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Thread: Music or Medicine?

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Default Music or Medicine?

    There is a young person who is having to decide on a career either in medicine or music. Should she do medicine and keep music as a hobby she can enjoy? Or go all out for music? Given that she had the talent for both, what would your advice be? Music or medicine?
    Last edited by DavidA; Feb-11-2020 at 11:59.

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    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    I'd say medicine, without any hesitation. The amount of competent and oft times gifted players being pumped out from institutions every year is quite staggering and makes it highly unlikely she will get to where she wants to be as player unless she is exceptional with a capital E and committed beyond 100% (is that what she wants to be btw, a player?). The professional competition is almost impossible to overcome once outside academia and talent and brilliance will also have to be matched with luck and steely determination because irrespective of commitment she will be owed nothing.

    Perhaps your post should have been titled 'Teaching Music or a career in Medicine', because that is the best she can realistically hope for if she chooses music and there is of course nothing wrong with that so long as it tallies with her aspirations.
    As an amateur, she would find great pleasure in ensemble playing and perhaps even solo work and it would give her life a satisfying balance.

    That is of course the practical, sensible advice, I didn't listen to a word of any of it.
    Last edited by mikeh375; Feb-11-2020 at 12:17.

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikeh375 View Post
    I'd say medicine, without any hesitation. The amount of competent and oft times gifted players being pumped out from institutions every year is quite staggering and makes it highly unlikely she will get to where she wants to be as player unless she is exceptional with a capital E and committed beyond 100% (is that what she wants to be btw, a player?). The professional competition is almost impossible to overcome once outside academia and talent and brilliance will also have to be matched with luck because irrespective of commitment she will be owed nothing.

    Perhaps your post should have been titled 'Teaching Music or a career in Medicine', because that is the best she can realistically hope for if she chooses music and there is of course nothing wrong with that so long as it tallies with her aspirations.
    As an amateur, she would find great pleasure in ensemble playing and perhaps even solo work and it would give her life a satisfying balance.

    That is of course the practical, sensible advice, I didn't listen to a word of any of it.
    Thanks Mike! My opinion too. Even when listening to amateur players these days the competence is quite staggering.

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    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    As a professional musician, you can practice medicine as a hobby, seeing patients and performing surgical procedures after gigs as you tour the country

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    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    There's a story told by Previn who was at a famed musical institution once on business. He could hear a fiendish Paganini solo violin piece being rattled off with ease, coming from a rehearsal room as he walked down some stairs. Moments later a young, pretty 18 year old came out. He asked if that was her playing and she said yes. As she sauntered past him on the stairs, she turned to him with a beaming smile and said "Yeah, that Paganini's one mother fu**er."

    That's pretty much the sort of thing I witnessed, gifted talent at every turn. There was a fine pianist in my year (several actually), who seemed destined for the concert platform. Several years later I bumped into him in the music section of a well known department store in London, selling pianos! Another equally brilliant pianist (Liszt, no problem) went into an office 9-5 job after all of that study, practise and dedication. One time I was walking along a corridor of practise rooms and heard some Mozart on piano played with wonderfully sensitive musicality and fabulous touch. I looked in and it was Evelyn Glennie. I knew her but didn't realise she was that good on piano as well as all things percussion.

    It's a sad situation for most aspiring students but there just aren't enough jobs in the profession.
    Last edited by mikeh375; Feb-11-2020 at 14:10.

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    Senior Member Ras's Avatar
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    Going for a career in any of the arts is only recommendable if you simply can't do otherwise - if you have a burning passion for music there is no choice, but that doesn't make it a good choice. I hate to say it, but that is my opinion.
    "I only have a hunch in what I've become expert." - Leonard Cohen

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    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    There is a young person who is having to decide on a career either in medicine or music. Should she do medicine and keep music as a hobby she can enjoy? Or go all out for music? Given that she had the talent for both, what would your advice be? Music or medicine?
    Medicine without any doubt. There are plenty of outlets for her musical skills, even opportunities to play professionally, while practicing medicine. I'm an MD and amateur musician, and if I wanted, and had the time, I could sing and/or play with some group virtually every night.

    In addition, while money isn't everything - virtually ever decent doctor makes a good living. That is certainly not the case for most professional musicians.
    Last edited by wkasimer; Feb-11-2020 at 18:48.

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    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    There is a young person who is having to decide on a career either in medicine or music. Should she do medicine and keep music as a hobby she can enjoy? Or go all out for music? Given that she had the talent for both, what would your advice be? Music or medicine?
    BTW, she might want to try to contact Naida Cole, who left a serious musical career to pursue medicine:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naida_Cole

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    Senior Member TalkingHead's Avatar
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    Music Therapy could be a sort of "mid-way" option:
    https://www.musictherapy.org/about/quotes/

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    If a person is fond of music, then music for works for him as a medicine. It is a very natural that music gives you pleasure.

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    When I was teaching Band there was a HS clarinet player who in Grade 12 reminded me of myself (he was THAT good....yuk yuk). He was probably the best player that ever went to the school. He's a doctor.
    tomheimer.ampbk.com/

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