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  1. #1

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    This isn't entirely specific to jazz guitar or jazz, really just to being a working musician in general.

    What are your guys' opinions on music degrees? Does it really open many doors for you?

    And I'd also just like to ask for some advice: I'm wanting to really just make a living in music, doing a mix of teaching, performing, and composing and maybe even learning to be a luthier/guitar tech.

    I'm thinking I want to go to the University of Toronto (don't want to stay in Winnipeg my whole life) and I'm hoping that attending a university will help me break into the scene a bit quicker. That being said; I want to attend for music but don't know specifically what degree I'd like to pursue. I'm certainly more interested in composition than performance at the moment and feel like I could develop my performance skills to a level where I can gig outside of a university setting.

    Can I get some advice on which music degrees to pursue? I'm thinking a B.Mus. major in composition and minor in jazz studies would be what I want but I'm not sure if it's even a possibility.

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  3. #2

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    Degree is only good if you plan to teacher eventually. Don't get me wrong going to music school can be a valuable experience if you really take advantage of living music 24/7 for a few years. Music school is about getting to woodshed, play a lot at school and gigs, and make contacts for the future.

    Today school is so expensive even people graduating Law school are coming out to little work and jobs don't pay well. So unless you plan to teach you need to look beyond school and what you think you'll be doing is the debt worth it? You have to look beyond four years.

  4. #3

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    Someone said to me recently that you get a degree when you're young and then you won't need it for the next 30 years. But when you're older and looking to come off the road gigs and you're not so interested in staying out all night playing clubs for $80 a degree is useful for getting a decent teaching gig. And at that age, hopefully you've gained enough experience about your craft that you actually have something meaningful to teach. Think of it as an insurance policy for your retirement.

  5. #4

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    I have a PhD., and from an Ivy League university to boot, but I changed my career path, so it's never helped me get a job other than to make interviewer say, "boy, are you overqualified!"


    I hope you decide to do what you love doing, but think twice about saddling yourself with the debt. At least here in Canada it's cheaper than in the US.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDaddyLoveHandles
    I have a PhD., and from an Ivy League university to boot, but I changed my career path, so it's never helped me get a job other than to make interviewer say, "boy, are you overqualified!"


    I hope you decide to do what you love doing, but think twice about saddling yourself with the debt. At least here in Canada it's cheaper than in the US.
    Just curious, what was your PhD. in? I know you're a programmer these days?

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by 3625
    Just curious, what was your PhD. in? I know you're a programmer these days?
    Computer Science, but it was theoretical stuff. My thesis was a series of proofs and I didn't write a single program in five years of grad school. I burned out and, in hindsight, suffered from depression. I ran off and backpacked around Australia until my money ran out. Then I needed to work and the only thing I can do that pays anything is coding. I've wondered about getting back into academia, just to teach, but it's too late for that.

    You can look at this as another example of not knowing how your career path will turn out.

    And I've always been interested in music and I took classes in music at Uni, but I know I'd never be good enough at playing to make a living at it.

  8. #7

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    It also depends a lot on which university you are talking about. U of T is world class and its music program is great (and difficult to get into). On the other hand, there are music programs which are easy to get into as long as you have cash to spend - I would be wary of those.

    Bottom line - do your research before spending the time and money that university requires. Decide what you want out of it and investigate yourself whether the school you want to attend is going to give that to you. Talk to students that are currently attending or try and find out the contact information for recent graduates and talk to them. If it's worth the next several years of your life, then it's worth risking annoying some folks to find out if the program is for you. In fact most students would be happy to talk to you about it.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDaddyLoveHandles
    Computer Science, but it was theoretical stuff. My thesis was a series of proofs and I didn't write a single program in five years of grad school. I burned out and, in hindsight, suffered from depression. I ran off and backpacked around Australia until my money ran out. Then I needed to work and the only thing I can do that pays anything is coding. I've wondered about getting back into academia, just to teach, but it's too late for that.

    You can look at this as another example of not knowing how your career path will turn out.

    And I've always been interested in music and I took classes in music at Uni, but I know I'd never be good enough at playing to make a living at it.
    Sounds interesting - someone I know in his mid 20's has a Master's in IT, but is now doing an MBA because he says IT is so competitive these days, you need every edge you can get (he wants to be a project manager). Seems a lot different from the 90's where big money was being made by that early generation of boffins.

    Australia used to be real cruisy and a good place to get lost in - you can still get lost here quite easily but you'll need deep pockets. The cost of living has gone through the roof. Gone are the days of a carefree hippy/bohemian existence.

  10. #9

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    A few notes:

    1. A degree is good. You an always earn your MBA or law degree if things don't work out in liberal arts or fine arts.

    2. If you are not ready to pass an audition when you are an entering freshman consider being a music minor.
    You will spend a lot of time in a classroom chair and homework chair - as opposed to a practice chair - when you are in college. But if you are hell bent on being a music major another plan would be to go part time while getting electives and limited core courses out of the way while studying privately and shedding heavily. Otherwise it will be tough to earn a performance or composition degree in 5 or 6 years, let alone 4. (Been there done that).

    3. Don't be a luthier or guitar tech if you want to be a player. It's too hard on the hands. You should decide on this one in advance.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by fumblefingers
    A few notes:
    3. Don't be a luthier or guitar tech if you want to be a player. It's too hard on the hands. You should decide on this one in advance.

    There are a few threads here about Victor Baker ... that dude's bad on multiple levels... meaning he plays too. And quite well.


    University is what it is. A Performance Degree is not worth the paper it's written on ... The schooling can be very valuable. It's access to teachers and performance opportunities and an excuse to practice a LOT. These are all things you can get elsewhere but it's not that easy for everyone. When I was 18 I didn't have a local music scene and was good enough that I knew I wanted to be playing but not so good that I could stay afloat if I moved to a real scene. School was the right move for me because it worked as a sort of incubator.

    If you have ambitions to be a college professor then cool. If you want to be a teacher than obviously a music Ed degree can get you the best of both worlds. If you want to be a performer then no one will EVER ask for your resume. Juilliard guys can be not so good. You can study at the school of hard knocks and be a monster. Performance majors aren't necessarily better than Ed majors. You can be a monster player and not be the right fit for a group. It just doesn't matter. If you want to be a performer then you just need to decide if you're going to school because it's the best way for you to access teachers and performance opportunities and make connections in the city you want to play in etc or if you're going because you think the degree will help.

  12. #11

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    My personal view is you can really immerse yourself in practice a number of hours a day over the same 4 years and be better than going to school. Transcribe and learn how your favorite player plays. You won't be in debt and can still get the same jobs.

    the only thing you can't do is teach at college or HS level. You can teach privately, though.

  13. #12

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    In my town many teachers have masters and PhDs. I think it depends on the town. If you are near one or more excellent music schools the competition is different than being in palookaville. I was a private teacher when I was young, no problem. But I was not in a big competitive city.

    are these teachers over qualified to teach kids? Of course they are, but so are their competitors.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Petimar
    My personal view is you can really immerse yourself in practice a number of hours a day over the same 4 years and be better than going to school. Transcribe and learn how your favorite player plays. You won't be in debt and can still get the same jobs.

    the only thing you can't do is teach at college or HS level. You can teach privately, though.
    That is a topic that is brought up quite often in discussions of music schools, especially the expensive one like Berklee. Many feel they can take the same about of money, move to NY and get a small place to live. Find a good private teacher and then woodshed, jam, and hang at the right spots to make contacts. I think its a legit option, but it requires a very disciplined person to do it. I also think you need to do it in NY maybe one of the other big music towns if studio/touring is you goal. Trying to pull this off in just any town isn't going to have the teachers, opportunities to play and make contacts.

  15. #14

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    Here's my two cents. I went to Loyola University in New Orleans in 1980 as a jazz guitar major. I had spent the past 4 years playing trumpet and French horn in the Marine Corps band. I got a scholarship because of my guitar playing and being able to play the horn in the band.
    I realized in about a week or two that all the best jazz players at my school were music education majors. They wanted to play but got the Education degree as an "insurance policy". If playing didn't work out, they could always teach. The guys that were jazz majors weren't realistic about their playing ability and where their music would take them. Also, alot of the jazz majors didn't gig at all. They were getting no real life experience. I got a gig with a large show band (because it required reading) that played lots of conventions, Mardi Gras events, etc. It was a tremendous experience & I learned a ton but after 5 years, I also knew that I didn't want to play, "New York, New York" for the rest of my life. I wanted to play what I wanted to play.
    I saw phenomenal players that had to take any gigs that came along to get by. These guys could hang with anyone, yet they were sitting next to me playing, NY,NY". This was an eye opener to me.
    I choose to switch to music education and make my area of concentration French horn. By the end of my time at Loyola, I was gigging on horn with the local ballet company and musical theater stuff.
    Fast forward almost 30 years. I am a middle school band director as well as teaching at a local junior college. I love what I do and still play gigs but only when I want to, not because I need the gig. Several of the guys I went to school with have gone on to be serious players, working in New York, teaching at major universities, working with Wynton Marsalis. ALL of them were music ed. majors.
    So, I'd say a music ed. degree opens doors, not a performance degree. Players don't care if you have some piece of paper- can you play? If you just want to play, do it. I hope some of this is helpful.

  16. #15

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    It also depends on the teaching level you wish to pursue. A lot of instructors at 4 year colleges earned their bachelors in performance, and then their masters in Ed.

    I guess the thought would be, if you're going to lead talented performance majors through a bachelors performance program, a masters performance program, and in some schools a doctoral program in jazz, and you haven't gone through the first part yourself...

    BTW - this thread might be best placed in another section, no?

  17. #16

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    I got one. Probably the smartest move I ever made in my life.

  18. #17

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    I wish I had a degree but I wasn't willing to stop playing guitar long enough to get one. I teach in college, two community colleges and until recently a university. If I had a degree I'd be able to make more money and also I would've had a better chance at keeping jobs. Later in life it is good to have something to fall back on. I was unwilling to listen to my mother when she told me this and BELIEVE ME I'm not sorry I didn't finish school. I love my music and the choices I've made. I live comfortably. But if I could've given up three or fours years getting a degree, yeah. But I was unwilling and I'm good with that. Looking back I don't know that I'd be willing to lose those years. They were too good!

  19. #18

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    A successful music career is 90% business, 10% music - Jimmy Dorsey
    Last edited by cosmic gumbo; 06-24-2014 at 04:56 AM.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by fumblefingers
    BTW - this thread might be best placed in another section, no?
    I can certainly see how it would fit somewhere else, but the OP was asking the question (-of what value is a university degree in music?) of working musicians. That makes it right at home here.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    A successful music career is 90% business, 10% music - Jimmy Dorsey
    The hardest lesson for young bands and musicians is to learn music is a business, that it's not the bohemian lifestyle they envisioned.

  22. #21

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    What's the old line, "Without the business, show business would just be show-show."

  23. #22

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    I'm figuring if you move to a new city where you know absolutely no one, University makes it easier to get into the scene and therefore easier to learn the business? Assuming you play out while you're studying anyways.

  24. #23

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    You'll meet more people and be able to network, not that you couldn't network otherwise.

    i think that being a standout player at one of the top schools has worked well for many. But that's easier said than done of course. Ideally you show up as a pro level player day 1. Short of that (a tall goal) I really think that one would be well advised to show up playing at the junior level. That's what I would tell my son if I had one. I'm not saying you can't make it otherwise, but just be prepared for a tough haul throughout your twenties while practicing your butt off.

    competition is stiff, jobs are few.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by fumblefingers
    You'll meet more people and be able to network, not that you couldn't network otherwise.

    i think that being a standout player at one of the top schools has worked well for many. But that's easier said than done of course. Ideally you show up as a pro level player day 1. Short of that (a tall goal) I really think that one would be well advised to show up playing at the junior level. That's what I would tell my son if I had one. I'm not saying you can't make it otherwise, but just be prepared for a tough haul throughout your twenties while practicing your butt off.

    competition is stiff, jobs are few.
    You see some great players go to music schools like MI, Berklee, and others just to be heard, make contacts and be in the place some go looking for musicians in. When I went to GIT Scott Henderson attended and day one it was obvious he didn't need GIT, but he met all the people he needed to launch his career. Berklee is full of stories like that. But these people go in as excellent players just needed some expert advice and a foot in the door to music business.

  26. #25

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    yep, same thing with DiMeola and Metheny. they didn't last long as students.

    Scofield and Frisell may have graduated, Rosenwinkel too? i'm not really sure about the graduation part of their stories, but I believe they stayed in longer.

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by fumblefingers
    yep, same thing with DiMeola and Metheny. they didn't last long as students.

    Scofield and Frisell may have graduated, Rosenwinkel too? i'm not really sure about the graduation part of their stories, but I believe they stayed in longer.
    Rules that apply to conventional college can be/are quite different from music students, especially working jazz students. There are standards for those who may want to teach, and standards for those who want to gig. They may not always be the same.
    There was an unspoken attitude around Berklee for a long time that if you stayed in long enough to graduate, you'd failed at being a musician-so many of the great ones got work before they reached the end. Carla Bley's daughter wanted to go to Berklee. Swallow and Carla (her parents) told her "just as long as you don't graduate." it was a joke but it was the metric of success for a long time.
    Wolfgang Muthspiel was a success story, having been an outstanding classical guitar and jazz student at the New England Conservatory, he then transferred to Berklee for those above mentioned connections. He didn't need the school's conventional offerings at all. In fact, he remarked amusedly and quite truthfully that the most useful classes he took were ones to learn Spanish.

    As to the keys to success for the others, I'd say don't be distracted and never lose your focus. There'll be SO much to take you away from the difficult task of being a really great musician; supplemental degree courses, rehearsals with people that wind up being a waste of time (aim higher than what others say you can do and rise to the challenge), finding out about girls/boys, finding out about altering body chemistry... In a way, being a balanced human being with interests AND being a focused musician is the most difficult task and the curriculum will not help you. You've got to figure that one out on your own.
    And there IS such thing as being a chops zombie. The most interesting artists are the most interesting human beings, or I believe so. In the end, the greatest success comes from having something real to hang it on. Find that as soon as you can and don't be dissuaded. Mindless worship and referencing others to impress others will not make you the remarkable musician you can be.
    or so it seems to me.
    David

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by TruthHertz
    The most interesting artists are the most interesting human beings, or I believe so.
    That sounds nice and I'd like to think it was true, but I don't believe it is true. I think Charlie Christian was "the genius of the electric guitar" but he doesn't seem to have been an interesting person. It seems it was hard to get Charlie to say much of anything; his education was meager, he did no reading to speak of, and he often spoke in nonsense syllables, mainly to himself. It's possible that if he were alive today, he might be diagnosed as having a learning disability. But he was brilliant musically. Screaming Jay Hawkins and Little Richard were much more interesting people, but they weren't musicians of the same caliber as Charlie.

    Django was also phenomenally important but other than playing and being regarded as "unpredictable," he doesn't seem to be that interesting a guy. (This is no knock on him.) For some people, there really seems to be little to them other than their work. (This goes for some writers, scientists, and philosophers too.)

  29. #28

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    Don't forget Hollywood actors and pop stars.

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    That sounds nice and I'd like to think it was true, but I don't believe it is true.
    I'm talking about modern players, the players who would be entering the world in the current scene, and I'm talking about people I know. That's why I said it was my belief.
    At one time, the scene may have been made of players who were soully dedicated to just their music but today, in the international scene, the New York scene, the Boston scene, those which I'm familiar with, if somebody just sheds bebop licks and plays standards, they may do well, but not in the circles I've been in.
    The cats I know have wide ranging interests in the art scenes, film, theatre, poetry, current events, classical and modern concert music, the state of current events. In other words, they're all a part of a larger world that informs their music. The last conversation with Swallow, I think it was on poetry, art and music. Kurt's always been very hip to the politics of Europe and US foreign policy, we talk about that a lot. Bill and I talk about music only in relation to other arts and really interesting books we're reading, sometimes on neuroscience and learning, sometimes on new painters. Mick and I spend as much time drawing as we do playing. Ben is a great guitarist but there's a whole lot of literature and other interests that his music is based on; we talk possibilities in many fields, not just music. My earliest influences included a poet tenor player in Western MA who played with Coltrane. It made his music what it was. Bergonzi's music as complex and great compositionally, is informed by his interests in politics, human dynamics and cosmic connections. It's never about just shedding and shredding. That's the point I was making. That's a part of being an educated musician these days in my circles.

    These were all people that are creating trends in modern music, and in the scene that they're a part of, music does not exist in a vacuum. It's inspired by, informed by and borrows form and sensibility from other disciplines as wide as one's ability to see. The modern jazz I know is a sign of the times as it's always been but these times are eclectic, complex and multi layered. The best music I hear these days is a part of that.

    David

  31. #30

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    Good points but of course those things come with adulthood. College is a time to lay the foundation for many years to come.

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by fumblefingers
    Good points but of course those things come with adulthood. College is a time to lay the foundation for many years to come.
    Let's hope!

    David

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by TruthHertz;436759 [COLOR=#222222
    These were all people that are creating trends in modern music, and in the scene that they're a part of, music does not exist in a vacuum. It's inspired by, informed by and borrows form and sensibility from other disciplines as wide as one's ability to see. The modern jazz I know is a sign of the times as it's always been but these times are eclectic, complex and multi layered. The best music I hear these days is a part of that.
    [/COLOR]
    I see that's how you see it. As someone with interests in literature and philosophy, I appreciate having a wide range of interests. But to me, regardless of what I happen to appreciate in people and how much I value things other than music, I don't think all the people you mentioned taken together, with another hundred of the same caliber and depth beside them (people you would choose), are one-one hundredth as important to jazz as Django or Charlie Christian. Or Wes, who was more like Charlie and Django---great player but not an arty / philosophic guy---than like the people you mention. God bless them all. I wish them the best and will posit their superiority to me as players and interesting souls, but to me, they are not in the same orbit as Charlie, Django.

    As for this jazz being a sign of the time, if it is, it is a bad sign, as almost no one listens to it. Country and pop music are much more signs of the time than jazz is.

  34. #33

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    To the OP yes moving to a new city where you know no one is made much easier by attending college in that place. You will have a built in new set of people to meet and live with attend class with etc. College's can provide a softer landing than just cold moving to a new city knowing no one. If you do decide to go to school keep in mind that part of what you are paying all that money for is the TIME....never again in your life will you have time to practice like you will while in college.Your passion for music and Love for music may be the one quality that will ensure the realization of your dream/goal.Good luck!!!

  35. #34

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    All interesting stories and great advice...I really don't have anything new or life changing etc... I have a few degrees, have taught at a few colleges, composed and arranged music, would not have been able to get those jobs with out the degrees or what I learned from the colleges.

    What do you want from college. Performance can be developed a number of ways and college isn't really required. Sometimes when your young... maybe any age, you need that group thing to motivate or feel part of a clan. I'm not sure the high cost of the US education machine is worth it. But if $ isn't a problem, anything you can develop on your own or with a teacher... is usually better at one of the real music colleges.

    If your after musicianship... the understanding thing. Pretty difficult to develop on the road. 50/50, depends on who you perform with etc... Much safer at academia... usually shorter also.

    The other point... I somewhat pushed my kids to at least go through four years of college... not really for the degree or any specific expertise, just to develop Life skills... how and what it is to be a human being and function in different societies.

    And I always tried to give them my perspectives and make them aware of others as well.

    So if you want to really understand the difference between Tonal, Modal and the possibilities of Function with relationship to music... your going to probable need an education. Not the BS from Forums and posters like myself.

  36. #35

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    My wife took our kids to a jazz camp this week, and this very subject came up among the instructors. One of them is a bassist for the NY Phil, and also a teacher at Manhattan School of Music.

    ALL of the teachers agreed that if you want to perform,
    --Get a degree in a field that will allow you to make a living (not music).
    --Take private lessons from a great teacher.
    --Practice.
    --Go to school in a place that has gigging opportunities.

    Everyone really agreed on the importance of going to school somewhere that has a good music scene.

    While you are in school, working on your practical degree, continue practicing and playing gigs. By the time you complete your degree, you will have a pretty good idea of how this whole music thing is working out.

    As a side note, I know a person who went to school in both New York City and Los Angeles. She said that LA was much better for getting gigs.
    Last edited by Jonzo; 08-12-2014 at 09:28 PM.

  37. #36

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    I just posted a link to a good Jonathan Kreisberg interview over in the Players section of the forum. He had a comment about todays Jazz student I thought I add to this thread.....

    Interviewer: From your personal point of view, how much important is the language, in terms of traditional language? We're talking about learning standards by heart, licks an stuff like that. Don't you think that contemporary Jazz students are caring too much about theory and lesser about the above mentioned things?

    JK: Great question! Yes! Most modern music students are expecting their musical education to be like a "download" to their smartphone... "i'll learn these scales in school, and then i'll be a Jazz master!" haha. In reality, the theory and scales etc. is only there to guide one in the study of the language. The students need to learn the tradition and understand how it works, then they are ready to do something great.

  38. #37

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    I'm not a fan of "the problem with kids today" articles. Kids today are fine.

    The "kids today" studying jazz, that I have met, are extremely earnest, and practice diligently at exactly what their teachers tell them to do. When they are done practicing, I see them walking across campus with their ear buds plugged in, using every available minute to "absorb the language".
    Last edited by Jonzo; 07-05-2014 at 03:58 PM.

  39. #38

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    Over the last couple of weekends, I have taken my daughter, who wants to study Music at University here in the UK, to Open Days at two of the Uni's that are on her "hit list". I won't name names, but.....

    The first one has great recording and performance facilities but there is a limiting structure to the options available for study on the syllabus. The students all seemed very happy with the Uni but almost a little smug, as though getting there was as much of an achievement as what they were going to do afterwards with all that knowledge. The attitude of the tutors, with one notable exception, was almost as though they were doing you a favour by allowing your child to study there.

    Another week, different University. This one had much more flexibility in the course. Not such good recording facilities, but loads of rehearsal rooms. Even though term was effectively over, I could still hear music coming out from some of the rehearsal rooms. From one room I could hear a cello, the next one, someone was playing 'Round Midnight'. The tutors wanted to know what you want from them, from your study, how they could work with you on that, what else they can offer that you might want to think about. Like overseas study, recording, weekly gig opportunities promoted by the Uni in all sorts of styles.

    In pretty much every way, my daughter was more enthused by the second Uni. The approach of the former was didactic; that of the latter was interactive and collaborative.

    Think we know which one will be her first choice next year....

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by docbop
    I just posted a link to a good Jonathan Kreisberg interview over in the Players section of the forum. He had a comment about todays Jazz student I thought I add to this thread.....

    Interviewer: From your personal point of view, how much important is the language, in terms of traditional language? We're talking about learning standards by heart, licks an stuff like that. Don't you think that contemporary Jazz students are caring too much about theory and lesser about the above mentioned things?

    JK: Great question! Yes! Most modern music students are expecting their musical education to be like a "download" to their smartphone... "i'll learn these scales in school, and then i'll be a Jazz master!" haha. In reality, the theory and scales etc. is only there to guide one in the study of the language. The students need to learn the tradition and understand how it works, then they are ready to do something great.
    University Music Degrees?-old-man-cloud-jpg

  41. #40

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    I certainly enjoyed my time at university. It's great to meet people who are also enthusiastic about playing and studying music. Also being at university gave me a boot up the arse with regards to motivation/time on the instrument, you can't go and study and expect to get a degree, or get anywhere with that degree without putting in the time and effort. I am a better player now than I was before, and I believe that if I had not done the degree, I would not be half the player now. But I'm still such a small percentage of the player that I aspire to be.

    However has a degree itself given me work...yes and no. I am a more respected teacher because of it, but in terms of being a gigging musician, it never comes up.

    So a degree is a great opportunity for you to expand your musical horizons/skills. But will the actual degree get you work? Teaching - it helps. Gigging - meh.

    All the best with whatever decision you make.

  42. #41

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    Reading this thread got me thinking about the Jazz school I worked at for five years and followed even after. In fact they have been having reunions the last couple years. Thousands of student went thru that school during its time, but only a small percentage became working professionals. Seems like most the performance majors I'm aware of many worked for years until live music started drying up. So many have gone into other fields or teaching.

    The school was know for its arranging and composing programs I'd say many more of them went on to work all over the world. But many performance majors took the arranging program afterwards, and quite a few instrumentalist took arranging program instead of performance. That is what I want to point out is the instrumentalist who took arrange program appear to have done better than if they took the performance program. That studying arranging teaching all the harmony and theory plus learning how to think like an arranger for creating parts that fit the music. Also ones I've talked to later we start talking improv and all the things they learned in arranging starts coming thru as improv resources. The only drawback I saw or heard mentioned that yes their instrumental skills for some dropped when studying arranging, but they got their chops back after finished with school. So studying arranging and composing made them a more complete musician in the long run. Especially today where so much music is created on computers for TV, film, and etc if you can compose and arrange there is work to pay the bills with.

    If I could go back in time I would take the arranging program instead of performance, and think someone going to school now should think about it. Maybe if energetic major in arranging and minor in performance.

  43. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by docbop
    Seems like most the performance majors I'm aware of many worked for years until live music started drying up. So many have gone into other fields or teaching.

    ...If I could go back in time I would take the arranging program instead of performance, and think someone going to school now should think about it. Maybe if energetic major in arranging and minor in performance.
    Good point, right you are. Or more broadly put, you may not be able to see your best options from the vantage point of a kid entering the music field, having a very limited idea of what you can do, personally and in reality. Being in an environment where you can actually learn and make shifts in your direction based on what you learn from people in the business, that's a really useful selling point. I've seen something recently that I haven't seen in the past too: students enrolling in music school after educations and careers in other fields. It's a great way to be exposed to other options, and the way music can fit into things you may not be aware of.

    David

  44. #43

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    I'm not sure the comp/arrange degree is as useful nowadays. In the 70's and 80's the degree... what I learned from the degree helped me get into the film/TV side of music work. I picked up 1st degree from Berklee, I could not have composed and arranged... fast enough, along with the expertize of how the business worked.

    In more recent years, most of my friends still in the business all work from their computer/keyboard and different comp programs to compose and arrange music. You still need musical skills. But the punch, cut and paste trial and error seems to work just fine. No one writes out music, scores or parts anymore.

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reg
    I'm not sure the comp/arrange degree is as useful nowadays. In the 70's and 80's the degree... what I learned from the degree helped me get into the film/TV side of music work. I picked up 1st degree from Berklee, I could not have composed and arranged... fast enough, along with the expertize of how the business worked.

    In more recent years, most of my friends still in the business all work from their computer/keyboard and different comp programs to compose and arrange music. You still need musical skills. But the punch, cut and paste trial and error seems to work just fine. No one writes out music, scores or parts anymore.
    Yea... a very close friend and musical buddy of mine who is a pretty successful composer for Tv, Film and Commercials etc... went to Berklee in the early 90's for Film Composing.... basically he said that while he learned some things there, he uses absolutely none of it in his day to day work. The punch, cut and paste etc method is what he uses even when composing....

    mind you he's a gifted person who can compose-score-orchestrate legit, but there is never a need....

    Not sure how they teach it now because he was right on the cusp of computers being introduced.

  46. #45

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    I didn't study music in college, largely because it was tough enough to get gigs playing country and rockabilly much less jazz. But I did take a few courses as electives. I can remember my first day in studio recording class, and the teacher says,

    "I know you all are taking this course so you can get out of academia and into the music business. But let me tell you something-- this IS the music business."

  47. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reg
    I'm not sure the comp/arrange degree is as useful nowadays. In the 70's and 80's the degree... what I learned from the degree helped me get into the film/TV side of music work. I picked up 1st degree from Berklee, I could not have composed and arranged... fast enough, along with the expertize of how the business worked.

    In more recent years, most of my friends still in the business all work from their computer/keyboard and different comp programs to compose and arrange music. You still need musical skills. But the punch, cut and paste trial and error seems to work just fine. No one writes out music, scores or parts anymore.
    guess because I grew up in L.A., Hollywood area and so many people making money doing TV and film. Lot of pressure these days with the short deadlines in hours for incidental music for TV, but it pays the bills for many.

    My main point is studying arranging and composing teaches the full spectrum of music that can be used in any aspect of music. The graduates I talk to say the same thing. So it not just so you can be an arranger, but so you understand the musical big picture and create parts that work.

  48. #47

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    What are these "comp, punch, paste" programs for writing music that you are talking about? I never heard of such a thing. I write out music with Sibelius or work with Sibelius nearly daily. What could be faster than playing in the parts in real time into the software?

  49. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by targuit
    What are these "comp, punch, paste" programs for writing music that you are talking about? I never heard of such a thing. I write out music with Sibelius or work with Sibelius nearly daily. What could be faster than playing in the parts in real time into the software?
    I think they are referring to recording and piecing music together with sample libraries. For TV and Film you can buy libraries of musical samples with various instrumentation. I know big writers in Hollywood that will use these as a base for doing incidental music to get certain styles or instrumentation. Then many who make money creating these libraries of music snippets and selling them.

  50. #49

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    I know my friend uses MOTU Digital Performer....since he does all of his mixing and mastering he needs an all in one solution.

  51. #50

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    Well, ok. Sampling library - like the Garritan or other fine samples. I don't have any of the expensive sampling collections, but I always assumed the composer composes his music as notation and then determines orchestration with attention to pitch range. I misunderstood Reg's comment to be relating to a 'compositional' tool rather than orchestration.


    From the Garritan Orchestra promo:

    "When you have a musical idea, the last thing you want is to spend time creating an instrument section from scratch in order to express it. Instant Orchestra gives you a wide variety of pre-grouped instruments, ready to play. That means when you come up with the perfect theme for your film score, you can capture it as quickly as you can get your hands on your keyboard and play it."

    Of course, all this is a kick to the derriere of live musicians and their job prospects.
    Last edited by targuit; 07-17-2014 at 04:05 PM.