Is Music College Worth It?
Under: Music Business
As you might imagine, I get asked fairly often if music college is worth it.
I always start with this question:
“What do you hope going to Music College will do for you?”
The response is usually the same. “It’s the next step!” or “It would be fun to do!” But what they really mean is that there’s no plan. You see, it’s easy to fill a few years with something rather than plan the future.
I hope today to answer all your questions regarding Music College and help you to discover a clearer idea of your career path.
What will I gain from Music College?
You will gain more knowledge and grow as a guitar player and musician. It’s likely you’ll develop some new friends and you might get some work out of it. And if you finish it, you will, of course, get a qualification.
What will I NOT gain from Music College?
You will not magically have a career; the phone is unlikely to be ringing off the hook – with artists trying to book you for high profiled gigs and session. Sorry! You might not be any clearer on a career path. Also, you might end up disappointed with your own progress or the gigs other classmates get.
It’s sadly not all sex, drugs and rock and roll – although there is some of that. Hey, we’re at Music College!
What will I have to do during the course?
Practise, practise, and yes you’ve got it! More practise. It quite possible you will be learning reams and reams of new songs for workshops, learning new chords/scales etc.
It’s likely that you will be practising between 8 and 10 hours each day. Many students end up doing much more.
However, if you’re working on the right things, then you can advance pretty quickly. Your progress will match your effort.
Should I be networking from day one?
Yes, but you should try and pick out the few people who are going somewhere. Try to befriend them over the people who are unsure about their future in music or just on the course to fill time.
I know that sound really harsh, but the music business is a really tough business. If you want to become successful, you need to align yourself with others who are passionate about building a career in the music business.
I’m not saying for one moment, become a Diva or a snob. By all means be friendly with everyone; just choose your true friends wisely.
I have a clear plan, is Music College right for me?
Regardless of your plans, going to music college will enable you to grow in many ways. You’ll learn about different styles of music. As well as meet people from all over the world and have some fun along the way.
If you have a clear idea from the start, then its worth talking with the career adviser. Talk about your goals and ask if they can help. Do you think they are going to try and find opportunities for you? Even if it’s accidental? I believe they will.
Looking back, I wish I was honest with the staff at my college from the start. I knew I wanted to do session work and told a few of the other students. Stupidly I didn’t mention it to anyone who could have helped or pushed me hard to achieve what I want.
This is a real shame as I have seen the college that I was at get behind its students and seen great results quicker than if the student just went out there and try for themselves.
It worth if you have a goal (or goals), that you ask what the college can do for you, in order to push you further!
What are my options when I’ve finished?
It’s hard to say without knowing you or what qualification you will end up with. One thing is certain, when you’ve finished the hard work doesn’t stop when you’ve left college. Quite the opposite, the hard work has just begun!
As a general rule, if you do a degree, you usually are expecting to do some teaching when the course is over. It’s actually very common that you will end up doing some teaching at some point.
Teaching is a great way for you to learn, just as much as your student, while earning a decent living. It worth, even if you don’t plan to teach, a module or two on teaching as part of your degree program.
If you want to do sessions, start a band, become an ‘artist’, then after college, you’ll need to get into a studio and get some demos done. Then start booking some gigs, building a fan base and get on tour!
What are the alternatives?
Again, this is hard to say without knowing you. The one thing I’d recommend is learning all you can about marketing. As well as giving you a skill outside music, it will help you build your career.
Plus there are loads of marketing jobs out there if music doesn’t work out! Learning all you can about marketing will help you to know how to get your message out there and do so in an appealing and attention-grabbing way.
If you long to become an artist or just better at guitar, it worth considering using the money you’ll spend on college to take lessons with a few of the college tutors.
This way you can handpick the best tutors and grow in the quickest way possible. Sure, you’ll miss out on building relationships, but you can overcome this by going to gigs and jam sessions.