- Published Aug 8, 2013 in Music 101
- Read time: about 3 minutes
Music school can be the best possible environment for some people and a waste of time for others. The best thing you can do is make sure you’re going for the right reasons.
Higher education is usually a good bet. But those of us who are musically inclined don’t always thrive in an environment designed to be another four years of high school rather than an inspired and creative learning experience focused on the one thing you care about most. Music school could be the answer you're looking for.
There are two sides to every coin. And before you write the check for your first year of tuition, it’s worth thinking about some reasons why you should skip music school. That said, the experience I had changed my life forever and set me up for all the amazing things that lay ahead. Allow me to gush about it for a second:
1 It’s not just about the music.
Sure, you’ll spend much of your day with an instrument in your hand (which is completely awesome). But music isn’t the only thing you learn at music school. If there’s one thing it has in common with a traditional learning institution, it’s the relationships you create with the students, teachers and community that exists around the school.
The minute you step into that environment, you realize that it’s your job to make things happen; no one is going to hand it to you. And with that realization comes the necessity to network, sell yourself, rise to each challenge and create opportunities for yourself, just like out in the real world.
Do it right and you come away with—not to sound cheesy here, but—a life skill you can use far beyond the borders of your musical career. And that could come in handy if you suddenly find yourself without one.
2 Immersion is the best way to learn.
You’ve heard it a million times: if you want to learn to speak French like a native, go to France and surround yourself with, you know, French. It’s the same thing with music. Learning music part time can definitely work, but it’s not the shortest distance between you and your career as a professional musician.
Stepping into musical school is like moving to another planet. All of sudden you’re in a place where it’s ok to eat, sleep and breath music, twenty-four hours a day. Pick the right school and you’ll find yourself enveloped by encouragement, challenged by competition and on stage with the next generation of music business influentials.
And with nothing to distract your focus, you have every opportunity accelerate the learning process, put all your lessons into practice and get yourself in front of an audience the right way.
3 Learn to teach.
Much to my parent’s dismay, I didn’t take advantage of my schools Masters of Music Education program, something I could have done with only one extra year than I spent there anyway. But many of my close friends did, proving that a little extra work can provide you with a pretty great fallback position if you need it.
The music business is tough. But it’s not all about playing, writing and performing. Someone has to be there to help the next generation of young musicians find their place in the world. And, since I owe no small amount of my talent, skill and sanity to a few priceless mentors, I tend to walk around with an overwhelming respect for music educators.
Whatever you decide to do, don’t do it without some deep thought and a lot of research. Talk to people who’ve gone to music school and those who skipped it. Visit some schools, search for more info online and have a heart-to-heart with your closest friends and family. It’s a big decision and one that could echo through the rest of your life. So make the best one you can.