Tough question

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by bigaggietrumpet, May 2, 2004.

  1. Tootsall

    Tootsall Fortissimo User

    Oct 25, 2003
    Yee HAW!
    OK...while you guys (and gals) are busy switching majors back and forth and forth and back.... who is footing the bills?

    When I went to University there wasn't enough money to afford a "wrong decision"; fortunately I had aquired a 1st year college "equivalent" in high school but I was still forced to go to a school that afforded a co-op program so that I could "put myself" through. The only "decision" I had to make was when I decided to enter the mechanical department after 1st year rather than electrical (based on a newly-discovered abhorence for "imaginary numbers"... those of you who have tried to figure out the square root of "i^2-1" know what I mean).

    Mind you, I did not have to agonize over "music vs a day job".... I had NO thoughts about music "back then"... the "decision" simply didn't exist for me. LOL... and you know what engineering students are like! (There is this little ditty about "Ball and chain, ball and chain, flush the artsman down the drain......").

    But seriously... I have to really wonder about the apparent ability of some people to become "perpetual students"... who in the world PAYS for it?
  2. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Here's my perspective.

    I graduated High School and instead of going to college, joined the Army to become an Army Bandsman. Basic training was a chore, and the Armed Forces School of music was a bit challenging, but when I hit the First US Army Band on Fort George G. Meade, Maryland in April of 1990, I thought I was in Heaven. I was gigging all of the time and loving it! I was finally part of ensembles where I wasn't frustrated at the lack of effort of others, the ensembles were tight, and I was making real music with some talented folks.

    That was the first year.

    Once the newness wore off, there were days (mainly ceremony days) where I didn't feel like getting the horn out of the case at all. On the other hand, I was a member of a brass quintet and a Big Band where I have had some of the best and most rewarding musical experiences of my life, and I ALWAYS looked forward to rehearsing and performing with those ensembles.


    Then I went to the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps. The FDC was permanent duty so I could buy a home and start a family with my then new wife (married for almost 12 years now) and I got promoted to SSG within 3 months of my arrival at Fort Myer, Virginia. But, the music was a bore (bugle calls and music that was only as hard as a one-valved bugle would allow) and there were some other aspects of the job that were less than pleasant and I made the decision to leave the Army Band program after 10 years.


    Now, I sit behind a desk, going blind staring at a computer monitor doing a job (database and computer programmer) that pays well, but that I have come to the conclusion that I really dislike, wishing that I was doing something in music for my living. I don't know that staying in the Army would have been the answer, but I drive myself half crazy trying to keep up with the schedules of the bands that I participate in on the side. I stopped playing for about a year and a half after I got out, but I found that without music, my life contained a BIG empty spot.

    I did try working with a local High School band as a volunteer, but I found that the kids either didn't care, or thought that they knew more than me, and I got tired of that after just two years.

    I don't have a real answer for you other than to say that 40+ hours a week is a LONG time to spend doing something that you don't particularly enjoy, even if it does pay well. I know that from experience. Unfortunately, financially I'm stuck trying to pay for the American Dream so I can't just chuck the current job to do something that I think will be more pleasing to me. You, on the other hand, have the ability to make that decision because you are unfettered with many of the responsibilities that I have.

    If you can handle the double major, I think that is the best way to go. Follow the music dream, but have something to fall back on if you become disillusioned with music. For some, it is best left as a hobby rather than a way of life. For me, If I thought I could make a good living playing my horn, singing, playing drums or whatever, I would. Unfortunately, I had to learn this about myself the hard way.

    Here is an interesting question: are there any little kids that say that they want to be mechanical engineers when they grow up?

    Follow your dreams.
  3. dcstep

    dcstep Mezzo Piano User

    Nov 27, 2003
    Just some observations about "musicians" in other areas of life that come from 35 years in the corporate world and as an amatuer musician:

    Most common second job for musicians; computer programming and/or web design or LAN/WAN support.

    Second most common; engineering?? (Maybe this is my Dallas location, but I know tons of electrical engineers that play guitar/trumpet/ race cars, etc.) This and other web music groups also seem to have a large number of engineers.

    Third most common; accounting. (Once again flavored by the fact that I've been part of or affiliated with world-class accounting organizations all my professional life).

    There seems to be a quantitative thread here. I'm sure this doesn't fit all musicians (I've also observed that incredibly gifted musicians often have trouble adding two + two or doing anything logical, but I'm talking about us "ordinary Joes" here).

    Anyway, when looking for that second major in a double major program, many of you may fit that quant. mold.

  4. bigaggietrumpet

    bigaggietrumpet Mezzo Forte User

    Jan 23, 2004
    Nazareth, PA
    That's why I'm agonizing over this decision. I really can't afford to make a mistake. Not only can I not afford it, but there is also another factor. For those of you who haven't tried getting into the engineering department at A&M, it is incredibly competitive. How the heck I made it still escapes me, but I did. If I drop out of the College of Engineering for the Performing Arts, chances are that will be an unreversible thing unless my GPA is incredible and they have a spot open.

    I really appreciate everyone's input so far. If anyone else has something to say, let's hear it.
  5. dcstep

    dcstep Mezzo Piano User

    Nov 27, 2003
    Are you cutting it in engineering, but just not enjoying it? If so, you might stick with it, realizing that undergraduate study is not near as rewarding as real world application in engineering. Point toward the distant reward and keep your eye on it. (Some of us are much better at doing and learning things "in context", as opposed to an academic problem. When I'm dealing with "real" money, accounting is much easier and more exciting than it was in school, dealing with "made up" problems).

    If music is tugging at you (you seem to have a compositional bent), why don't you consider a double major, or an unofficial minor? Adding a semester or two to you college career is really not as big a thing as it might seem at this stage of your life. (Keep your hours in bounds. Don't try to cram too much into the same schedule that you started with).

    Good luck with your decision.

    BTW, you probably know my friend Steven Mitchell. He occasionally sits in on sax in the PitPops. His dad is our bass player. Steve was trying out for drum major last I heard (haven't heard the results, which probably means he didn't get it). Great guy.


  6. ScreaminRaider

    ScreaminRaider Piano User

    Apr 22, 2004
    San Antonio, Tx
    Here's the view from someone who is currently a music major.

    Someone up here once did research on which major was the hardest major at Texas Tech. They found that being a music major was one of the most demanding majors on campus. We have all the normal core classes, then music classes(i.e Theory, Aural Thrils, methods...etc), then required ensembles, then Studio(which would be like a chemistry lab), then you have your private lessons. On top of all that, you have to perform a jury at the end of each semester, and you have to perform a recital before you graduate(Not to mention sitting in a practice room for x number of hours a day). Now, I'm not trying to scare you out of this, but you gotta know what you are getting into. The program here takes about 4-5 years (sometimes more). (after all that, I still love

    Here's my advice, do what makes you happy. Look at yourself 20 years down the road...are you happy? Forget money, do you look foward to going to work everyday? That will give you your answer.


    MUSICandCHARACTER Forte User

    Jan 31, 2004
    Newburgh, Indiana
    Tough choices. Today happens to be my 46th birthday. I have four college degrees. As an undergrad music major, I had a partial golf scholarship (about $2000/semester). I paid for the rest of my education. No help from parents or anywhere else. I borrowed over $180,000 in student loans. Today I still pay $250 a month and will for 15 more years.

    So ... was it worth going to school forever and paying for it forever. I would answer "YES!" It has opened many, many doors in my lifetime. I got my doctorate in 1986 -- then went back and got a masters degree in 1995 (backwards I know, but I went straight from the BA to the doctorate). So I haven't been out of school that long. Two of my degrees came from private schools (more expensive).

    This is your life's work .... factor the costs over 40 years of work. What would it cost to double major? An extra year -- maybe more? Just thoughts .... I'll but we are not helping that much :cry:

    Jim Fox, AA, BA, MA, EdD, NCC, LMFT
    "Would you like fries with that?" :D
  8. bigaggietrumpet

    bigaggietrumpet Mezzo Forte User

    Jan 23, 2004
    Nazareth, PA
    I most certainly do know Steven Mitchell. No, he didn't get the spot of drum major, but seems to be a pretty cool guy. When I spent the night with the Corps a year ago, he was the one I roomed with.

    The problem I'm facing is that I'm surviving the class work and stuff, but I just don't know if solving problems like this are what I want to do. I can't really word it, but when I took my engineering course, I wasn't real impressed. Granted, I'm still early on, but I have seen some other mech. engineer students and their work, and I am noticing that it just seems to get worse from here. Thus why I'm rethinking this. I'm fully aware of the difficulty of a music major-I have had at least 5 friends try for it, and so far only 2 will make it. A double major isn't likely. It's hard enough just keeping up with engineering, but trying to also work on music classes at the same time would be pure murder. I've kicked around the idea of at least just minoring in music, and that will more than likely be the way I go, but I haven't really made any more plans that that.
  9. gregc

    gregc Mezzo Piano User

    Apr 5, 2004
    New York, U.S. of A.
    Here's a story: my story. I went to a community college for two years and took all the music courses I could get my hands on. I wound up with a full-boat music scholarship to a local private college here on Long Island. Just as I was about to start, I paniced..... am I good enough? will I be able to earn a living in music? Teach? Hell, all the music, gym, and art teacher's were getting booted out at that time. Would I wind up a salesman in some sleazy music store? Oh no..... What did I do? I went into electronic technology instead. I graduated, got a job, and have earned a nice living to support me and my family. I don't really regret it. I can't. It's been too good to me. Every day though, I wake up and wonder how it'd be if I'd followed my heart & dream. I'll never know. I have managed to be a part time player/gigger ever since that time, and yes, that has given me some solace. I'm now actually looking forward to retiring in the next 10 years (hopefully, I'm 46 now) and going back to finish my music studies. You've got a tough choice only you can decide. I wish you luck. Hopefully all these replies will give you some sense of what is possible...
  10. mheffernen5

    mheffernen5 Pianissimo User

    Go for music...I'm totally serious. Band directors are always needed.

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