Should You Go to Music School?

Do you need a formal education to work in music?

Should You Go to Music School?

This is a topic that A LOT of musicians talk about. I have been involved in both crowds: Academically trained musicians AND musicians who have just put the time in and do it themselves. Both have their ups and downs, and I am here to settle the score for you.

Going to music school (A simple run down)

Going to music school is tough. It's incredibly rewarding, but it is incredibly hard, time consuming, stressful, and hella fun. Here is what you need to know:

1) Music schools mainly teach "classical"and "jazz"

This is something most people don't realize until they get into the program. Most music schools teach these incredibly generalized genres of music for two reasons:

  • They've been around forever
  • They cover basic musical content

IN A NUTSHELL, classical music teaches you about where western music stems from, and Jazz teaches you about where popular music in America stems from.

2) Music school shows you HOW music works, and helps you to appreciate it

I find this to be the thing that I took away from my formal education. Being exposed to music from the past and having to look at it in depth really helped me to understand HOW music worked. Knowing this, it helped me to always listen to music with an open mind.

3) Music school gives you access to a plethora of like-minded people, and numerous connections in the industry

Going to music school will help you find friends who are interested in the same things you are. I truly believe this is one of the best things about going to school for anything. It also allows you the option to get some incredible opportunities in your field of work, which is always a plus. (Remember, music is not only an art, but for some people it is a career).

What music school DOESN'T give you

People might have the assumption that going to music school will make you the best musician of all time. THIS IS NOT TRUE. Here is a list of things that music school doesn't give you, but working in the real world does:

  • Music school doesn't get you the gigs
  • Music school doesn't make you the best at your instrument
  • It doesn't make you love music more
  • Having a degree doesn't make you more suited for the gig
  • Sitting in a practice room for eight hours a day doesn't make you a better musician, PERFORMING DOES.

Some of my views might be exaggerated here, but in all honesty, this is what it is. To do this type of work you have to be out in the world doing it. Sitting at school doesn’t get you gigs. Period.

The (simple) conclusion?

The list above could go on forever. What does all this mean? Well... it means that you have to figure out what you want out of your music. Do you REALLY want to know about the history of music? Or would you rather just play music that speaks to you, and go from there? The choice is truly yours.

I want to point this out (again), to make it really clear. YOU WILL NEED REAL LIFE EXPERIENCE REGARDLESS. I have talked to people who say that people who go to music school don’t get the "real experience of working in the industry" when this is simply not true. It doesn’t matter if you go to school or not, you will still need to get out there and DO IT.

Get out there, and do what you want to do. You can do it. It may take time, but if you want it, you can do it.

And hey, if you like what I’m writing, I would greatly appreciate any tips you can throw my way. Your support helps me do what I love to do. Thanks for reading, and until next time,

John Marvin Scott

John Marvin Scott
John Marvin Scott
Read next: Jay Z: From Worst to Best
John Marvin Scott

Musician/Composer writing about my experiences in the world of music.

See all posts by John Marvin Scott