Last week a promising young student came in for his lesson somewhat down and despondent. A sophomore in high school, we are beginning to talk about his options for college and subjects he may want to study. Naturally, being a talented student I suggested studying music as an option and we discussed several different majors and other possibilities. The student was intrigued so I told him to take his time and research the subject more with parents and guidance counselors at school. Unfortunately, discussions with parents and professionals at school did not go as hoped.
According to the student, school advisors were not very supportive of the idea of music as career choice. The term “starving artist” was brought up and lack of job opportunities. After hearing this I realized my mistake in not telling him to talk to another professional musician like myself or go directly to his high school band teacher first. The whole starving artist idea comes from ignorance of what being a real musician is. Many people have the idea of musicians as pan handling with an open guitar case or playing bars for free trying to make it as a rock star. In my experience this is the exception rather than the rule.
I teach at a local music school with seven full time instructors and 10 other part timers. We all make decent livings and love what we do. This profession has not always been easy and it takes many years to get where you want be, but every profession is like this. Regardless of the chosen field there will be struggle at first, but as long as you go about it the right way and work as hard as possible, you can be successful. This is the case for the majority of my friends and co-workers in music.
The point of my blog today is not to talk majoring in music or being a musician and all the avenues and pitfalls that go with it, but to encourage parents, students and fellow teachers to please educate yourself on a topic before giving advice you may have little or no knowledge of. Do not let ignorance discourage a student with potential. Talk to someone in the business, read up on different college programs and the ever growing career opportunities in music. In my next blog I will go into further detail about my experience being a musician, all the work it takes, its pitfalls and opportunities. In the meantime educate, inspire and make excellent music!