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Author Topic: What to Do for College?  (Read 1781 times)
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EWadie99
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« on: May 07, 2017, 04:20PM »

Next year will be my senior year of high school and I've been rethinking my plans for college and thinking about doing a double major which they are being bass trombone or trombone performance and computer engineering.  Any thoughts?  Suggestions are welcomed.
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« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2017, 04:31PM »

Unless you are a real whiz at computer programming, the coursework may leave you very little time to do another major.

Most schools will let you participate in Marching Band and Concert Band even if you are not a major.  Some schools will even let you take lessons.  Wind Symphony and Orchestra may be auditioned positions, but you may be good enough to win.  Same goes for Jazz Band.
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Bruce Guttman
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« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2017, 04:44PM »

I dont get the double degree/ double major thing.... I am assuming that whatever you choose to study at college you want to give yourself the best chance of success? I think all you are doing by enrolling in a double is taking your best focus away from both and handicapping yourself.

The people I know who have done double degrees almost %100 percent of the time turn out like this,
.they get kind of "middle of the road" marks for both of their focuses.
. They do very well but not outstanding at one and nearly fail the other.
. They drop both after a while because the work load to do well in both at once is difficult to manage.

It is super rare to see anyone do really well at both.

Its totally up to you of course but I hope you will consider choosing ONE focus to study on and give it %100 of your attention to give yourself the best chance of success in that area. If you choose your computer thing, there are plenty of avenues to play trombone outside of that on terms that will not impact your computer studies. If you choose trombone, I can say from experience you just do not want anything else getting in the way of your focus, you are in constant competition with other trombone players, most of whom will have more practice hours available than you because they will not be trying to fit practice around a computer degree.
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« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2017, 05:20PM »

I resist the idea that everybody should focus completely on one thing when they are as young as possible. If you love playing, go for it. Take lessons, play in the best ensembles you can - youth orchestra, jazz, whatever - and talk with your teacher about what schools would be good for the level you're at by the time you would be auditioning. If you love working with computers, keep doing that too.

If, by the time you are submitting your college applications, you still think you might like to do both, apply to schools where it's possible.

At some point you will probably decide where to put more of your energies. I see no reason to rush that decision.

I know people with multiple trombone degrees who are working with computers, and I know people with undergrad degrees in other things who are great professional musicians.
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« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2017, 06:44PM »

I am will Gabe on this one.  Don't rush it.  You don't have to know what you want to do with the rest of your life when you are 17 or 18 (or 19, 20, 21...or even later, a lot later).  I read an article recently for which I cannot recall the source, but the basic premise was in the future people with skills will be more sought after than people college diplomas more so than today.  I have two degrees in music, and I am not currently working my field.  There is a balance.  Pat Sheridan has had some interesting thoughts on this matter recently on his Facebook page, particularly about the affordability aspect. 
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« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2017, 07:04PM »

Just pick a school that lets you take lessons/studio as an elective course along with an ensemble as an elective. You might have to ask the trombone prof. way in advance.

If what you really want to study is the trombone, get a technical degree like programming and take the one and only class in a music degree that is actually studying the trombone (studio) as an elective. The rest of the classes in a music degree should be business and ensembles, but they aren't ...
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« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2017, 07:36AM »


If what you really want to study is the trombone, get a technical degree like programming and take the one and only class in a music degree that is actually studying the trombone (studio) as an elective. The rest of the classes in a music degree should be business and ensembles, but they aren't ...

I don't disagree that those should be classes, but the last guy I want to play with is one that doesn't know anything outside trombone... Like music history, theory, how to use their ears away from the instrument, how to arrange, compose, etc.
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« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2017, 08:46AM »

I don't disagree that those should be classes, but the last guy I want to play with is one that doesn't know anything outside trombone... Like music history, theory, how to use their ears away from the instrument, how to arrange, compose, etc.

But you don't need a class to learn a lot of that stuff.  Not all of us plan to be composers, arrangers, etc.  Some of us just want to play trombone to a decent level.  Of course if you want to make a living in music you need a lot of these skills or you won't eat.

If Wadie just wants to be a good player, he can be a good player with a day job.  Not uncommon.  Even JJ Johnson had a day job for when the gigs dried up.  Charles Kavalovsky was a PhD Physicist before he became principal Horn of the Boston Symphony.  Alexander Borodin was a professor of Chemistry in Tsarist Russia and composed in his spare time.
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« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2017, 09:59AM »

You can double major and do just fine provided you manage your time well and aren't married to the idea of graduating in four years.
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« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2017, 10:02AM »

Most of the best players I've ever got to perform with learned how to arrange on their own, have fantastic chops, even better ears, and don't look too far in the past for musical inspiration. You learn how to be a musician on the job, not in a book.

The last guy I want to play with is one that doesn't know anything outside trombone... Like music history, theory, how to use their ears away from the instrument, how to arrange, compose, etc.

Everything you mentioned has little to do with playing in an ensemble and being a musician. You don't need any music history to be a musician -- you need to just listen and play with musicians who are better than you (see: any successful rock band). This also removes much of the need for any strenuous music theory -- the more you listen and play, the more you ignore everything in the theory books that isn't already intuitively obvious. I don't know why composing skills have anything to do with playing in a group. "I don't want to play with THAT guy. He's never composed anything!" That kind of crazy talk is just academia trying to academia itself.

The last guy I'd want to play with is a class trained monkey who knows every note to play when he takes a solo and squares the crap out of it.
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« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2017, 10:54AM »

Here are some thoughts for you to consider:
1. At a previous institution I taught 40% of the freshman class change their majors. there were approximately 4500 students in the college.

2. More students double major than one may believe though I don't recommend it.. Students are willing to spend a 5th year and the extra money to get it done.

3. Of the high school students I have taught only two have majored something in music. One went to Shenandoah University majoring in Music Technology and a jazz minor. He is now working as a recording technician at Arizona State. The other majored in music education at Appalachian State University. He got a music teaching job in his home county a year after he graduated. All of them have performed in youth orchestras, and wind ensembles outside of their school.All make all county and all district. I have a student right now who has been in all state band and jazz band, was drum major for his high school and he is going to North Carolina State to major in engineering. He plans to play in whatever he can. I am amazed and thrilled to see the work ethic these students have.

4. Beware of the college debt problem. Realize that grades do matter and they really matter when it comes to financial aid.

Best wishes!
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« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2017, 01:05PM »

Quote
Of the high school students I have taught only two have majored something in music. One went to Shenandoah University majoring in Music Technology and a jazz minor.

Oh cool! I think I went to school with him when I was there a few years ago. Small world!


As far as double majoring, its certainly better than doing two undergraduate degrees as I did!! I was in school for nearly 7 years. I did 4 of music ed and then 1 year of music performance masters. I decided to go back and get an MIS degree (sort of like CS but without some of the more advanced math, which is substituted for business).  I can wholeheartedly say that you may want to consider that as well.  But CS/Engineering -> MBA is also not uncommon.

If I were to do it again would I do it differently? Well, MIS didn't exist when I started, so its hard to say but I may recommend getting a minor instead of a major. There are a lot less requirements but you can still optionally study the interesting and useful things and you'll still likely get a great job at the end of it and definitely still have the ability to be a great player. 
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« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2017, 03:23AM »

Do not major/minor in music.  Major in computer engineering. As an undergraduate, play in as many ensembles as possible and if the spirit moves you, study with a teacher that you respect. Then, after you graduate, get a good job and play in the same groups as the poor starving music education or worse yet performance majors.  Clever
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« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2017, 12:21PM »

Whoa! Ok. You guys win. Studying music is useless.
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« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2017, 12:40PM »

Whoa! Ok. You guys win. Studying music is useless.

Years ago I had a conversation with somebody in the Chicago Symphony organization.  I'm not sure what he did, something to do with running the business end I think.  He told some good stories, coming up on juries and realizing he hadn't touched the horn all year and needing to get chops quick, etc. 

Anyway, he seemed a smart and successful guy - dressed well and bought all of us dinner.  <g>  He advised anyone who wanted a performance job NOT to go to a conservatory and study music.  Instead, move to a city with a major symphony and a good university.  Take lessons from the symphony pro, and get a much more rounded education in some other major from the university.  You'd end up just as skilled a player but with a much less narrow education and better outlook.  I never heard if anybody took his advice, none of us at the table had performance aspirations at the time. 
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« Reply #15 on: May 10, 2017, 12:43PM »

Whoa! Ok. You guys win. Studying music is useless.

It's just that studying music is entering a VERY competitive field.  I keep telling people that to succeed in the Music Biz you have to want to play more than you want to eat.  It has to be a compulsion.  If you can't think of doing anything other than music, by all means study it.  But we have too many kids who think that becoming a trombone player is like becoming an automobile mechanic and all you need to do is start applying for jobs.  That industry doesn't work that way; hasn't for about 50 years.  Most of the traditional avenues for musicians to get a regular paying job have evaporated.  There are 1000 qualified players coming out of schools for each open position.  If you are one of the best of the best, of course you should go.

Another thing: lots of musicians don't graduate from conservatory -- they find jobs through networking connections.  It's amazing how few Berklee entrants leave with diplomas; the joke on campus is that if you graduated you weren't good enough to get a gig.  I think that's a bit extreme but there's probably a germ of truth in there.
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« Reply #16 on: May 10, 2017, 01:07PM »

I'm not arguing that music is not a difficult and low paying business. It is. I am living in LA, playing and teaching as I finish up my master's degree.

But if you feel that music if your thing? Don't compromise.
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« Reply #17 on: May 10, 2017, 01:22PM »

I have no input on studying music at college, as I didn't. I didn't play at all between senior year of high school and first year of grad school, where a machining class reinvigorated my desire to play (aka...let's make mouthpieces, how hard can it be? Turns out, hard)

Through playing in ensembles in grad school and freelancing a minor amount at the same time, I met quite a few folks with interesting backgrounds. One, an engineering manager at Apple, got most of the way through a trumpet performance degree before switching to CS, and he has had a very well paying and enjoyable career from the sounds of things. He still freelances a ton and plays at a very high level, but he does it more for fun than the money.

I don't think double majoring is a great idea unless there is significant overlap in the programs (i.e. use Trombone major classwork as electives for CS and vice/versa). The only "trivial" double majors I know of are friends who double majored in computer science and computer engineering, or computer engineering and electrical engineering, or Aerospace & Mechanical eng-- point here is these are pretty complementary majors with only a few select course differences at the basic undergrad level. Specializations for these really don't crop up until senior/grad school. That's not to say you can't double major between arts&science and music and engineering colleges, just that the overlap is less so your workload will be greater.

I would look into a minor or certificate program in one of the two fields, either Music or CS, as a way to study the useful parts of both.

Don't get into engineering for the money. The money's good, no doubt, but if you aren't enjoying it (and, by extension, enjoy applying math and physics to problems) and are driven to succeed at it you will hate it. Flip side's true for music. I found I was burnt out at the end of high school, and didn't want to consider it as a job, just a hobby. I've been happy with that decision, you might not be.

Another thing to keep in mind for any engineering program: if you don't seek out and excel at multiple internships by the time you graduate, you will have difficulty finding a job. This takes up valuable time, both because you will be working a job and because to get the internship you have to kill it in your studies. The end result is that something has to give, as there are only so many hours in the day.
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« Reply #18 on: May 10, 2017, 01:35PM »

I will share with you my own experience.  I'm not offering advice, just a narrative on how I got where I am.

I, like you, was very active musically in HS - literally in every band and chorus the school offered.  I loved playing, but it never occurred to me to try to do it as a profession.  My other passion was computer technology; that's what I went to school for.

I play for the 1st semester of my freshman year at university - then stopped because the music classes were too little credit with relation to the amount of time spent.  I had to focus on my major.  I continued to not play for over 12 years.  I restarted in 2013. I don't know how I went that long without playing.

I am now working hard to catch up to my peers who have been playing the whole time.  I'm getting there, but it is a lot of work.  But, I have a very good paying job in a big field.  I also work from home - I sit next to my horn all day and can practice whenever I want (in short bursts).

What would I have done differently?  Well, if I had know about community bands, I hope I would have had the brains to join one back then to stay active.  We have a couple groups in this area that, though they are "community", they play at a high level.

What am I glad of?  I play for the fun of it and put the food on the table with my computer job.  Getting paid  to play, for me, is just a bonus (and can even make playing more stressful in some ways).

Am I as good a top level pro?  Nope; I don't have anywhere near that many hours on the horn.  Am I good enough to play the music I like with the groups I like at a high level?  It would seem so, but sometimes I feel like I'm just hanging on.

I also look back and wonder how cool it might have been to have gone the music major route and play trombone/teach/whatever for a living.  It seems tantalizing sometimes.
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« Reply #19 on: May 10, 2017, 01:50PM »

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