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GoForth Journal

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Replies to: GoForth Journal

  • ScreenName48105ScreenName48105 495 replies22 threadsRegistered User Member
    Yes, it's a great loop but not doable in a week; I doubt that even two weeks would be enough. If you're expecting to take lessons and sit in classes, you're not going to be able to schedule them as concisely as you're expecting. Especially true if there's a particular class you want to see, like a big ensemble. A surprising number of programs don't have Friday classes at all. Teachers who tour on weekends have limited days on campus. Some teachers had very tight schedules and we ended up with an evening lesson, so between attending a class and lesson, that's at least an entire day+overnight.

    One suggestion is to research which schools have an active session in the summer and get those out of the way during summer break.

    Great list though. Only schools missing are the Boston schools -- Berklee, NEC. Ethan Iverson (Bad Plus) just joined NEC faculty. (My son's sorry he didn't apply there.)

    FWIW, my S and I've had a few conversations in the last few days whether he had applied to enough schools. He applied to 6, of which one was a really serious reach. Had he not applied to Juilliard, I think he could have easily prepared for a few more. In retrospect, the Juilliard audition took up way more than its share of prep time, with very little overlap. As it was, prescreen prep time was TOUGH (I think he recorded 11 songs when all was said and done.)

    Also, as we're finding now, there *may* be a post-acceptance trip or two if torn between schools and/or teachers.
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  • GoForthGoForth 802 replies29 threadsRegistered User Member
    edited March 2016
    Thanks. I was figuring that only a fraction of the schools could fit in the circuit, but it would be the most visits per mile/day we would ever get, versus traveling out individually to a few schools.

    I am surprised that a week off school, or a multi-site visit would be unusual for a music major. Wouldn't the exposure to multiple programs, whether on THE List or not, give the student more foundation in the later selection process? What else would S do to get primary research? I have not heard of active summer sessions -an example? We were planning to get audition pieces ramped up thru the summer along with some ACT prep and college app pre-work. Then the fall 2016 leads into a very manageable classload, including the first ever study hall.
    edited March 2016
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  • indeestudiosindeestudios 136 replies6 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    We visited what was convenient and didn't visit what wasn't, and to be honest, I don't think it made much, if any difference in S's acceptances/scholarship offers. We did some summer visits, and some while school was in session. There are lots of opportunities to explore campus and get a feel for the school during or around audition days, although scheduling sample lessons wasn't possible in most cases for S.

    S's "primary research" came mostly from the school websites, blogs, social media etc. The visits helped with more non-quantifiable qualities, like feel/vibe/connection. S is a really easy going adaptable guy so could imagine himself at literally every school he visited or auditioned with, with different pros and cons at each. (In some ways making things more confusing!) If you have the time and inclination, I think your road trip sounds like a lot of fun, if you don't try to schedule too much in!

    I do think that September is pretty late. He'll need to have his schools and repertoire selected and be working hard at preparing pre-screens by then. You'll want to check with your school's attendance office/guidance counselor about the absences. S's school allows I think 4 absences for "college visits" which were more than used up during audition season.

    If you are hitting Wm. Paterson and the NYC schools, you might want to check out SUNY Purchase as well. Agree that the Boston schools would be good to check out, too. S loved Boston so much that he regretted not applying to Berklee along with NEC. You could do NYC, Paterson, Purchase and Hartt in a week, and perhaps hit Eastman OR Temple and one other Midwestern school on the drive to and from, but it would be exhausting and probably overwhelming. If you did decide to add Boston to your trip, I'd probably eliminate the "to and from" visits. We're originally from Iowa, so are very familiar with that 1000 mile stretch of I80!




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  • songbirdmamasongbirdmama 258 replies17 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I second taking the trip (or part of it) as a junior. Or go over the summer. Yes you will not see the students in summer, but if you can arrange faculty visits, department and campus tours, see the town,.... it will help in whittling down the list to a manageable number for applications. In the fall, they are crazy busy retaking the ACT/SAT, polishing rep, making prescreen recordings, writing common ap essays, and keeping pace with their academics, it might be harder than you think to escape for a week. We did preliminary visits before senior year to all schools within driving distance. For the really far ones requiring flights, we waited until she passed prescreens and added an extra day onto audition weekend to see more of the campus etc.
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  • ScreenName48105ScreenName48105 495 replies22 threadsRegistered User Member
    @GoForth, my thoughts.

    >> I am surprised that a week off school, or a multi-site visit would be unusual for a music major.
    Whether unusual or not, it's really about the impact on the student. My son missed a week of school in the fall (senior year) because he got mono and really struggled to regain the class material missed, make up the work, etc. while keeping up with current material and still maintaining his practice schedule. It was rough and something he would never have agreed to do voluntarily. Even for auditions, I think the most he missed for one trip was 3 days.

    Also, check with your school with respect to policies for planned absence from school. It wasn't a problem for us but I know it's been an issue for some. Keep in mind that there will be more planned absences for auditions and those dates will not be very flexible.

    >> We were planning to get audition pieces ramped up thru the summer
    Note that prescreen/audition requirements and repertoire are typically published in late-August/early-September. Some schools have general requirements, like "1 blues, 1 rhythm changes, 1 ballad" but many have specific songs or "choose 1 out of each group" type of requirements. At least for one of my son's schools, the repertoire list changed almost completely from the previous year's list.

    >> I have not heard of active summer sessions -an example?
    Like UNT, many of the schools have summer workshops and camps, so you'll find times when the faculty are around. I believe UMich, Michigan State, Eastman and Jacbos all do. Berklee has a summer session.

    Are you visiting any schools this spring?
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  • bridgenailbridgenail 1034 replies5 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I think it's a lot of schools too and could produce overload. By the end, I could see us just driving by the school too lazy to get out of the car. Haha. But you may be different.

    If it were me (and it's not), I would break the trip into two parts. Eastern schools in the summer and mid-western schools in the fall or vice versa. You could also choose to do one or two Big U schools (and skip one or two) as they will be similar. If he likes the Big U feel, he could then spend some time at the audition visiting schools that accept prescreening (just a way to save cash). Same with some of the smaller schools. We found small LACs all had a certain vibe (which was acceptable to my D) and saved a few visits until audition time.

    Also we visited quite a few schools in the summer...and as it is maybe not ideal I thought it was fine. You get the idea of the school and we could meet with staff (we did go late summer right before classes began). You know the old saying...beggars can't be chooser...so these were our work arounds.
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  • GoForthGoForth 802 replies29 threadsRegistered User Member
    I got some great advice here and in some PMs. I'll absorb it all for a while. A coworker mentioned to convert this to a family vacation - try to go visit some sights and work in a couple or so visits.

    I did a basic Google search of summer college jazz camps. I found the usual Interlochen, Birch Creek, Vail (for which S is too late, but S's drummer is applying to), Abersold, UNT, Frost, NEC, and then a few more, but I could not start distinguishing at that point which ones would be worth going to just due to the open age range or lack of audition.
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  • ScreenName48105ScreenName48105 495 replies22 threadsRegistered User Member
    Is that the Vail Jazz Workshop? S was nominated but didn't pursue it because it's over Labor Day weekend and it would mean missing the beginning of school. Sounds amazing, though. If that caught your interest, maybe consider the workshop in Port Townsend (Washington). It's also run by John Clayton.
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  • GoForthGoForth 802 replies29 threadsRegistered User Member
    Yes. S' drummer friend ended up having too much to do before audition tapes were do, so did not finally pursue.
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  • GoForthGoForth 802 replies29 threadsRegistered User Member
    We have been on a couple music school visits now. I don't know how much I want to go into details about which places are more awesome and it what ways. But, I would like to highlight one of the trips and see if it is what other people's trips are like. In the following, when I say 1-hour, I mean nominal 1-hour, like it could be 40-60 minutes. S and I went to state flagship. First hour in admissions. Second hour watching top jazz band rehearsal. Third hour in a Jazz Forum, where students announce gigs and news, and then 2 student-formed groups played. Fourth hour in a bass masterclass. Fifth hour in a guitar masterclass (why not). Sixth hour a private bass lesson.

    It was a really great visit, and S got the feeling that this professor was very capable and might have quite a store of advice for S to last over a longer time period. There were good feelings in both directions it seems. This will probably be on the audition list with hopes for some helpful financial aid. This visit stands out from what we have seen before.
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  • GoForthGoForth 802 replies29 threadsRegistered User Member
    S is heading into finals week of Jr year of HS. With AP tests out of the way, the time-demand is already greatly reduced, and more practice is happening. At S' recent double bass lesson, the instructor had a good point or two. I will probably retell the story in a far more terse, dark-sounding, and mechanical manner. He spoke of the fact the a music performance degree is not really a certification route or a career pathway. He mentioned it is just as legitimate to earn a philosophy degree and become an insurance agent as it is to earn a performance degree and become an insurance agent. Also, he has seen that there is a huge variety in the blossoming time of musicians, that he has had to take on a student without the ability to read music, who quickly came up to speed in a year and went on to be a professional player. While some others are equal at graduation to where they were at acceptance. He also said that S should not hold back in applying to the best programs, and except for cases like Juilliard, would have a strong case for merit money. He mentioned that sometimes college acceptees don't ask enough for the money, because often enough it is there somewhere able to be shuffled into the offer under some guise. And that's all the news for now.
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  • StacJipStacJip 629 replies17 threadsRegistered User Member
    I agree with your son's instructor and much of what he says resonates with things my own son was told when he was thinking of entering conservatory. That being said, your son should know that when it comes to merit money and also to top programs the landscape can vary from year to year. There might happen to be a lot of Bass players applying the year your son applies or there might not be enough Bass players. It is hard to predict.

    Also music performance majors will need skills that go beyond just being a good musician. The speaker at my son's graduation was Leonard Slatkin, a well known composer, author, educator and conductor. He gave a wonderful speech about the music landscape and explained to the graduates from my son's conservatory the need for them to be creative and inventive in figuring out ways to be musicians and pursue their dream.

    As for the comment about insurance agent....on a more positive spin one of my son's friends who graduated a year ago and spent a year working and nurturing his band, decided to apply to law school. He took the LSAT did well and was accepted. So yeah I would say unless you want to go into science or mathematics, conservatory is good preparation for many careers.

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  • compmomcompmom 10763 replies76 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Stacjip I really wish more people understood what you described in that last paragraph!
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  • glassharmonicaglassharmonica 3300 replies54 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    My daughter graduated from undergrad two years ago (and MM last weekend). She has friends who are in med school, or applying, in nursing school, in law school, getting PhDs in film studies, and even working at Morgan Stanley... Of course, most are still musicians. Sometimes it takes a while to find out what you really want to do. I doubt any of them regrets their undergrad education.
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  • bridgenailbridgenail 1034 replies5 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Agreed. I'm honestly confused when people are so concerned over liberal arts or music degrees. A LOT of people get these degrees (including me). They aren't all living on the streets! Where I work, a lot of people have liberal arts and education degrees. And companies DO hire these kids in entry level positions in their 20s when they need jobs. My brother mentioned a friend of his who has a philosophy degree and has never had a steady job as a cautionary tale about liberal arts. I reminded him I have a liberal arts degree and suggested he use my tale instead. I would guess his friend who couldn't find a steady job for 25 years has other issues that have nothing to do with his degree.
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  • GoForthGoForth 802 replies29 threadsRegistered User Member
    The 2016 UNT Double Bass camp is now complete. Summary note for the journal - even though campus is in the summer session, S believes he could fit in just fine there, and the professor(s) is(are) great. I was also there and got a good impression.

    This note almost sounds like a tease, but it is not meant that way - if anyone needs to know specific details, just ask or PM. I feel like much more detail than that is just too student-specific and ephemeral.
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  • classicalsaxmomclassicalsaxmom 311 replies26 threadsRegistered User Member
    I'm so glad your son had a great experience, @GoForth! Is this the first time he has done a camp that includes top students from all over the country?

    My DS starts his first of two summer institutes in less than a week. I am hoping that they help him assess where he stands nationally relative to the competition and will help him clarify his goals and target college programs.
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  • GoForthGoForth 802 replies29 threadsRegistered User Member
    @classicalsaxmom - yes. I actually don't know how many levels of camp greatness exist in the world, so I will still be cautious assuming that S can hang with the top tiers. There was a heavy concentration of attendees from TX, with a few more from OK and MO, then a sampling from at least IL, OH, MD, CO, and Mexico. Therefore, one might say there was a mostly regional student body. It is also (for jazz at least) not auditioned. So, with those disclaimers in place, I can freely speak of the positive nature of the camp.

    There were 76 students. Twelve of the students were in the jazz group - two ladies and 10 gentlemen, with half of the dozen either in college or heading into college. They can be seen here (http://jazz.unt.edu/doublebassworkshop) in the bottom half of that page. The classical bass students were at various points in their development, and groups were formed accordingly for a meaningful final performance, including the 76-bass finale.

    There were clearly some very productive (this is a word of high praise from me, not a word with hedging in it) students there with rich foundations in several aspects of the profession. There were some classical players doing a cross-over into jazz, maybe for breadth and enrichment.

    I also don't want to discount the possibility that a top player has appeared in a previous camp that S has attended. However this camp was particularly for one instrument, further sub-divided into two genres, so it was the most specific camp S has been to. The professors are the most well-known that S has worked with, and S loved them. One another hand, S highly regards at least one local-to-us professor as well.

    On to your second paragraph. Yes, that is the question. That is exactly what was on my mind. In the most basic form, the question is, "Will the student get into your program?" or "What program should student apply to that matches their level?" or "Is my child a super player?" But, what words do you really use to ask this stuff? Since your question is so close to my question, I will share more. I imagined I would ask (if S did not) at the end of the program (or email after the program if the right conversational setting could not develop), "What should S do to best prepare for your school's auditions?" or maybe "Is S in the range of students that would fit at your school?" What I expected as an answer is (roughly) "S should work on his intonation, work towards getting his speed higher, and his repertoire depth. However, he has good basics and attitude. He has good potential and should apply."

    The actual situation was different. Keep in mind that I don't know how easily each professor might offer words of encouragement as a form of marketing. Here is what I actually heard. 'S would definitely get in unless there were an entire batch of applicants at his level. S will be able to pick and choose colleges.' That represented 20% of the conversation. The rest of the conversation was about the best approach at that particular school to hope for merit aid - academic or music.

    Again, with all cautiousness in mind, I was stunned that S was so well received. I think you all know what kind of "stunned" I mean.

    S said that he will take this 'milestone'(?) in the following way. He personally feels his repertoire is shallow - the benefit of socializing with these other students for a week. He will work on that and sight reading - sight-reading was not necessarily measured at the camp as much as an audition might have it (S believes). If he can believe that he might be at the admitted freshman level at this point, he says that he will then think of the situation in terms of what level of lab band he can achieve as he enters the door. He and both conclude that we can shorten out list of colleges to say 4-5 instead of 6-8.

    Virtual Gap Year
    Except when compared to the super-impressive academic workloads that I see in other sub-forums on CC (sub-forums that give me headaches to look at), S had a very heavy HS junior year. It will be nice to have the APs and all the academic benefits of that workload, however, we thought it was crowding out the music. S and I looked at his senior year schedule a couple months ago and kept it academically 'sound', but made it very lightweight. Out of seven periods, only Spanish4, AP Calc AB, and an AP Eng equivalent class are counted towards the GPA. The remainder is PE, Study Hall, a TA spot, a P/F class, and a required-for-all non-weighted class. I asked him his perspective for this summer and the final HS year. He said he views his senior year as a gap year (the Virtual Gap Year (VGY)). As if he were now graduated from HS, but taking a couple community college classes while beefing up his chops for college.
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  • bridgenailbridgenail 1034 replies5 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Congrats @GoForth. I know you're not asking for advice. But I also know you don't mind receiving it.

    Take the professors at their word. Don't down-grade it to marketing. Yes of course it could be a strange year and they have mentioned that. But odds are it won't be. Even if one top choice school has a strange year, the chances are nil that 4 or 5 similar ones will. It doesn't mean he'll get in everywhere but I would say those comments mean he could expect offers at similar level schools and should be targeting those. The professors know what you are asking. And those answers are straight-forward and helpful.

    So Go Forth with confidence. The big nut to crack will probably not be acceptances but the financial offers at the school. I know you are already savvy about that. That's always the tough one to guess at and makes it worth throwing the net as wide as reasonable.
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  • classicalsaxmomclassicalsaxmom 311 replies26 threadsRegistered User Member
    So helpful, thanks @GoForth! How wonderful that your son got such great feedback! I can imagine how good it felt hearing that. I doubt that your son will regret the easier schedule once in the groove of senior year. He seems to have a realistic attitude toward the whole process and a handle on what to work on. My son's senior schedule isn't too bad, but I'm still wondering if that second AP is a good idea (AP Gov - a subject of high interest to him, and the Honors version supposedly has more busy work). The other AP is Music Theory.

    We are definitely thinking about some of the same issues. It is hard to know sometimes whether a camp peer group is a good national sample, I agree. Last summer my son did a camp with an excellent professor, but the camp turned out to be more regional with a huge range in skill level. DS got great feedback and was able to stand out in front of a top prof, which is great, and he had a great time overall. This year's camps include one auditioned program and another that requires professor approval based on experience/repertoire/achievements so I expect a significantly higher overall level at both. We will see how those go and how DS feels about a more "Type A" experience.

    We live in area that is known for overachieving students and some of the highest quality HS music programs in the country, and it does warp one's perspective. I can't say that DS is a big fish in a little pond, he's more like a big fish in a pretty big pond that supports a good number of big fish and lots of medium and little fish. Some of those "big fish" are very talented but have no intention of pursuing a BM program at the college level even though they are good enough to do so. Still, you just never know what will happen when you're talking about programs that accept so few students, and I don't even think our best in-state music school is a sure thing due to the high level of talent in our state and the fact that all the "big fish" in our state who continue with music are likely to be applying there due to its quality and (relative) affordability. In fact, that is why DS kept his senior year rigor up a bit higher than he would otherwise - many of our "big fish" tend to be very strong students, as well. DS's teacher thinks it's a safety, but I remain cautious.

    @bridgenail thanks for the encouraging words to GoForth, they were good for me to hear, too, as we head into summer.
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