Is Music College Worth It?
Posted: January 23rd, 2014 by Ashley Saunders
As you might imagine, I get asked this a lot.
I always start with this question:
“What do you hope going to Music College will do for you?”
I usually get the same response; in essence, people just want to spend time doing something because they don’t have a plan of what to do.
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. You also might not grow as much as you hoped and therefore be disappointed.
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 for up to 10 hours each day, if not more, that said you really can advance pretty quickly with lots of correct practise and this will be the time to do it in.
Should I be networking from day one?
Yes, but you should try and pick out the few people who are going somewhere and 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 music is a really tough business and to become successful, you need to align yourself with others who are passionate about music and the music biz from the start.
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.
Is Music College right for me if I know what I want?
Chances are it will still be worth going; you will grow and learn about different styles of music.
If you have a clear idea from the start it will be worth sitting down with the career adviser and explain what you want to achieve, see if they get it. I know that sounds really dumb, but if someone who is running the careers department gets where you’re trying to go in life and they like you personally, do you think they are going to try and find opportunities for you. Even if it’s accidental? I believe they will.
I wish I was honest with my college from the start, as I knew I wanted to do session and told a few of the other students, but ‘forgot’ to 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 learn all you can about marketing, this gives you a skill outside music (should it not work out! Plus there are loads of marketing jobs out there!) 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 hand pick 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.