Let me begin by saying that I completely respect a parent’s authority and (as a parent myself) that a parent’s decision is absolute; however, I would like to challenge the idea that ceasing lessons is the best answer to academic “rough spots.”
Music is Education
Music lessons are too often ranked low on the totem poll in comparison to academics, sports, and other school-related activities. I am a strong believer that music is a very important part of general education. There are countless studies that support music’s positive impact on the mind and learning. Music is, and should be, classified simply as education. The most successful students I teach are well-rounded individuals educated and trained in academics, physical activity, and the arts.
Music Can be a Career
My dad once told me I was living a pipe dream by trying to succeed in music. He actually kicked me out of the house because of the differences in our outlooks. Nowadays, he’s my biggest fan and has apologized for not believing in me. There are so many avenues for students to make a legitimate career in music. Like any trade, if you do good work, you will be successful; how successful is up to the individual. It is my hope that parents will start appreciating its validity and not trivialize music as only a hobby that accompanies your “real job.”
Strengths and Weaknesses
There are some students at our studio who are extremely gifted and passionate about music. In some instances, it is one of the few areas in which the student excels. Many parents believe that taking away something that their children love and are passionate about will make them more focused on their school work. I would argue against that line of thinking; if they love it and are passionate about it, and it is education (see my first point), then perhaps it would serve the child better to pour more into it. Music may actually be the most viable career for some of these students.
At Freeway Music, we instructors highly value the mentoring aspect of our jobs. We not only teach students how to play, but we also ask them about their weeks and their schoolwork, encouraging them to do better, instilling professionalism and responsibility into them, and more. This mentoring is vital in children’s lives. Rather than removing the lessons, what if you had a meeting with their private instructor (who often has heavy influence on the student) and ask them to help encourage the student to improve in school as a way of showing how serious they are about pursuing their passion for music? Use this passion to fuel their academic pursuits.
When it comes to removing distractions that can be leveraged as privileges, there are more appropriate things to remove from a child’s life than music lessons. What about phones, tvs, tablets, computers, going out with friends, dessert, cars, etc.? Surely there are some pretty strong bargaining chips beyond music lessons.
At the end of the day, music is a form of education that can help make a student well-rounded and perhaps propel them to a career. Music instructors provide a service that includes one-on-one mentoring. I must say again, I completely respect parental authority and the parent is final arbiter. I just ask that you consider these points I detailed above and challenge your preconceived notions that music lessons are expendable.
Oftentimes when musicians decide they want to have a music career, they don’t realize the amount of options available. The purpose of this blog is to detail some viable career options for musicians aspiring towards a music career.
- Songs: The typical track for writing is to create music and lyrics to form a song. Not only can you sell songs personally, but you can place them with artists, movies, etc.
- Film: As mentioned above, movies often need soundtracks. One can easily forge a music career around scoring for films. This is a great avenue for someone with experience in conducting, symphonies, or writing parts for multiple instruments.
- Symphony: This one closely relates to the above career track, but focuses more on just writing for symphonies, orchestras, and various arrangements for instruments. This is a great path for a classical musician. Each state, and most major cities, have symphonies.
- Video Games: The video game business is booming. Every video game has a soundtrack, just like movies. Video games are really turning into movie-like productions, becoming more and more complex with time. This option is great if composing music for video games is a passion for you, as the demand continues to grow.
- Producer: Producers have a wide range of jobs they do in the studio. A lot is based on their skill set. Producers generally call the shots for how the record will come together. Things that producers work on include: writing, arrangement, equipment choice, mic placement, choosing players, instrumentation, effects, and basically anything that affects the sound of the recording.
- Engineer: The engineer is the “nuts and bolts” guy. They will do the actual recording into Pro Tools, Logic, or whatever recording software is being used. An engineer will also be able to set up mic, inputs, plugins, equipment, and everything to the producers liking. Engineers also will make any edits necessary and adjust levels for each instrument. Some engineers specialize in just mixing, drum edits, etc.
- Recording Artist: A recording artist is someone who specializes in session work at the studio. You will absolutely need to know your instrument well, be knowledgeable of gear, and able to work in pressure situations. Many recording artists also tour with the bands that they record with. If you are looking to make a music career as a session player, it’s important that you live in a town with a lot of recording studios. Also, it doesn’t hurt to stick around a while and get to know people in the scene, as engineers and producers often use guys they know.
- Mastering: Mastering is the icing on the cake. After a project is produced, recorded, and mixed, it is sent off for mastering. Mastering uses very expensive equipment to assure that each song on the record is similar in volume and tone. This process also includes the ordering of the tunes and the spacing between the tunes on the album.
- Band Director: If you are choosing this option as a career path, you must make sure that you are absolutely passionate about band. It requires a great deal of work and organization, but has a great reward. You get the benefits of having a steady job and a window of time (summer!) off as well.
- Private Music Teacher: This is a very popular option nowadays. Freeway Music is a model based on private music lessons. This career takes a while to build up clientele and can be unpredictable; however, it pays well and is flexible for one that is pursuing other musical projects. It’s imperative that you hook up with a great studio.
- College Professor: A college music educator has a more set schedule, but is also a steady music career with decent pay and benefits. One can also earn tenure in a college teaching position. You will more than likely have students that are serious about learning. Also, there are research opportunities and a pool of talented musicians readily available.
- Public School Music Teacher: Many jobs fall under this category: general music educator, chorus director, orchestra director, and there are even private music lessons jobs available depending on your school district. A public school career offers a set schedule, benefits, and steady pay. This is a great career choice for someone who likes consistency and is less of a risk taker.