Music School Is it Necessary for a Performance Career

piano_kidsI’ve been talking with some recent music school graduates, asking them all the same question: Did you really need to go to music school to pursue a career in music performance?

The answers continue to be interesting and varied. One young woman, who graduated with a BM in performance in May, said that getting a degree in music was probably unnecessary. It just so happens I’ve known her since she started college. She’s showing a level of self-confidence she clearly did not have four years ago. She’s also in demand as a cellist –– performing more than ever, and getting paid to do so. Sure, it may be just a matter of maturation, but I can’t help thinking that her current career path has been paved by four years studying with professors who are also active performers; four years of performing in quartets and orchestras always followed by video and other forms of feedback; four years of music theory, history, and musicianship courses designed to inform her playing; and a smattering of business and entrepreneurship classes to help her figure out how to

Music School for Homeschooled Students

child-music-lesson-saxophoneA homeschooled music student recently wrote to MajoringInMusic.com in response to the article “Want to Major in Music but off to a Late Start?”

 

by Tom Hynes, professional guitarist, assistant professor of music at Azusa Pacific University and instructor at Idyllwild Arts Academy.

While self-taught in piano, guitar and voice, and clearly determined to succeed, the student recognized that her ability to progress was limited by a lack of instruction. She also never played in an orchestra or ensemble or sung in a chorus outside of her church. She asked MajoringInMusic.com for advice in preparing to become a music major in college.

We’re sharing Hynes’ response here. We thought it would benefit other students (and parents) with the same question.

Tom Hynes:

The old line goes, “It’s not just about working hard; it’s about working smart.” One of the greatest things a private teacher can offer is an overall plan, plus specific instruction, on how to reach a goal.

I often hear, especially from new students, “That is so much easier than the way I was trying to do it!” after I’ve offered them advice or

How to Choose a Music School

music-courses-ugOrchestrating the Right Fit

In my 25 years as a director of admissions, and later as assistant vice president for student affairs at a major music college, I always advised students and their families that overall “fit” was the key to a successful college experience.  Contrary to popular belief, fit is not just about, “who will my private teacher be?” or, “what ensembles will I be placed in?” or even, “ what are my chances of getting into that major?”  It’s about all of those things and much, much more.  In fact, and this may surprise you, those factors may not even be the most important criteria in making your college years rewarding, fun, and the launching pad to a successful career in the music industry.

 

So, what are the keys to a successful fit between student and institution?

Well, there are many.  In no particular order or priority they include:
Size of school, location, setting, facilities, curriculum, faculty, educational philosophy, majors available, performance opportunities, minors available, academic rigor, diversity and attitude of students attending, school-wide culture, extra-curricular activities, student clubs, financial aid, scholarships, and career advising.

Criteria often not thought about, but I consider

5 Ways to Keep Your Music Strong Over the Summer

ou know what happens when you take some time off from your music. The rust sets in pretty quickly! So what can you do to keep your music strong this summer, especially if you plan to send in your prescreens, audition for competitions, or try out for school orchestras, choirs, or bands this fall?

1.  Keep practicing
This can be tricky if you’re not taking lessons. But it’s important. Find an app that supports you in keeping up with practice. Do something nice for yourself if you meet your practice goals at the end of each week.

2.  Jam and perform with others
Get together at least once a week with other musicians. Try some new things. See if you can get a gig or two –– even if it doesn’t pay, at this stage it’s great practice and gets your name out there.

3.  Network
Talk with people who are steps ahead of you in the music world. How did they get there? What advice do they have for you? Learning how to network will be a huge advantage to you as you start developing your career plans in any area of music. If anything stops you from networking, this is a

Music as an Employable Major

I started reading, with trepidation, a survey and article posted today on Huffington Post that was headlined “The 11 Most Unemployable Majors.” When I finally got to the slideshow featuring all the so-called useless majors, I was relieved to see that music wasn’t on there. In fact, the only mention of anything associated with the arts was titled “Miscellaneous Arts” (whatever that is) and showed a photo of a room in an art museum.

 

by Barbra Weidlein

What are these surveys about? Do they really tell us anything? They probably scare some parents and maybe a few students too, but I think students on the whole are a whole lot smarter than that. To be really smart, though, especially if you want to work in some aspect of music, you need to be well-prepared, well in advance.

So, is music really an employable major? These days, every major in music seems to require some kind of business and communications savvy:  the ability to fundraise; the ability to use social media and stay on top of its rapid-fire changes; the ability to promote yourself and your ideas; the ability to communicate well with a broad range of people, from business owners and funders to

Holiday Tips for Parents of Future Music Majors

We’re eager to share some holiday tips for parents of future music majors, because we know you’re in a unique position. We’ve been there too.

For kids applying to college in fields other than music, the winter break of the senior year is typically a time of relief. College applications are in or close to being finished, midterms are over, and a chance to catch up on sleep and socializing with family and friends has finally arrived.

For music parents, it’s a different story. We face an extended period of our offspring’s intensive practice and fraying nerves during the holiday season. Getting those essays written, and applications and prescreens out on time, is only the beginning. Anticipating auditions adds a new level of tension. Our kids are exhausted, too, but winter break ushers in a time of ramping up on practice and preparation.

If you’re a parent who studied music on the college level, this is all familiar to you. You walked in your offspring’s shoes once upon a time, and you knew what it was like to watch your non-arts friends kick back and relax while you were practicing for hours on end. As a result, you’ll probably understand why your

Whiplash Movie Takeaways for Music Majors

Anyone considering majoring in music –– as well as those already in music school –– will find valuable takeaways from the new movie “Whiplash.” The film is intense and visceral, and focuses on a music student attending a top-notch conservatory in New York City. Accomplished young musicians portray highly-competitive music majors in the film, so it’s easy to perceive “Whiplash” as a glimpse into the realities of life at a music conservatory. But while there are some highly valuable takeaways, there’s far more fiction than fact represented in “Whiplash.”

 

– Guest Blog by Daniel Weidlein

As a music major at a well-respected school, I never saw blood shed in a rehearsal room (save for a popped blister from a swinging bass player), nor did I ever see a director repeatedly slap a student to help them keep time. (I have had a chair thrown at me before by a director, but that was in high school and that’s a whole different story…) Perhaps more chilling is the film’s relentless use of over-the-top obscenities hurled by the band director to belittle his students under the guise of motivation. Each instance of abuse is purposely exaggerated. The intent is not so much to give