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Music degree - worth it? (Read 22545 times)

Offline kersplona

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Music degree - worth it?
« on: December 03, 2012, 08:28:51 AM »
Does a pianist really need to spend upwards of $100k for a degree to become noticed in the classical scene? Can a talented pianist with years of top-notch private lessons behind him have an equal chance? If competitions are truly the best way to become noticed, is the degree really necessary if you can become a great pianist without it? After all, many exceptional young pianists such as George Li get publicity before ever reaching college age.

Your thoughts please!

Offline hardy_practice

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Re: Music degree - worth it?
«Reply #1 on: December 03, 2012, 10:53:34 AM »
I would say if you have to ask the question, then no.  I did a degree for love of music.
B Mus, PGCE, DipABRSM

Offline dcstudio

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Re: Music degree - worth it?
«Reply #2 on: December 03, 2012, 01:38:47 PM »
spend $100k ? no  get a degree? yes.   if for no other reason than to be around the 100s of other music students there.   If you stay in music there will be people from University that you will know the rest of your career.  The ideas, the practice sessions, the pain, the sweat, the crappy food--it's a beautiful thing!!  Not to mention what you learn there--music is a bigger animal than you can imagine...the experience of college is WELL worth it! 

Offline hsalix

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Re: Music degree - worth it?
«Reply #3 on: December 15, 2012, 10:50:52 PM »
If you want to do it as a real, full-time job, I'd say yes.  Especially if you want to get hired somewhere as a teacher, and/or if you want to teach advanced students.

If you just want to do it as a side job and teach beginner students, it would help you, but I don't think it's 100% necessary.  I don't have a degree, but teach on the side and I have no problem finding students as I charge less than someone who does (beats working at Starbucks any day!!).

Offline zzivauri

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Re: Music degree - worth it?
«Reply #4 on: December 16, 2012, 05:30:07 AM »
  My life experience is that it really IS all connections.   Either go get the degree or marry a conductor.  Of course, Youtube is really helping now...Valentina Lisista talk again...hm...

Offline the89thkey

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Re: Music degree - worth it?
«Reply #5 on: December 17, 2012, 11:38:57 PM »
You don't have to have a degree. It can help though.

Offline bmbutler

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Re: Music degree - worth it?
«Reply #6 on: January 08, 2013, 08:48:37 PM »
First - $100k for a music degree - really?  Gosh, things have changed.  I would not spend that unless you were going to be a doctor or lawyer (maybe not a lawyer nowadays).  Get a degree in something you can make a real living at and can pay back your college debt.  The odds of you making a career in music where you would have any hope to pay that back in your lifetime are slim to none.

That being said - I have a Bachelor's and Master's in music.  Would I do it again?  In this economy, 90% sure I would say no.  Does it affect how I teach?  Maybe a little with knowledge of music theory, harmony, analysis and music history.  Do I make more in my rural town because of them?  Nope.

Offline iansinclair

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Re: Music degree - worth it?
«Reply #7 on: January 09, 2013, 01:26:10 PM »
Does one go to college or university to get a job, or to get an education?  If you are considering going to college or university to get a job, and the job is going to be in some aspect of music, you are very unlikely to be able to pay off the student debt with that job.  There are very very very few musicians who can do much more than make the ends meet on music alone, and, although a degree in music might certainly help it's not going to be a magic wand for a paycheque.  So -- if you are planning on further education as a way to a job which will pay back the investment, pick something -- as has been said -- like law or medicine, or take an apprenticeship in some interesting trade and learn that.

On the other hand, if you are thinking of college or university as a way to get an education and learn more about music -- and learn how to learn more all through your life -- and to make friends and meet other like-minded people, then it is perfectly wonderful and there is nothing else like it.  Colleges, universities, conservatories and the like are not supposed to be trade schools (although, regrettably, more and more of them are beginning to look like trade schools) and shouldn't be treated as such.
Ian

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: Music degree - worth it?
«Reply #8 on: January 10, 2013, 01:20:20 PM »
Like everyone said: No.  I have a degree in music but it's worthless.  I wish I had something more practical in the sciences.  Nevertheless, I'm very glad that I had the experience of learning about something which I excel at.

If you must, double major.  Music for the love of it, then something else for the job to support your love of it.

Offline cjp_piano

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Re: Music degree - worth it?
«Reply #9 on: January 10, 2013, 08:41:04 PM »
It depends on what you want to do. A person can be a great pianist or great teacher without a college degree. But a person needs a doctorate in order to be considered for most college faculty jobs. The experience of having lessons, studying repertoire, etc. is great, so of course it's helpful to go to college for all the degrees, but you can study on your own with great teachers without a college degree if you just want to perform. Getting invited to perform will require connections, like the other person said, but not necessarily connections you make in college.

Good luck!

Offline slobone

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Re: Music degree - worth it?
«Reply #10 on: January 16, 2013, 01:55:39 AM »
I think it's pretty much a must these days, if you're absolutely sure this is what you want to do the rest of your life. Music schools churn out new graduates in piano performance by the hundreds every year, and those are the people you'll be competing with, not just for jobs, but even for auditions and competitions. If you want to be taken seriously you need the credentials.

Plus as somebody else pointed out, connections are also important. If you can get into a good school with a well-known piano teacher, that will open even more doors for you.

Offline asuhayda

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Re: Music degree - worth it?
«Reply #11 on: February 07, 2013, 04:22:56 PM »
Yes. It's worth it for the credential.  Make no mistake however,  I know people with degrees in Piano Performance who are absolutely awful players. So, getting a degree does not gaurantee that you're going to be a phenomenal pianist.  It is possible to have a degree in piano and suck at it.  It happens.  But, if you want to have a better chance of getting a gig in an orchestra, or getting top notch students, it'll be worth it to get a degree.  Don't expect to make much money though.  It's about the love.
~ if you want to know what I'm working on.. just ask me!

Offline ajspiano

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Re: Music degree - worth it?
«Reply #12 on: February 07, 2013, 11:02:00 PM »
I personally do not think so - and especially not for 100K.

It depends what exactly you want to do with your life though. As has been said, I would imagine if you want to be able to teach at a college or university its a standard prerequisite..  though for pretty much everything else you can build a reputation in other ways.

You'll also come across people like me who almost totally disregard music degrees as being meaningless and go exclusively on what a person demonstrates they can actually do.

Offline anakha13

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Re: Music degree - worth it?
«Reply #13 on: March 26, 2013, 08:46:14 AM »
I actually went to uni and due to my high marks I did Arts and Law with a major in music. There was no way I was going to be allowed to do Music straight. I started playing at the age of 3 1/2 and got my AMUS when I was 17. I now operate a piano studio and I regret not having taken a BMUS. It is simply not feasible for me to go back and do one however; I mean, I could, but after I've just completed a law degree? I have mixed responses to this question; but ultimately no, I think that a degree is not necessary, but if you want to, (and your parents let you), do it. I also think that it would be smarter to do a BMUS BEd. Overall though it depends where you want to go in your life.

Offline oxy60

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Re: Music degree - worth it?
«Reply #14 on: March 26, 2013, 05:06:55 PM »
Nope, it's not worth it even if it is for free. The problem with a music major is that it takes far too much time away from other classes. You need those other classes to build an education for a career.

Remember you must arrive as a freshmen with very fine musical skills to even be accepted in most departments. Ask yourself what can they teach you in just four years that will improve upon what you already can do?  Don't stop playing. Keep up what you know. Maybe build upon that base. And maybe a private lesson/coaching session now and then.
"In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks."  John Muir  (We all need to get out more.)

Offline louispodesta

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Re: Music degree - worth it?
«Reply #15 on: March 28, 2013, 06:24:37 PM »
It is time to tell the secret.   The secret is that today most college faculty advisors are ordered to tell their incoming music majors to minor in some non-music subject, such as business or accounting.

It was absolutely not that way when I was in school.   Your minor was either another instrument or voice.

Robert Freeman, who is the former Dean at Eastman, and also the College of Fine Arts at the University of Texas, has made a career out of researching how most people with a music degree are not employed as professional musicians.

John Nakamatsu has his two degrees in the Germanic languages.  The recently deceased Charles Rosen had three degrees in Romance literature.

Before the conservatories became the rage, everyone studied under a piano teacher, and also a theory/composition teacher.  That is what I suggest you do.

To say that a music degree is worthless in terms of employment is a gross understatement.  In my opinion, it is also a serious waste of time (131 credit hours) and money.

And, that is only to get a Bachelors Degree.  If you go for a doctorate, it will take you at least ten years, and trust me, you will not have any semblance of a functional nervous system by the time you finish.

However, by going the non-music major route, if you are dedicated and talented, you will find the right teachers, and then you will make your way through the music business world.

Talent agents audition pianists all the time who don't have degrees.  Come to think of it, where is Lang Lang's degree from?

Check and mate!

Offline oxy60

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Re: Music degree - worth it?
«Reply #16 on: March 29, 2013, 04:02:29 PM »
The only time a music degree made sense was for a friend of mine who needed those letters after his name to get the BIG university job. He arrived as a freshman playing perfectly. But that impressive talent won't get you up to chairman of the department without those little letters after your name.
"In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks."  John Muir  (We all need to get out more.)

Offline piano_nurse

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Re: Music degree - worth it?
«Reply #17 on: March 29, 2013, 09:10:23 PM »
I would say it's an unwise decision. Back when I started school six years ago, it was pretty much a "rule" that in order to be successful, you go to college after high school. And that is true, if you want a good-paying job, but you have to be careful, because what colleges fail to emphasise is that this is a debt you will take on, and you want to make sure you can pay for it. Certain schools on the coasts are outrageous, charging 100K for a four to five year Bachelor's degree! In the midwest, I walked away owing 40K, but I have a nursing degree, and my first job will net me about 45K that first year of work.

To really look at the whole college education thing, my strongest advice is to LOOK at the job marketability of what you are planning on doing. What is the likelihood of you being able to get a job with that degree, and not only a job, but one that allows you to pay the bills, and tuck back a little bit in savings each month? My strongest desire was a piano performance degree, but if I would have done that at the university I had originally attended, I would owe close to 100K. Instead, after a year of that, I chose to do something else that I truly loved for work, nursing, which allows me to help people, and it also allows me to FINANCE the other things in life I love, such as music. Now, once I wrap up the nursing degree, I'm going to give myself a couple of months to get situated, and then start in with classes at a local community college to learn the theory and composition at a MUCH cheaper rate, and I will pay those as I go.

To be honest, the days are over when you could just get a degree in whatever you loved, and then started working using that degree and make a decent living. Certain majors are suicide in terms of success, such as a bachelors in psychology, or a bachelors in journalism, for the simple fact that the cost of the degree is so expensive, that their salaries with those jobs do not allow them to make ends meet. With the trends of the country (talking United States here), getting degrees related to technology, healthcare, or law are the most lucrative. You have to look at the job prospects, the cost of the education, and whether or not crunching the numbers allows you to come out on top.

That's not to discourage you from taking music courses while you are in college, but if I could do it all over again, I would have gone to a community college until I got accepted to nursing school. It's so much more affordable, so my advice would be to go to a community college first, and take as many courses as you can before transferring to a 4-year university. Also, SHOP around. My advice is to not go to a university because of the name. I made that mistake with K-State, because it was where everybody went, and their school spirit was awesome and their campus was gorgeous, but as of today, it's to the tune of 20K a year. So not worth it. Look into how much they charge per credit hour. The current university I go to has a flat rate on full and part time students. Full-time, regardless of how many credit hours you take, whether it be 12 or 20, is $2,800 a semester in tuition. So, you could pile on the coursework (within reason), even finish a degree faster (or take music courses without incurring any additional cost), and still make it affordable. I hope this helps, but as others have said... It's not exactly necessary to have a degree in music, unless the job you are after makes it necessary. Even then, plan, and think smart. ;)

Those are just my thoughts. Hope this helps.

Offline louispodesta

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Re: Music degree - worth it?
«Reply #18 on: March 31, 2013, 04:06:19 PM »
The prior post was on point, and also very well thought-out.   However, there is one important pitfall that comes with going to a community college that I learned the hard way.

That is not every four year college automatically accepts, for core curriculum credit, course credit that comes from a particular community college.   I took two years of music at one of the largest community colleges in the nation, and when I transferred to what is now the University of North Texas, I had to take a theory transfer exam (which no one ever passed) and had to take everything over again.

So, pick out your four year college, get in your car and go to the department head, not the registrar's office, of the school you will be getting your major in, and then go through the community college curriculum course by course and see what they will accept for transfer credit.

Some community colleges have gone the next step and guarantee that their courses will transfer to specifically named colleges.

You have no idea how many people have had to take courses over who have transferred to a senior college.   It is the single most important reason people drop out an quit.

Oh, and before I forget, most music schools, such as McGill University in Canada, list their audition requirements  for transfer students on their website.  They are harder than for incoming freshman.

Offline pianoplunker

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Re: Music degree - worth it?
«Reply #19 on: March 31, 2013, 07:08:22 PM »
Does a pianist really need to spend upwards of $100k for a degree to become noticed in the classical scene? Can a talented pianist with years of top-notch private lessons behind him have an equal chance? If competitions are truly the best way to become noticed, is the degree really necessary if you can become a great pianist without it? After all, many exceptional young pianists such as George Li get publicity before ever reaching college age.

Your thoughts please!

If I was a great pianist, then for 100k I would pay a promoter to put my perfomances on TV or Radio where classical music is listened to. If the goal is to get recognized in the community. That being said there is nothing wrong with getting a degree, but it would probably benefit more at a desk /faculty job rather than performance.   You probably can leverage a degree in other fields, if your good in those fields. For instance if you are very good at accounting and apply for an accountant job, they wouldnt ignore your degree , even if it is music. It could still help you get in some doors. 

Offline oxy60

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Re: Music degree - worth it?
«Reply #20 on: April 01, 2013, 03:25:19 PM »
If I was a great pianist, then for 100k I would pay a promoter to put my perfomances on TV or Radio where classical music is listened to. If the goal is to get recognized in the community. That being said there is nothing wrong with getting a degree, but it would probably benefit more at a desk /faculty job rather than performance.   You probably can leverage a degree in other fields, if your good in those fields. For instance if you are very good at accounting and apply for an accountant job, they wouldnt ignore your degree , even if it is music. It could still help you get in some doors. 

A lot depends on how you got your degree, whether it was from a college of music or from a liberal arts college. My degree says nothing about a music major or other minors, only that I got a B.A.

It did make a difference in job seeking until one future boss said that I was a little over qualified for the position...   I had his job within a year!
"In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks."  John Muir  (We all need to get out more.)

Offline louispodesta

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Re: Music degree - worth it?
«Reply #21 on: April 01, 2013, 04:42:34 PM »
It just occurred to me that what has not been discussed here is the third option.   And, that is a performance certificate.

Van Cliburn did not have a college degree from Juilliard.   He had a performance certificate.

There are more than a few music schools that offer this, and trust me, they get you ready.

I know it sounds like way more than anyone could accomplish, but I would take about five to seven years and then double up and get a music business degree, which a lot of schools are starting to offer.   At the same time, I would get the performance certificate.

These two things would show the world that you are "professional" performance musician.

Offline bradstifler

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Re: Music degree - worth it?
«Reply #22 on: April 04, 2013, 12:51:33 PM »
Share some more information about this so that we can also take a closer look around it as whether it is worth for the music degree they are providing or not based on the comparisons.

Offline oxy60

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Re: Music degree - worth it?
«Reply #23 on: April 04, 2013, 06:43:39 PM »
If you plan to have a career in the academic world then those degrees are essential. The trick is to get it just right. For a high school band director a Phd in music might be a hindrance because the school might be required to pay you more for having it. You wouldn't get that job.
"In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks."  John Muir  (We all need to get out more.)

Offline Mayla

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Re: Music degree - worth it?
«Reply #24 on: April 11, 2013, 06:03:42 PM »
.
"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline dcstudio

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Re: Music degree - worth it?
«Reply #25 on: July 08, 2013, 01:05:19 PM »
lol... they get you ready???   No they don't they just teach you to play.   Your survival in the performance world depends on so much more than just your chops...   the real world was quite different  than the picture those professors painted for us...

yes go to music school--but don't think for a second that a degree means you are "there" or "ready"--it only means you are educated...   it is necessary and a great experience ---but it really takes years to internalize all that information and apply it skillfully.  At least that was my experience...