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

Slouching Raymond

Active member
If you want to be good at making music, make lots of music.
I don't think having a degree makes you superior. It might make you big-headed though.
Er... I did a degree, but not in music.
 
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rob aylestone

Well-known member
I suspect his course is over now! As an ex-educator unable to cope with the standard of music education on the majority of UK schools, my view is that university education is the ideal route for very specific and quantity limited groups of musical folk. What I mean is that if you wish to play in a prestigious orchestra on live and recorded projects, then you need your musical performance skills, and your knowledge of formal score based music. I don’t mean you need to play the cello or trombone, but you need to be able to play with these people. With orchestral recordings nowadays adding electronics quite happily alongside the traditional, this kind of thing is still rare. If you need to play your PRS wailey guitar with all kinds of effects and processing alongside an orchestra, then you need experience with a conductor, and of course to be able to read music, or have a very good memory. Uni is very good for this kind of thing, and loves cross genres. However, in the UK, music technology is a totally different people set than music. Our 16-18 yr old A Level system bears this out totally. Posh, traditional and absolutely not state school cohorts who still study Bach Chorals and talk in chord numbers rather than letter names an Major minor are now struggling because some high schools and academies are trying to do music, with its reliance on history and essay writing, plus the analysis of classical works. They are demanding the music courses change to reflect less traditional music. The old private fee paying schools hate this. University then presents students with a wide variety of possibilities. Classical, jazz, pop, then loads of contemporary music, usually closely tied to technology. My experience is that lots of music students of mine wasted three years at university because their music wasnt actually any better, because they already had grade 8. One I still work with had to learn classical double bass to be able to complete the recital module. Electric bass, his instrument was not suitable. He still plays double bass on stage now, so for him, the learning curve was tough but worked for him. One got sponsored by the armed forces. She played the viola, she ended up in the Royal Marines, and was told to learn the clarinet because you can’t march with a viola!

uni is good for some and a lead weight for others!
 
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jimmys69

MOODerator
It seems to me someone should of asked at least the genre or scope of what the OP meant by his post.

I'm just going to guess it was making beats, and he has likely either made some or moved on by now...

While we are necromancing an old thread, I will say that I have had no formal training. But then I don't expect to work with film scores or symphonies.

For me it is rock n roll, which is not necessarily about theory or a degree in anything. It's about experience and creativity. For me, experience is not learned. It is acquired. One can't teach another what to listen for unless they have an established understanding of listening of what they are listening to.

I admittedly would be a poor teacher myself, because I can't actually point out with precision why a bass line doesn't work with a drum groove and guitar line effectively, because that is all in the creative realm. How the heck would you teach that? That comes from experience only. What makes a great pop song? Hell I don't know, but I can sure tell you what someone played isn't working....Maybe that would be a different definition of producer? I don't know, but I interject all the time about stuff like that. Doesn't make me a guru, but it sure does make things better because I have experience with my ear. And no, no grammys just yet so talking out of my butt right! LOL

Now, defining what 'producer' is meant by the OP, could be a changing factor. If only learning computer skills and how DAW's work, yeah, that could be taught. Learning how to create however? That is an art that does not have a college course that will create vision and emotion. That is in the heart and soul.

For some of us it is called musical talent. For others, it is more of an ability to manipulate instruments . Not sure if either is better. Just different...
 

LazerBeakShiek

Well-known member
If you have a support system, a music education by people 'who know how to do' what you are looking for, should be fine.

When I learned to play music, it wasnt because i heard the symphony or orchestra. I heard the Rolling stones, or Beatles. I picked up a guitar and tried to play along.

I know it's only rock n' roll but i like it
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
Being honest, we can't even decide nowadays what 'good' music is. Perhaps we could say good musician? In virtually every genre, we understand what that means. We confuse education with things we can do after, compared with what we could before. University might be able to make you understand the history of the East India Company, but would it enable you to make a better cup of tea? If you are one of these people who progress through practice, uni may be pointless, but if you progress by mixing with other really good people, uni can enable this. Playimng a few gigs with a really good guitarist helps the other musicians grow a bit when they experience new things. Being the best in your class at school, or the best in your band dosn't help you progress very much, but being the weakest and exposed to great players does? I'm not sure that is what we should be paying universities for, but that does seem to be how it often is?
 

TAE

All you have is now
Music IS NOT A COMPETITION
"good" music is an opinion and is subjectively based upon ones perspective..
Being exposed to many different genre's of music certainly broadens ones perspective so going to a university will not necessarily hurt, but it might depending on what you are trying to create.
I did one semester of a couple music based courses in college. Voice and History of music. I learned a lot...but not too much to sway me on my course. I am one of those weirdos who heard symphonies in my head when I was a little kid and still do. Some of us get to tap into the cosmic radio station of the Muse, some don't. I also get lyrics out of nowhere...some don't.
Hendrix purposely chose not to learn music theory because he did not want it to sway his own flow.
I play by ear, do not read music and do not know theory..theriously. I have kind of learned what types of chords I am playing but not really...Love it when I look down at my TC helicon voice live and it tells me WTF chord it is. Scales? They're for reptiles and dinosaurs.

Conversely I was checking out the profile of a Cellist that teaches at the local college ( Looking for a cellist to work with me on my solo stuff) She starts talking about the minutia and technicalities in a classical piece and how it can be played differently...and those that are so blessed to notice either smile or cringe.....Humbling.... Not my thing...just too lazy...don't harsh my mellow...I don't know....I just really dig playing doing my thing and sometimes I get to wow or put a smile on people I know or strangers just because I played a piece that I enjoyed playing...

Zappa was off the hook technical...generally I am not...though I can be. Oh well enough I guess what I am saying is pulling off a Rolling Stones song is a lot easier than pulling off something like the video below...You want to do this shit you might want to go to university.

 
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rob aylestone

Well-known member
I once had to play on stage, on live national TV with a military band. The standard of musicianship was outstanding and scary for a non-military type. However, despite being amazing musicians. Many of them couldn't swing. Their drummer had rhythm built into his sould with quantize firmly ON. He was amazing, but truly dire to play with, in the segment not broadcast. He volunteered to play some jazz songs with a singer and we sounded like a military band singing jazz - truly weird!
 

TAE

All you have is now
Though I had already written and performed a lot of songs on my own this is the first one I wrote for a band... It seemed to work for the folks that were there that night....albeit having a monster guitar player to rip their faces off with his licks probably helped....

I've seen my soul
It ain't rock n roll
It ain't Bach
It ain't Bethoven
It's just my soul
Can't you see who I am
I'm your music, your basic music man.

LOL tossed in a smidge of 21st century schizoid man in there...just because we could.....

 
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Slouching Raymond

Active member
I think any youngster considering university shoud consider whether they want to get into serious debt.
If you want a good music education, seek out some university music students.
Ask them what books have been prescribed for their courses.
Go out and buy all those books, and study them independently.
When it comes down to it, you actually study alone at university.
You can get the same education, without the debt.
A degree in itself is actually completely worthless.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
Yep - I realised this when I became a teacher. Some people know how to squeeze the last drop out of what is on offer, sadly, in the UK, what is on offer is sometimes rubbish. Lots of my ex-students make a really good living from music, but I wonder if they would have done the same without uni sapping three years of their life? Others went to uni useless and exited uni still useless. Some learned bugger all but made really useful contacts that have worked for them. The system is broken.
 

markmann

Active member
I think college is great is you have the time and money to do it. That said I think that the right attitude and work ethic are much more important. If I was going to hire an intern for any type of job I would rather take someone with little experience but with a willingness to learn and work hard over someone with a degree that does not have the right attitude, etc. If you have both that's even better.
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
I found that getting a degree (not in music) allowed me to experience things that wouldn't have been available had I just gone out into the working world. In classes for which I have little aptitude (like taking French), I barely made it through with a passing grade. But it also allowed me to take electives like modern organic analysis or instrumental analysis. I loved chemistry and science, and instead of taking relatively worthless classes like 18th century literature, I took courses that let me learn about things I had an interest in and could use in my career. After I started working, when something happened to testing equipment, I had a pretty good idea of where to start looking. I took computer courses as electives, and when we needed to try to analyze a particular problem, I could pull out a computer, write a basic program and do the analysis. It served me well over the next 40+ years.

If you have a musical aptitude and want to pursue a musical career especially in the classical realm, then knowing the basics of theory and the discipline to be able to sight read are probably best learned in school. Moreover, you probably started as a young kid, taking lessons from a music teacher. The university just fills out your knowledge and hopefully, your ability.

For learning more popular music, especially by ear, then a university degree isn't really needed. The two years of lessons that I took when I was 11-12 yrs old were enough to get me started. I'm still studying though.
 

LazerBeakShiek

Well-known member
Watch the college accreditation laws in your state. Especially for something like music production. When I went to college for my job i had to borrow $17K from Sallie May and Stafford government student loans. i went through a tech program 18 months and you got and associates degree in applied technologies/ liberal studies. My house was paid off, so I doubled and tripled my student loads payments to get it done early. In 2000 i paid the loans back. In about a year, the college accreditation requirements changed in my state, and my associates was downgraded to an educational certificate 'Diploma' of completed courses. Then the place I worked closed, laid off all the tech's, because off 9-11 in 2001. They closed the Countryside location and then opened up again in Westmont. I got a call back, but my salary was affected as I no longer possessed a degree on rehire...
 
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dogooder

Well-known member
Come to think of it, all you really have to do is stay at a Holiday in and wear tampons and you can do anything.
The school of hard knocks is probably the best though.
 

dogooder

Well-known member
I think any youngster considering university shoud consider whether they want to get into serious debt.
If you want a good music education, seek out some university music students.
Ask them what books have been prescribed for their courses.
Go out and buy all those books, and study them independently.
When it comes down to it, you actually study alone at university.
You can get the same education, without the debt.
A degree in itself is actually completely worthless.
 
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