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Social Media, Authenticity & How Not to Play Beethoven’s Für Elise

Counting the beat correctly in one of the world’s most popular piano pieces, Für Elise by Beethoven, is certainly not a bagatelle… As every piano teacher knows, students often have problems playing the right number of beats in bars 14 and 37. Read more >>

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Author Topic: Do people actually completely change fields at the top music schools?  (Read 268 times)
Bob
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« on: June 23, 2017, 10:56:28 PM »

I saw the movie Whiplash and it was one of the things I thought that was off.

Say we have a top-of-the-nation music conservatory.  And say we have members in a top ensemble at that music school.  You could think Juilliard or Eastman.

Do people who make it into those places actually stress out or burn out enough, get so traumatized, that they switch to a completely different field, like medicine (or premed)?

That's what happened to one 'lesser' character in the movie.  (Don't worry.  No big spoiler there.  But you won't believe... nevermind.  Roll Eyes)  I didn't quite buy it.  If you've worked your whole life, made it into a top music school... You just decide it's too much and switch to a different field?  I don't buy that.  Get burned maybe.  Get scarred.  But leave music?  I could see someone freaking out and ending up taking a semester off.  I can't quite see someone getting miffed and switching fields though.

Thoughts?  Does that actually happen in the real world?  "I went to (Eastman, Julliard, _____) but decided to switch to ____ field even though I spent my life in music working up to that point."
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j_tour
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« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2017, 05:27:18 PM »

Yep.  My personal experience, just as an observer of human moves, is that music students basically don't know how to do anything else -- not that they couldn't, but they just don't.  In other fields people burn out all the time and sometimes they can put it together in another field.

Hey, there's always law school.
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dogperson
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« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2017, 07:07:40 PM »

I know someone who graduated with a performance degree from one of these two schools,  then became a taxi driver.
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mjames
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« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2017, 10:41:08 PM »

Why would you not buy it? It happens all the time. You can spend 8 years working towards a doctorate degree and end up leaving academia for the private industry. Some people spend a lot of time working on something in a field only to realize (far too late)they hate it. Unfortunate but that's reality.
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rachmaninoff_forever
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« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2017, 01:17:28 AM »

My old teacher used to be a pro pianist then ended up selling rocks for a living. 

He was like up there in the business he was able to hire and fire people so he wasn't just a scrub.
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mjames
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« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2017, 01:29:32 AM »

The reverse also tends to happen a lot. Chausson (French composer) abandoned his career as a practitioner of law to study composition. Cheesy
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georgey
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« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2017, 01:51:42 AM »

Sometimes composers do both.  Charles Ives was the co-owner of one of the largest insurance companies in the USA – Ives and Myrick Insurance Co. of New York City (edit: after having started as an entry level actuarial clerk).  He became a multi-millionaire in the 1930’s 1920's when being a millionaire meant something.  He did get his college degree in music though (Yale University, studying under Horatio Parker).  I don’t think he made any money composing.  In fact, you used to give his publishers money to publish his works.  He would also pay orchestras to play his music just so he could hear what it would sound like.   Grin
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lostinidlewonder
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« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2017, 02:29:12 AM »

I'd say it is rare for reasons other than financial. You would give up at a much earlier period of it all rather than once you have established yourself.
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dogperson
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« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2017, 08:37:49 AM »

I'd say it is rare for reasons other than financial. You would give up at a much earlier period of it all rather than once you have established yourself.


I have no idea of the rarity of pianists who make the decision to leave music for another profession. But here is the biography of one:  Thomas Yu has a performance doctorate, was performing as a concert pianist, and then obtained a dentistry degree

http://www.thomasyu.ca/page/bio/ .
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lostinidlewonder
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« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2017, 08:42:26 AM »

It seems he's described as an amateur pianist (not to degrade his skill just the fact he works as a perodontist). He's doing both by the looks of it not giving up one for the other.
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dogperson
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« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2017, 08:53:32 AM »

It seems he's described as an amature pianist (not to degrade his skill just the fact he works as a perodontist). He's doing both by the looks of it not giving up one for the other.


He gave up a professional pianist career to become a Peridondist and now is doing the skilled amateur  circuit.  So he did switch careers, and now is weaving music back in
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lostinidlewonder
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« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2017, 11:35:31 AM »

It's not quite leaving it completely is it though? That is what I thought the opening post asked for when Bob wrote:
But leave music?
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Bob
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« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2017, 11:19:36 PM »

I watched the Whiplash movie.

Yeah, I was thinking "leaving music completely."  I can't see someone completely dropping it.

Financial as a reason, yes I can see that.  In the Whiplash movie it was a negative experience with the one teacher.

So to reframe it... At top music schools how common is it for students to completely switch careers due to negative experiences with music at that level?  Now I'm thinking it's common.  Plenty of undergrads get to college and discover they suck.  Then they drop.  I remember that.  Although, I'm adding "top" music schools.  Students would have already devoted a lot of effort and "sole" (or soul, also true probably) to music.  They would have already bumped into people and had negative experiences, but they still made it into a top school.  And then they have a bad experience there and quit entirely?
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cuberdrift
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« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2017, 04:16:50 AM »

As a young student I have a feeling many Conservatory people become like machines.
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Bob
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« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2017, 02:02:25 AM »

I guess I was also thinking of them completely dropping music.  I don't see how someone would put in the effort (and enjoy it at some point, to some level) to make it to a top music school and then completely drop it.
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