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What About A Jazz Studies Degree?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by jgbass, Apr 4, 2006.


  1. jgbass

    jgbass Guest

    Dec 17, 2003
    I was curious about all these jazz studies programs at universities and whether this would be for me.

    I am an upright and electric bass player and I absolutely love jazz, but I also like to play classical, latin, and other styles of music too. I study with a great teacher and I have the self-discipline to practice for hours a day. I play with some good players in trio/quartet situations, and I have an interest in teaching privately, and have some experience with teaching. My goal is to be a busy, working musician, and teach private students. I already have a good career that I can always fall back on and am working in it part-time right now.

    I have been taking music classes at a community college and, although its great taking these classes, I find this school is not for me. Its not serious or demanding enough. With instructors being late to class, many students just not very serious about music, it mostly seems like a waste of time, although I try to learn as much as I can. So, now I am thinking about going elsewhere and wondering what graduates or someone going for this degree, think of this degree, how it has helped them musically, and what they are doing after getting this degree.

    I realize that a degree doesn't make one a great player and doesn't get one gigs. I study and have studied with great teachers, but I am looking for some kind of community and learning/playing opportunities.

    So, I would like to hear from TB members who have been or are in a jazz studies degree, how it helped them musically, and what they are now doing.
     
  2. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Ontario
    I'll be starting a jazz studies degree next year, if all goes well at my audition for Humber College.

    That said, since your interests lay in many areas of music (not just jazz) you might benefit from a college/university with a broader focus than just jazz. Humber College is, as far as "musical focus" similar to Berklee -- a main emphasis on jazz, with opportunities to play everything (especially latin.) So...you might want to look at Berklee. Ed Fuqua went for a year waaaay (waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay) back. Or, you might even want to look at Humber. Other Canadian schools with jazz programs are University of Toronto and McGill University, but those are pretty narrowly focused on jazz and not much else -- McGill also has the nickname "Bebop University."

    I'm not as familiar with American schools, but I guess you could check out University of North Texas, the New School, the Manhattan School of Music, Juliard's jazz program, and NYU.
     
  3. Bassist4Life

    Bassist4Life

    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
    I understand that the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY has a top notch jazz program. This school is ranked up there with the New England Conservatory and Julliard.

    I would do some research on the web. Most schools post their audition requirements.

    Joe
     
  4. musicman5string

    musicman5string Banned

    Jan 17, 2006
    William Paterson University in NJ. That's were I went. World famous Jazz Program or some such.
    Plus, you're close to NY without paying NY prices for living.
     
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    It all depends on what you're looking to get out of the experience. With some jazz studies degrees, you're actually getting a full college degree (including all core classes and "legit" music theory & lit classes), which may be more than you're looking for. If you want to focus on Jazz to the exculsion of all else, that's more of a conservatory or "diploma" kind of program; you get more freedom that way to choose what you study.The downside to that approach is that the scope is very limited - which is also the upside...it all depends on how you look at it.
     
  6. jgbass

    jgbass Guest

    Dec 17, 2003
    Thanks for all the good info, everyone.

    Lots to think about and research to do. At least for now I am pursuing the traditional type of music ed at the community college and just have two part-time semesters to go, plus they are going to add some jazz classes next semester. So, its also a question of whether I can hang with this school a while longer or move on soone, but definitely going to be looking around.
     
  7. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    Oh, one thing that I learned a long time ago . . . music credits do not transfer (unless things have changed). The credits will count toward determining whether you are a freshman, sophomore, etc. but usually you have to do the class over.

    Wait until you finish your degree before transferring.
     
  8. Sippy

    Sippy

    Aug 1, 2005
    Stuart,Florida
    .

    For the love of God tell me this isn't true!!! I'm also done with my AA in Music and want to transfer to a 4 year institution :(
     
  9. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Why are you looking at schools for playing opportunities? If you have a good teacher and you play with good players in trios/quartets; what else are you specifically looking to do?

    I don't really have a good idea what you are trying to accomplish or where you are trying to end up. Maybe splain a little more?

    Cause if you want to play jazz, move someplace where you have a chance to play. NYC or maybe San Francisco or San Diego or Seattle (though most of the cats I know from there end up here) and hook up with a good teacher and then just start making sessions and going to clubs to hear the music and meet the players.
     
  10. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    Well I was transferring from Berklee to North Texas. I guess it depends on the school. Perhaps some of the music profs on the forum could sound off on this. Prof. Fitzgerald? Prof. T-Bal? What say you?
     
  11. shwashwa

    shwashwa

    Aug 30, 2003
    NJ
    ihave a jazz performance degree from rutgers and currently make a decent living... at my day job...
    but seriously, i'm glad i went, i became a much better player than i ever would have without it, but even though it's considered a full degree from rutgers, it's not worth much. it's all about how you play, not the paper, and i got my current job inspite of my music degree, not because of it... (for samples of how i play check the sampler page, if you can figure out my name... :)
     
  12. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    IME, it really all depends on the specific school. Usually most/all of the gen ed. core classes will transfer (I did most of mine at a community college and never had any problems), but often the school will want assurances that the music classes you took at the previous school are up to snuff at the new school. Here at UofL, it's not so much that they don't transfer as it is that for classes like theory and music lit., you'd have to take an entrance exam; if you pass it, the credits transfer, and if you don't, you have to retake the classes. The really smart incoming students get the study guides and texts for these exams and shed/cram for them for a decent period before taking them. Each school has different requirements, so it's usually best to find out from the school admin which credits are likely to transfer and which are likely to require a placement exam. Hope this helps!
     
  13. jgbass

    jgbass Guest

    Dec 17, 2003
    Ed, great question to ask and this is something I want to get to on this thread. Degree, no degree, this school, that school, or no school, the bottom line for me is: what gigs do I have, who am I playing music with, what contacts am I making, how is teaching going, am I growing as a player?

    Yes, I have a great teacher and play with some good players, but the good players I play with are so wound up in their time-consuming day jobs, or other important life concerns that they don't have the time to really make a go of things. We get going, then something more important to them than music happens and rehearsals and plans to play out fly out the window. Very frustrating for me, because I clear the calendar for music most of the time. I would think that getting into a school involvement would get me connected with musicians who have a greater degree of commitment to improving their musicianship. They are investing their time and money in these endeavors and making some sacrifices. The people I am playing with, and, believe me, it took me a lot of time to even find these folks, and I'm pretty good at getting out there and finding people, just don't have the same goals as I do. I need consistent playing experiences, feedback, in addition to my shedding time that usually goes well. I get some of this at the current college: the orchestra is very high level, more a professional, semi-professional thing, the jazz ensemble is comprised of people who seem to show up when they feel like it and it seems to suffer from lack of consistency, as well as some poor players. No audition needed for that band. BTW, San Diego just does not have many jam sessions.

    So, there are two trains of thought on my particular situation: Study with my teacher, and get out and get things going. And the other is get into a college program. If I could be immersed in rehearsing with like-minded people who are intermediate to advanced players, who were able to rehearse/play out a couple times a week, I don't think I would even be considering the school route. But, I have been trying to get something like this going for two years, and it just has not jelled. I'm almost there musically, I'm past being a beginner, there are specific things I want to work on in performance situations. So, part of my shedding time is working on soloing, learning tunes, and working towards feeling competent I can go out and do well by my standards and get called consistently for gigs. But, there's only so much one can learn in shedding, it needs to be played with other musicians.

    Anyway, that's what's going on here. Any comments appreciated.
     
  14. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    That was my experience also. The general ed classes did transfer (in fact all the credits transferred) but the music classes didn't.

    I had placed into adv harmony classes at Berklee and had taken a bunch of them. NT teaches traditional theory and therefore wanted everyone to sit through those classes.

    So I agree that it would depend on the the two schools (the one you're transferring from and to) on whether or not the credits transfer.
     
  15. shwashwa

    shwashwa

    Aug 30, 2003
    NJ
    sounds like you need to move to an area that has serious musicians. school can be that for you, or you can just move to a big city that has all of what you're talking about, without needing the school thing, or you can use school as a good excuse to move into that area. rutgers has an amazing faculty and is very close to the city. william patterson as well, which is rutgers' rival. berklee of course, and manhatten school of music, nyu, the new school, jersey city college, cuny all have great faculty and you will meet serious musicians both in and out of school. problem with schools, in my opinion, is that people will generally move back home when they're done, and you will probably have to as well, leaving you where you started. i had the dumb luck to be born just outside nyc. for that i am very thankful. you can see the best of the best any night of the week.

     
  16. jgbass

    jgbass Guest

    Dec 17, 2003
    Ha ha, so was I! Every time I go back east I wonder, at least for a while, why I am here in San Diego. I will always be an east coaster at heart. Maybe the problem is location, location, location. Thanks for your comments.
     
  17. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    OK. First of all, read this, and let me know if it raises any more questions.
    Basically any school you go to will be a a microcosm of the scene it's in. If there are a lot of good players and a lot of of students, there will generally be some kind of scene out in the "real world" of wherever you are; small cheap clubs that feature students from the school and maybe a larger club that will feature faculty, regional pros and maybe some national/international acts coming through. The school itself may have programs or concert schedules that wil bring in touring pros who will augment concert appearances by doing clinics or master classes. But where you stand in that milieu is pretty dependant on what you can do right now. Berklee (to be specific about someplace I been) is pretty famous/notorious for having people go through the system and come out four (or 3 or 2 or 1) years later with only a cursory understanding and ability. It's EASY to go in anywhere and come out as mediocre as you went in. You want to go there and play with musicians "better" than yourself so that you can get deeper into the music. Guess what? So does everybody else. And the ensemble placement (at least at the schools I'm familiar with) is there to put students of similar abilities together. So while you may BE in an environment that has some great musicians in it, there's no guarantee that you'll get to play with them.

    The more I'm in NYC, the more that I am of the opinion that I would have been SO much better off just moving here in 81 instead of going to Berklee (especially if I had hooked up with my teacher then). But I don't really care about gigging, about "making it", about doing anything other than having the chance to play with as many deep creative people as possible. If all I wanted to do was make a living as a musician, I could have stayed in Augusta GA and gotten ALL the gigs. But life here ain't a bowl of cherries, so IF you come here, you need to be pretty straight in your head about why you're here or the city can **** with you pretty bad.
     
  18. jgbass

    jgbass Guest

    Dec 17, 2003
    Thanks Ed!

    I read that post about NYC. Important things to consider. When I was 20, I was thinking of either NYC or LA, for different musical reasons though, and I chose LA and I lived in LA for over 10 years. But, NYC is just not for me.

    The way it stands right now, I am going to take advantage of what is valuable at this community college for two more part-time semesters, ignore all the BS, and continue with my teacher and other valuable teaching materials, and strech myself to the max so I am competent to get out there and get good gigs, I have a lot to gain at this school as far as performance experiences, not only in jazz, but in Afro-Cuban, classical, and vocal ensembles (playing bass), knowing that accomplished,gigging players/instructors are running the show and offering feedback. Some people at this community college have gone on to great things, but they are the ones, like me, that don't waste their time there, do the work, and grow as musicians. Many people waste their time.

    I am not going to pursue formal education beyond two more semesters. To what point? I know Berklee graduates who are just not making it too. School doesn't make you a good musician anyway, working at it does. I have all the right tools anyway. I think getting out there and playing and making contacts is the best experience. No school can substitute for this.

    No, I don't think I have exhausted yet what is available here, but I have been thinking of LA for quite awhile and I think I could do well there. I am realitvely new to DB anyway. Still some basic stuff to learn. Everytime I go there I feel like I am home anyway. My day job career would pay much better there anyway, if I needed to work there part time. Anway, going to sit with this plan for awhile.
     

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