Gap year for a jazz student

Looking for ideas of how to spend a gap year… S wants to study jazz trombone in college. We’re considering a gap year, not so he can improve his musical skills (though that would be great) but because he’s immature and we think he could use an extra year before going to college. He’s really struggled to juggle his academics with all his music obligations, and declares he has no time to prep for the SAT, though his score is low. Our concern is what he would do with that time off (besides, obviously, prepping for the SAT, playing trombone and working through his applications). We don’t want him to get off track, as he’s prone to do. Any thoughts appreciated!

Can he play in groups around your city as if he were graduated out of college and doing what he eventually wants to do? Maybe not at quite the same level, but the same actions. I know someone who played like this for a gap year and then is on his second gap year because the work he has as a jazz musician is already what he wanted to do, and he is making enough money.

I’m writing as the parent of a kid who is very similar to what you describe–really talented and capable, and often not very motivated or able to meet all their responsibilities. We debated a gap year all through their high school years and eventually decided against it, mostly because of their really strong academic capabilities. They went to a top STEM school and bombed out after one year.

The responsibilities of college can be extremely challenging–especially for males. Much more of the work is done outside the classroom. Ours did fine in high school because they were there every day and could understand everything in the classroom and do fine on quizzes and tests. Will you son get up and go to class a high % of the time? Will he be able to decide how much time he needs to devote to papers and to tests during a busy week? Will he actually sit down and do all the work?

We learned that it’s much more difficult after a student runs into academic difficulties. Ours took a year off after freshman year and worked at a concessionaire at a national park. That was a fantastic experience. I think almost everyone could benefit from spending more time in nature. it was nice too that it didn’t cost us anything–they paid their way.

They went back to the same school after a year. They didn’t knock it out of the park but did okay. They decided they wanted to work instead–it was just hard for them to have enough of a long enough perspective to see the benefit. They went back to a national park and are working now, with the thought of maybe going back to school when it’s necessary for their career–not ideal, but fine.

I’d say, don’t be afraid of a gap year. It goes really quickly. I can’t really speak to their jazz playing, but there are lots of jobs out there that they can do during a gap year, especially with unemployment at 4.1%. We liked the national parks options. At many, they provide campus-style housing because there is so little other housing available (i.e. the Grand Canyon). Xanterra and Delaware North are major N.P. concessionaires and hire lots of people.

The best advice: it’s not a race. You have to meet your kids where they are. If they are not ready for college, that is perfectly fine. It can be challenging. Really, kids often don’t understand why they are there. We know. We would love to do it ourselves. But sometimes for them it just feels like the next thing they are supposed to do. It’s much harder to do something if you don’t know WHY you are doing it. If someone told me I had to go to dance classes six hours a day for the next eight years (i.e. high school and college) and then my life would somehow be amazing, it might be hard for me to get up and go every day and give it my best if I didn’t know WHY (or HOW) dancing all day was going to translate into amazing.

There are many paths. Let them figure it out, love and stand with them, it will work out. Good luck!

Check out the amazing list of schools that do not require or emphasize SAT’s and ACT for admission: I would let the standardized test issue go for now and take a good look at that list. )(one of mine is a dancer who also could not prep due to time constraints and focus issues and she did fine with applications using this list).

Also, you might want to head over to the excellent music forum here on CC. What do you mean when you say he wants to study trombone in college? If he wants a BM program, he will not really have to do so much mixing of academics and music- it will be mostly music. And some conservatories don’t care so much about academics and scores- others do, especially those attached to universities. But musical talent can help a lot with admissions regardless.

A gap year is fine but only for the right reasons, which you know best about. There are many many things we could suggest but for a musician he might not want to take off for the wilderness with NOLS, for instance, or go farming in Scotland. I think the best thing might be for him to go ahead and try to go to a conservatory or school of music with a BM program where he can really immerse himself in music and grow.

But if there are issues that you are concerned about concerning maturity, sometimes that is the real priority and staying in music may be possible by doing gigs as GoForth says, studying privately, taking theory, that kind of thing. Some sort of work is always good too. And travel.

In general I think gap years work best if the kid really wants one and has ideas about what to do. I think for some, it can be wonderful and for others it can really get them off track. Tough decision!

Yes, check on the music major subforum