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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey! I'm currently a senior in high school and have been doing my research on various different colleges to apply to. I am a Nevada resident, so my first thought was to apply immediately to UNLV as their jazz program seems to be really good. I also applied to UNR as well, as it's also one of the main colleges in-state. However, the college I really want to try getting into is Berklee College of Music (I'm sure many of you know what that is). I know how expensive the tuition there is, but I'm willing to do whatever I can to save as much money as possible (via scholarships and taking classes early, like in the summer).

I don't really have a clue what my future career will be after college, but I'm sure Berklee will help me find myself and what I'm interested in. The thing that I liked most about Berklee was their contemporary writing and production (CWP) major, which none of the main colleges in Nevada have. Although I am a jazzer playing bari sax primarily and tenor sax and bass on the side, my idea is that I want to use jazz knowledge in contemporary/electronic styles. Hell, I'm even interested in the EWI doubling class because I'm interested in learning how to play that. What do you guys think? Is Berklee worth it? Or should I just stick to UNLV's jazz program?

P.S. I just learned about UNLV’s minor in Music Technology, and that seems pretty interesting. Would it be too much work if I combined this minor along with my jazz major?
 

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Hi! Before anything else, please take into account that any advice you get on an internet forum should be taken with a serious grain of salt. That being said:

If your family is wealthy and paying for all of your tuition and living expenses no matter where you go – or if you're prodigiously gifted and you're offered a full ride – then by all means, go to Berklee! Or the New School, Cal Arts, Manhattan School of Music, etc. You'll undoubtedly have an environment of wonderful peers and faculty in which to learn and develop.

If you're like the majority and you'll be footing the bill largely or entirely yourself, and you're pursuing a career in music, then you do NOT want to be going six figures into debt for college. UNLV will help you with the fundamentals you'll need while exposing you to a serious scene of working musicians in Las Vegas, and there will be connections to the Los Angeles scene as well.

If you're interested in excellent musicians combining jazz with electronic music, Los Angeles is the epicenter of that at the moment. Look into Louis Cole, and you're probably already familiar with Thundercat and Flying Lotus. An education at UNLV has as much chance of connecting you with a scene of great jazz/electronic producers as Berklee does, in my opinion.
 

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If you're like the majority and you'll be footing the bill largely or entirely yourself, and you're pursuing a career in music, then you do NOT want to be going six figures into debt for college.
^this. A thousand times ^this! In any field, the day after you graduate no one's going to care where you went to school; the only thing they'll be interested in is whether or not you can play and what your work ethic is.

The one time I was in Vegas I spent a few hours in an ancient club a couple of miles east of the UNLV; the gig was couple of the college professors and they were top-shelf. It would take a lot more than four years to learn what they have to teach.
 

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Are you sure you want to major in music? It will probably be more financially advantageous to do anything else and play music on the side.
 

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I don't really have a clue what my future career will be after college...
You don't go to college to find yourself. It's just too damned expensive. College is an investment into your future with clear career goals as your guide. There are certainly other ways to become a better musician.
 

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I'll give two small bit of advice: research the sax professor extensively. If you go to most schools, you'll be spending 4+ years with the same dude every week, you should really like that guy. When I was a Senior, I took lessons with each professor that I did an audition at (10 schools)-- they were all free, too, but you shouldn't assume that.

Start (or continue) thinking of this experience as the beginning of your professional career. You'll start making connections, and it's going to reflect on you for a long time. Show up on time, be cool to work with, always show up overprepared. Every performance is an audition for your next gig, and that doesn't just mean how you play. It's about your clothes, how you talk to the audience, etc.

I'd pay extra attention to HeavyWeathers comments above-- that dude's a bad player, from a top University, and plays with some of the best in the specific field you're talking about.

-Bubba-
 

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I'm going to echo a lot of the advice that you have been given already.

Whatever you do, do NOT take out Student Loans. Check out a Book Debt Free Degree by Anthony Oneal, also check out the Borrowed Future Podcast. Then I would encourage you to do a mock budget and run it by your parents. When I was 18 years old 40K a year sounded like a lot of money, I am graduating this year from college at the age of 30 with a wife and a kid. If I had student loan debt that I had to repay as well as live on 40K a year from my income I'm not sure how we would do it. Thankfully I'm not in that situation because of the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

I tried being a music education major, I couldn't do it. I came home tried to figure out what I wanted to do, and I couldn't. Then my Girlfriend broke up with me and I joined the Military. 8 years later I left the Military but I'm Mentally, and Physically destroyed. Their are Similarities between being a Music Major and being in the Military. All your friends do the same thing you do, your life revolves around that. In your off time you hang out with those people.

I would strongly encourage you to look at the courses that are offered by Nevada Public Colleges, look to see similarities between those and local Community Colleges. Knock out the basics and core classes that may not be music related at Community College where it is cheaper.

You don't go to college for Self Discovery, you go to College to learn stuff that is applicable to the market and get a degree that you will then trade at least initially to get your foot in the door to a job. I would encourage you to reach out to people doing what you THINK you want to do to see if you really want to do it.

Hope this helps.
 

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Your best bet if you want to pursue a career in music is to go to a business school.
Networking is far more important than musical skill. I'm not saying you don't need chops, but the degree in business still makes more sense.

The best way to make a Million Dollars in the music industry is to start out with Two Million Dollars.
 

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I'm glad my decision to go to college for a music degree paid big dividends. Of course this was the late 60's into the 70's. I actually learned a great deal about music which was my life's goal. I also learned on the bandstand at the same time. Things are definately different now. I would say to listen to your own mind and heart. I know plenty of people who regret not pursuing music. I know a few who are happy listening to others perform...............
 

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You don't need to go to Berklee Boston to become a good jazz player. They have a whole lot of online stuff that is almost as good as being there.
 

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Go to a cheap community college and gig.
Knowing how to get gigs is as, or more, important as the musical education part.
Even if you’re a stone cold mother ****er player you still need to know how to work.
When I lived in NYC people in other places would ask me about the work scene and I’d always tell them if you aren’t working where you are now you probably won’t work in NY either.
 

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Summarizing what I think is the best advice in this thread:
If you're interested in excellent musicians combining jazz with electronic music, Los Angeles is the epicenter of that at the moment.... An education at UNLV has as much chance of connecting you with a scene of great jazz/electronic producers as Berklee does ...
... the day after you graduate no one's going to care where you went to school; the only thing they'll be interested in is whether or not you can play and what your work ethic is.
It will probably be more financially advantageous to do anything else and play music on the side.
You don't go to college to find yourself. ... There are certainly other ways to become a better musician.
Start (or continue) thinking of this experience as the beginning of your professional career. You'll start making connections, and it's going to reflect on you for a long time. ... Every performance is an audition for your next gig ...
I would encourage you to reach out to people doing what you THINK you want to do to see if you really want to do it.
Networking is far more important than musical skill.
I bolded this for emphasis.

You don't need to go to Berklee Boston to become a good jazz player.
Go to a cheap community college and gig.
Knowing how to get gigs is as, or more, important as the musical education part.
Even if you’re a stone cold mother ****er player you still need to know how to work.
Gig, gig, gig. If you want to be the best player you can be, you have to play, play, and play.
 

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The one piece of advice I wish someone had given me (actually they did and Ignored it) is to double on a rhythm section instrument. All the flute teachers I know are getting at least half their students from piano chops. my best trpt friend in high school did many more gigs on bass than trpt when he went to new york to "make it" If you can find gigs to make a living great, but most people in the "business" teach or have some kind of anchor gig. Also, if you decide to do music spend the 4 years learning your area extremely well . That might be where 90% of you gigs are and you want to be first call. Its not always about whos the best? Its who is the best one many many people know and have played with in an area? I fell into a good corp gig in St Louis after college but it was all about 4 years and living in St Louis. So choose your "area" carefully. Also there is a great book out called making it in the new music business. Doing what Dave Pollack and others do, monotizing videos. on you tube. Much to think about and yes yes, dont go into debt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
You don't need to go to Berklee Boston to become a good jazz player. They have a whole lot of online stuff that is almost as good as being there.
True, you don't really need to go there to be a good jazz player. I'm actually interested in their contemporary writing & production major a lot more than their jazz program, and that is something they actually don't have on Berklee Online.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
The one piece of advice I wish someone had given me (actually they did and Ignored it) is to double on a rhythm section instrument. All the flute teachers I know are getting at least half their students from piano chops. my best trpt friend in high school did many more gigs on bass than trpt when he went to new york to "make it" If you can find gigs to make a living great, but most people in the "business" teach or have some kind of anchor gig. Also, if you decide to do music spend the 4 years learning your area extremely well . That might be where 90% of you gigs are and you want to be first call. Its not always about whos the best? Its who is the best one many many people know and have played with in an area? I fell into a good corp gig in St Louis after college but it was all about 4 years and living in St Louis. So choose your "area" carefully. Also there is a great book out called making it in the new music business. Doing what Dave Pollack and others do, monotizing videos. on you tube. Much to think about and yes yes, dont go into debt.
Yeah, I definitely agree with this. I knew from a while back that bass players generally make more money than sax players (or most winds in general) do. I've been really digging into bass guitar, and I really need some practice with upright. I'm definitely trying to find all the possible opportunities and gigs I can get.
 

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Berklee is very expansive and just having attended Berklee doesn’t mean anything. They literally have people attend the school because they want to learn an instrument never having played before. I have met *many* people who attended Berklee and said the same thing: Only the top playing people on large scholarships get the real Berklee experience.
Many describe it like a summer camp that includes all ages and ability levels.
If you are incredible and get something like a 50%+ scholarship, maybe consider Berklee. Otherwise I would not suggest it
I would also add that if you are researching music programs and only know a few in state schools and one famous out of state school, you haven’t done nearly enough. For example, for what you are looking for U. Miami, USC, or NYU might be better draws. From what I have seen historically discussing this with students of mine, when Berklee is the favorite school, they haven’t really researched.
University is expensive, and you don’t get much bang for your buck when you come out. So make sure you research.
 

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I've been really digging into bass guitar, and I really need some practice with upright. I'm definitely trying to find all the possible opportunities and gigs I can get.
A good electric bass player who can also double on upright (string) bass can certainly work more often in more genres and live settings than many horn players. Really good bass players with really good time and who work well with drummers of all types can probably work more than most musicians. That said though, making a really good living from playing music is reserved only for the fortunate few. I know a string bass player in the SF Ballet & Opera Orchestra but those steady gigs are few and far between. Studio players do well, again if they're in the first call fortunate few. Touring is a grind that gets old very fast, although I know some excellent players who did it for many years. Jazz players, especially electronic jazz players ... well, better also teach or have some other side gig which can be music-related. I had an old friend, now passed, who toured and recorded with big name acts, did tv soundtracks and commercials, had his own bands that recorded and toured, etc. He told me if he knew how to do anything else besides music, he would. It can be very stressful even for very successful musicians. I've had my successes in the past, but I've always played for my own enjoyment and for the pleasure of seeing others entertained. I'm an addict for those peak musical moments when it all comes together in a natural high -- or the audience shouts or applauds even if the music is hack. :) But I had a successful business to pay the bills.
 

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Berklee grad here. The school has changed a lot over the years. While it is still a commercial oriented music school, it is not jazz all the time. I had the honor and thrill to study with Joe Viola and to also play in the Rainbow Band led by Phil Wilson...that was fun! CWP major is a good one, I was a film scoring major, I grew impatient waiting in LA and really didn't pursue it as much as quite a few other students that graduated with me in 97. I was an older student, I went to Berklee after three tours of duty with US Navy music program, which is a great career. Now I am taking classes at Berklee Online. I loved going to Berklee, and I am sure that you would too. it is what you make it. There are some great teachers, and a few who make you scratch your head. Best class I had there was called Commercial Adaptations of Twentieth Century Techniques taught by Jerry Gates. Jazz counterpoint with Scott Free was also a good class.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Berklee grad here. The school has changed a lot over the years. While it is still a commercial oriented music school, it is not jazz all the time. I had the honor and thrill to study with Joe Viola and to also play in the Rainbow Band led by Phil Wilson...that was fun! CWP major is a good one, I was a film scoring major, I grew impatient waiting in LA and really didn't pursue it as much as quite a few other students that graduated with me in 97. I was an older student, I went to Berklee after three tours of duty with US Navy music program, which is a great career. Now I am taking classes at Berklee Online. I loved going to Berklee, and I am sure that you would too. it is what you make it. There are some great teachers, and a few who make you scratch your head. Best class I had there was called Commercial Adaptations of Twentieth Century Techniques taught by Jerry Gates. Jazz counterpoint with Scott Free was also a good class.
I'm definitely looking into it! Can I ask how you managed to afford the tuition, and scholarships you may have gotten? I really don't want to end up in serious debt. That's why I want to see if I can test out of certain classes or do anything that I could possibly do to save money.
 
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