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Thread: Advice to a College Music Student

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    Senior Member Lunasong's Avatar
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    Default Advice to a College Music Student

    I thought this was worthy of posting. Much of this relates to all of us, not just music students.
    https://medium.com/lessons-learned/dfdaf4b53429
    Michael D'Angelo

    I started teaching at the University of North Carolina Wilmington right after finishing my Master’s degree at Indiana University in 2012. While I wasn’t expecting to get back into academia so quick, it was enlightening to get the teacher’s perspective, especially in a smaller school environment.

    I went to two universities with very large schools of music. It’s difficult not only to see everything that happens within these schools, but even more difficult to interact with everyone on a consistent basis. One nice benefit of being at a smaller school is that I interact with both students I teach and other students that are in the department.

    In the last year and a half, I’ve seen the many differences between large established schools of music and smaller developing departments of music. For us teachers, we are trying to train our students for the professional world, but most of the larger universities are already at the same level as professionals. This relativity can be discouraging to students in a smaller school, and the biggest thing I have noticed so far in my teaching career is where professional ability lacks, potential replaces. It’s up to the student to see their own potential and develop it.

    Below is some helpful advice that I have for students of music, especially at the undergraduate level. Some of these were the reasons why I was very successful in school, some were things I learned and realized as I progressed through school, and some I learned the hard way. If I knew then what I know now…

    Your professional career starts as soon as you step foot on campus.
    Your time in school has much more of an impact on your professional career than you think. The people you meet and the experiences you will have will directly affect your success when you graduate and are long gone.

    Most importantly, people’s perception of you is what carries the most after you’ve graduated.You wouldn’t believe how many groups today have members that went to high school or college together. Once you’re out of school, the network of people that you created will stick with you for the rest of your career.

    What that means is you have to make the best impression you can while you’re in school.Your peers will be your colleagues, and your teachers will be your references. If you develop a history of being unreliable, unprepared, late to rehearsals and performances, or just plain unpleasant to work with, people will remember that about you. Once you’ve fallen into a trap, it takes twice as much effort (or even more) to rebuild your reputation.

    It’s OK to make mistakes, that’s what being in school is for. What’s most important is how you react to those mistakes. Sometimes a simple apology in person is all it needs, or making up for it by making sure it never happens again.

    Be prepared.
    Or better put, stay on top of things. When you’re in school, you have so many things to work on all at the same time. Ensemble music, private lesson materials, outside projects, theory homework, music history listening, those pesky general education courses, the list goes on…

    The absolute worst thing to do is procrastinate, especially with practicing. What worked the best for me is if I had things to do, I prioritized and did them before extracurricular activities. It’s OK to postpone socializing to stay on top of your work. Give yourself ample time to complete what you need to do. What may work for one person may not work for another, so find the system that’s right for you and stay on top of things. To-do lists work really well for me, but it only works if you make sure it’s cleared as soon as you can. I like to get things done at the beginning of the day, so I have my evenings free.

    I also recommend not cramming as many hours as possible into one semester. All of those classes (and the work associated with them) can pile up. When I was an undergrad, I never went over 15 hours. It took an extra semester to graduate, but it was nice being involved in more performing related activities than bookwork.

    With all of that being said, if you find yourself not prepared, don’t make excuses for it. Be honest with your professors. The best things you can say are “I’ll do my best” or “It’ll be better next time”. Your professors can tell if you did the work or not, so don’t try to cover it up.

    Be reliable.
    By being prepared, you’ll be more reliable. You’ll have your parts learned, have better lessons, and become a better musician while doing it. I always appreciate and admire players that are “solid”: they always bring their “A” game, play their parts beautifully, and they look effortless while doing it. Their bad days are better than the great days of some.

    Reliable musicians are always on time, always engaged, and always willing to contribute to the music as a whole than their own personal gain or ego. They’re always professional too. They treat every practice session, rehearsal, and performance like it’s the biggest gig they’ve done.

    These guys and gals get the calls first.

    Practice your *** off.
    It should go without saying, but school is the time to hit the practice room hard. It’s very true that you don’t have as much time to practice when you’re not in school. (I didn’t even have as much time as I wanted in grad school!)

    It’s not so much that you’re practicing, but it’s the intent of which you practice. You can get the most out of your practice time by really thinking about what you’re doing and how you can make it better. Practicing is more about problem solving than anything else. A good teacher will give you the tools to make your problem solving easier and more effective.

    What I really learned from my teachers is how to teach myself.

    Record yourself often.

    This is something I wish I did more in school. You should always record yourself in many different situations. Record practice sessions, rehearsals, lessons, performances, etc. Not only should you listen to them immediately and use that for personal feedback, take a moment a year later to listen to the same recording. Progress can only be measured over long periods of time. You may not notice your progress in weekly increments, but it’s surprising to listen back to what you sounded like a long time ago and how far you’ve come.

    Listen.
    I can always tell who will be great students from the very first conversation I have with them. I ask them what they listen to. You’d be surprised how many students coming to school to study jazz don’t listen to it!

    The best resource for any musician is the music itself. The more you listen to the music you want to create, the more it will become a part of you, and of course you have a model for your own development.

    When I was studying with Ed Soph, he would always ask me what I listened to. He would follow my answer with, “What makes he/she/it sound so good?” I thank Ed almost every day because he taught me how to listen to music with intent. By recognizing the qualities that make the music successful, it will be easier to incorporate those qualities into your own playing.

    Listen to everything you can. Listen to the music you want to create. Listen to things you don’t normally listen to. Find and listen to recordings of what you’re working on, whether it’s solo, chamber music, wind ensemble piece, symphony, big band chart, etc. There are so many resources available now like Spotify, YouTube, CD’s, your school’s library, et al. Find multiple versions. You’ll gain more perspective on different interpretations of the dots and lines you see in front of you. It might also answer any questions you have about the music.

    Don’t get discouraged.
    The old saying goes: “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

    But sometimes in school you have to. There is so much material that has to be covered in four years, and as a result you may have to push through an idea or technique that isn’t fully realized.

    Don’t let that be discouraging to you. With time, you’ll eventually grasp the concept that seemed daunting to you. When things get tough, try not to let emotion get to you. Discouragement can kill your brain’s ability to learn something new. Trust that you’ll get it with time.

    Honestly, most of the concepts I learned in school finally clicked for me well after I graduated. So give it some time.

    Save everything.
    Now this is something I didn’t do and I surely wish I had. I did a little bit during grad school, but I’m still kicking myself for not doing it thoroughly.

    Save everything. Everything. Yes, even your textbooks. (I know, it’s tempting to sell them back, but don’t.) The more information you physcially have when you’re out of school, the more resources you’ll have when you don’t have access to all of the resources available when you were in school. That one time you forget how Neapolitan sixth chords work…

    My advice is to catalogue every course you take. For physical media, keep a separate binder for each course with all of your notes, assignments, tests, etc. and file it away at the end of the semester. You can do the same digitally. Keep a “College” folder, organize that by semester, then by course. Keep PDF’s, Finale/Sibelius files, audio files, and all of the other things you accumulate during the semester. Organize it in such a way that you can find things easily later down the road.

    You’ll be glad you did.

    Perform as much as possible.
    Play as much as you can in every possible situation you can find yourself in. Try to be in every university ensemble you can play in during your four years, and then play some more outside of school. Play in symphony orchestra, play in a chamber group, sightread duets with friends, help someone on their recital, etc.

    If your school has something unique like steel band or gamelan ensemble, do that too.

    The more you play, the better you get, and the more people you’ll meet.

    Get out of your comfort zone.
    This almost ties in with performing as much as possible. At least once you should participate in something completely out of your comfort zone. It may be a format you’re not familiar with, or the music might not be your cup of tea. Whatever it is, go for it.

    I’ve found that participating in something out of my comfort zone made me appreciate and respect that particular art form much more by being involved in it. It actually helped me come to appreciate free jazz — not only do I enjoy playing it, I enjoy listening to it as well.

    You may actually find that something you may not like will turn out to be incredibly rewarding.

    Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
    I will be forever grateful to Christopher Deane for all of the help he has given me over the years.

    Never be afraid to talk to someone if you’re having trouble. It doesn’t even have to deal with music. When I was in school, I used to suffer from perfectionism issues: so much so that I would become really discouraged in myself if I felt like I didn’t play one single note perfectly. I would become overwhelmed with anxiety.

    But then I asked Mr. Deane for help. I told him what I was experiencing, and he had no problems talking to me and helping me work out these issues while working on pieces for my lessons. As a result, the lessons were phenomenal, and I will forever call him a mentor and a friend. (I still am a perfectionist, but it doesn’t bother me anymore.)

    So don’t be afraid to ask for help. That’s what your teachers are there for.

    Last but certainly not least, have fun.
    Music is such an enjoyable experience: listening to it as well as creating it. No matter where you are in your studies, while you are always striving to be a better musician and artist, always remember to enjoy this process. Be happy with the gift that you have: the ability to create great music.

    So have fun, and create beautiful music.
    "To be a musician is a curse. To NOT be one is even worse." Jack Daney

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Advise is usually what a person did and that which worked well for them. My comment here is just that, so of course I more than agree with him when he advises:
    "not cramming as many hours [units] as possible into one semester. All of those classes (and the work associated with them) can pile up. When I was an undergrad, I never went over 15 hours [per semester]. It took an extra semester to graduate, but it was nice being involved in more performing related activities than bookwork.

    Considering many a performance music major gets 1/2 unit for their major until the final year of undergrad, that is like putting in more than lab course time into practicing, while getting less credit than a basketweaving 101a course offers -- where, then, is the time for the other studies plus practicing enough to call yourself a performance major? In those reduced units per semester schedules.

    Sure, you'll graduate just the same if you take that fuller / fullest academic load of units allowed per semester, but with less -- Less chops and Less repertoire on your instrument, and less as well-retained from the other music classes if you had taken a slower tempo in acquiring all the essential skills.

    ADD: Record yourself often. Invaluable advice, and invaluable information if you do -- it is the equivalent of a second fine teacher, and I can not recommend it enough.
    Last edited by PetrB; Dec-01-2013 at 11:09.

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    Senior Member dgee's Avatar
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    And for Pete's sake have something else going to take your mind off music. Do some sport or volunteer or even some other study - you'll get some time out, some non-music satisfaction, valuable perspective on the importance of your performance in the context of the wider world and maybe even some useful skills

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    Senior Member arpeggio's Avatar
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    Cool Sight Reading

    I concur with these observations.

    Based on my modest experiences when I played in the Army I would add one other skill that is very important to a functioning professional musician, sight-reading. When I was in the Army we would frequently play one, some times two concerts a week. We would only have two or three rehearsals to prepare for a concert. When we could we would repeat a program. Sometimes if we had a few weeks to prepare for a program, we could take on more challenging fare.

    When playing in a full time symphony orchestra, a musician normally has only a few rehearsals to prepare for a program. This is not a problem when performing the standard repertoire. When performing a new work, this can be quite challenging for the musician.

    John Corigilaino addressed this situation in a lecture he gave. He was discussing his Symphony Number Three for Band. When a professional orchestra performed one of his works, they would only have a few rehearsals. He stated he discovered that student college groups could spend weeks working on a piece. As a result he felt they performed his music with a little more polish. His Third Symphony employs many antiphonal forces placed around the concert hall. The college groups had the time to work out the logistics of executing the work.
    Last edited by arpeggio; Dec-02-2013 at 02:45. Reason: grammer
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    As a music student that has personally seen many leave the dept and many graduate, and can see how all these points are important and completely agree with them.

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    My trumpet instructor sent this link to us, and I think the author hit the nail on the head.

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    Senior Member Rhythm's Avatar
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    Default “less chops” for a pianist

    Quote Originally Posted by PetrB View Post
    … Sure, you'll graduate just the same if you take that fuller / fullest academic load of units allowed per semester, but with less -- Less chops and Less repertoire on your instrument, and less as well-retained from the other music classes if you had taken a slower tempo in acquiring all the essential skills. …
    With an addition to that quote would be: “less chops” for a pianist means less time for emphasizing the development of a proficient, sold piano technique that will best serve the pianist for forty years. Few university students today actually began their pianistic tendencies at home at an early age, I’m very sorry to say.

    In the next comment space, I’ve put an article that exposes to those who don’t already know that an instrumental technique, piano or not, has become only one focus among many in university training to the probable detriment of the potential performers’ expectations.

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    Default The Business of Music | OperaNews, Allan Kozinn

    Huge population growth, globally, and in traditional classical schools of music and conservatories in North America is not a new matter when considering competition within the business of music as well as live and studio performances, and probabilities of debt to a school, all of which were not mentioned in Kozinn’s overview, below.

    _________________
    The Business of Music
    OperaNews, Allan Kozinn | August, 2013

    ALLAN KOZINN looks at the growing number of career-management courses being taught at music schools and conservatories.

    Not so long ago, when you heard that a renowned singer was teaching, you could picture the classes: following a time-honored format, the students would bring in arias they were working on, and after having their phrasing dissected and their notions of the character’s motivations probed, they would leave with fresh ideas about everything from expression to tone color.

    Soprano Dawn Upshaw has done plenty of that kind of teaching, but as the artistic director of the Graduate Vocal Arts Program at Bard College Conservatory of Music since 2006, she has presided over a very different kind of course as well — a professional development workshop in which her singers learn how to write press releases and choose photos and [u]think about how to create performance opportunities. They meet with managers, arts administrators and critics and hold mock auditions with representatives from management agencies giving them feedback.

    They also have weekly tutorials in the Alexander Technique — a way of using the body’s muscles rationally (applied here with particular attention to breathing) — and meetings with a life coach for what Upshaw describes as “mind, body and spirit work.” This is not the course of study that Maria Callas — or, for that matter, Upshaw herself — followed.

    “No, there was nothing like this when I was starting out,” she says. “And it’s a different world today. But this is not just about teaching them to promote themselves. It’s not. The whole idea is to get them to pay attention to their inner artist and their outer artist. It’s a little bit about developing a profile and learning how to share that — how to represent yourself to others. But it’s primarily about figuring out who you are and why you want to sing. Most of them are in school in the hope that they will be able to make a living doing this. But there is no single path to doing that, and I feel that this course encourages them to find paths of their own.”

    Upshaw’s course is part of an important sea change in the education of young performers, instrumentalists as well as singers. Gradually, conservatories and university music schools across the U.S. have come around to the notion that for young musicians today, the standard training — a grounding in technique, repertory and interpretation, along with music theory and history — is only part of the toolbox. Most now take the view that for musicians who hope to make careers in an increasingly competitive and rapidly changing performance world, an understanding of how that world works is crucial.

    “It’s important to recognize that success as a professional musician requires more than technical training,” says bass-baritone Jan Opalach, who teaches at the Eastman School of Music and counsels his students on career issues but does not teach courses in them. “They need fluency with emerging technologies, social media. Networking is very different now than it was. It’s faster, and in some ways it’s detrimental, because kids expect to be successful yesterday. It’s American Idol syndrome — ‘If I can just get the opportunity, I can be a success.’ But whether you regard these as positive or negative developments, the crucial thing is that kids cannot stay in a practice room for four years and then say, ‘Okay, I’m ready now.’”

    That rose-tinted view of career-building is apparently endemic. Angela Beeching, who spent seventeen years running the New England Conservatory Career Services Center, and in recent years has been overseeing the Center for Music Entrepreneurship at the Manhattan School of Music, said that young singers, particularly, have trouble realistically imagining the paths their careers are likely to take.

    “I think one of the tough things for singers,” she said, “is that it’s a long haul before the voice is really developed, and they feel pressure and uncertainty about what’s in store for them. They don’t know. We ask them to do a vision essay — to imagine the life that they hope to be living five years after they finish their formal education. And it’s a tough assignment, because they imagine they’ll be going to grad school and then get into a young-artists program and start working with an opera company. But they may, at that point, still be doing entry-level auditions. What they need is to hear from speakers, including young alumni, about what those years are like. And they need to realize that there are ways they can create performance opportunities for themselves.”

    Besides running the Manhattan School’s entrepreneurial programs, Beeching has compiled her ideas and observations in Beyond Talent: Creating a Successful Career in Music (Oxford University Press). She notes, as well, that her colleague at Manhattan, Gordon Ostrowski, the assistant dean of opera studies/opera production, leads what Beeching calls “boot camp for singers” every fall. For the program, an intensive Professional Development Series for Vocalists, Ostrowski ropes in teachers and administrators from other departments, as well as professionals from outside the school, to give his students perspective on a broad range of issues beyond singing itself. “This is all in the opening sequence of the fall semester,” says Ostrowski. “At one time, the career training at Manhattan was isolated to this program. But now Angela Beeching and Casey Dunn give music business classes, and students are offered an expanding variety of programs all year long.”

    Mikael Eliasen, the head of the vocal studies department at the Curtis Institute and the artistic director of the Curtis Opera Theater, weaves classes on building careers into a performance-driven curriculum — an approach similar in some ways to Ostrowski’s. Eliasen stages four operas every year, each with a different director and a different design team, and with casts in which more and less experienced students are thrown together. That combination of elements alone, Eliasen says, gives his students a great deal of practical experience. Along the way, the impresario and manager Matthew Epstein, as well as Gianna Rolandi — until recently director of Lyric Opera of Chicago’s young-artist program, the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center — and representatives from management firms and opera houses, have offered seminars on auditioning and other subjects.

    For some musicians, raised in what they regard as a more idealistic time, such courses shift the focus of a young artist’s training from pure artistry to something more worldly and vocational (a term used disparagingly). Others object on practical terms. “The minute you try to introduce these classes into the core curriculum, there is some resistance,” says Edna Landau, who brought the managerial savvy she developed during a long career in artist management to the Colburn Conservatory of Music, in Los Angeles, where she was director of career development from 2008 until 2011. “There is a feeling that students will miss out on lessons, or practicing, or theory. They understand that this is necessary, but there is still resistance.”

    Landau brought an unusual perspective to Colburn. Having founded IMG with Charles Hamlen in 1984 and built it into a powerhouse in classical-music management, she stepped down in 2007 and began a guest-speaking tour of conservatories, speaking about entrepreneurship and offering a backstage view of artist management. After a visit to Colburn, the school contacted her and asked if she would be interested in turning her lecture into a course. She turned it into three — “The Working Musician,” “The Teaching Musician” and “The Healthy Musician” — all required parts of the degree program.

    “[b]The idea of the curriculum,” Landau says, “was to give them 20/20 foresight — to prepare them for the road that lies ahead. We covered every practical aspect of a musician’s career — preparing resumés and bios, dealing with marketing and the internet, how to prepare for and approach competitions, commissioning new music and some of the entertainment-law aspects of your career.”

    Upshaw’s and Landau’s courses are relative newcomers in a field that has been growing slowly — and experimentally, at first — for about three decades. The Juilliard School, which was once so thoroughly traditional that it refused to regard the classical guitar as a legitimate instrument, because its core repertory relied heavily on transcriptions, has actually been ahead of the curve in teaching its students the practicalities of building musical careers.

    In the early 1990s, the school engaged publicist Mary Lou Falcone to teach a course for fourth-year undergraduates and first-year graduate students. The course is called “Completing the Singer,” although Falcone recently said that if it were up to her, its title would be “Reality 101.” Falcone, who runs the venerable publicity firm M. L. Falcone, comes to teaching with unimpeachable practical knowledge and connections. Her syllabus includes classes on her areas of day-to-day expertise — dealing with critics, how publicity works, what managers look for (with guests from the big agencies) and how to use Facebook and Twitter to your benefit. But there is also a purely musical component: at several points in the semester, the students are expected to perform in class, sometimes in the context of a tutorial on presentation, sometimes in mock auditions.

    One thing Falcone insisted on, when accepting Juilliard’s invitation to teach, was that the course be mandatory — something Landau believes is important as well.

    “If you’re a singer,” Falcone says, “and you have a choice of spending a couple of hours in a practice room or in a class that you don’t know what it’s about, what are you going to do? And secondly, I’m bringing in guests who have a variety of opinions that may or may not adhere to the school’s policies. But we need to tell it as we see it, and I feel it’s important for these students to hear those points of view.”

    Not everyone agrees that these courses should be mandatory. Ramon Ricker, who directs the Eastman School’s Institute for Music Leadership and is the author of Lessons from a Street-Wise Professor: What You Won’t Learn at Most Music Schools (Soundown), describes his courses as “elective by design” and says about 33 percent of Eastman’s juniors, seniors and graduate students take them. “We want the students to vote with their feet. These are courses that are taught by experts, and most of them are capped at fifteen students.”

    One interesting element of the program is independent summer study, for which the school offers grants. “The idea is to go some place and get training that isn’t offered at Eastman,” Ricker says. “We had one vocal student who applied for an internship in a Broadway theater, to see what that was like. Another took tap lessons, and a third spent a summer studying fencing, which is something we don’t offer but that can be useful in certain works.

    “When we started offering these classes,” Ricker says, “music was being taught using a model that had not changed for seventy, eighty, 100 years. You take a one-on-one lesson, you sing in the choir, and you take theory, history, chamber music and a few humanities courses. But the world has changed, and many of us felt that there was no point in preparing our students for 1950s careers. We need to prepare them for today, and for fifty years into the future.”

    ALLAN KOZINN is a culture reporter at The New York Times.


    ^ Image from originating article.

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    Senior Member Couac Addict's Avatar
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    I'll add the importance of finding an ensemble as well as an orchestra. Youth orchestras are great but you'll learn a lot faster in a small ensemble. Particularly, if you're not part of the stings... for the simple reason that you'll probably be playing more frequently. However, even strings benefit from ensembles.

    It's easier to experiment/learn/adapt with a small band. Hone your technique and determine the best style. Also, you're responsible for the preparation and execution of your parts. There's a lot of teamwork happening.
    This space for rent.

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    Senior Member Rhythm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Couac Addict View Post
    I'll add the importance of finding an ensemble as well as an orchestra. Youth orchestras are great but you'll learn a lot faster in a small ensemble. Particularly, if you're not part of the stings... for the simple reason that you'll probably be playing more frequently. However, even strings benefit from ensembles.

    It's easier to experiment/learn/adapt with a small band. Hone your technique and determine the best style. Also, you're responsible for the preparation and execution of your parts. There's a lot of teamwork happening.
    I've highlighted those thoughts with which I entirely agree and hopeful for future generations. Thanks.

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    Senior Member Rhythm's Avatar
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    Sorry for the misspelling that's been made right and bolded.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rhythm View Post
    … the development of a proficient, solid piano technique that will best serve the pianist for forty years. …
    Some days, I just blame the stars or the planets or the moon .

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    Senior Member Lunasong's Avatar
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    From reddit/r/horn:
    It pains me deeply to say this as I am a music educator and also trying to make a career out of music (performing, teaching, etc) but I feel it needs to be said. Counting on making a career out of music is a bad, terrible, irresponsible plan. You know those kids who are pretty ok at basketball and are convinced they're gonna go play for the NBA and make it big? Your chances are smaller, and the rewards smaller yet. Please consider that.
    It's contradictory, because the only possible way to make it is to put everything you have into it and dream it and live it and want it so hard until it happens (protip: even if you're successful, there's never a moment where it "happens"), but the unfortunate fact is that in all that hype and encouragement, we music educators systemically set people up for not only disappointment, but financial ruin.
    By all means, pour yourself into your music, seek every opportunity you can find, and go to music school- it's so rewarding, it's absolutely worth doing. But have a backup plan, and realize that you're absolutely going to use it. It's not even really a backup plan, it's just a regular plan. Short of going into public music education (and even then depending on your area) you're simply not going to get a job playing music right out of college. It doesn't happen. It doesn't even happen to those kids who go to Juilliard at age 14. You're going to need something to do while you spend more than a decade taking auditions, practicing, finding side gigs, and eventually, if you may be so lucky, getting real gainful employment in your field.
    No one wants to hear it, and no one wants to say it either, but it must be said because it's important, and it's the truth.
    "To be a musician is a curse. To NOT be one is even worse." Jack Daney

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    Indira Kala Sangeet Vishwavidyalaya “IKSV” is situated in the Khairagarh township of Chhattisgarh State of India. A different University by its type where higher education is imparted through various types of Music, Dance, Fine Arts and Cultural Heritage.

    IKSV is the Asia’s first University which is fully dedicated to all forms of Music, Dance and Fine Arts. This institution is actively engaged in pursuing artistic, academic and cultural goals at this time when music and fine arts society is passing through rapid change and is introduced to the globalization.

    In the Indira Kala Sangeet Vishwavidyalaya, major thrust is given to develop a pedagogic system inspired by creative thinking in pursuit of excellence for the development of the liberated minds. University offers mainly 4 UG and 2 PG and 3 research courses in various subjects of Dance, Music, Paintings, Graphics, Sculpture, Design and Other Fine Arts. University is also provided facility for short term researches.

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  22. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lunasong View Post
    From reddit/r/horn:
    It pains me deeply to say this as I am a music educator and also trying to make a career out of music (performing, teaching, etc) but I feel it needs to be said. Counting on making a career out of music is a bad, terrible, irresponsible plan. You know those kids who are pretty ok at basketball and are convinced they're gonna go play for the NBA and make it big? Your chances are smaller, and the rewards smaller yet. Please consider that.
    It's contradictory, because the only possible way to make it is to put everything you have into it and dream it and live it and want it so hard until it happens (protip: even if you're successful, there's never a moment where it "happens"), but the unfortunate fact is that in all that hype and encouragement, we music educators systemically set people up for not only disappointment, but financial ruin.
    By all means, pour yourself into your music, seek every opportunity you can find, and go to music school- it's so rewarding, it's absolutely worth doing. But have a backup plan, and realize that you're absolutely going to use it. It's not even really a backup plan, it's just a regular plan. Short of going into public music education (and even then depending on your area) you're simply not going to get a job playing music right out of college. It doesn't happen. It doesn't even happen to those kids who go to Juilliard at age 14. You're going to need something to do while you spend more than a decade taking auditions, practicing, finding side gigs, and eventually, if you may be so lucky, getting real gainful employment in your field.
    No one wants to hear it, and no one wants to say it either, but it must be said because it's important, and it's the truth.
    Unfortunately in the UK there is not enough honesty about the music job situation. There are basically very few playing jobs advertised each year and there are 8 music conservatoires. So it is obvious to everyone that most students are not going to get a job playing music. Some of the top conservatoires have started to address this by telling students to expect a portfolio career but no one tells them BEFORE they start their course that a portfolio career could consist of several jobs all at minimum wage and mostly in hospitality, (waiting tables) and that this won't improve until they get a full time job which doesn't involve them having time during the working day to play in the odd professional concert once every 6 months until they lose out to the next years graduates leaving college. I think that not making this absolutely clear to students thinking of attending music college is disgraceful. The irony is that the children of professional musicians know the situation and don't go to music college. The type of student who will attend college will often come from a well off family who have been able to afford a nice instrument for their child and also pay for expensive private lessons or for them to attend a specialist music school. They just don't realise that by studying music they are not helping their child to a well paid career.

    Every music college has to fill its courses, so for every student who will eventually make it as a professional player there are probably about another 100 who are there only to make money for the college. Some parents don't realise that just because you have got a place at music college doesn't mean that you are ever going to be good enough to play for a living even if there happens to be a vacancy for your instrument in the year that you leave college. I've lost count of the number of times I have asked a student what they want to do when they leave college and got the reply, "play in an orchestra." This is totally unrealistic.

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    My best advice: Never, ever, buy into the old adage, "those who can't (perform), teach"

    It is a completely different skill set.

    I am a former music educator. I lasted 11 years. And what Lunasong said about performing, it goes for teaching as well. It is, unfortunately, true that your teaching is about 30% of what you do. The other 70% is dealing with parents, administration (which is the worst), scheduling, grades, and a jillion other things I can't think of right now.

    I burned myself out so hard, that after I left the profession 7 years ago, I did nothing music oriented (playing, listening, studying) for almost 2 years. Now, I'm in a good place, with a good job, I'm playing again, and have been hoarding CD's like mad! I've even gotten back into score studying.

    Teaching takes a lot out of you. And don't expect a 2-3 month break in the summer. It really only lasts a couple of weeks. There are great rewards, and if you are good at the political game (which I definitely was not), you will do well. I've often said, and still say that I loved the kids, and obviously loved the music, but if you are intolerant to the other stuff, find another profession.

    I don't want to sound like a defeatist, but really, really make sure it's what you want! I found out the hard way

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