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Thread: Is college worth it?

  1. #31
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    Central North Carolina
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    There's a lot of opportunity there. Other things being equal (and I'm not sure what this means in your son's case), I would favor CM, Indiana, Mich, and Penn State as choices over the others -- not based on any features of their music programs, but because I think they offer more breadth and depth in other areas, either to augment his musical goals, or in case he suddenly decides (part-way through freshman or sophomore year) that he really likes particle physics, materials engineering, or the idea of being a neuro-surgeon. There's just no predicting how eye-opening and life-changing a little experience with new fields and ideas can be. And it's good to have an opportunity to pursue something different, with relatively little upset, if you want to.
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 3XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
    Amati Oval Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J6 euph)
    1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba, modified Kelly 25
    Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
    1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

  2. #32
    We will look into Northwestern. Thank you! And I am very proud of him. He works way harder than his dad.

  3. #33
    Ghmerrill- agreed - heís only looking at music schools with psychology and some sort of sports medicine/ kinesiology program.

  4. #34
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    Farmington Hills, MI
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    All are great choices. As an MSU grad I'm a fan of Phil Sinder. He's a great teacher and the music department is excellent. As is the University and especially the beautiful campus. But you can say this about all of these fine schools. One thing I can predict with certainty is that he will not be the best player in the studio as a freshman. There are many phenomenal players at these schools.

  5. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelSchott View Post
    All are great choices. As an MSU grad I'm a fan of Phil Sinder. He's a great teacher and the music department is excellent. As is the University and especially the beautiful campus. But you can say this about all of these fine schools. One thing I can predict with certainty is that he will not be the best player in the studio as a freshman. There are many phenomenal players at these schools.
    I know heís hoping not to be first chair automatically. There was one honors group where a young lady from two counties over who was really close. I donít know who was first chair. But what I do know is that while she is on her second year as a music major, weíve become friends with her family because of our kidsí shared love of Euphonium.

    I know heís really excited by that friendship and the potential for more friends like her.

    Thanks for the feedback on Phil Snider. Iíve heard good things

  6. #36
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    Farmington Hills, MI
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    Quote Originally Posted by jakewillis View Post
    I know he’s hoping not to be first chair automatically. There was one honors group where a young lady from two counties over who was really close. I don’t know who was first chair. But what I do know is that while she is on her second year as a music major, we’ve become friends with her family because of our kids’ shared love of Euphonium.

    I know he’s really excited by that friendship and the potential for more friends like her.

    Thanks for the feedback on Phil Snider. I’ve heard good things
    My pleasure. I didn't study with Phil as I was at MSU prior to his tenure but I know him well. He's a great teacher and a supremely nice person. Also, MSU is expanding their Music Building right now to make more room for the Music majors.

  7. #37

    To College or Not to College, great question!

    I'm enjoying all the view points.

    I'd emphasize there is almost no way in the world such a young person knows what they will do in life. What ever path he takes, his first major and his first career are likely to not be his last.

    The obvious benefits of college music is the many ensemble experiences, great teacher, and being in the environment where people share interests. If you want to teach, by all means take education courses. Etc... As other posters have pointed out, any music degree is not really transferable out of the profession unless you have other experiences and certifications. In the end, if a eupher doesn't make it into a military band (whether DC, or one of the field bands or post bands around the country), one can still perform, teach private lessons, etc., but without the stability of a permanent gig. Outside of the military, there are no steady euph jobs except for something like River City Brass Band (super!) in Pittsburg. I was a pro level player, and that was a competitive audition back in the 90s.

    Other ways of being in the scene, like others have pointed out, is majoring in other fields of interest, like finance, or for goodness sakes learning a marketable trade like instrument repair, plumbing, coding, or web design, and still playing the horn, just not for credit. Some people balk at having "a back up plan", or working outside their dream career path, so instead, whether pursuing a music degree or other major, enter and exit college as a well rounded person with a wide range of domain specific and domain independent skills.

    Other ways to study music:
    • Pay out of pocket to study with the best players in the area or country. College prof lessons are not the only option. 10 or 20 lessons with a top teacher is waaaaay cheaper than one college course for credit.
    • Duet with everybody. My biggest collection of duets is actually for playing with a trumpet player, treble clef reading makes you mighty, and needed for military band auditions. And this guy was a great player, so it really pushed me as a player.
    • Find a large ensemble that is really high level. In a big city, the top community band may have a lot of hot players, and if you're good, you might be able to solo with the band. But you definitely need an outlet for large ensemble playing as a euphonium player.
    • For goodness sake, double on trombone or guitar or something. It will add tons to your euph playing.
    • Even if not a music major, still join the college ensembles like jazz band, tuba euph ensemble. 1 credit hour, or basically free if you're already full time 15 credits. This might be a way to fulfill some general studies credits, but probably not. But you'll get in socially with the music majors and teachers who lead the groups. Expect audition even for concert band.
    • Buy tons of recordings. Copy everything you can get your hands on in the library. Listen hours every day.
    • Pay to go to conferences. So much to hear and learn, and from some of the best in the country.
    • Attend university performances for free. Pay to hear pros in concert.
    • Form your own groups and hire people that are better than you. Make a quintet or other chamber group that can get hired for weddings or museum events. If you are hiring, you get to say the trombone part is played on euphonium! Hire cornets for an all conical quintet. BTW, hiring others is a great way to get hired back.
    • Join as many ensembles as you can find. I used to play on a period baritone in a Civil War reenactment group. And Salsa. Dixie. Jazz. Anything, everything.
    • Get your playing together, and you can still get good enough to audition for some of the lower tier military bands, but those slots too are competitive for euph. Once in the military band, even a post band, you can work on the degree part time with the military picking up some of the cost, and you can also ask to attend some of the military school of music, for conducting etc. Some players might be at this level out of high school if they have studied with a teacher. The audition is a specific set of "sight reading", which you might be able to find published.


    After years of playing professionally in all kinds of ensembles, what I really got out of college was being a part of a community with shared interests (including pizza and beer, and of course brass music), great instruction with a connected teacher, and a myriad of ensemble experiences, from marching, musical theater, tuba ensemble, quintet, trombone choir, jazz band, combo, men's chorus, band, and orchestra. I have lasting friendships that are also part of my professional community.

    The main challenges of not being in a college music program is developing a community of players and not playing in such a wide range of ensembles as an amateur. But top instruction is readily available in most cities.
    Last edited by BrassedOn; 09-10-2018 at 03:12 PM.

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrassedOn View Post
    I'd emphasize there is almost no way in the world such a young person knows what they will do in life. What ever path he takes, his first major and his first career are likely to not be his last.
    I'm willing to beat this dead horse some more because it is so important. As I've said before in several contexts, my primary concern with my own children was to convince them not to shut (either by direct action or neglect) doors to their futures that they might at some point want to take.

    Of course, you can't do everything, and you can't prepare for everything. But one point of college/university is (should be?) to provide you with sufficient basic knowledge in at least several areas that would enable you to at least move in one of several different directions if you think about doing that in the future. And learning the basic "hard stuff" for various disciplines is best and most easily done when you're young and can devote your full time to studies (which is the environment that college/university is supposed to provide).

    It's a bad idea for someone in engineering and science to get through college without fundamental experience with literature, history, writing, and related fields. It's a bad idea for someone in the humanities to get through college without fundamental experience in mathematics and the hard sciences. Etc. That sort of thing not only leads to a shallow education (and some would say, a relatively shallow person), but it closes -- or at least very seriously narrows -- some doors that you might want very much to go through at some time in the future, for any number of reasons. And you will be able to compete better in all contexts with that broader knowledge and education.

    Who knows? Even a highly skilled professional euphonium player might at some point want to develop a second or later career in IT or computer consulting -- even if the idea of IT didn't exist while he was becoming a highly skilled euphonium player. And he might want some strong language and presentation skills to go along his performance interests, possibly extending those into the education and publication areas, and also aiding him in is computer consulting activities. Stranger things have happened. The best place and time to build that foundation is (or should be) in college.

    Even the course I took in romantic poetry as an undergraduate wasn't a waste, and was beneficial in various ways -- though I confess to continuing to detest most of the romantic period in poetry.
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 3XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
    Amati Oval Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J6 euph)
    1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba, modified Kelly 25
    Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
    1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

  9. I am a college freshman, and I was looking at most of those same schools as your son is. However, having sifted through all of these colleges, what I found out is that UMich probably isn't worth it because their financial aid isn't great - unless he gets an amazing scholarship or you can afford it. To add to the list, I very strongly suggest the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt. This was the one high-end school at which I applied, so I know a little bit about the process. Every instrument must go through pre-screening (video) and the auditions (live) start in late January. I passed my pre-screening but I did not get accepted into the program. It was heartbreaking, but that's beside the point. Vanderbilt's music school consists of only undergrad students. If I remember correctly, their ensembles have concerts every 3-ish(?) weeks. In its entirety, the music school has about 200 students, so it is a very close-knit group. And I must say, I really loved Vanderbilt's campus, and walking around Nashville was a blast.

    It's definitely worth looking at Vanderbilt, and I hope your son can get into his dream school. He's talented, and I'm glad he's shooting for the stars.
    T.J. Davis

    Wessex Dolce
    G&W Kadja

  10. “Is college worth it?”

    No. That’s money that could be spent on mouthpieces and beer. And mouthpieces.
    Martin Cochran
    Adams Performing Artist
    mceuph75@gmail.com

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