Science graduate in mid-twenties looking for advice about pursuing career in music

<p>Hi guys, like my title says, I'm in my mid twenties and am a science graduate. I'm busy completing a postgrad degree, a masters dissertation in computer science, and am working at an investment bank. I've been playing guitar for about 11 years and I used to play religiously during high school, but I've started to lose that intense focus I had for music, and, well, it's killing me. It's becoming painfully apparent that if I'm not surrounded by music, if I'm not actively involved with it I become miserable to the point of depression. I studied what I studied because I had an interest in it, but not a passion, like I do with music. It was alright, because I still had the time to play, although to be honest, by the end I'd already lost some of the drive because I thought I'd be able to be happy in a corporate environment.</p>

<p>Over the past 2 days I've been doing some research about how to get into music and make it a career, which is what led me to this site. I was hoping to find some advice from people who have perhaps gone through similar things or who know somebody who has. I've looked at some of the schools, Berklee in particular (which I've read conflicting things about). What I would like to study, ideally, would be something in composition as well as music production and engineering. I want to be able to put the whole musical picture together - to orchestrate the sound. What attracted me to Berklee as well is that it offers several interesting minors as well - such as English and Philosophy, which I would love to learn more about. I'm sure that other colleges such as USC and UCLA offer similar things though.</p>

<p>I'm still (relatively) young, and (extremely) single, and I don't want to spend the next 50 years with the dark cloud of "what if?" lingering over my head. I feel this is something I need to do, but I don't know what practical steps to take. I don't have much money - I've just started working, and I don't know if college is even worth it for me given my background. What I want is to make a career out of music, but I lack the know-how. If any of you have any advice you could offer, I'd appreciate it a whole lot... </p>

<p>Thanks.</p>

<p>I really can’t speak much to the music business. Also, I know enough about music programs to be dangerous since my son is in school for sound recording production. </p>

<p>You may want to navigate through the Berklee Online link. There is a link to sampling a class on some of the pages.</p>

<p>[Berklee</a> Online | Berklee College of Music](<a href=“http://www.berklee.edu/berklee-online]Berklee”>http://www.berklee.edu/berklee-online)</p>

<p>Also, try this site. Music seems to me is more about getting out and meeting people. You can find groups that may share your interests.</p>

<p>[Find</a> Meetup groups near you - Meetup](<a href=“http://www.■■■■■■■■■■/find/]Find”>http://www.■■■■■■■■■■/find/)</p>

<p>As for Philosophy and English, learn that on your own time. It is easy to find a book or topic you like. Also, I am sure you can find some free courseware at various institutions. I know MIT has a pretty good library covering a variety of subjects.</p>

<p>I’m not sure that there are that many people in your situation on this board. I have a story–it’s rather long!</p>

<p>My brother (now 52) went through some of the same careers you have and want, although in a different order. He did well with music early and at age 17 was auditioning for a 1st chair symphony orchestra job. Over the the next 10 years, he made the finals at auditions about 50 times, including at some of the world’s top orchestras. But he was never selected. He had been a young, and good composer, but did not study composition at conservatory, (Northwestern, Mannes, and Germany on a Fulbright), only his instrument. While in school in Manhattan, he subbed at the Met and worked part-time as a recording engineer. He got a job as an assistant professor in his mid-20’s. He got impatient in the small college town he was working in, and frustrated when the music department would not allow to travel to all the symphony auditions he wanted to audition at. After a few years his wife left him, and shortly after he quit the job. He got a Phd in computer music at Princeton, and formed a partnership with a few colleagues. They got contracts writing “elevator music” and with Disney. Things went well for almost 10 years; he made a lot of money and enjoyed the work. But he tired of the lack of ethics in the business world. Creditors would not pay them simply because they could get away with not doing so. So he left that, and went to work for a dot com in Manhattan. All this time he was still subbing at various symphonies, and played in several chamber ensembles. Occasionally he would audition for an orchestra. He did not enjoy the computer work at all in a corporate office, but he needed the money as he was remarried with three kids. After a few years he couldn’t take it any more and quit, saying he wanted to return to music. Well, at age 40+, no orchestras wanted someone that old, so he no longer made the finals. He went back to a software firm for a few years, but could hardly stand going to work. Right now he is trying various projects, including writing iphone applications. He misses music, but knows he can’t re-enter it at the level he wants.</p>

<p>Lessons learned: if you are a musician, try very hard to stay with it. He was too impatient, and left his professorship job too early. He could have stayed longer and continued to audition occasionally. He gave my daughter some lessons recently and my daughter said he is a really good teacher. He also turned down some job offers for principal positions in overseas orchestras, because they paid very little. He should have taken one of them.</p>

<p>Also, make sure you have enough money in the bank. At times with music you may make no money. You should consider working where you are for while and accumulating a large nest egg. Work long enough so that you have a track record and can go back if you need to. As the other poster suggested, find people in music to network with where you are right now. With money, you might be able to network in Europe too.</p>

<p>Don’t spend your own money going to graduate school in music. Since I assume you already have at least a BA, you could look at entering at the master’s level. Get this paid for.</p>

<p>Do this soon. In ten years you will be considered too old by many.</p>

<p>I think that you will have more ‘time’ after you complete your post grad degree. Even though you are single, going to school and working full time is draining your energy and creative juices. Investment banking jobs tend to be intense and I think it is overloading you. Finish the computer science masters ASAP so you can move on to what you really want to do - which is including more music in your life. Take a less intense day job near a music school that has courses that you are interested in and take some courses to get the skills you are lacking. You will also make some connections at the school which hopefully will lead to ‘projects’ involving music in the ways you envision. You can create you own future since with a masters in computer science to fall back on for $, you can leave the intense world of investment baking and still have a stable financial life which will free you to do you actually want to do.</p>

<p>What kind of guitar do you play? Ideally, where would you play it (band, orchestra, solo?)
What is your experience with composition? What kind of music? Do you have a portfolio?
What kind of music career are you thinking about? Classical, jazz, popular, rock, electronic?</p>

<p>Students with degrees in computer science can often transition to music these days. Music technology gets discussed on this forum a lot, and means different things to different people. Look at the Brown MEME program for one example of a creative application of technology. Others can recommend programs that go in other directions, where computer science might be applicable (kmcmom for one). There are many programs in sound production and engineering. Electroacoustic composition might interest you, live electronics, sound engineering, acoustical studies, there are lots of things to look into.</p>

<p>Perhaps you could continue with guitar on the side or as part of this larger picture. Mid 20’s isn’t too old at all. You could enter at the master’s level or do some classes at a conservatory continuing education school. Berklee may have one: I know NEC does.</p>

<p>I must beg to differ…“Well, at age 40+, no orchestras wanted someone that old, so he no longer made the finals.” Preliminary auditions are almost always held behind a screen-they are blind-so that age/gender discrimination is not involved when choosing a finalist. And there are plenty of performers who win auditions who are well into their 40s, and even recently, one winner is into their 50s.</p>

<p>Promusician, you may well be more informed than I am. However, aren’t most of those 40+ players who win principal jobs already performing in orchestras, and trying to move up? That is different than landing your first principal job at age 50. And in the case of my brother, after he turned 40 he started getting turned down on resume alone, something that had never happened to him when he was in his 20s.</p>

<p>The wording of your statement is what caught my attention…finalists are chosen based on performance(s) from the preliminary, and semi-final round(s), not their resume. The resumes are required with the application. If an orchestra has an open call for their auditions, they will hear everyone and won’t look at them until the final round. If the group screens candidates from the start, they will look at the resume and send out invitations to audition. Of course, there are exceptions as some auditions are completely blind throughout, and the resume of the winning candidate isn’t known until the process has been completed, and other auditions that are completely without a screen for the duration. I think it’s just how the statement read…plus the fact that conventional wisdom is that MDs and committees are looking for the younger, hot-shot player, when the truth is that sometimes the “seasoned” player is preferred due to experience and musical maturity. It all depends on what is preferred by the MD and committee…never rule out an older (and that term is subjective!!!) player, especially in this climate, with orchestras being locked out, going into bankruptcy, etc. Many are looking for work these days.</p>

<p>Sounds like your computer science, investment banking knowledge and interest in music could be very helpful in studying electronic production and design, film scoring, music production and engineering, and/or Music Business at Berklee or similar schools. I’m not sure how deep your composition and theory and electronic knowledge are, as that could help with merit/scholarship aid should you apply. You should definitely explore the Berklee site more, including the tuition. If you are not already playing out regularly and playing in recognized places, or not already doing things tied to electronic music production, it is not likely that you’ll get a sizable scholarship, but it is still something to explore if you are serious.</p>

<p>Besides a full degree, Berklee used to advertise a Diploma, which was more for people like you that already had a degree, but needed to add a music component piece to their education. This allows students to come to Berklee for fewer semesters, but still get the benefit of working with other students in ensembles and projects, which helps with building your music network.</p>

<p>My own D transferred to Berklee in her sophomore year of college, once she realized that she didn’t want to do medicine (biochemistry) as much as she wanted to be a musican. Her science and math transferred nicely, but she had too many of them, and did have to play catch up for courses required for her major (Contemporary Writing and Production). </p>

<p>Berklee is mix of traditional freshman straight out of high school as well as more experienced students that have done other things before coming to Berklee. The fun part is that there are many international students that bring a great mix of their music styles to Berklee, so in any major you get to meet and play with all types of people to broaden your own musical growth.</p>

<p>Good luck; keep us posted on what you decide to do.</p>

<p>I saw a thread for Musicians Institute on this forum. Perhaps this is something to you could check out.</p>

<p>[Musicians</a> Institute](<a href=“http://www.mi.edu/]Musicians”>http://www.mi.edu/)</p>