CalArts

Discussion in 'EC Downloading' started by tpetplyr, Dec 14, 2005.

  1. tpetplyr

    tpetplyr Pianissimo User

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    Dec 15, 2003
    Boston
    I was wondering if you could give me a little information about CalArts, I noticed you were the brass programs coordinator.

    I am a (depressed...) engineering student and seriously pursue trumpet. I am thinking about attempting a MM after I get my masters here at Georgia Tech. I'm taking lessons with anyone who will teach me as well as playing in Symphonic Band, Principal in the Orchestra, Brass quintet and in a chamber ensemble with strings next semester.

    Any information or advice you could give me in general about a MM after an engineering degree would be much appreciated as well.

    Stuart
     
  2. ecarroll

    ecarroll Artist in Residence Staff Member

    2,212
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    Jul 13, 2005
    NY/CA
    Hi Stuart,

    I'm happy to talk all day about CalArts. I believe that it's the most relevant school that I've ever been associated with.

    I'm curious, however, to know why you want to pursue an advanced degree in music after a degree in engineering at such a fabulous school (humming "Rambling Wreck from Georgia Tech but a hellofa Engineer" as I type)?

    I'm all for following our heart and our dreams, believe me, but feel rather strongly that undergraduate degrees are to sample the breadth of a particular subject (if you're declaring a major) and advanced degrees are statements about where you'd like to plant your flag and make your statement. A MM (or MFA in our case) shouldn't be just two more years of undergraduate work and a paper to yellow, and it's also the wrong time to be addressing problems in your playing (no reason to go to school for that -- a good teacher and three hours per day should do the trick)

    That said, CalArts is a fabulous environment for those wishing to take music forward. We study traditional music from the past to enable us to make more literate choices through chamber music, new composition, technology,improvised music, and in our own writing. It's a lousy place to study Bruckner (we choose not to have a symphony orchestra and devalue conducted ensembles). . . there are plenty of good places to do that sort of work (list upon request).

    I was planning a thread about the under/grad statement above but have opened the can of worms here. Thoughts?

    Best,
    EC
     
  3. tpetplyr

    tpetplyr Pianissimo User

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    Dec 15, 2003
    Boston
    This thread may help clear it up, but here are the highlights:

    Since Middle School, I've always liked both engineering (math and science) and music, and pursued both. Admittedly the engineering came much more easily to me, rotating molecules in 3-space and taking line integrals around closed boundaries to me are much more elementary concepts than adequately supporting my chops with enough air to have a beautiful singing sound in all registers with good intonation, articulation and range, adding onto that playing technically demanding passages and beautiful lyrical passages, all with the same quality of sound and expression and absolute accuracy expected of an orchestral player.

    As I sauntered through High School, I played as much as I could. My band, community band, community orchestra, school brass quintet when I could find 4 other willing souls, any gigs anyone would give me anywhere. And I did my math and science homework. I read a little outside of class for math and science, some interesting stuff: E=mc^2 and the like, a biography on Mendeleev etc etc...but only some. I was constantly breathing music, working on stuff that was in no way required, reading, listening, practicing.

    By my senior year I realized I wanted to be a musician, but also was practical enough to know how amazingly difficult it is to find a job, especially in the classical world, and had met enough people and heard enough concerts to know how amazingly good you wanted to be. Add on top of that the fact that my parents refused to pay for college, and my propensity for engineering (and, admittedly interest), I decided my best route was to attempt a double major at a school with established programs in both. Until I didn't get into any of the trumpet studios.

    So now I'm at Georgia Tech. And I jump around from teacher to teacher because we don't have a trumpet studio and peoples schedules fill up differently so they can't always take me for a semester. I'm hoping to lock up one of the symphony guys for spring who I took with over summer but could'nt over fall, and continue with him as long as possible, because I really liked him as a teacher. I play in 2 ensembles (3 or 4 next semester), take gigs from the school and local churches, practice 3 hours a day, and all I really want to do is play. I still have a 4.0 (well, depending on how my DiffEq final went this morning) and an aptitude for engineering, and am on track for a 5-year Masters. But the more classes I take the less I like it. I've had two friends transfer out to a music school, one more on the way, and upwards of a dozen people ask why I'm still at Tech, including one and a half of my ensemble directors. My orchestra director was a gigging trumpet player for awhile and knows that I'm here so I can have a steady job and make money. Which is exactly why I'm here.

    And so, now that you've suffered through my life history (I do apologize, I hope you skimmed it) we arrive at the crux of the matter. This semester was so difficult for me personally (not academically, except my algebraic mistakes in DiffEq) trying to justify my exsistence as an engineer, and do the amount of work and studying required to do that well, when all I see it doing is hampering my playing. I got really depressed...

    I have to try. I can't go through being an engineer without knowing its my only other option. And I want to truly study, in an environment with dedicated staff and students where music is a focus and not brushed aside as a hobby as it has been all my life. After asking around, including my orchestra conductor/gigging trumpet player, the consensus is that if I work hard enough and develop my playing enough here, by begging for lessons whenever I can get them, and practicing in all my spare time, I can take a masters in music, and then be able to chose, and have a chance, and have tried.

    I understand your stance in the grad/undergrad statement you made...and in a weird way may actually satisfy it. I'm sampling engineering in my undergrad. I'll get a masters too somewhere, but that's not important, its just an extra $20,000 and I figure if Im gonna be here four years, I might as well take a fifth and get an automatic 20% raise and the ability to do research which is where I prefer working anyway. But music is my passion, its what I want to be 'remembered' for, and its where I want to 'stake my flag and make my statement'. Because I've already sampled music, and I like it, and taking another undergrad, though recommended seems superfluous unless my chops aren't good enough. In which case, perhaps I'll be satisfied that I ended up where I was supposed to, and where I fit best.

    That way way too long, I apologize.

    Stuart
     
  4. ecarroll

    ecarroll Artist in Residence Staff Member

    2,212
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    Jul 13, 2005
    NY/CA
    Stuart,

    Wonderfully said and thank you. I particularly liked your comment that "music is my passion, its what I want to be 'remembered' for". I'd love to hear you play.

    I can accept students into my MFA program who haven't received a BM or BFA if I determine that they are at the proper level. If not, options include doing 2 years of undergraduate work to satisfy our core curriculuum and receive a BFA, or, perhaps, adding a third year to the MFA to do some supplimental work. In short, it can be done administratively.

    The question that I always ask candidates is "do you want to be a musician or do you have to be a musician?" If your answer is the latter, then go it!

    Watching here with interest,
    EC
     
  5. tpetplyr

    tpetplyr Pianissimo User

    205
    3
    Dec 15, 2003
    Boston
    If you're ever near Atlanta, GA, drop me a line, I'd love to play for you! I don't think CalArts would necessairily be a good fit as my dream really is to become an orchestral trumpet player (hence the engineering degree...). Its too bad really that the genre, indeed the entire institution of orchestral performance, is becoming less appreciated. Especially ironic given the ever increasing number of students enrolling in conservatory.

    I have to be a musician...and I know I can continue in some vein after I move into an engineering field, but I really want to do more than that. So I'll give it a shot and see what happens. Thanks for the info, though, and your combined knowledge and insight!

    Btw, I'm learning excerpts from Petrouchka, Mahler 5, and Concerto for Orchestra over the break. For fun. Cause I don't have any engagements, and I can. Kinda interesting that I'm working an audition, and don't have anywhere to use it.

    Thanks!
    Stuart
     

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