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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Howdy all,

My son is finishing his first year in college where he is currently a double major of Jazz Performance (saxophone of course, this is a sax forum) and Music Education. The program that he is in takes a fifth year to complete the requirements for a Teaching Certificate. However, he now has many questions on the pros and cons of continuing to keep the Music Ed (and subsequent Teaching Certificate) and is wondering what to do. Making things even more complicated is that he is a part of the university's Honors College (which includes their own additional seminars, a couple of extra classes, community service requirements).

First, what is clear is trying to do all three is impossible; the schedules do not allow for all three parts (Jazz Performance, Music Ed, and Honors College) to work as necessary classes get bumped.

Second, in surveying the jazz program, he notes that even without Honors College to complicate things upperclassmen in the program who stuck with the double major of Jazz and Music Ed clearly compromised their jazz performance development (they tend to be the weakest players in the program). Apparently, many students arrive at this program with the intention of the double Jazz and Music Ed major but many do end up dropping the Music Ed as the demands of fulfilling that degree becomes apparent.

To be clear, my son loves the jazz program itself and the faculty. He is thrilled to be in the Jazz Program. He does feel that he is at a crossroads as to how to proceed and I am posting here just to get feedback on a couple of possibilities. I also hope that respondents can also offer rationale for their suggestions. My wife and I are not in the music world, so we have our own worries about his future prospects for jobs/career. For the record, he hopes to be a pro player but he initially looked to the Music Ed as expanding options for day job, especially initially after graduating college.
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As far as my wife and I can determine, here are his choices:

1. Drop Honors College and stick with the Jazz and Music Ed double major. Again, the schedules cannot work for all three.

2. Drop the Music Ed and stick with Jazz and Honors College (as a side possibility, fill the Liberal Arts requirements with Psych courses and he would also minor in Psych; he has to take 30-ish credits of Lib Arts reqs to graduate anyways). One note is that Jazz plus Honors college is much less onerous than Jazz plus Music Ed.

3. Drop both Music Ed and Honors College and concentrate on Jazz.

4. Any other creative ideas?

One thing that my wife and I do not know is really what is the advantages of the Teaching Certificate (the big carrot for the Music Ed dual major) compared to a post college Masters program.

So, any thoughts?

-floobydust
 

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I was in a similar position when I was in college and I ended up taking honors classes and getting a jazz performance degree at the University of North Texas. I had wanted to get a teaching certificate, but the jazz program was just so much more exciting than music ed courses.

I would try to talk with a counselor at the university to get a feel for how difficult it would be to get a teaching certificate after graduating with a jazz degree. I took a year and a half to play gigs and live overseas, and then I went back to university to get a teaching license. In the end I have had five years of college (just like in a music ed program), but I have a performance degree with honors, and a teaching certificate from a different university. Having a performance degree and getting my teaching certification post graduate has helped me be more competitive in getting teaching jobs. For that reason I think that can be a good route. Plus if your son has success as a pro he won't need to go back to get his teaching license.

The thing to watch out for is that teacher certification requirements vary drastically by state. Depending on the State and the rules at the moment, your son might be able to take the praxis or cset, and test out of a bunch of music ed classes. But if not then he may not be able to get a teaching credential in one extra year. There are some programs offering a masters and teaching credential in one year, but most of these are pretty expensive. I think if he is not a self motivator, and is not good at navigating bureaucracy, then your son would be better off getting the music ed degree. But if he is a hard worker etc then there are other options.

This is a little jumbled, but I hope it offers something. Good luck!
 

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My son is finishing his first year in college where he is currently a double major of Jazz Performance (saxophone of course, this is a sax forum) and Music Education. The program that he is in takes a fifth year to complete the requirements for a Teaching Certificate. However, he now has many questions on the pros and cons of continuing to keep the Music Ed (and subsequent Teaching Certificate) and is wondering what to do. Making things even more complicated is that he is a part of the university's Honors College (which includes their own additional seminars, a couple of extra classes, community service requirements).
What are the benefits of the Honors College?

First, what is clear is trying to do all three is impossible; the schedules do not allow for all three parts (Jazz Performance, Music Ed, and Honors College) to work as necessary classes get bumped.

Second, in surveying the jazz program, he notes that even without Honors College to complicate things upperclassmen in the program who stuck with the double major of Jazz and Music Ed clearly compromised their jazz performance development (they tend to be the weakest players in the program). Apparently, many students arrive at this program with the intention of the double Jazz and Music Ed major but many do end up dropping the Music Ed as the demands of fulfilling that degree becomes apparent.

To be clear, my son loves the jazz program itself and the faculty. He is thrilled to be in the Jazz Program. He does feel that he is at a crossroads as to how to proceed and I am posting here just to get feedback on a couple of possibilities. I also hope that respondents can also offer rationale for their suggestions. My wife and I are not in the music world, so we have our own worries about his future prospects for jobs/career. For the record, he hopes to be a pro player but he initially looked to the Music Ed as expanding options for day job, especially initially after graduating college.
You can play jazz without a performance degree, but you cannot teach without a credential. Having a masters degree may not make so much sense. Check the prerequisites for the masters program - it may not be so easy as it seems, if the hope is to acquire an entre to teaching. Your son needs to ask these questions of the faculty, and check the prereqs for the various options. Ask also about the success rates of previous graduating classes for placement in their various careers. Some districts may not hire someone with a masters, if they can fill the position with someone else that has a bachelors degree. (I've been hit with being "overqualified".)
 

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I really question the value of the Honors Program. I don't know one musician who got a gig because of their enrollment in such a program.

I'm not anti-honors. I wanted a liberal arts education and that's why I went to a university instead of a conservatory. Nevertheless, one can get everything they need, academically, in the normal academic program. It's a matter of time and focus. I don't think, and there are certainly exceptions, that there are enough hours in the day or enough Red Bull cans to do everything your son is signing up for. I'm an NT graduate (BM, MM) and there's enough to do just with the Jazz program alone, much less the rest of his planned studies.

Another thing you won't find in the school catalogue is networking and working outside of school, (while still being in attendance). If you look at the history of successful NT grads, you'll notice that a lot of them got their street smarts by playing in and around Dallas while still in school. You build a network and comradery outside of school that's unparalleled. And that eats up time that you haven't allowed for, (not get graded for).

If it were me, I'd major in jazz, work for a teaching certificate (not another ed. degree) as an aside pursuit, and forget the Honors studies.
 

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Assuming that he wants to be a high school band director (these sorts of decisions are a lot easier when one lays out career goals first then decides what education is needed), have him talk to his his school band director and high school principal. The band director would know what is useful on a day to day basis and the principal would be able to talk about what (s)he looks for when making hiring decisions.
 

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This would be an hour long phone conversation with me.
I will just say that I attended four schools and saw a recurring pattern. People wanted to double major to open their job prospects. First of all, what jazz job prospects? And second, ONLY do music education if band director is the only job you will accept in the world.

So with that out of the way, the pattern. The music Ed and performance double major was almost always the weakest players in ensembles. It doesn't have to do with skill level, it has to do with work load. Add honors college? Forgot about it!! Lol
In all the schools I attended I can count on one hand the Jazz sax players that were Ed and performance double and were in a top jazz ensemble.
However, I out a very large amount of the blame on that on marching band. Music education programs seem to be more socially integrated with the marching band. And why not? It is a much closer experience to the college experience with football games and comrodary. But marching band takes a lot of time, usually all the practice and ensemble time.

So music education means the extra year, yes. But it almost always seems to also mean marching band.

Jazz will be all jazz and only jazz. And as I said there are little to no gigs. You can often take lessons with the jazz professor and play in ensembles as a non major.

So long story short, if you can be in honors college, get a good career through a strong degree. Take lessons and play in ensembles and be very serious about it!! Have a good career and play on the side. Most of the happier musicians I know that are still killer jazz players have a good day job that they worked hard for in college.

Too many schools have jazz degrees and don't in any way represent the market. Only do music education of you love it more than anything.

I see too many of my extremely talented friends not playing music and at day jobs they surely wish were better high skill jobs.

I could write forever on this topic, so I will just stop here.
 

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I believe the jobs are there, a contradictory opinion, I know. But I increasingly feel that one of the biggest problems with underemployment are that too many people are using old paradigms. We've just been raised under an older system of live jazz club performances, recording contracts, band tours, musical production shows and the like. Look to the youngest generation and how they are using technology and new ways to integrate their work into today's models.

Regarding how many jazz majors (or music majors) are in the top school performing bands, in my own experience, I'd say that maybe half were music majors, with others in business, biology, and so forth and some of these guys walked right out of school into music jobs anyway.

I think it's a fallacy to keep thinking of a life in performance as equating, instrumental performance. For many, if not most, contemporary musicians put together what I call a mosaic of activities; performance, arranging/composing, teaching (both classroom and one-on-one), and as far as playing, shows, clubs, classical, cover bands, you name it. I just bring this up, because when we say there are "no jobs" I think what we are really saying is that there are few full time jobs performing the kind of music you reasonably want to be performing.

Be flexible, use the evolving technology, talk to the younger cats, put together a mosaic of activities, and "create your own vacancies".
 

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I believe the jobs are there, a contradictory opinion, I know. But I increasingly feel that one of the biggest problems with underemployment are that too many people are using old paradigms. We've just been raised under an older system of live jazz club performances, recording contracts, band tours, musical production shows and the like. Look to the youngest generation and how they are using technology and new ways to integrate their work into today's models.

Regarding how many jazz majors (or music majors) are in the top school performing bands, in my own experience, I'd say that maybe half were music majors, with others in business, biology, and so forth and some of these guys walked right out of school into music jobs anyway.

I think it's a fallacy to keep thinking of a life in performance as equating, instrumental performance. For many, if not most, contemporary musicians put together what I call a mosaic of activities; performance, arranging/composing, teaching (both classroom and one-on-one), and as far as playing, shows, clubs, classical, cover bands, you name it. I just bring this up, because when we say there are "no jobs" I think what we are really saying is that there are few full time jobs performing the kind of music you reasonably want to be performing.

Be flexible, use the evolving technology, talk to the younger cats, put together a mosaic of activities, and "create your own vacancies".
Yes x1000! I talk to high school kids all the time who are looking to go into music, and I always tell them that to be successful in music nowadays you need to be very flexible and wear many hats. Some of these kids are monster players (Grammy Band, Next Generation, etc.) so some of them are not used to people telling them to branch out from just performing jazz.

Specific jobs can be hard to get (my teaching job had 80+ applicants for 1 position), but if you put yourself out there in different situations, you can make it work.

As far as the degrees, my school (William Paterson) had a single major- Jazz Performance/Music Ed, so I got all the jazz performing groups, theory, composition, etc. as well as all of the classroom teaching requirements for a K-12 certification. It's a 4- year program, no extra year(s) necessary. It was great for me, but it might not be for you. I still had plenty of time to gig in NYC, practice, etc. so dividing time wasn't an issue for me.

Good luck to you!
 

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I want to add what Gary and Dave commented related to what I said in my post. Yeah, there are pretty much no jazz jobs where you play exclusively jazz. However, as a jazz performer you will wear many hats, and a large amount of that will not be jazz performence. You might get 15% of your earnings from performing jazz.

Think jazz performing, performing anything on every double you know, composing, arranging, teaching, clinicing, writing liner notes, publishing articles, jazz blog, mc jazz event, jazz lecture, management, instrument repair, mouthpiece refacing...
The amount of things you might do with a jazz degree is seemingly endless, it's just not a jazz gig as people may have picked up 20-30 years ago more easily and 50-60 years ago much more easily.

I am simply expressing that it might be worthwhile to have muaic as a focus as a whole and not rely on a a jazz degree as if it is going to get you a full time jazz job.

Your options are band director (ONLY IF YOU LOVE IT. I cannot express this enough), juggling everything in music, or day job and pick and choose your jazz gigs.
 

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And second, ONLY do music education if band director is the only job you will accept in the world.
I would second that. A lot of people don't respect education degrees. If you are not a teacher then a performance degree is more exciting on a resume, no matter what field you end up in. After a a teaching license, the most important qualification for getting a teaching job is experience. Working at summer music camps while in college is a great way to get some experience and find out if you like teaching.
 

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I have long advocated starting Mus Ed candidates shadowing teachers in the classrooms from early on in their academic careers. Waiting until your last year to do "practice teaching" is absurd.

My entire career has been in the professional performing aspect of music vs. education. And frankly, I didn't miss teaching one bit. But several years ago, after watching, listening to, and then getting some hands-on experience with middle school kids and their teachers, I saw, felt, how someone could fall in love with this. Of course, I had a lot of water under the bridge by then, but still, if college students could begin teaching from the first or second year on, they could get a real feel for if this was something they could fall in love with or not.

For some, it would cut out years of unnecessary grief, and for others, it might introduce them to a career choice they otherwise might not have taken.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
***UPDATE***

I thank everyone for all of your perspectives on this issue. After numerous discussions with our son, he has decided to drop the Music Ed portion and focus on the Jazz Studies. Mostly, my wife and I just asked him "Well, what do you really want to do?" For example, his close friend who is also a freshman double major of Jazz Studies (drums) and Music Ed decided to drop the Jazz Studies and just stick with Music Ed (his friend looked into his heart and it is important to him to be a teacher and get that teaching certificate).

He also decided to retain the additional Honors College curriculum which includes a few additional courses (some of which satisfies his liberal arts requirements for graduation), special topics seminars, commitments towards community service (he will satisfy half of it this summer as he managed to get an unpaid internship with a nonprofit Play on Philly!), and finally a senior project (which as it turns out the senior recital would satisfy). So, it does not seem to be that much more to stay in Honors College. And his non-music friends are all in Honors College.

Will there be any post-graduate education in the future. We don't know for sure but we trust that he will figure that out when he gets there.

-floobydust
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I have long advocated starting Mus Ed candidates shadowing teachers in the classrooms from early on in their academic careers. Waiting until your last year to do "practice teaching" is absurd.
I think this makes a lot of sense to at least some limited shadowing for education majors. The idea of being a teacher can be very different than being "in the trenches" of that profession that many college students may not be aware of. I think to a certain degree most majors/job tracks are like this. Because of the need to finish out prerequisites in the first two years of college, many students don't really get into their majors and really begin to get a feel for it until their last two years. While intro courses may give some clues, and students may like the idea of possible majors they may not really face what it is all about until they get into those upper level courses.

-floobydust
 
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