View Full Version : Curious about Music Education Background of everyone

04-29-2003, 12:13 PM
Hello fellow computer music enthusiasts:

I\'m just curious at seeing what everyones level of education is regarding music and college in general and what your impressions are towards its importance.

Now first let me state that I do NOT think anyone needs to have a degree in music theory to write incredible music or have success in the music industry. But obviously quite a few users on the forum are turning out amazing compositions and landing decent paying jobs. So for comparisons sake I thought I would open up a topic on this subject that would let us see if there is any sort of trend.

As for me, who is totally new to the forum so I have no music samples yet...but I stress yet, I have 2 complete years of full-time college music studies besides a life time of tinkering with music on my own. I am still undecided whether to finish a BA in Music Composition or finish a film degree at a university I have been at for the past year, only three semesters left with that vs. probably about 5 or 6 with the music degree.

Basically, I need help in deciding how important the credential of having a degree in music is vs. just having a degree or one at all in this fun and crazy industry.


Edward Trevino

04-29-2003, 05:00 PM
Well, you\'re right. There are plenty of successful musicians out there that have never gone to a conservatory or have a music degree.
However, it never hurts to have one. I guess it depends on what you want to do with it. Teach? Gotta have that piece of paper. Want to do film composition? Hollywood doesn\'t care where or even IF you went to school for music as long as the score gets done ON TIME and it\'s good.

From a personal standpoint, and at the risk of sounding elitist, I say a strong music education is absolutely essential no matter WHAT you want to do with it. The knowledge you gain from a conservatory setting is not something to be taken lightly and can put you light years ahead of the competition. I can not tell you how many times having that strong background has helped me in WHATEVER I\'ve done musically (or helped even getting me in the door so to speak).

Again, it all depends on where you want to go. As long as you do it and you love it, what could be better?


Scott Cairns
04-29-2003, 09:31 PM
Hi Edward, this topic was discussed at length here; http://www.northernsounds.com/ubb/NonCGI/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=3;t=003504#000000 (\"http://www.northernsounds.com/ubb/NonCGI/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=3;t=003504#000000\")

I\'m sure you\'ll get widely differing views and opinions though.

Personally, I haven\'t had any musical training. I study books and the like now but wished I had more of a background. Even when working with samples it is obviously going to help you if you know the musical terms, instrument ranges, playing techniques and even physical placement of instrument sections and soloists.

On the other side of the coin, I once won Songwriter of the Year from a music magazine here in Australia. So I guess I must have some sense of composition and melody, despite my almost non-existant musical training.

So IMO some training is good but perhaps too much training can have the potential to stifle your creativity. Again, I know many will disagree with this, but it never ceases to amaze me when a beginner innocently goes to some amazing chord change that the experienced muso might disregard as too simple or \"not musically correct\"

Just my 2 (or perhaps 4) cents. images/icons/wink.gif


Oh, and learning the technical side of midi, smpte, digitizing video, audio bit depth, etc, etc is probably just as critical these days. Most of this is learnt by actually getting out there and doing jobs for people.

04-29-2003, 11:00 PM
I guess my education was worthless... I thought Mahler was dead.

Here\'s my experience:

Bachelor\'s degree in orchestral percussion from Cincinnati Conservatory of Music

here, I learned how to make a really soft snare drum roll, excellent crash cymbals, and pristine little triangle hits.

I also self-produced a lot of concerts, had compositions of my own performed, conducted and ran a percussion ensemble and a bunch of other things that I would not have been able to do at a school with a lower talent pool.

Master\'s Degree in Composition and Performance from California Institute for the Arts.

here, in a lot of ways, I learned how to take my creativity very seriously and the integrity of my work increased while the technical execution waned a little bit.

Again, I was having my music performed on a regular basis, performing in a lot of different musical groups, and running and conducting a bunch of ensembles, as well as a bi-weekly concert series promoting new compositions.

NOW, I\'m writing music for video games, learning that a computer can play softer and more consistantly than I ever could.

I\'m not sure what to make of it, but I\'m sure glad I went to school because there was an environment there that can allow things to happen.

Right now, I don\'t have the time, energy, space, or network of players to get anything going.


04-30-2003, 05:47 PM
Thanks everyone for your responses and thanks Scott for the link on this topic from the past.

I guess I am just going a bit crazy being in a perpetual education enviroment. I\'ve been working on my undergrad degree seriously since 1998 and not so seriously since 1995. Part of me just wants to finish \"a degree\" and get out into the real world but the other part sees so many possibilities with completing a music degree, which in my case would take more time and require other sacrifices.

I have a broad taste in music but still find myself strongly drawn to large orchestral pieces. And I feel that I could wing it so to say with composing something simular but I would like to have the true working knowledge of music.

Well, thanks again. I guess I need to go visit my inner self and find out where I want to go.

Edward Trevino

Scott Cairns
04-30-2003, 06:16 PM
Well the best of luck in whatever decision you make Edward.

Regards, Scott.

04-30-2003, 08:26 PM
For any who are interested (boring read -- drink some coffee images/icons/smile.gif )

I played clarinet for two years in intermediate school and then switched to trumpet after that. I continued to play mainly trumpet throughout my high school career ( I was asked to play other instruments as needed -- i.e. french horn, baritone, fluglehorn, etc.) and went on to attend four different honor bands throughout those four years.

In my senior year of high school I joined the Memphis Youth Symphony, though I had to drop out near the end of my \'term\' due to dental complications ( I had a wisdom tooth removed, the resulting shot directed into the nerves permamently dulled the
muscles on my right side, making playing brass instruments near impossible). I have not had the chance to attend college, due to financial and domestic situations.

The summer following graduation, I grew frustrated with my inability to play an instrument any more, and noticed how boring a lot of the trumpet \'solos\' I had been given to study were. Unimaginative, useless in terms of building any skills for playing (well, useful for first years I would assume since no), I decided to write my own solo and having a friend play them for me (didn\'t have a computer at the time).

Since college wasn\'t an option, I spent some money on orchestration texts, chord books, and film scoring books (i.e. The Reel World). Since my high school did not offer any type of music theory, I was at a loss. I emailed a friend (David Holsinger) and asked him for some tips as to get started on composition. Like anyone else, he gave me some general \'rules\' over the time we talked, but stressed that they mustn\'t interfere with the composing process.

Now, I\'m working on scoring a trailer of a short film for my audition to take the role of composer for it. Let\'s pray I get it shall we (since I\'ll need all the help I can get with working two jobs at the same time images/icons/wink.gif ).

Bruce A. Richardson
05-01-2003, 07:24 AM
Finish the degree. You\'ll be happy you did.

Of course, education does not provide the creative spark. At best it can awaken it, or inform it.

In fact, there\'s nothing creative about being rudely filled with every possible tidbit of information a group of professors can inject. It\'s rather like being plowed and planted. Most people leave music school a bit scarred.

But what I have found to be completely true is that those \"seeds\" can remain dormant for years, then you find yourself in a situation where you must call upon your knowledge, and you find that \"seed\" is still there, and just a bit of water makes it pop into a matured perspective that informs you.

I will never say that education is 100% necessary for a person to be a creative composer or musician. That isn\'t true. But it has proved itself so helpful to me, over and over again, that I can\'t imagine what I would be doing right now if not for my music education.

05-02-2003, 02:46 PM
Hey Russ

How\'s that book? (The Reel world) I\'m interested in learning about scoring for films right now. What\'s the focus of the book?


05-02-2003, 03:24 PM
That and \"Professional Training for Today\'s Musician\" I have yet to read. I devoured my Orchestration books as soon as I got them (i.e. Adler, Piston, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Forsyth) and haven\'t had time to read those two yet. As soon as I do I\'ll let you know what I think, but I imagine it\'ll just be better if you were to get them yourself. I seriously doubt it\'ll be a bad buy.

Scott Cairns
05-02-2003, 07:03 PM
How\'s that book? (The Reel world) I\'m interested in learning about scoring for films right now. What\'s the focus of the book?
<font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">I have that book and I found it to be very good. In fact I am re-reading sections now. It doesn\'t go into too much technical detail about sampling and midi etc, but it does give a good insight into the movie biz. Jeff (the author) also shares some stories about working with producers and directors -some are certainly an eye opener. I\'m already familiar with my gear and the music I\'m writing but I found this book useful in explaining the process a composer goes through when landing a scoring job and what is and what is not required of them.

You can also go to www.jeffrona.com (\"http://www.jeffrona.com\") as he has supplemental material to the book plus further articles. The book is pretty cheap from memory and well worth the read.

Regards, Scott.

05-03-2003, 07:04 PM
Thanks guys, I\'m all over it!