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  1. #1

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    Well I had a music scholarship back in 2000 and now I regret not majoring in music. I would have done jazz performance. I freaked out and majored in something I thought would get me a job, other than a teacher. Now looking back, I would have been FINE with being a teacher. 10 years later, I'm now taking private lessons once a week for an hour with a great guitar teacher who went to school and majored in jazz performance. He tells me private lessons are better and that school you really don't learn as well like with one on one.

    Now I dont know if hes telling me that because he doesn't want to lose my $100 a month, or because he's a good guy telling me the truth from experience.

    What do you guys think? Any opinions on whether private lessons are better than getting a degree or each has its own qualities?

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  3. #2

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    There is a reason that, all over the world, teachers are calling for smaller class sizes. Whilst learning with others can spur each of you on, everyone has a pace that is natural for them to learn. A teacher of a class can only go slightly quicker than the slowest in the class. The thinking being-they can give extra tuition later to those "left behind" . The problem is-this frustrates the quicker learner.
    He's not misleading you. And, I believe you are doing it the right way-get your degree to get you a job. Study hard the extra things you want to do that you love. It's great to be able to combine them, though.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by funkyjazz82
    Well I had a music scholarship back in 2000 and now I regret not majoring in music. I would have done jazz performance. I freaked out and majored in something I thought would get me a job, other than a teacher. Now looking back, I would have been FINE with being a teacher. 10 years later, I'm now taking private lessons once a week for an hour with a great guitar teacher who went to school and majored in jazz performance. He tells me private lessons are better and that school you really don't learn as well like with one on one.

    Now I dont know if hes telling me that because he doesn't want to lose my $100 a month, or because he's a good guy telling me the truth from experience.

    What do you guys think? Any opinions on whether private lessons are better than getting a degree or each has its own qualities?


    That's pretty cheap. I think lessons with a NYC player are like $50-$125 an hour.

    Since you already got your degree in something else I would study with a couple of guys. One for guitar, one for theory and one for piano. These are the types of courses you would take in college for a performance degree. Of course I would also recommend that you hook up with as many different playing situations as you could. (duo , trio, small group, big band, vocalist etc).

  5. #4

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    you'll still have private lessons as part of any good university program. I have several guitar students who are college majors and just come to me for a second opinion, of sorts.classes are fine places to learn theory, history, etc. Private lessons are for technique and one-on-one critique. Both are beneficial. I really enjoy teaching these particular students because we don't have to spend much time during our lesson on theory, we can focus on the stuff that's not teachable in a classroom.

  6. #5

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    i feel like now matter how much i practice or how much i know, a guitarist who has a degree will always know more than I, and every guitarist i know in my area who is completely ahead of me has a degree

  7. #6

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    Don't regret not going to academic fanyasyland for a performance degree. A music education degree to teach would have been something of great value, but oh well.
    Do you think studying one on one with Pass, Wes, Scofield, Miles, or your favorite jazz musician would be as productive as going to school? There are plenty of professional jazz musicians with the same knowledge and skill as these famous guys, and will give private instruction. I've known a few guys who would drive for over 2 hours, once a month, to NYC or some other big city to study with cats who are regular sidemen for the big boys. They'd pay $100 to $200 for one lesson a month, that would be 1-1/2 to 2 hours long. They'd get enough material to keep them busy for a whole month until the next lesson. Once they got to a proficient level, their teachers would start sharing their insider work connections with them. Guess what? These guys are now playing profesionally, while most of the Berklee grads I know are working at Walmart or some other lame job to pay back student loans.
    Last edited by cosmic gumbo; 04-22-2010 at 04:58 PM.

  8. #7

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    wow, thats a great way to look at it. thanks!

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    you'll still have private lessons as part of any good university program.
    Yes, and not necessarily limited to teachers on staff. In my experience, private lessons were required and were an additional fee. I had no trouble getting an outside teacher approved, nor did some of my colleagues.
    Brad
    PS I regret not finishing the degree, may yet go back (at age 62) in order to get my certification as a music teacher.

  10. #9

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    All depends on how much you want to understand and how much your teacher understands. Most musicians only need the basics of theory, harmony etc... The advantage of going to a real music school is that you get lots of information from many great musicians. There are many questions you might not think of and many answers a teacher may not be aware of. I was answering another thread and I brought up... There's nothing like deadlines or live gigs to make you get your shit together. There's something about interaction with lots of people that helps push yourself to get things done. Just some other thoughts... Good luck Reg

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by funkyjazz82
    wow, thats a great way to look at it. thanks!
    It's a terrible way to look at it. Obviously if you coast your way through music school then you're not going to get very much out of it. I hate it when people say "I knew a guy who went to music college and he's not very good, therefore music college sucks". Assuming we're talking about a good school, the failing is with the student.

    However, music school isn't about the classroom. It's about the jams. I don't see how you'll ever learn to play jazz without jamming - you might learn some tunes and be able to imitate some lines/comps but you won't get to the playing what you hear stage. You'll just get really good at practising.

    I'm not trying to say that music school is the greatest thing ever but weekly lessons are no substitute.

  12. #11

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    I don't take it that way either, SpacePickle. If I went to school, majored in accounting, then couldn't land a job as an accountant, the school didn't fail. We gotta be realistic about what many degrees mean...many degrees only entitle you to be considered for a job.

    The truth is, one has to seriously look at what you CAN do with a music degree. No degree is an automatic ticket to a job. If what you want to do is not something a music degree can help you with, you might wish to reconsider. The good thing about a music degree for a teacher is, you can teach in a school and make a salary, not just an unpredictable income based on private lessons.

    As a teacher (both high school and private lessons) I only recommend teaching if it appeals to you. You know that saying "Those who can't, teach?"

    I like to amend it: "Those who can't teach teach like shit and do more harm than good to their students." Teaching is not a fall back career. Anyone who thinks it is is part of the problem with education in America.

    The other thing to take into account is--jazz is fringe music. Aside from a few huge names, most of the great players you hear are STILL supplementing their income via teaching and other things.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    I've known a few guys who would drive for over 2 hours, once a month, to NYC or some other big city to study with cats who are regular sidemen for the big boys. They'd pay $100 to $200 for one lesson a month, that would be 1-1/2 to 2 hours long. They'd get enough material to keep them busy for a whole month until the next lesson. Once they got to a proficient level, their teachers would start sharing their insider work connections with them. Guess what? These guys are now playing profesionally, while most of the Berklee grads I know are working at Walmart or some other lame job to pay back student loans.
    Apples and oranges, really, and not a fair comparison. The guys who are driving 2 hours each way to get private instruction are clearly the ones who are self-driven. You need to compare those guys to the ones who did go to school, yet who had similar drive. I bet you would find similar rates of success among both groups. Remember there are a ton of guys who didn't go to Berklee who also work at Walmart.

    The lessons you would receive at school are probably going to be at least on par with what you would get around town by just walking in to your LMS and signing up for "guitar lessons". It is important to take the time to shop around and seek out the best instructors in your area.

    I concede that connections are one of the great benefits of having an actual gigging, professional instructor. But again, there are a lot of those at music schools as well.

    The real benefit of school - for me, at least - is that I'm immersed in an environment where I think about this stuff all the freakin time. And I feel compelled to practice 3+ hours a day - something that I probably would not do if it were just me taking private lessons locally. I have regular contact with people who play around town. I do local gigs myself (nonpaying). I'm constantly being turned on to artists who I do not know about...either through word of mouth in class ("You've never heard of Houston Person? Dude!") and by seeing live acts that come to school and give performances and master classes.

    All that said, I am happy that I got my master's degree in a field where I am paid well (I'm an EE). I am very fortunate to have a job where I have the flexibility to both work fulltime, and go to school about 3/4 time. I make enough money to be comfortable, and to be able to go out and buy CDs from all those aforementioned artists. :-)

    It's what you make of it, really.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reg
    There's nothing like deadlines or live gigs to make you get your shit together.
    So true...

    I'm taking classes at a community college (and private lessons which are required as part of the college program).

    There is absolutely no way I could motivate to study music theory and ear training as hard as I have without the homework assignments, project deadlines, tests etc. I think the deadlines and accountability are major benefits to going to school.

    And I'm playing in three ensembles and a duo all because of the school.

  15. #14

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    As pointed out, the real value of school is not necessarily the instruction, that can be found anywhere, including here. It is the saturation of the environment. Music, and particularly jazz, is an interactive subject, and having large chunks of time to practice daily, and tons of ensemble time simply cannot be duplicated outside of academia, unless you give up working (or can work PT) to practice, and have a setting where you can play/perform a number of hours per week.

    We sometimes forget that jazz at the university, particularly on the scale it is now, is a fairly recent development. Metheny barely graduated (he calls an act of extreme kindness) from HS, and was gigging regularly, apprenticing with veterans.

  16. #15

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    well im gigging regularly three times a month with jazz, and 3 nights a week with rock/funk...so i think im getting the best education just by playing with others, listening to them, and then regurgitating something similar to what the sax player does, or just creating my own style of improv. I know how to walk basslines, read charts, my sight reading sucks, which is something I probably could have benefited from in school, my power tones/changing keys while soloing are decent, so I'm pretty satisfied with everything so far, even my lessons, so I guess I just have to keep going and going...

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by funkyjazz82
    well im gigging regularly three times a month with jazz, and 3 nights a week with rock/funk...so i think im getting the best education just by playing with others, listening to them, and then regurgitating something similar to what the sax player does, or just creating my own style of improv. I know how to walk basslines, read charts, my sight reading sucks, which is something I probably could have benefited from in school, my power tones/changing keys while soloing are decent, so I'm pretty satisfied with everything so far, even my lessons, so I guess I just have to keep going and going...
    Actually my sight reading has not appreciably improved since I enrolled in school...I'm always too buried with the next assignment of gig to think about bettering my sight reading.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by funkyjazz82
    What do you guys think? Any opinions on whether private lessons are better than getting a degree or each has its own qualities?
    I can only speak from my own experience. I have been having private lessons for years and now am in the second year of a music degree. Since beginning the degree I have improved out of sight in terms of my knowlege and my playing, I have found it forces you to be on your game all the time. Each week at uni I have a private lesson, Guitar tech, Rhythm section, Improvisation, Repertoir and performance classes. each of which is practical and keeps you playing. on top of this there are the theory, history and business classes which also help.
    But probably the best thing about it is you are always surrounded with other musos and the teachers are some of the best and most knowlegable players in the city/country.
    I cant speak about every course because they are not all the same but this experience has been invaluable to me.

  19. #18

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    Getting an education from playing is also only as good as those your giging with. I gig at least five nights a week and now that festival season is going a lot of doubles on weekends. I have regular gigs and get some great calls to perform with great players. Most players have problems with analysis and unless they know the tune... don't get more than whats written on the chart. Not all and some have incredible ears... but some things are not heard by all. There's a since of great freedom when you improvise if you understand what going on in charts. Like said by many... it's hard to play outside if you can't play inside. Not just in your melodic material... all aspects of jazz have forms, melodic, harmonic, rhythmic, re-harmonization's and on and on... what I'm saying is there's a lot going besides playing what you hear or think you hear... whether your aware of it or not. So if your fortunate and have the opportunity to attend a jazz school ... GO...most are not... and please get your reading skills together, it's not quantum mechanics, small children seem to be able to handle it. If your really having a problem with sight reading, play once or twice a week with a reading band. Reading bands never play the same tune more than once at a gig, or at least when the rotation comes around you don't remember it, real sight reading... you'll get better. Like I said in my earlier post... deadlines and live gigs will help get your shit together. Reg