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 The Reality of a Music Major??
Author: J-MB 
Date:   2018-09-16 22:18

What’s it really like to major in music?
Is landing a job in education after college likely?
Would you recommend someone in this day in Age to major in music?
And Is it possible to make a living only off of private instruction.

I hope you all can answer my questions !!

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 Re: The Reality of a Music Major??
Author: Dan Shusta 
Date:   2018-09-17 01:51

J-MB,

I hope you find the following article interesting and informative.
https://majoringinmusic.com/should-i-major-in-music/


May I share a personal short story with you...

I live in a rather small town (population 9500) located around 50 miles west of Salt Lake City.

About a month ago, a woman, whom I'm guessing is around 50 yrs old and probably has a degree in Music Education, moved into our little town. To make a long story short, she quickly obtained a position with the local school district as Director of Music for our "string orchestra" which ranges from grade 5 through 12. So, not only does our little town have a wind band, it also has a string orchestra. This, I believe, is rather unusual.

So, yes, I believe it's possible to make a living with a Music Degree. However, IMHO, you really need to hear from the "Pro's" on this BB because I believe their info will be far more accurate than mine.

Good luck!



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 Re: The Reality of a Music Major?
Author: Matt74 
Date:   2018-09-17 04:49

A music degree (BA, B Mus., B Ed.) is an eminently practical degree. There are band/orchestra/choir jobs in public and private schools, choir director/organist/music director jobs churches, private teaching, gigs, college teaching, film, arranging, instrument repair, lutherie, recording engineer, etc. They may not be high paying or glamorous jobs, but it is definitely preparation for a job - especially with a teaching certificate and master’s degree.

I understand string experience and instruction is particularly sought after, even it’s not your main area. Also guitar.

I will not tell you my life’s story, but I finished 9 years of college - including vocational schooling - and have a master’s degree. I have an excellent education that I would not trade the world for, but nobody cares, because it’s not exactly what they want. I have often wished that I finished my music degree because it would have provided me with better job opportunities.

A music degree, especially with education, is a specific qualification that tells an employer you can do a specific job, and there are jobs out there to be had.

AND worst case scenario, no matter what you do otherwise, you can always teach on the side. Compare $50-100/hr teaching music on evenings and weekends with potential for growth, to $8 or $15/hr in a dead end job.

- Matthew Simington


Post Edited (2018-09-17 05:40)

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 Re: The Reality of a Music Major??
Author: Knowles 
Date:   2018-09-17 07:30

Current music major here with some input.

First off, the bulk of your work will be practicing, but make no mistake, you are still a college student and there's still a lot to do. As long as you work hard, it should be manageable.

You can almost certainly land an education job, just maybe not where and what type you want. You may end up teaching middle school instead of high school, or teaching band and string orchestra at the same time, etc. There are opportunities, but they may not always be what you had planned.

I'd absolutely recommend majoring in music, we need new ideas and more teachers to keep kids involved in music.

Can't say in regards to your last question, I'm still in college.

Bottom line, absolutely major in music, but I recommend music education as the best choice for finding a job. I can't tell you how many performance majors I've met who graduated and could only find jobs at Music & Arts, Sam Ash, etc. Hope this helps.

Kurt
Music Ed., WP

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 Re: The Reality of a Music Major??
Author: gwie 
Date:   2018-09-17 08:46

It depends on what the going rate for private instruction is in your area.

Let's say you're charging $75 for an hour lesson. If you can reliably teach 20 students every week, that's $1500 a week, over a 50 week schedule with 2 weeks off for vacation is $75,000 a year before taxes. Not bad for "part time employment," and since you'll be working mainly in after 3pm time after school during weekdays, you'll be able to pursue other interests beyond teaching as well.

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 Re: The Reality of a Music Major??
Author: DavidBlumberg 
Date:   2018-09-17 17:13

If you are good enough to charge $75 a lesson which the vast and far majority are not even close to.


And if you have that many hours of students.


Most don't. There are rare exceptions, but they are rare.

Odds are getting a Music store job and making $30-40 hour tops are more realistic.

http://www.MyTempoMusic.com

http://www.skypeclarinetlessons.com/about.html


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 Re: The Reality of a Music Major??
Author: Ed Palanker 2017
Date:   2018-09-17 17:29

GWIE said, "Let's say you're charging $75 for an hour lesson. If you can reliably teach 20 students every week, that's $1500 a week, over a 50 week schedule with 2 weeks off for vacation is $75,000 a year before taxes."
I can think of very few places in our country that you will find 20 students willing or able to take an hour lesson each week for 50 weeks especially at that price. Many students will want a half hour lesson, especially in the early days and younger students. That might seem ideal for some private teachers but very unlikely for the vast majority. You don't just put our a shingle that says lessons and have students flock in. So it really depends on where you live, if there are other reputable teachers in the area, how many instruments you can teach etc. Find a studio to help attract students like Music and Arts.
As far as teaching music ed in schools I have some experience. I taught clarinet at Towson University in Baltimore country for 33 years, always had a few performance majors but mostly music ed majors. I retired in 2000. Most of my students got decent teaching jobs, just about all of them that wanted one. That was then. My wife taught instrumental music in Baltimore city for 31 years, retired in 2004. When she started teaching nearly every middle and high school in the city had a music teacher, instrumental programs etc. By the time she retired only about 1/10 still had instrumental music because of budget costs. So what I'm saying is yes, jobs are available but it depends on where you live and what your willig to accept. I still have many graduates teaching, many have already retired, and most of them made a decent living. I even had some ed majors at Peabody where I taught for 17 years and they all got jobs too. Again, that depends on where you live and willing to teach. Check out the cover of Time Magazine this week, teacher of 20 years not being able to make a decent living, that is the case in many places. So there's no easy answer. At least a musician can teach privately or gig for extra income, especially on weekends and summers many do.
As far as performance I suggest you read an article titled "follow your dream" in my website "eddiesclarient. com, " many teachers i know have used that as a reference to advise their performance majors that I know of. My final advise, follow your dream but keep your eye open to reality. Read my article.

ESP eddiesclarinet.com

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 Re: The Reality of a Music Major??
Author: Bennett 2017
Date:   2018-09-17 18:35

Take a look at the Dept. of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook, e.g.,
https://www.bls.gov/ooh/a-z-index.htm#M both at the various Music categories as well as grade school teaching, e.g., https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/middle-school-teachers.htm



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 Re: The Reality of a Music Major??
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-09-17 18:37

I think we can get too side-tracked by the potential income from private lesson teaching.

There are a number of ways a person with advanced formal training in music can earn income.

You can try to become a full-time orchestra player, but the odds against it these days are very long. Too many good players, too few full time clarinet positions (I think it's a little better for string players).

You can, if you live in a metropolitan area, get a fair amount of free-lance playing. You can teach privately, or you can get into the schedule at a local music school (but, to answer your last question directly, you probably can't make enough that way to support a future family comfortably). You can work in a music store or become an instrument repair person either within a company or on your own. You can find a full-time position in a public or private school, although not necessarily without moving to a new area of the country. I know people in the Philadelphia area who teach at the university level as adjunct faculty with a masters and some free-lance performance experience. You can work in the related music technology areas, music engraving for publishers, and positions that occasionally come up in the "special" military bands.

I know musicians in the Philadelphia area who do make a living with some combination of the above. Most either are married to a second income or live hand-to-mouth. Most do not have pensions. Benefits like health insurance are in many cases the musicians' individual responsibility. And, of course, with any kind of free-lance (no long-term contract) work, today's employment level is no guarantee of tomorrow's.

IMO, the bottom line is fairly simple but not easy but for many young people. If you feel intensely that you want to make a life in music, that nothing else attracts you as a way to earn a living, then go for the music or music ed major and work very hard at becoming the best you can be as both a musician and a teacher. If there's something else you'd be equally happy or even inspired to do, consider doing that, getting the training you need, and making music a recreational part of your non-work life.

Karl

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 Re: The Reality of a Music Major??
Author: QuickStart Clarinet 
Date:   2018-09-17 19:08

Being a music major is certainly challenging, but it is definitely one of the most rewarding degrees in my opinion (a music major). If you enjoy practicing and playing a ton, majoring in music will be mostly a good time for you.

Performance vs. Education
I think it is best to be able to get a music education degree when possible because you can always become a great performer regardless of degree, though you may need to work a bit harder to gain the respect of colleagues and even teachers at times. However, if you only have a performance degree it will be much more difficult to get the certifications and credibility required to work as a teacher in a public school.

Making Money
As has been said by others there is an abundance of different ways that musicians can make money, and as you go through a music degree you will hopefully be exposed to several different options and find what you are most passionate about.

Getting a Teaching Job
There are a lot of public school/K-12 music education opportunities, and if that's what you would like to do it should be relatively easy to get a job like that. If you want to teach at a University that will be more difficult and also require a very high level of performing as well as being a good teacher. As for private lessons, these are a great way to make a fairly adequate salary. The hourly rate is much better than many jobs in many other fields, but the trick is to get enough students consistently. It takes quite a bit of work and networking to work up to 20 hours a week of teaching.
Currently I have about 10 students, but may only teach a couple hours a week because of cancellations, rescheduling, every other week lessons, etc. I would recommend having at least 30 students if you want to make a real salary from teaching.

Alternative Income
The value of majoring in music is that you gain a real expertise in your area, and if you can be creative about leveraging this the possibilities are endless. For example, I have created an online course, and am working on selling that as a way to make "passive" income. Becoming an "expert" and getting a degree in any field can have a ton of value if you know what to do with it.

I hope that helps!

Josh Goo
QuickStart Clarinet Founder
www.quickstartclarinet.com

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 Re: The Reality of a Music Major??
Author: Dan Shusta 
Date:   2018-09-17 20:12

I don't think the following area has been mentioned...

Getting students to come to you may prove difficult.

There's a new trend of teaching and that is..."Online".
https://www.google.com/search?q=Online+clarinet+teachers&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-1 (Check out the various prices teachers are charging and the length of time for each lesson.)

Here's David Blumberg's online teaching site:
https://www.skypeclarinetlessons.com/

You can use Skype or Facebook.

The only downside I see is that the competition, to me, looks very intense.

My suggestion...diversify.



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 Re: The Reality of a Music Major??
Author: Ed 
Date:   2018-09-17 20:29

As is very often the case, I think Ed Palanker makes some great points. I can add some things to this discussion, but I do think it is really important to keep his advice in mind "follow your dream but keep your eye open to reality."

There are many things that life can throw at any of us. I have known people who were unable to get teaching jobs and others who just did not have the skill or temperament to do so once they got them. Not everyone can teach.

If one is considering private teaching, keep in mind that the prices or number of interested students can vary considerably. Even if you are making a good sum, keep in mind that there are no benefits- health care, retirement, etc. Sometimes you might be forced to take students who are not terribly motivated just to keep a full schedule and make your finances work.

I have known players who "burned out" struggling to make a living and music and became very bitter about it.

I think it is very important to consider your personality, what interests you, what you do well and keep an eye on the options and possibilities and the market. It is certainly possible to make a living in music, but it may vary with different people and in each locale and as time passes. Times change and we all need to be aware of those changes and how to do what is needed to adapt.

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 Re: The Reality of a Music Major??
Author: Hank Lehrer 2017
Date:   2018-09-17 20:30

J-MB,

I recently finished a 52 year career with almost two decades as a HS band director and the rest as a professor/academic administrator in a field totally divorced from music; the last several of these years was at a very large university (check the bio on my profile page if you want any details). During that time to earn extra money above my salary, I delivered pizzas, drove a truck, carried many private students, played a lot of jazz gigs and shows, was a carpenter, worked in a gas station, etc.; summers were always busy work times and vacations, if any, were few and far between.

Going to school to earn advanced degrees and certifications was always a part of my life. Living conservatively was comfortable and I kept out of significant debt. The formula I employed was to focus on dedication, hard work, and sacrifice. In my case it paid off. What you do with your life should be part of a long range plan that you take great care in developing and are diligent in executing.

Good luck,

HRL



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 Re: The Reality of a Music Major??
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-09-17 21:11

QuickStart Clarinet wrote:

> Performance vs. Education
> I think it is best to be able to get a music education degree
> when possible because you can always become a great performer
> regardless of degree, though you may need to work a bit harder
> to gain the respect of colleagues and even teachers at times.

Just a couple of points:

Over the long view (I've been retired from school music teaching now for 11 years and was involved in administration for the last 10 years I worked for the district) I don't think having an ed degree is really a problem in terms of gaining other players' or teachers' respect. On a performing gig, whether free-lance or long term, no one much knows or cares what anyone else's academic credentials are. How people perform on the job is more important.

The most important reason for taking an ed degree is relative safety in case you aren't able to find a living as a performer. You'll only need a music ed degree and the state certification that usually follows if you're looking for a public school job. Charters, private schools and colleges don't *need* to require teaching certificates, which are state-issued documents. The most important reason for choosing a performance degree is that less of your time is encumbered by "ed" classes, leaving you more practice and rehearsal time. Also, performance majors typically get lessons as part of their program all the way through, while ed majors are often given lessons through junior year or sometimes cut off even sooner.

> However, if you only have a performance degree it will be much
> more difficult to get the certifications and credibility
> required to work as a teacher in a public school.
>

It will take more classwork post-graduation. Although, in Pa. you can get the teaching certifications by passing "PRAXIS" tests. When I did it in the 1970s (I did two degrees as a straight performance major), I needed another 24 credit hours of classes for my PA teaching certificate.

> Getting a Teaching Job
> There are a lot of public school/K-12 music education
> opportunities, and if that's what you would like to do it
> should be relatively easy to get a job like that.

Probably, but this is very dependent on locale. There are lots of recent mus ed graduates in my locale looking for teaching jobs and settling for either low-paying non-contracted private or charter school positions or subbing day-to-day in the local public systems hoping to be considered for one of the rarely open full-time jobs in the music departments. One reason why job openings here are rare is that retirements are often not replaced as staff size is reduced and schools consolidate and close buildings to save money. Other areas are very different, but you have to be willing to move where the jobs are.

Karl

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 Re: The Reality of a Music Major??
Author: GBK 
Date:   2018-09-17 21:33

Like many of the above, I, too, have literally done it all in music - teaching in the schools for three decades, playing professionally for 50+ years, and maintaining a very large load of private students. All of the above helped me live very comfortably, and totally debt free.

Today, I am able to play where and when I desire, and teach who I want ... turning down far more than I accept, with money being the secondary consideration.

However the current reality is that a lucrative career in music today is extremely difficult. Teaching jobs at all levels (especially college) are MUCH harder to obtain than years ago due to a glut of music majors coming out of college with advanced degrees and no place to go.

The same holds true for performing, as lucrative playing jobs have all but dried up. There are far more fine players out there scraping to get any job available than ever before as colleges continue to pump out classical music majors. Due to electronic technology and changing tastes in music, the days of playing 4-6 gigs on weekends are long gone. And as we all know, the general public's interest in classical music is in continuing decline.

I know too many music majors who became discouraged at the current state of earning a living as a musician and have either quit totally, sold their equipment and moved on to something else where they did not have to live in debt with little or no health benefits, retirement, etc...

I would not have traded my degrees in music for anything, as the training involved was important in shaping the person you do become in the future. However the reality is that it is more difficult than ever to get by and afford the things you dream of.

As someone once said - Music is a great avocation, but a lousy vocation.


...GBK



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