'm a highschool senior m'self...and I'm considering Goucher, Beloit, Occidental, Whitman and Knox college. Anyone have any knowledge about how good the music departments/scenes are there? :eyebrow: