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What can you do or have done with a degree in music?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Jean Rodriguez, Nov 25, 2016.

  1. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    How does a degree in performance get one into a low voltage job? Are we talking about a "any degree gets you in the door" situation? In that case, a degree in underwater basket weaving would have been just as beneficial.

    My wife has a vocal performance degree. She worked as an executive assistant. She never used any skills learned in her degree in her professional life....and she's the first one to admit it.
  2. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    Don't know I was half way around the world when it happened.
  3. slobake

    slobake resident ... something Supporting Member

    Would you like fries with that? ;)
    Just kidding, any degree can be of value. There are companies that won't allow people to advance beyond a certain point without a college degree. For some companies it doesn't matter what the degree is in as long as you have one.
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  4. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    a buddy of mine got a job working for a composer because he had a degree in music. he says it pays much better than being an assistant manager at GC (which he was previously) and he now looks forward to going to work every day.
    Chris Fitzgerald and RoadRanger like this.
  5. Mark Wilson

    Mark Wilson Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2005
    Toronto, Ontario
    Endorsing Artist: Elixir® Strings
    Aside from having a part time job as a cook, I pretty much play music full time.

    I've been lucky enough to play bars around North America, festivals, even England and France. All of which I attribute to my degree in performance. I studied Jazz at Humber College here in Toronto, and although I never play jazz, it gave me the means necessary to play pretty much any style. I stick to Pop, and R&B now.

    However, The reason i attribute it to my degree is because of the connections I've made. Anybody can learn theory, and improvisation, but the connections i've made continue to help me to no end. The connections alone were worth the price of tuition in my opinion.
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  6. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    That's interesting. You seem to be inferring that his performance degree led to his current career. It would be interesting to know how they were connected.
  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    At the school where I teach, students who graduate end up doing a lot of different things once they are out of music school. Many know that this will be the case going in, and want to pursue their musical passion alongside their study of what their main income-career will be; some of these students have ended double majoring to become doctors, lawyers, engineers, businesspeople, and even an astro physicist (I have to admit I don't even know what this last field means, but the kid was a great sax player and went on to get a full ride at UCLA for masters and doctoral work after leaving here).

    But many others go to music school for the same reasons I did, then use the discipline and knowledge of how to thrive in a structured system on down the road in other careers that they discover at a later stage of their journey. I suppose a cynic could argue that any degree would have worked just as well for this purpose, but I don't share that view. These people have a passion for music, and even if it doesn't end up being their 9 to 5, they still followed their passion and got a degree that helped shape their character. Not every school is or should be merely a "trade school", IMO. The whole point of college is more fundamentally formative than that. To me, it's about the kind of person you become while engaging in an activity that fascinates you and how you learn to learn.
    slobake, Tom Bomb and Leo Smith like this.
  8. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    Spending tens of thousands of dollars a year, not to mention 4 years of your life, on something other than preparing to become a financially productive citizen, is a luxury very few people have. Yes, college is about maturing socially and personally, but that is not the primary goal.
  9. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Unfortunately, this concept is a Victorian-era holdover that continues to plague our academics, but no longer applies in the real world. Employers no want a graduate that "learned how to learn". Instead, they want one with specific technical skills. Even unpaid internship typically go to the graduate that has the most focused education.

    Your concept of the double major is significantly more practical and is really the wisest path for those looking to music as a career path.
    buldog5151bass likes this.
  10. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Please excuse me if I don't take your characterization of what all employers want as empirical truth.
  11. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    My family had no money for college. I got scholarships to cover part, borrowed the rest, and paid the balance back over a period of 9 years one month at a time. It was far from a luxury. Rather, it was a choice.

    For some people, this is doubtless true. For others, it isn't. And I would add "mature intellectually" to the list above socially.
  12. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Of course, so long as you excuse me in my belief that my direct experience with and intimate understanding of 109 multi-billion dollar corporations gives me some insight into the hiring concepts of some of this country's largest employers.
  13. gttim


    Dec 12, 2009
    Atlanta, GA
    I will tell you the same thing I tell countless people including parents of kids going to college, get a degree in a field with a excellent chance of finding a job, and get a minor in what you love. A few stories.

    I studies Media Production, including photography and recording, in college. I remember working in a restaurant with 7 people who had finished that or a very similar degree. One guy who finished before I did was working at a record store during the day to pay bills while working Headline News at night for next to nothing. I left the program two classes shy of the degree and got a math degree instead. I ended up in the actuarial field and just switched to become a data visualization developer. I do photography for fun. I work to support myself, and luckily I like my job.

    A friend married a drummer with a degree from a very nice music college. She always complained about his lack if money, and she works her ass off to support him. The guy is a very good drummer who gets work in touring bands. He also does production work, and is very highly thought of. He hears stuff that I cannot. I am not sure he would get by without his wife.

    The daughter of a guy I work with got a degree in journalism, because she loved it and wanted to become a photographer. I told this guy to get her to get a degree in accounting and do journalism as a minor- she could use her degree in accounting to push herself as a business writer. One year after graduating with something like $50k in debt, she went back to school to get an associates degree in accounting so she could get a job.

    My sister did a very smart thing. She got a nursing degree and became an RN. She can make a good wage anywhere in the country, and in many other countries. She will never lack for a job. She looked into getting a masters in anesthesiology, but talked to people in her hospital, and others, and saw almost none of them got increased money or better jobs because of the degree. The market was too flooded. Even though she had been accepted into a program, she chose not to pursue it. Co-workers did. They ended up with big debt and no payoff.

    I've got a million of them.

    Think of it this way: Your college degree will cost you more in time and money than almost anything else you do in life. It will have one of the biggest impacts on your life. Think it through. Study the outcomes. Try to get the most bang for your buck and time that will give you the best quality of life. Hedge your bets and make sure the odds are in your favor.
    guy n. cognito likes this.
  14. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    Our current drummer is a graduate of the Berkeley School of Music (Berklee?) in Boston. He's awesome and can play Acknowledgement from A Love Supreme off the top of his head. One of those mind-bending drum beats that has always confounded me. His solos are always awesome.

    He's eventually going to Nashville and I don't doubt he'll find work but it probably won't be easy.

    The anthropology in most regions is job/work first, the artful hobbies 2nd or 3rd. Few turn it into a prosperous profession in these parts. We do gig a lot all around these parts but it doesn't make the house payment. The pay easily buys me any gear I want or need (within reason) and keeps me from the ATM. I still have to sell houses.
  15. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    You'd be shocked how many Berklee grads are running around this town trying to pickup $50 gigs on CL. It's quite competitive here, especially for those trying to make the honky think scene downtown.
  16. bass12

    bass12 Basking Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    Yes, and the connections thing goes beyond university. You can be a fantastic musician but, without the connections you're not likely to get much work. Also, you don't have to be a top-shelf musician to get great gigs but you do need to have something- whatever it is - that the person doing the hiring is looking for. I know people who have played with some of the biggest acts in the world and they were not the best players out there. But they had the right connections and could deliver outside the actual music.
  17. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    A degree will lead to teaching. If your not good with that you need to
    make changes. Maybe private studies with a master would be more affordable.
    Live performance is way down everywhere.
    I would recommend a degree in real world use.
    Remember, There is no Money in the Arts.
  18. sears

    sears Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2005
    ec, md
    Do you believe that people who major in music are inherently unemployable losers? Because if not you could use your immense power and vast network to try to change that perception.
  19. slobake

    slobake resident ... something Supporting Member

    I understand what you are saying but I look at things in a different way. I come into contact with people who are struggling. Some are living on the street. Others are living inside but they are miserable and some may even be contemplating ending their lives. There are addicts of all kinds too, not just substance abuse.
    I have noticed that these kinds of struggles don't only happen to the uneducated. There are extremely intelligent people with impressive degrees living lives of desperation and some of them sleep in Golden Gate Park.
    Having opportunities for productive employment and financial gain are good things but they are not the end all solution. Being a well rounded person who can appreciate the opportunities that we do have is more important to me. Tragedies happen in all of our lives and getting a degree for the sole purpose of gainful employment does not prepare a person for when the fecal matter hits the rotating cooling device.
    People get cancer and other diseases, go though divorces, lose children and all kinds of other traumatic events that happen in life. I have met people with various levels of education who have gotten through those times and others who have collapsed and basically given up and stopped living. They can become the walking dead.
    Our cities (or at least the one I live in) have lots of desperate people who were unprepared when things got really bad. Of course for some people things have been really bad from the day they were born but that is another topic.
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  20. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Please, don't put word in my mouth. Most are intelligent, talented people. They are, however, focusing their education in a industry with minimal opportunities, massive competition and compensation standards that are stagnant to declining. Furthermore, the skill set learned are rarely applicable to other industries.
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