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Steve Swallow once said "Wanting to be a musician is not such a good thing, but if you have to be a musician you will b alright..." Times change and schooling has gotten prohibitively expensive. I went to NEC after having an undergraduate degree not in music. After a semester I quit the school and studied with my instrumental teachers at NEC (Robert Brink , violin and Joe Allard Saxophone) and privately with Jerry Bergonzi. I learned more in three lessons from Jerry than anything that happened at NEC. Jerry, by the way, went to Berklee and played with Miroslav and /Herbie and many others but quit and went to the local State Teacher college to finish his degree. He studied piano privately with Madame Chartoff in a room with Herbie Hancock, Charlie Binacos and two other luminaries I can't recall. If your goal is to play professionally, you do not need a school, per se. You may need a good teacher. When I quit the conservatory both my teachers, Jerry and Robert Brink told me about their leaving music school early. With the way the music business is headed, spending 100k + on a performance degree may not be the best way to become a great player. Berklee is famous for giving students "scholarships" for the tuition and then requiring them to stay at the dorm and making all their money that way. The new school lets you pick a teacher and then study with him or her and pay the school , who in turn pays your teacher. They are a middle man. If you want to just study music, there are many great players who teach. A school may let you feel that you are in some way legitimizing your quest, but in the end, it is your quest, and it is legit on it's own and it will be successful if you become the player you aspire to be. Or, it may be successful because of the experience it gives you. I would humbly advise you to find the teacher you admire for his/her playing and pedagogy and go study with that teacher for a year. During that time, work or just practice all day long if you can afford it. Jerry told me the only good part of music school was meeting the cats who went there and networking. Find an alternative way to network and get a teacher. And save your money.
 

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I think there is a world of good advise here on this thread. In looking at my post I would like to add something that several mentors told me , most notably, Jerry Bergonzi. If you are looking to make money, lots of it, or even a little, don't be a musician to do it.(As Jerry once told me"the business dudes get all the money and all the women...") It seems harsh, but it is generally true. There are always exceptions. Here is something I have noted in life playing and listening to music. Some of the most beautiful and talented players I have experienced were not known to the general or even Jazz specific public. And many of them had many other means for their survival. when you are young and alone, you can pursue almost anything without care. As you gain responsibilities, family, assets, possibly a day job, you may be limited in your pursuit. The day still has 24 hours and you can still hone your craft. So maybe having a second love or a second pursuit while pursuing your first is a good idea. You may become one of the great players that few know of, but you will still become a great player. If your ego is in check, you will have a nice life. I once had dinner with Eddie Harris and he told a piano player at the table something that stuck with me. The piano player was bragging that he a a singer had put out a record(LP) and that it had what he thought would be a "hit" on it. Eddie gave him the "ray" and said Look, I've had 'hits' . They don't mean s**t. Learn to play good. I never met a happy man with a hit, but the cats who play good are happy..."
 
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