Everything About It Is Appealing?

Music Business, POLL

I was sitting in one of my college performance classes, waiting to speak to the professor. As I waited, another student was speaking to him, asking him questions. This student, my peer, was one of the fastest and most precise musicians in the tiny class and he knew it. Yet he was asking our professor for advice-career advice and course of study. Should he study business or performance?

“Well,” said my professor. “Do you know how to play your instrument? Are your auditions and gigs going well?”

The answer was yes.

“Well, you already know how to play.”

Basically, his advice was…why pay thousands of dollars for the college to tell you that you know how to play, when you already do? He advised the student to study music business instead.

I don’t want to disclose who the professor was, but let’s just say that he is no newcomer to the music industry. He was an amazing teacher, but also a world renowned musician.

I knew many students who studied production or marketing related to their performance skills, but continued to get gigs, record, be on TV or film, etc. I also knew students who were studying performance but had already had their own agent, been on TV (for acting especially), or were performing with Grammy award winning acts.

So the question became…exactly what my professor asked. If you’re already signed or booked or the face on the TV…do you need a school to confirm it?

Yet there are performers who became stronger while in school and, upon graduating, really took off.

Many have also found it necessary to have a degree in performance for classical music, even when working on the business side. The knowledge of classical music can outweigh the other experience?

I want to hear from you. Mainly focusing on music, but if you want to have your say as an actor or dancer, etc, that’s fine, too!

I’d love to get your opinion on this poll. Leave a comment here or follow on Twitter and let me know! I hope you don’t mind, I may follow up to quote you for  my final article.

I didn’t even get to wear a gown!

Are you a professional performer? Why or why not? Did you feel it was necessary to earn a certificate or degree in your performance, or did you just go for it?

Especially in this economy, when the price tag of college is in question…and when arts education programs are being tossed left and right…

…what do you think?


4 thoughts on “Everything About It Is Appealing?

  1. I learned on my own, with a little training as a young teen. Just like in my “9-5” job, I do not have a degree, but found a happy niche where I’m paid very well, and rely on common sense solutions and have a remarkable memory, which is an advantage I have even over my educated peers. You are not guaranteed success in either scenario, but you must first define what success is to yourself. As a musician, I’ve landed songs on the Discovery Channel with a 4track recordings and no recording degree, or music degree. It was through attrition. I have been turned down many times, but its finding the right person to hear you at the right time. Sometimes its more about connections than anything else. So, for myself, I never sought to dedicate time to learning any of this in a school format, I just did it. Thats not to say I believe formal training is not good, it may even open up many more doors for someone based on the connections they make while studying. For me though, I’ve defined what my success is, and I keep forging on enjoying everyday of it.

  2. I have zero professional training. For the most part, I’ve gotten by just fine, but there are times in my music career where that knowledge would be helpful. For example, I could write sheet music myself instead of paying someone else to do it. Or I could land gigs as a session guitarist or a cover artist if I only knew how to read music or understand chord structure and variation. But all of that stuff is secondary to my main goal – writing songs. I’ve been writing and performing my own songs for years without any problems – in fact, I sometimes wonder if any formal training would’ve changed my writing style, and I’m not sure that it would’ve been for the better. Music is different from some of the traditional arts (e.g., painting) because there’s a high technical factor to it. It doesn’t matter how much “natural talent” you have, an A chord is an A chord and there’s no way you’d know that unless you learned it, either from a school or from a friend, website, YouTube video, etc. So music education is definitely necessary, whether it’s through a formal institution or through some sort of self-directed study. As Ian said above, some huge benefits to formal education are the connections you make and the things you learn from your peers. This is the sort of thing you can’t get from a YouTube tutorial, the sort of thing that still makes formal academic institutions (whether it’s for music, liberal arts, design, whatever) so valuable in an era where nearly anything you want to know, you can find online.

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