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Thursday, 25 February 2016
Is Music College Right For You?

What are your goals as a musician?  This is a simple question but one that I often get complicated answers to.  In dealing with interns and recent music school graduates, I am always interested to hear what the students' plans and expectations are from the music business.  Many times there is no concise, articulate vision of where they see themselves, five years, ten years, 20 years from now.  When I went to Berklee College Of Music we all had a pretty determined goal.  As one of three trumpet playing roommates, we all knew that we were at Berklee to join a big band like Woody Herman or Buddy Rich and to eventually work our way into the recording community, à la Jerry Hey, Gary Grant, Bobby Shew.  Although it wasn't the only way to get picked up by a famous band, music college was akin to playing college football for all those aspiring to go to the NFL.

Times have changed and the music community has changed immensely.  First of all, schools like Berklee College have become extraordinarily expensive.  With tuition alone exceeding $200,000 and job opportunities for music graduates very hard to come by, you should have a very good reason for being at a music school.  It is this author's opinion that the criteria for deciding whether it is worth the money should be answered by the question, "Can I get the training I need from any other source than a fully accredited music college?" 

In many cases the answer is, "No I can't.  I need the full arsenal of what a music college has to offer."  For example, a young composer interested in film or TV scoring would find it hard to have access to the professors and fellow student musicians they get at a music school.  Just as, anyone interested in becoming a music educator at the high school or college level needs the accreditation of a music college degree to qualify for upper level teaching positions. 

What if your aspirations are to learn about the music business in general, such as, audio engineering, producing, songwriting, the business of music?  Now, you have many other choices to achieve these goals that don't involve a 6 figure music institution.  If you are located in a music center like LA, New York or Nashville you have resources available to you to learn about the business if you are serious.  I hate to always use the, "I used to walk 10 miles through the snow just to get to the studio so I could help make coffee, clean up, schmooze and learn" story, but it's true that I would do anything just to look on and learn from some of the best engineers, producers, players and singers in Nashville.  There are also affordable courses available to get some of the nuts and bolts training you need from instructors who are dedicated to accelerating your knowledge and proficiency as music professional.  I can't stress enough the most important quality for someone who is truly serious about being a part of the music business community;  Don't be a jerk!  If you are humble, dedicated and highly motivated, you will find so many more doors opened to you that no amount of money can pay for.

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Posted on 02/25/2016 9:00 AM by Ken Barken
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