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Topic: Going into the world of music - I need advice!

  1. #1

    Going into the world of music - I need advice!

    Okay, so I'm a sophomore in High School, and I really wanna be a composer. I know it's really hard to just be a composer, so I think I have three options:

    1) Music Education w/ composition on the side.
    2) Music Production w/ composition on the side.
    3) Film/Video Game composing (I listen to film composition for big, money-making movies, and I think, "I can write that!" So I figured, why not?)

    Does anyone have any advice/knowledge that they could share with me that could make this really difficult decision any easier? I think I wouldn't many any of the three, but I don't have enough information yet to decide.

  2. #2

    Re: Going into the world of music - I need advice!

    Do not box yourself in.

    I'm not in any of those fields, however in my experiences with those here, on other boards, and in real life, a music ed degree is probably the best choice, as in you'll have the most options and places to fall back on after school. Production and scoring fields are extremely saturated, competitive markets, and the quality and quantity of your connections is one of the most important, if not the most important factor to success in those fields. Sure you can write like the composers, but do you know the producer to land you the gig?

    Have you considered being just a composer on the side and majoring/studying in something completely different (if another field of study equally interests you)? Across this forum you'll find very talented composers who are engineers, software programmers, anthropologists, nurses, and accountants.

    You don't need to have officially studied music as a major in college to consider yourself a composer. The beauty of college studies is that you can take courses across the spread (like theory and composition, if that's your worry). You ask at a good time.


  3. #3

    Re: Going into the world of music - I need advice!

    Hi, Cransworth. An inspiring post from you. It's great to see a young person excited about music beyond the world of top 10 pop.

    Reegs gave you what I think is an excellent reply. I'm here to basically reiterate what he said.

    Jump into Music, with a capitol M. No need to focus now on what markets you'll be trying to get into later on. The important thing for now is to roll your sleeves up and start your studies and your musical experiments. The progress you make will prepare you for whatever opportunities you pursue later on!

    Randy B.

  4. #4

    Re: Going into the world of music - I need advice!

    THE BAD NEWS: What you are going to need is LUCK much more than talent, I'm afraid. There are so many people trying to scrape by and make a living, and so few that ever get anywhere.

    I have a neighbour who is a film producer and he is overwhelmed by choice, so unless he gets a personal recommendation, ie someone who knows someone, he never needs to test the market.

    To paraphrase Reegs - Its not what you know, its who you know.

    It might not be fair, but life isn't.
    Things may come and things may go but the art school dance goes on forever
    NOW WITH Cubase 5, JABB,GPO, Fender Strat, Ibanez RG, Yamaha Fretless Bass, Framus Archtop, The Trumpet and Mr T Sax, together with GREEN SEALING WAX

  5. #5

    Re: Going into the world of music - I need advice!

    Be aware that a Music Education degree will focus on training you to become a band/orchestra/choir director in the public school system and the degree program will not contain as many theory or composition classes as you might want to take. People in those jobs have little time or energy left over to pursue music after they leave the school for the day. Talk to your band director(s) and ask them about their daily schedule and responsibilities. Many band directors (and choir and orchestra) spend the bulk of their time administrating the program rather than having the luxury of focusing on the music. After all, you are a teacher, responsible for grades, testing, classroom discipline, instrument inventory and maintenance, etc. and somebody has to organize those bus trips for football games, booster clubs.............

    Personally, I hate it when somebody suggests that you get an Ed degree so you can "fall back on teaching". That insults both you and the profession of teaching, in my opinion. First, it assumes that you'll fail at whatever you're pursuing, and second, it disrespects all the hard work that band directors do as if it's something anybody can just walk in and master right away. Again, talk to your band director.

    Further, I'd recommend talking to as many professionals as you can at this point. You're wise to be thinking about all of this at your age because you'll have some time to investigate and research instead of having to make a quick decision while applying to colleges. After talking with your band director, talk to some private teachers, if there are any at your school. Write to the composers you see in game credits. They'll be ecstatic that anyone cared that much to track them down and ask questions. Ask your school counselor for any career guides they might have that discuss musical options.

    There are many many career paths that involve music. In addition to performance and composition, there is production, administration, marketing/promotion, music industry retail, etc. It's certainly possible to pursue another degree path and work in music in some way or you can get that accounting degree (for example) and write to your heart's content away from the office, and if that leads to a second career in music, so much the better. That's a great problem to have.

    You're at an exciting point in your life, getting to work through these choices. One last point I'd like to offer - if music doesn't work out for you it's not the end of the world. You can always stop and change direction. It's very common for college students to change majors, sometimes drastically, while they're in school. "You're being given the keys to the candy store" (as we old people used to say) - explore and enjoy. Whatever you end up doing, though, do it with all the energy you can muster. As another old saying goes - the more you put into it, the more you'll get out of it. Enjoy!
    Paul Baker
    Baker's Jazz And More
    Austin, Texas, USA

  6. #6

    Re: Going into the world of music - I need advice!

    Wow, a lot of good advice from the good folks here on Garritan. Getting into the music business is a lot like getting into acting. Some of it is talent, another part luck, but most part, a who knows who. The movie Bowfinger really captures the movie side of such dreams and aspirations.

    The gaming industry is pretty much saturated right now. I have a composer friend who has done scores for Call of Duty and other such great games, but it is highly competitive to get those gigs. The only way to get in, really, is to find gaming programmers that are just starting off and become part of the team.

    Another source of income is to start composing your own music for documentaries, TV, corporate slideshows etc. and sell your pieces as Royalty Free Music. You can sell one CD with various needle drops (laser drops?) for $25 to $50 over the Internet.
    Garritan on GarageBand '08 using Intel iMac with 1.5G RAM
    Listen to my collection here

  7. #7

    Re: Going into the world of music - I need advice!

    Thanks everyone! This is all really helpful advice. I've considered doing something non-music related, but there isn't really anything I'm enjoying. I am fairly good at all my classes (except math which I have a B in because I'm two years ahead), but nothing else (except maybe biology) interests me so much that I would want to do it as a profession. Music is the one thing that I am really, really good at and that I enjoy doing.

    , that's a an interesting view on the education degree. It may not be a good choice for me after all. Now that you mention it, the directors do seem busy a lot.

    I've talked to composer like Robert Sheldon and Robert W. Smith. Mr. Sheldon said that I should do music ed. Mr. Smith said that I should looking into the music industry (in which he actually teaches a course). I myself thought about the film/video game industry, and my trombone teacher said that he thinks I could do well in that field.

    I think that I have the potential to make it. People who I've showed my works to say that I'm pretty good. My granny is always telling me that I have to have chutzpah if I want to make it in the music world, and she's probably right. It's just so hard to decide what I want to do! I know all three choices are somewhat of a risk (the latter being the most risky). All of the information you guys have given has been really helpful.

    Out of curiosity, are they any positives to any of the things I mentioned? I seemed like there are only negatives...

  8. #8

    Re: Going into the world of music - I need advice!

    Quote Originally Posted by Cransworth View Post
    Out of curiosity, are they any positives to any of the things I mentioned? I seemed like there are only negatives...
    Well, don't look upon them as negatives so much as "pitfalls". No one is telling you not to try, only to be aware of the job market.

    The positives are this: You love and enjoy it and there is nothing stopping you from outputting product to demo and market. So do what was suggested earlier in the thread by Reegs and Randy... just do it! In fact, you have far more advantages than I did. I wanted to be a filmmaker, but try getting proper equipment and stock to do your art! Today, everyone has access to their dreams via the computer age. Man I wish I had such stuff when I was in High School! So don't neglect this golden opportunity!

    Just like financial planning, never put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify your talent pool and do your art. Keep doing it and bloat your portfolio with great orchestrations and pieces.

    For inspiration, watch Walt Disney, the Man Behind the Myth. Everyone want to aspire to a dream should watch it and learn.
    Garritan on GarageBand '08 using Intel iMac with 1.5G RAM
    Listen to my collection here

  9. #9

    Re: Going into the world of music - I need advice!

    Don't take anything as a negative. Every job or career has a negative so they're all equal in that way. At your stage in the decision making process, look at the "negatives" as just being directional signs. If one aspect of a career really turns you off, then look at that as a sign to look in another direction. Eventually you'll find your way to a place that suits you best (challenges you the most in a way you're eager to accept). When I was your age (groan), I used to look at the college catalogs in my school library and look at the degree plans and course offerings. Some really attracted my attention and others really did not.

    My best advice in the big global sense is to become the best Musician (with a capital M) you can. Learn everything you can about its history, about its theory and structure, about its performance practices in all genres, etc. Once you have the tools, you can apply them to whatever situation you encounter.

    My other advice is to NOT pursue an Ed degree unless you really want to be a band director at the middle school or high school level. If you find that that's not what you want, then pursue a performance or theory/comp degree - with the full knowledge and awareness that both are practically useless in acquiring a Job (again, with a capital J) unless you earn a doctorate and aim for a college faculty position.

    What they will prepare you for is a Career in music, the success of which will depend on tons of hard work on your part which will include, but is not limited to: practice and preparation, networking, promotion, hustling, and complete blind luck (if you believe in that). It is not an easy or secure or stable way to make money, but it can be done, and is done by thousands of people across the country. However, that "thousands" is roughly 1-2% of the musical population in the US. Talent and hustle will surface and be employed. There's just not any sort of formal career structure to rely on.

    For me, music has been a calling. I believe that God put me on this planet to make music, to be a channel for Music (wherever it comes from) to enter this world. I can't not do music, and I have tried and failed miserably. As you grow, be aware of forms of guidance in your life and see where they're pointing you, whether its toward music or something else. It's all good. The trick is to find your place and give it all you've got.

    I guess the bottom line is that you will find your way. Don't let you brain make all the decisions, but it keep it involved in the process and don't let fear have the final say.
    Paul Baker
    Baker's Jazz And More
    Austin, Texas, USA

  10. #10

    Re: Going into the world of music - I need advice!

    Everyone's given good advice, but I wonder if you could be a little clearer about what KIND of composer you have in mind. What music do you love, what have you written, what do you want to write?

    I'm not saying you have to decide right now. I'm asking if you already have a passion about any particular type of music.

    What I would add to what everyone has said is to not assume that your teachers will teach you everything you need to know to succeed. Get off your butt and make things happen. Even now while in high school. Write music and get it performed. Find a composer in your area that you respect and see if you can take private lessons. If they say no, ask if they can recommend someone else. Ask to sit in during rehearsals, etc. You'll be surprised what's possible - you just have to ask. Learn everything you can, get experience, and meet people.

    The best part of all of this is that it'll be fun! Good luck to you.
    "An artist is someone who produces things that people don't need to have, but that he - for some reason - thinks it would be a good idea to give them."

    - Andy Warhol

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