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  • Jackie Fornari

So...Your child wants to go into Music!

Your child wants to go into music and get a music performance degree. This is a scary idea if you are not a musician. There is a lot to consider when this is your child’s goal. Your questions are:

*How will he/she make a living?

*What kinds of jobs are available with a Music Performance degree?

*Is he/she good enough to make a living as a musician?

*What schools are good for this kind of degree?

*I haven’t heard of those schools.

*Are they reputable?

I understand your concerns and I will attempt to answer these questions. I too, am a parent of a student getting a Music Performance degree. I have the advantage of going through the degree program and getting both a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Flute Performance. Music school is an amazing experience for a dedicated musician. It’s awesome being with other musicians who value music as much as you do. It puts you in the mindset that you can accomplish this goal of making music your whole life. When you’re in college, practicing and performing all the time, you know this is what makes you happy and you can’t imagine life without this. As a young musician, you don’t realize exactly what it takes to “make it”. First, you have to work on your craft daily. Efficient practice and a great teacher are key. The disciplines of music theory, history and piano enhance you knowledge of music. But what does this all lead to?

This is a parent’s concern. But there is no need to worry at this point. Your job is to support your child’s decision to pursue music. I’m sure you son/daughter has been taking private lessons. If the private teacher is a professional and says your child has talent, enough talent to be a professional musician, believe him/her. The key word here is “professional”. Not all private teachers are professionally trained. A music degree is important, but a performance degree and professional performing experience is better. A musician with a music education degree is a great advocate for music education. A musician with a performance degree and professional performing experience is trained to teach their primary instrument, on a higher level. When I say “professional performing experience” I mean in a symphony where they had to take an audition to hold a position. This is an entirely different level of experience.

The schools your child will be applying to are not necessarily big name state schools. Most music schools are small. The best music schools are Music Conservatories, however, some Universities have well known music programs. The school is important but the applied teacher is even is crucial to the success of the student. It is important to research the teacher to know if his or her teaching philosophy is in line with your child’s. Will their personalities mesh and have they produced successful musicians in the field your child is most interested in? Your child’s current private teacher will help with this.

How will my child make a living with a music degree?

This is more straight forward than you think. There are more opportunities than you know. There are orchestral positions. These are for the very best and takes a specific talent and dedication to attain. Not everyone fits the orchestral mold. They may choose to be a band director and share their love for music with middle and high school students. They may choose to put a chamber ensemble together and become a performing ensemble. A private studio can also be very lucrative when the teacher is very entrepreneurial. Some musicians go on to be conductors or composers, Instrument repair specialists or music therapists. There are so many opportunities to make money performing. Ceremonial music at weddings, funerals and parties pay really well. Senior living facilities and libraries hire musicians to do concerts. If you want to perform, you can, you just have to go after it. Most schools of music offer entrepreneur classes and pedagogy classes to set up your studio.

What I would really like you to understand is the drive and need of a musician/artist. When you have this desire in you, you HAVE to do it. Your soul needs this! Trying to make your child go into the field you think they need to go into, deprives them of who they are. I know that you want your child to someday be self-sufficient and a music career seems risky, but what is more risky is to deny them the very reason they were given life and this talent. Everyone has a special gift. I speak from experience here. You cannot take music out of the musician. Happiness and fulfilment comes from embracing who you are. When you do that, everything else falls into place.

Next blog - What you need to do to support and guide your child when they decide to get a degree in Music?


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