degree vs how well you play

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by trumpet520, Oct 15, 2007.

  1. trumpet520

    trumpet520 Pianissimo User

    Oct 25, 2006
    im in my junior year of highschool. after next year im probably going to Oklahoma state for there acoustical or electrical engineering program. or maybe OU for architecture...anyways. even though i love music and playing trumpet i think i wanna go to school for Engineering. The thing is i would be just as happy going for music but it would be a huge risk in my opinion. but i would still love to persue trumpet just as much as anything else.

    The question is, hypothetically if an amazing player with a degree other than music,or no degree at all, could still be hired by a major orchestra? Do orchestras wholly go on the quality of your playing or would a not as great player with a masters or doctorate in music get the job. I understand if there were two equal players the one with a music degree would probably get the job.

    What exactly do orchestras take into account when hiring a player?

    And what exactly is the audition process?

    thanks in advance,
  2. Bear

    Bear Forte User

    Apr 30, 2004
    I'm not on an orchestra audition panel so I can't answer those questions. I can say a few words however about some of the other issues.

    If you love music and want to stay involved then do it. I believe the bottom line is that the best fit for a job will get the job. Sometimes that a degree, most often it's not. Sometimes, the personality plays a part or how you conduct yourself.

    You do not have to give up music if you don't plan on obtaining a higher degree. Believe me, we musicians need as many friends outside of the music feild as we can find!! If you want to be an engineer, make $120K a year, donate a few thousand to a musical group every now and then. Heck, keep your chops up and I'll even let you sit in on a few gigs, lol.

    Music is a big risk, especailly in todays world of electronics and uneducated masses. However, if you love it, you'll continue to participate. I think the degree is just a side note.
  3. stchasking

    stchasking Forte User

    Jun 11, 2006
    Your engineering degree will require 20 credit hours of social science and humanities. I ended up with 24. None of the credits was music. But I tried.
    Ask the department head if he/she will accept trumpet performance studies for those credits. Thirty years ago music performance was not accepted. The accrediting agencies may have changed the requirement due to pressure from Alumni and the music departments of major universities. It won't hurt to ask and if you need to write a registered letter to the department head telling him/her exactly what trumpet performance classes you are going to take. Don't forget wind symphony and orchestra and jazz band in addition to private lessons. In other words, present a plan. If you get an answer that is affirmative get it in writing and don't lose the letter.

    If that doesn't work you can petition the accrediting agency for approval. Good luck.
  4. trptcolin

    trptcolin New Friend

    Nov 6, 2004
    Athens, GA
    You don't need a degree to get a job in an orchestra, just a good enough tape/resume to get to the audition (if applicable), and out-playing the competition once you get there. There are lots of auditions where anybody can show up and play the first round.

    The degree buys you a bit more time to practice. The music degree does NOT get you a job, nor does a masters or DMA in music---at least not in an orchestra. If you want to play trumpet for a living, take lessons from a great teacher (listen to his/her students). Trust me, it's nice to keep your options open career-wise with music being such a difficult field to make a living in.
  5. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    As I recall, Gunther Schuller dropped out of high school to take his first symphony gig, so the degree is not an issue.
    If you have an ok paying job doing something you like, you can keep the trumpet playing fun. If, however, you just have to play trumpet because nothing else keeps you happy, then a degree in music helps down the road. There is no shame whatsoever in being a semi-professional or amateur, though.
  6. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Although the degree should make no difference, it is tough to get the experience that you need to get an orchestra job without getting that degree.

    You can get private lessons that are every bit as good as the ones available in college, so that would not be a problem. Getting your life organized around music when you are not majoring in music is tougher! Getting the broad ensemble experience is also not as easy. Experience is most often a deciding factor in todays orchestras. Even the smaller not so "professional" ones do not see themselves as a training ground for the bigger and better gigs!

    So, all in all not impossible, but the drive from within has to be VERY great!
    I think the players wanting to get jobs need that drive above and beyond their studies anyway! If you have that drive, you will be successful in any case - also outside of music.
  7. Billy B

    Billy B Pianissimo User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Des Moines, IA

    Get in touch with Karl Sievers at OU and ask him these questions.
  8. Richard Oliver

    Richard Oliver Forte User

    Jul 18, 2006
    Casper, WY
    Sam, what you said got me to thinking. This is something I've wanted to say for some time, but it's so unpopular that I've kept silent.

    Something to keep in mind. Colleges and those who derive income from them are generally in the business of selling education to consumers. Exceptions abound even so.

    I mention the "profit motive" of colleges, couselors, and financial aid folk because I don't think folks attend college with a healthy dose of "let the buyer beware." It's a very good caution to have in one's back pocket.

    I'm in the "not worth counting minority" when it comes to motivation. That is what guides/drives/draws a person to this or that. I'm 50, and since I was born a big voice has been "do what makes you happy.

    "Do what is useful or what is needed" would be my 1 cent.

    Something bigger and more important than ourselves.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2007
  9. mike ansberry

    mike ansberry Forte User

    Dec 30, 2003
    Clarksville, Tennessee, U
    I've never auditioned for an orchestra, but I've done quite a bit of commercial playing. No one ever cared whether I had a degree or not. they just wanted someone who could play the part.

    A performance major at the bachelor level is an almost useless piece of paper. If you don't want to teach, get a degree in something else. Most of the real players at North Texas were music business majors.
  10. Khora

    Khora Piano User

    Sep 17, 2006
    New York
    The Degree you get is largely irrelevant to getting a performance job. There are many great players out there with either no degree or a completely (seemingly) irrelevant non-music degrees.

    Winning an orchestra job is a matter of how well you play on the day of the audition. Anyone with enough drive can find the time to do both. You probably won't have much of a party life, but whatever you can dream of you can do. An acoustical engineering dept. might be pretty flexible about allowing performance credits, which could help. An engineering major is a little tougher than a humanities degree in the amount of required lab time, but still possible.

    Architecture School is even more time intensive - and generally a lot less flexible about you doing outside things. It is really a 24/7 kind of program. (Speaking from experience here - I did 3 semesters of an architecture program; I was also performing at the time, and decided to stop the architecture, not the playing.)

    That said, practicing to win a job is a full-time job in itself. There is the actual time with the horn on your face, plus learning the rep, listening to multiple orchestral recordings, taking lessons, recording yourself, listening to those recordings, analyzing them, figuring out what needs fixing and how to fix it.

    You can do that at whatever point you are ready to do it. Easier with guidance, but only you know how self-motivated you are. The one with the most self-motivation generally wins!

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