Trying to study music along with other career

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Dazo0423, Sep 4, 2018.

  1. Dazo0423


    Sep 4, 2018
    Hi guys, I'm nearly finishing my high school and I just found a passion for music, and now I'm trying to make a step on making music my life. I've been playing the uprigth for two years, and I want to study it in college. My family (as all normal families, the ones that have no musicians in them) doesn't want me to study music because I -insert common the stereotypes-...
    I found these other career, audio and visual production, that I could take along with music and sounds like a perfect plan. How is it to study music and other career at the same time? Advises? By the way, I'd be glad to hear some motivational stories about studying music against your family's will
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  2. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member

    I'm a college professor myself, not in music but history, which also has the joy of having been dubbed a "worthless" degree by people who don't understand education.

    Here is what many people don't understand; college is not intended to be job training, and employers don't expect it to be. In most careers, they will train you in the specifics when you get there. What they want from a college graduate is not a degree in their field, but mental skills (the buzzphrase at my institution right now is "habits of mind," but it's a far older principle than the phrase). That's things like problem solving, critical thinking, time management, stress management, being able to organize, process, and re-present information in bulk and with sophistication, etc. The content you major in doesn't matter all that much, for employers it's the mental skills that count. Any specific job training you get in school is likely to be obsolete soon after you graduate.

    There are some fields, of course, where you do need to major in something to get a job in it. You should study accounting if you want to become an accountant or engineering if you want to be an engineer. But there can be a danger in being too specific. Ten years ago, oil prices were high, oil companies turned to fracking to increase their production, and there was a sudden demand for hydraulic engineers and not enough trained people. Schools responded by scrambling to create hydraulic engineering programs to meet the job demand, which took a few years to do. By the time large numbers of students were graduating with their hydraulic engineering degrees, the price of oil had dropped and the companies no longer needed them. Those students have had to scramble to find other kinds of work.

    This is a fascinating graphic that a member of the Amherst Math Department made of the career directions of their alumni. Granted, it's Amherst, so an elite school, but it is great for illustrating the variety of careers that people go into from different majors. Impact of major on career path.
  3. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    For the most part, a music degree helps if you want to teach - sax player in my jazz band was a performance major at Berklee. He paints houses for a living. There just are very few people paying their mortgages by performing music. The other areas are also shrinking, as people do things like record at home with state of the art digital equipment. That's life in the 21st century. Never mind you've been playing for two years, and you will be competing with people with a decade headstart.

    But nothing wrong with a music dual major, or a minor. That's what I did. In addition to performance classes/lessons, it was one class a semester. Speak with the colleges you are considering and look at that path.
  4. eJake


    May 22, 2011
    New Orleans
    I have a music degree. The biggest regret that most folks have about their music degree is how much they spent on it.

    In my specific case I went into the job field right after high school and worked on music as a hobby. 10 years later when I decided I wanted to get a degree I went back to school. But instead of an 18 year old with no concept of how the world works I was 28 and knew that if I went to school for music I would have a hard time paying my loans back.

    So I went to Jr college for 2 years and then transfered to an inexpensive four year school to finish. All in all I escaped with a degree and a minimal amount of debt.

    I learned a whole lot in college (how to read music, do proper notation, ear training, music history, private lessons, basic recording techniques etc...) But of all that stuff the only things that really made a better player were ear training and my private teacher.

    So I guess here is the moral of my story: school can help you on the road to becoming a strong musician. In my opinion (in America) it's not worth how much most schools charge for a music degree. You are better off taking a year off before college, finding a good private instructor, having weekly lessons and really practicing a lot while you don't have other responsibilities.

    You're in a tough situation where your parents might be right to try to send you into a different field but your passion might be driving you towards music. At the end of it all if you REALLY want to pursue music as a career path you need to be ok with the fact that you will probably not have a lot of money. That is my experience, your mileage may vary.
  5. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    Lot of very good advice in the previous posts. Worth rereading and reflecting on.
    I am retired and enjoying music school full-time. A couple of the older faculty said the music business gets tougher each year.

    Keeping this post short, i would suggest getting a degree that will pay the bills and taking the music courses that will enrich your playing, but dont worry about a music degree. Like eJake said.

    The people i know who seem to enjoy playing music most have well paying day jobs and music as a hobby.
  6. Badwater


    Jan 12, 2017
    Sounds like you're a person who can multi task, and have success doing it. If you really like music, I highly recommend you look into a military career, or at least one enlistment period. The Army has a military band. But it's not easy to qualify for. It's a audition process, and only the best of the best ever make it into the Army band. If you get that gig, it will be 4 to 6 years unlike regular enlistment. And the duty will be full time Army band events, marching band, and ceremonial events. They also do a lot of part time gigs. And you don't do much of any field duty.

    If you choose any other military occupation, select one that has little field time like in communications with technology, or video and audio, so that you can study music, or play in a local band on the off hours. Once you complete your enlistment, you'll have gained full independence from anyone, be debt free with cash if you saved, developed leadership skills, GI Bill, and the skills of what your military occupation were. And most important, you'll know exactly what you're capable of doing, and where you stand among others in the real world.

    Once you get out of HS, you'll soon find that money is the key to survival. And the world is a dog eat dog rat race with no mercy. Those to weak to survive on their own end up mooching off their family for security, and some go on that way into their 30s and 40s.

    Nevertheless, the military can help prepare you for your future in the real world in a short period of time. But, it's not easy to qualify, and you need to be in the top 10% just to enlist. But if you can qualify, you'll be able to have the freedom to be independent and see the world outside of your state, and the country you live in. It's an amazing experience and journey that everyone should have. Unfortunately, its only reserved for the few who can qualify.

    Good luck with your school, and best wishes for your future.
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2018
  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
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  8. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member

  9. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    No reason I can’t be both! :D
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  10. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    A couple interesting notes. My kids are both into music, and are / were involved in the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras. At the last concert of every year, the program includes bio's of the seniors, where they typically mention their future plans. Not shockingly, many plan to attend college. Among those kids, there are always several who plan on majoring in music.

    And among the (intended) music majors, the majority say that they're planning on double-majoring in music and something: Music and math, music and computer science, music and biochemistry, music and... you get the drift. I might be related to one of those kids. ;)

    The former chair of the music dept at U Wisconsin is a friend of mine, and fellow jazz bassist. I was chatting with him about the music program. He told me that the music major program is practically designed to accommodate double majors, because there are so many of them. Also, statistically, a large percentage of college students choose double majors overall. I was a double major in math and physics, but that was more than 30 years ago. I played bass in the college jazz band for 4 years. It was the case, and still is, that a second major is often easy to add -- the requirements for one major often leave you just shy of a second major anyway.

    Unfortunately, employability does matter. I know a lot of degreed musicians, due to my own playing and my family's activities. By and large they don't make a living strictly from performing. Many of them have a gig that provides basic income and benefits -- teaching at the university or the public schools. Madison is unique, in that we pay full benefits to part-time teachers, otherwise you're SOL if you get sick. It's mainly intended as a joke, but it's not far from the truth: Everybody I know who's making a middle class living as a musician, teaches classical music to children.

    Now, there have been some generational changes that affect how we talk about higher education. The people who are touting degrees in "critical thinking," including myself, are from an older generation. I didn't pay a penny for college or grad school, thanks to my parents and the National Science Foundation. The same thing is utterly unthinkable for the majority of students today. It may be hard to assess the economic value of a liberal arts degree, because the kids who get those degrees at private colleges are more likely to be already rich. I would not recommend majoring in music if it means going into debt.

    At the same time, we hear a lot about STEM these days. While I'm in a STEM career myself, I would not push kids into it, who aren't already in love with math or science. Majoring in something you hate is a recipe for disaster. Ironically, the people who are making money in those subjects, are the ones who cared the least about money when they chose their college majors.
  11. Wise words if ever there were any.

    I don’t teach but I do work as support staff at a university.
    That means I’m the guy who makes happen those things that the hrodbert696 of the world dream up. ;)

    Most employers want to see a degree regardless of your major.
    This tells them that you successfully managed your way through the “grinder” and came out the other end having achieved a large goal.

    Artistic endeavors are the most difficult paths to take for making a good living.
    But if that is your passion, you should explore it. No better time than the next few years for that.

    My parents tried to steer me towards a career in visual arts.
    I just didn’t see an easy path to a steady income going down that road.
    As is, I pay the bills doing a non-artistic job that I also happen to like doing, most of the time.:thumbsup:
    Anything I may take on in the arts is purely for my own enjoyment.

    You certainly can follow your passion as a part of your college experience, and there are some careers where having a background in music will put you ahead of the game. A dual degree or a minor in music might be a choice.

    The best advice I can offer is to get with an academic advisor who will guide you through your college years.
    Go to the career fairs and talk to employers in your areas of interest to see what their companies really do.
    You may find that a certain career path isn’t what you thought it to be, or you may find something totally unexpected that will take you where you never thought of going.
  12. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    As someone with a son in college, I want to make sure my money helps him start a career. Just a music degree would not be that, unless he wanted to teach music for a career.
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  13. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Retired Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Hey, Nathan East majored in music.
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  14. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    As @hrodbert696 says, college isn't job training. Political debates to the contrary, college has a much broader agenda - to prepare you for life and to educate you as a citizen. A broad background of studies is a plus, as it makes you better-rounded, more employable in a variety of professions, and makes you a more educated voter. (38 years in higher ed on my part...)

    That said, you need to eat. Although you can enter a variety of professions from seemingly unrelated degree programs, learning something that helps you take a step into the world of work is a really good idea. I noted the comment above that some music degrees are designed for double majors. This seems to me to be an excellent idea.

    My suggestion - pursue music. BUT - also pursue an academic program that helps you prepare for the world of work. Music is a bit like college sports: only a small percentage of those in musical degree programs will be able to go professional and support themselves. The rest will find that their profession is outside of music and they pursue music as an avocation or hobby. Prepare yourself to thrive regardless of which way this works out for you.
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  15. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member

    A whole other thing to think about in a college experience when planning for the job market is extracurriculars. Those can be an area where you do a lot of networking, entrepreneurship, and skill-building. You can meet classmates who will be future business contacts, or perhaps a club or association you join will have activities that partner with local businesses or institutions or with alumni. You might start an organization or launch a project for a campus organization; you might take over managing a big event the organization puts on, administer its budget, or figure out how to advertise and promote it. All that is valuable job experience.

    For instance, you might start or join a chess club. Someone might think that's irrelevant to your career unless you're going to be a professional grandmaster player. But if you organize a regional chess tournament, arrange the logistics for clubs and players from all over to be able to participate, advertise it, manage the finances for it, etc., then you have a great item for a resume.

    I was a theater major as an undergraduate. I never worked in theater professionally. But on job interviews I got a lot of (positive) questions about the small campus dramatic association I had founded and led.
  16. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member

    This is a great post, but there are a couple of points I would differ on.

    I generally advise students away from double majors and minors whenever possible. The reason is that they eat up scheduling requirements and thus inhibit one's ability to explore new areas that might not have occurred to you to pursue from the beginning.

    I'll offer my daughter as an example; she majored in art, with no plans for any other major or minor. With lots of room for electives, she tried a course on women in ancient Greece and Rome, just because it sounded interesting. She liked it and then registered for another course on ancient slavery. By the time she graduated she had a minor in classics. If she had decided from the beginning that she was going to be a double major in, say, art AND business, she never would have taken those classes and never discovered her interest. And yes, she is employed, working at a library in a nearby town.

    I went into undergrad as a theater major. For my history requirement I took a medieval history course and loved it (I later ran into the prof at a conference and he apologized for ruining my life). That led me to an elective course or two and a semester of checking out Latin. It never added up to a major or minor, but later on I returned to it, got my degree, and became a medieval historian. Again, probably never would have happened if I had squeezed all my electives out with a second major.

    The other thing is about the "critical thinking" issue. It may be that the people promoting it are of an older generation, but it's also the older generation that is hiring people. Schools do get feedback from employers about what they need in their hires, and we do get complaints that too many students lack complex reading skills, can't write, can't communicate orally or make an effective presentation, or can't work in a team. The company can teach you procedures for using their database software or whatever the specifics of the job require. But they need applicants to have these "habits of mind" to succeed.

    Related to critical thinking as well is eventual career path. I often mention a study that was done some while back of law school deans, asking what kinds of majors they like to see in their applicants. They did not say pre-law, in fact they recommended avoiding it. They liked to see history, philosophy, English, and PoliSci. History majors actually rate very well for lifetime income. It's not generally because they became professional historians or teachers. It's because their major prepared them to become really good JDs or MBAs.
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  17. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Hrod and I differ on double major/minors, but agree on this. Especially in today's world, where there is less interaction between people professionally than ever (when you put in a resume, the first round of culling will likely be done by a computer, searching for keywords), getting to know people is more important than ever. I got my first job as a lawyer because I played on the bar association softball team. I talked with older lawyers in the area who liked me, and were impressed with how I spoke.
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  18. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I can certainly see where you're coming from. In my case, my two majors had enough overlap, that the second major only required a few more credits. I was left with enough space in my schedule for playing music, tinkering with computers and electronics, and a variety of interesting courses, of which I'd say that art history was my personal favorite. And I would only recommend it if your two majors are both subjects that you're in love with.

    And I also agree with you about habits of mind. My majors were math and physics, which are often lumped with the liberal arts (well, they are liberal arts, after all) in terms of popular stereotypes. I'm not saying that critical thinking is no longer valuable. It's more valuable than ever. I'm just saying that it now comes with a very much higher price tag.

    But I think we have to be cautious about what we recommend based on things like employment and lifetime income, because those are very strongly related to family background, notably wealth, but also the cultural habits that kids pick up from their parents.
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  19. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Granted, I only spent one semester in higher ed, as an adjunct, teaching two sections of College Algebra, and the second semester Electrodynamics course in electrical engineering.

    I believe that the public university system has multiple roles, and training people for jobs could be one of those roles, if it serves the interests of the public. Within the University of Wisconsin system, we have degrees such as Dairy Science after all. And in some fields such as engineering, the disciplines themselves have ethical standards that obligate them to prepare people for entry into professions. And it doesn't have to be an either-or thing. You could learn a marketable skill and become a educated voter, at the same time.
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  20. biguglyman


    Jul 27, 2017
    Pownal, ME
    I think your choice of schools is key. My son is combining two of his major interests: music and computers. He is a software engineering major at RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) and doing a triple minor: music and technology, computer science, and game design. He also plays in the school's jazz ensemble, pep band, and drum line. He took a lot of AP courses in high school (gets his brains from his mom) so he had a bunch of credits in basic courses going in. Find a school that has programs/courses in both your interests and go from there. Just remember your outlook and interests may change with the experience. Roll with the changes and try to get yourself a well rounded background.
    buldog5151bass likes this.
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