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In light of some other college threads that I have recently participated in, I decided to take another poster's advice and start a thread for those who succeeded financially with a music degree and how they did it. Any one that is happy with their finances and their job earned with a music degree, please chime in with your magic formula.

How I did it:
I waited lots of tables. I worked evenings only 20-25 hrs a week and made a pretty decent wage just on that. I attended a state school. I practiced at least 4 hours a day-- good practice. I try to be a pleasant person. I made connections and I earned a graduate assistantship (for you high schoolers, that means full ride + they actually pay you a little extra just to go to school). I taught lessons on the side. Several years later I have no college debt, play out once a week and teach little kids to love music. I'm not a god of saxophone, but I'm pretty good and I think doing music everyday is way better than the hypothetically higher paying alternatives.

I went to school with others that also earned grad degrees in performance and have very satisfying careers in regional orchestras, military bands, private teaching studios and reknowned quartets. To the best of my knowledge, none of these guys are on the verge of bankruptcy.

Please join me in my little attempt to add a little positive light on following a passion for music.:)
 

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I joined the Navy Band program and then got my degree on the government. B
 

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Nice post. How many hours per day did you practice in High School?
Thanks.

Short answer: 1-2 hrs a night in high school.

But I also went through a guitar period, a tennis period, an "I want to be a doctor period" and an "I want to be a priest period." I think by allowing myself to pursue other passions/dreams, I was able to ultimately make a realistic and informed decision about going into music. So needless to say, I fell off the practice wagon often through 4 years of high school. I'm not a big proponent of assigned practice for high schoolers lest they burn out too soon. Finding your natural intrinsic motivation is the most important thing for a happy career.
 

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I practiced (flute) 1-2 hours a day in high school. I didn't have more time because I was an athlete. I did teach and have lot of gigs though, and bought my professional flute with my own money. I started out with the intent of possibly getting a double degree in performance flute and criminal justice at a large university, but ended up dropping the performance degree and just studying music for credits. I would like to have done both, but the flute professor found out from someone else that I also had another major, so he dropped me from performance. I was still the #1 flute student in the department, so I was allowed to do the recitals and play in the faculty orchestra. My full athletic scholarship paid for my entire undergraduate degree. I spent a 5th year at school practicing more and deciding whether I wanted to go into music full-time, grad school or law school. I always worked gigs and taught lessons from age 14 on, and music ended up paying my law school tuition. Music gigs paid better than work study so I continued working the gigs until I got full time legal work. I graduated from law school with no debt. After law school I auditioned and got into a small part-time professional orchestra just because I enjoyed playing. I really enjoyed working a combination of legal and music jobs. Eventually I was offered a great federal government job and moved away, losing my music contacts so I've done far less playing during the past 3 decades.

Now I have a high school daughter who wants to be a professional musician.
 

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In the spirit of hopefully giving some of our potential students a little food for though, this was my experience.

- Worked summers and after school as a field laborer and factory worker for my three H.S. years. Saved all the money (except for $20.00 for a used, rental surf board) for college. This paid for tuition and school fees for my first three years in college.

- 1st year of college at state school (Univ. of Hawai'i), lived at home; worked summer as the waterfront director for a church camp/retreat center.

- 2nd year at out-of-state school (Texas), worked morning, mid-day and evening in cafeteria. Made just barely enough money to cover my room and board.

- 3rd year work-study program at school, plus a limited scholarship payed "living" expenses.

- 4th year worked as a researcher for a professor and also in the university music library. Also, got state residency, which considerably reduced tuition charges, and which was terrific since I ran out of the money I had earned in HS to pay for tuition.

- four year hiatus in US military courtesy of Lyndon Johnson -​

- 5th year (end of BM beginning of MM work). GI Bill paid for a lot. Also got a big break in that I was married to a local girl who was a Montessori teacher and who's dad let us stay in a fishing cottage he'd made out of a garage, and loaned us a VW Beetle on its last leg. We were pretty poor (we had a child by then) but at the same time, I was accruing no debt for my schooling.
- worked summer as supervising life guard at a municipal swimming pool.

- 6th year..the big break! I was a graduate assistant which paid a stipend as well as waiving tuition and all school fees. Also still had the GI Bill.
- - as I was finishing my MM, I already had a job as a composer-in-residence of a school system, so for the first time since the military, I had a real, steady gig.

I have to add that, now that there is not the stigma of military service that was prevalent among musicians in the past, I would highly recommend anyone really needing financial assistance to look into the programs military music has to offer. This can be a pretty sweet deal if you have the right kind of temperament.
 

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I got my Bachelor of Music from University of Louisiana at Monroe for free as I received a full scholarship for being in marching band, wind band, & jazz ensemble.

Since I borrowed no money as an undergrad, I decided to take out loans to attend Berklee College of Music and get a 2 year Professional Certificate. Berklee is a private school & is expensive, but was worth every penny.

I am seriously considering getting my Masters at a state school soon. I will hopefully be able to get a graduate assistantship to help cover expenses.
 

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Yeah, I went into the

1 military for the GI Bill.
2 Worked through college
3 Borrowed a little
4 Skimped on Joe College frivolity - women, booze, vacations, trips
... graduated owing $5k

I am not even particularly talented or savvy about these things. If I had to do again, I'd researched scholarships and grants for minority students, etc. and of course, more frivolity!
 

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Yeah, I went into the

1 military for the GI Bill.
2 Worked through college
3 Borrowed a little
4 Skimped on Joe College frivolity - women, booze, vacations, trips
... graduated owing $5k

I am not even particularly talented or savvy about these things. If I had to do again, I'd researched scholarships and grants for minority students, etc. and of course, more frivolity!
5k? over here you can almost pay your whole college education for that amount of money
 

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5k? over here you can almost pay your whole college education for that amount of money
quasi socio-political comment self-deleted. Readers can draw their own conclusions about the middle and northern European systems and their pros and cons to the citizens.
 
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