Would you say you need to go to college/university in order to make good music?

vintagelatin

New member
I'm about to start college and i don't really know if it's worth to get into a music program and pay money to get a degree in producing music. I don't want to be a top music producer. I just want to make good music and upload it. Is it really necessary to go to some top school for music?
 

miroslav

Cosmic Cowboy
Here's the short answer. ;) :D

You don't need it to get into music production or to get good at it...but these days, there are many music production programs with degrees.
So if that's what you want to study, it won't hurt...and it may impress some people.
You will learn a little in college...but not enough to get a job as a music producer or engineer in some studio, right out of college...but it may help you land an internship at some studio, and that's where you will really learn about production.

Though TBH, if you really want it bad enough, you could probably land an internship without the college degree, you just have to really look hard and chase one down...and then the 4 years of college will be replaced with 4 years of hands-on at a studio learning...and you just might work into an assistant engineer position in that time, and then the doors will open for you...instead of just starting as an intern in 4 years after you finish college.

Heck...you're in LA, you should be able to find a studio internship, just be really persistent when looking for one... and be willing to sweep the floors, take out the garbage, make the coffee...and if you're good with basic food prep, they will love you...not to mention, being attentive, all ears - no mouth, and with good manners, and show 110% interest in everything you are asked to do...etc.
Those are the qualities that are appreciated from interns...and they will in return teach you studio work.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
College and university open a few doors that are closed to others. Your learning is totally up to you. You can be illiterate and make wonderful music. The notion that musical success needs academic success is flawed, and proven wrong by hundreds of years of evidence.
 

vintagelatin

New member
Great short answer haha. I kind of thought of that strategy as well. To get internships in music companies or some place to do with music. Start from the bottom and build my way up. The thing is i don't just want to make music. I really love film and i want to incorporate it with my music. Not like a typical music video but longer than that. The other day i was trying to figure out which would be my backbone to my projects and i think i decided on film and business to be my backbone. I kinda noticed that there's so many people out there who make music and post it on the internet and people actually see it. All you really to make music is have the right software, a type of instrument, creativity, and a good mic!
 

vintagelatin

New member
College and university open a few doors that are closed to others. Your learning is totally up to you. You can be illiterate and make wonderful music. The notion that musical success needs academic success is flawed, and proven wrong by hundreds of years of evidence.

That's absolutely true! Honestly to make some beats doesn't require a degree. Unless the people who are interested in music want to be making amazing scores for movies and stuff then that's when someone probably needs a degree.
 

ecc83

Well-known member
Whilst not being in any way qualified to answer really...I would say very few of the bods chasing down an "in" to a studio have any music theory or reading ability? Even fewer of them have any electrical knowledge.

I would say having some basic idea of electrics, fuse ratings, power levels, impedance issues (and why they rarely matter!) OP voltage levels. PLUS the skill to solder and fix/makeup cables, will put you well in front of the other 1000 wannabees that might be brilliant musicians but of little practical use?

Remember, back in the Golden Days of Abbey Rd they were recording ENGINEERS in the strict sense of the term.

Dave.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
Not even just the degree, but if you want to be able to give your music to people to play, you need to be able to write music, or you pay somebody to do it who can - which is what the less formally trained but famous musicians do. I worked on a simply awful project where the composer - who had a huge orchestra, choir and operatic singers at his disposal discovered they needed music written down! One of these crazy arts projects with more money than sense. He really thought the singers could learn it in a few hours. He paid for the transcriptions of his bizarre music. In fairness the ideas were good, but if you hire an orchestra, you really should have known they need music. He produces it on a computer, and has no clue at all what is going on. Education would have told him the range of the instruments - which he always got wrong. "Excuse me, I can't play that note" - Why not - "er because my finger have covered all the holes and that's as low as I can go....."

Education fixes these things. It teaches you vocabulary, but some would say it also strangles creativity. not sure on that one.

It works the other way too. We were playing a gig the other day and somebody in the audience was talking to our sound man who looked vaguely familiar. Turned out to be Thomas Dolby - who's now a professor in the US!
 

ecc83

Well-known member
Yes Rob and long may these "clueless" composers exist! My son transcribes pieces for a couple of musicians in the band he plays with. I would guess he should up his game and look for paid work!

Knowledge, if true never "strangles" creativity IMHO. The more you learn, the more you see how things are connected.

Who was the jazz musician that said "You have to KNOW the rules before you can break 'em!"

Dave. (Oh, and OP? Film is a VERY technical discipline)
 
If you DON't want to make music, go to college to learn how. Many, maybe most people with degrees in some field work in totally different fields in the real world.

My son, history major, studied to be a teacher, became one, found out it didn't work for him. Now an insurance adjuster estimating auto damage. Two good friends from high school. Combined 10 years of college. Neither work in their chosen fields. One sells pharmaceuticals to doctors, the other is a telemarketer selling gloves to dentists. Both former teachers, English and History.

Did your favorite musicians study music in university? Likely not. If you love music, art, film, whatever, just get out there and do it!
 

radi0j0hn

New member
How computer literate are you? Are you using MIDI or planning on recording live vocals/instruments? A lot of what kind of music you make will determine how much gear and know-how you need and where to get it.
 
Formal college training isn't necessary to make music, but any kind of extra training is just that added knowledge you wouldn't have otherwise. If you write songs, it might be necessary to write out lead sheets for other musicians to play your song. Lead sheets require knowing chords, notation, key signatures, and if you get very in-depth with your song writing, music theory and counterpoint.

It all boils down to choices. Maybe you don't need to go to college, but a production school or some other kind of private music training could be good. But, the deeper you want to get into production and song writing, the more you are going to have to be able to communicate your music with others. If you just want a rock band, you might be OK with just a creative group of players. But, if you want to write for orchestras, those players mostly only read music. You don't normally meet a concert musician who specializes in improvisation.

My sister is that way. She was a music teacher for nearly 40 years. She can sight read anything you put in front of her on piano or other keyboard. But, that's it. She can't improvise. Then again, many rock musicians can improvise, but can't read music. It's like two different trains on two different tracks. They are both musicians, but in two very different worlds. And each would need two different educations. Some musicians exist in both worlds, but they are a rare talent. Jimmy Webb is one that comes to mind. The ability to write a song, then write out the musical score for an orchestra, with each instrument's part, is a combination to relish.
 
I'm about to start college and i don't really know if it's worth to get into a music program and pay money to get a degree in producing music. I don't want to be a top music producer. I just want to make good music and upload it. Is it really necessary to go to some top school for music?
You have to weigh any benefits this college would give you against the cost. Do you feel it's worth it? Is it necessary? Are you guaranteed a job in the field after graduation? Is there a way to learn the same things in a cheaper way by an internship program somewhere?

I've always thought on the job training was much better than book learning. I've basically had to reinvent myself three times, in my life. The second time, I went into computers. I first checked out going to a college to get a computer science degree, but it was far from cheap and it would take four years. I also checked on a Bell and Howell school in the area that was very good, but still, very expensive. And I could take a year long class at a local community college and take nothing but the classes in my field of study. It was basically cramming my head with electronics, both analog and digital, for 11 months. I chose the community college program, because I could live on unemployment while learning. All of the other methods had good names associated with them, but I weighed those names on my resume against the cost and time required for the end result.

After the 11 months, I got a job building computers. I didn't make a lot of money, but I sure gained knowledge about computers and how they worked. I even got into computer repair. I did this for two years and was then offered a job with a computer department that was forming in a corporation. I got in on the ground floor and first there were just two of us with a small 8 computer network. Then, at the end, there were 8 of us with over 500 on a LAN and WAN.

All of this was on the job training. Sure, I had that basic electronics education, but I benifitted from the time I made computers more than anything. So much of it was new and untested, running multiple software on multiple platforms and finding that some of it worked and some of it didn't. No book training in a college could have prepared me for that. My boss was 10 times smarter than I was and had graduated from that Bell and Howell school. He was learning all of this, right along side of me.

What I decided was college is fine, if that's the way you want to go. Also, the expensive name schools can be the right way to go, too. But, it's kind of like buying a name brand Dell computer or a cheaper mom and pop made computer. Is one really better than the other, just because Dell made it or HP? I would never give up what I learned by working on the job. To me, no college could have taught me what I learned that way.
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
Fingerz, you're right on target. Back in the days of TI-99s, Ataris and Apple IIs, I had a good friend who, like me, would fiddle with computers for a hobby. Read articles and magazines, learn to build and upgrade them, troubleshoot problems on other folks computers. When he was let go from his real job (auto prep/detail), he went to a local tech school while he was on unemployment. In addition, he was a heck of an artist. That combination lead him to study CAD/CAM which got him a job doing drawings for Robinson Nugent (they make all kinds of electrical connectors) When they started doing networking, he knew all the basics and moved into that side of the operation. After that facility closed, he got a job with a local university in their networking department. He's now the Network Systems Administrator for the university. While he had an associates degree in computer design, it was his hobby/personal study and on the job learning that led him to his current position.

If you want to study music and learn the theory behind music, going to a university or a place like Berklee is fine, but its going to cost you. I just looked at Berklee an it's about $70,000 a year. Almost a QUARTER MILLION for a 4 year degree. That's a lot of $$$ to learn to read music or how to do a recording session. You could build a pretty respectable little studio for a quarter million bucks.
 
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ecc83

Well-known member
Probably not applicable to 99.9% of the folks here at HR but I have just read a thread elsewhere about mixing a group of classical orchestral tracks and for that task you really need to be able to folow a score.

Lets me right out!

Dave.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
Not just for our kind of thing - anyone involved with technical work around a classical orchestra really benefits from being able to follow, not necessarily read, a full score.

TV vision mixers, live sound operators, Stage Managers calling productions, Lighting operators, recording folk - the list is endless where being able to see what is coming really helps - in TV for instance, identifying bar 321 when the solo flautist does two bars of twiddly stuff - might involve spot mics, camera operators, director and vision mixer just to hit that quick vital bit. People recording a piece with a general quiet dynamic need to know when that timp player is going to go for it, so they can prepare.
 

jianqunmoisture

New member
I think you'll be getting an allowance throughout the educational process. Maybe you can combine your studies with work and have extra income. I got a scholarship for high performance when I was in medical school. I didn't have the opportunity to work. I knew that I would have gaps in my studies if I worked. In my third year, I started doing periodic psychological counseling to practice and apply what I learned. Psychology is something I've been interested in all my life. Last year I got a psychology bachelor degree, and I'm proud of it because knowledge of psychology is very useful.
 
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