Colleges for Drum Set.

Diegoro

Member
Right now I'm looking to apply at a few colleges. I want to major in instrumental performance, and my instrument would be drum set. The problem is most colleges who have a music program only offer a performance degree in percussion which would include mallets, timpani,..etc. I love that stuff, but I find myself a lot more passionate for drum set. The only school I know that does offer an emphasis on drum set performance is Berklee. That is my dream school, but I want a few other options. Anyone know of any schools to look at? Or reasons why I should just go into percussion as a whole?
 

konaboy

Pioneer Member
Guess the question is what do you want to do with that degree? Learning percussion as a whole can only make you a more rounded player.
 

Diegoro

Member
Guess the question is what do you want to do with that degree? Learning percussion as a whole can only make you a more rounded player.
It sounds a bit crazy, but I plan to just perform. Audition every where I can. I'd like to play in bands, play for an artist, tour, studio sessions. Maybe if I become big with my career, I'd like to even be a clinician, and possibly teach privately.
 

konaboy

Pioneer Member
It sounds a bit crazy, but I plan to just perform. Audition every where I can. I'd like to play in bands, play for an artist, tour, studio sessions. Maybe if I become big with my career, I'd like to even be a clinician, and possibly teach privately.
You don't have to have a degree to do any of that and I can't say that having the degree would necessarily help you get any of those jobs.

If you do a search here there are a number of threads about this exact same topic. Most responses are probably not what you are going to want to hear as far as persuing a degree in music.
 

Diegoro

Member
You don't have to have a degree to do any of that and I can't say that having the degree would necessarily help you get any of those jobs.

If you do a search here there are a number of threads about this exact same topic. Most responses are probably not what you are going to want to hear as far as persuing a degree in music.
Well yeah, but I think I'd be much more successful in those aspects compared to someone who isn't going to school. Networking with other students, access to a lot teachers, practice rooms, equipment etc... Also, if I do go to Berklee I'd probably double major in music business or something like that. I'd also like to be fluent with theory, and all genres of music. I did read a few threads already, and most say music isn't worth it. That it can all be done on your own with a good private teacher, but I'm going to have to disagree.
 

Jhostetler

Senior Member
I started as a percussion major in college. I've since changed to a business focus but my experience has been this:

If you want to study percussion as a primary, you must be versed in all aspects of the field. The ability to play mallets, timpani, and concert percussion will only help you to get more gigs. Sure I love playing set with my band. But the gigs that make me money are the ones where I play multiple percussion, mallets, or the odd hand instruments. By becoming well versed in all these instruments you become more marketable as a person. You could be the best set player in the world, but what happens when you get offered $2,000 to play xylophone at a nursing home? That's a hypothetical but that's the reality of it. My bread and butter gigs come from the areas of percussion that do not pertain to the it. Also, by learning these other disciplines, you enable yourself to become a better set player. Just recently I learned killer timbale part that I translated over to my set playing.

College is about learning You want to challenge yourself to experience something that you have yet to be exposed to. The opportunity to play will always be there. It's your education that lets you grow those opportunities into something more.

For the record: I am currently finishing my last semester of undergrad in Marketing at Anderson University in Anderson, Indiana. They have a great music business program (I have a music business minor) and we recently just hired some fantastic faculty to the music business program. PM me if you want more info in that regard.
 

poppies

Senior Member
Well yeah, but I think I'd be much more successful in those aspects compared to someone who isn't going to school. Networking with other students, access to a lot teachers, practice rooms, equipment etc... Also, if I do go to Berklee I'd probably double major in music business or something like that. I'd also like to be fluent with theory, and all genres of music. I did read a few threads already, and most say music isn't worth it. That it can all be done on your own with a good private teacher, but I'm going to have to disagree.
FWIW, from a Berklee grad: you can network with top musicians, get lessons from the world's greatest drummers, get access to practice rooms and incredible equipment, etc., on your own for about 10% of the cost of attending there. You can intern at a record label and learn everything you'd learn in Berklee's biz classes and far more. I will even personally help you plan out the details of how to do all these things if you're willing to spare yourself a pointless debt trap. Feel free to PM me.
 

greenstar323

Senior Member
I'm not trying to discourage you here, but please don't go $240,000 into student loan debt to get a degree in drum performance (4 years of Berklee x 60k a year). Not sure how much it costs nowadays. I went to Berklee for a year and it was an amazing school, but extremely expensive. You probably don't care now but when you make $3k a month and they are taking out over $1k in student loan payments a month you will care a lot.

I agree with the other posters that you do not need a degree to do this. The best things I learned during my time there were actually from private lessons I took OUTSIDE of class. Practice, work hard, network, try to find other ways to make it doing what you want to do. I would encourage you to look for alternatives. I think your plan of also majoring in music business is a good start just to have as a fallback just in case.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Well I assume you are young so I'll give you my pearls of wisdom -image follows LOL. It's great you want to go to college to achieve your goals, I encourage that, but you can play drums without a college degree. If really want to go to college you can still love the drums but all the music and percussion experience will really benefit you. A broad percussion experience will make you more marketable-plenty of demand for tympani and mallets as drum kit. You may also find that there is other percussion you will fall in love with. Don't limit yourself, but the cost of an education now is astronomical and something to consider-so be careful and weigh costs and return-and look around there are some fine inexpensive music schools in various states. I was in academia a long while and it didn't matter if your degree was from Harvard or Podunk U as far as successes. Remember you can take music lessons locally and be a fine drummer, if you really want a music education then don't limit your education.
 

Attachments

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
If you go to college for music, you will HAVE to learn a bunch of stuff that has nothing to do with what you want to do. That's just the nature of it. In order to learn theory, you'll probably have to learn some piano; that's pretty much standard. Theory is really difficult to learn and analyze without listening to and analyzing a lot of classical music and writing music that follows the rules of theory.

I majored in English secondary education. Just because I wanted to teach writing didn't mean I could cherry pick my classes. I had to learn and read A LOT of stuff I didn't like and write A LOT of papers on that same material. Some of it was great, but much of it was garbage.

I was a music major at one time, and while my back-up plan was to teach music, I wanted to play as much as I could with as many bands as I could with the possibility of touring, becoming a studio musician, etc. I've gotten to do both on a smaller scale. Out of the dozens of musicians that I knew that were doing the same thing as me, only one of them "made it." Why was he any different than the rest of us? One thing: MONEY! His parents supported him for his four-year degree, and he went to the Musician's Institute out in Cali for grad school. THAT's where he started networking and landed a good gig. I'm not saying that he's not worked hard for what he has; I'm just saying that maybe the road was a little smoother for him.

If I were in your position, I'd move to the closest town with a music scene and network like crazy. Practice A LOT, don't be a jerk, don't burn bridges, and be willing to play music you don't absolutely love.

If you are just itching and dying to go to school to learn theory, find the closest, cheapest college you can and audit some of their theory classes. You might be surprised to find out that there are some community colleges out there that teach the first couple of years of music theory, and they do a fine job doing so.

I'll end with what my music instructor said in my last theory class: "If you want to teach music, go to school. If you want to be a rock star, move to Nashville."
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
If it wasn't for the 1/4 million in debt, I'd say go for it.

That kind of debt....there's not even anything tangible, like a house, that you can point to...and it's also something you can't unload either. Hey do you want to buy my knowledge? I think it's irresponsible to sign up for that much debt with no guarantees of anything, and nothing tangible you can sell off to recoup your dough. Best case scenario, you pay off your debt in what 20 years at 1000 a month? For what? That's insane. It's a financial tarpit. Music is one of the worst ways to survive financially that I can think of.

As much as I love music, from an economical and common sense POV, these days...it's a dumb idea. If this was the 1940's different story. The digital age has laid waste to the business.

I do music for love. If I had to do it for a living, I'd have to take on every crap job that came along so I could run on the treadmill one more day. No thanks. That would take all the joy out of it for me, because the pay sucks. My band leader works 20 dates a month and makes maybe 2000 a month....before gas, tolls, strings, food etc... A man needs to be able to make 2000 every week to survive on his own and raise a family.

Get your knowledge without enslaving yourself to a school. No one asks for degrees. They just want someone reliable who can cut the gig.
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
unfortunately , a degree does not earn you a careen in music ... nor does it qualify you for a career in music

what it does get you is a nice little piece of paper with your name on it and a big fat chunk of life long debt while your peers are out paying dues and working up the ladder of the industry

the best education you can get in music is getting out into the field and staying out in the field.

live it and it will become your life
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Any school that offers a jazz studies major will let you focus on drum set. There are a ton of them now-- check your local state school.

Like others said, it's best to avoid all debt, if possible. All it will do is motivate you away from music, towards another job where the money comes easier. It's a good idea to do most of your studies wherever is cheapest-- and/or that will give you a scholarship-- and then at the end do a semester or two someplace like Berklee, purely for networking.

You don't actually need great teachers to learn how to play-- you just an environment where people are into music, plus time to practice, and opportunities to play. You need to be extremely self-motivated regardless of whether you're at a normal school or an "elite" one.

I would also take into consideration where you might want to live after you graduate or drop out. You'll be spending 3-4 years forming relationships with the people in that city, so it would be great if it was a place you might actually like to live.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
I was in academia a long while and it didn't matter if your degree was from Harvard or Podunk U as far as successes.

If you do the research, you will find that statistically speaking, on average the folks that attend ivy-league colleges do no better or worse than folks that attend state colleges.

If you choose to go to a college, for gosh sakes, do NOT attend an unaccredited college not matter what the promises are. I have friends that did this to focus on Christian-based music. What are they doing now? She's a stay-at-home mom and he works for a cabin rental company.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Ha, ha. Listen to my friend Larry he owns his own business, can afford two awesome Guru drum kits among other fine instruments, and still gets to enjoy his drumming passion. I, on the other hand, frustrated educated idiot with a PhD who doesn't own a decent drum kit (hey I'm saving though), finding myself a cornucopia of useless info-cause you can Google it and get a quicker more concise answer than my ramblings. LOL.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
No one asks for degrees. They just want someone reliable who can cut the gig.
unfortunately , a degree does not earn you a careen in music ... nor does it qualify you for a career in music
Correct and correct.

Now, learning and growing as a musician is obviously important, and I highly recommend you engage in some melodic training in order to better communicate with other players. And while very prestigious in some aspects, a degree from Berklee will have no effect on your getting work. In some cases, a degree might even suggest to a potential band that you're overeducated, and will try to play all sorts of fancy stuff, instead of the meat & potatoes that 97.3% of the bands/artists need from drummers.

If you have the temperament to play 2&4, and can work with a click but also hold a tempo without it, then you're ready for the vast majority of gigs. Go out and start working.

Bermuda
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I know a person with a performance degree in drumset. TBH, he plays with no heart, he's just there. Very ho hum. I can't help thinking...this guy has a performance degree? I feel he would play like that without the degree. A person plays how they play. Just because a person has a degree....that in no way guarantees a great intuitive player. I'm not knocking education whatsoever. I'm knocking the debt. You can get valuable education without the crippling debt. Don't financially cripple yourself. Experience is the very best of teachers.

You can jump in the business at any time. Your playing is your business card, for better or worse.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
It might be good to get a college degree in music and teaching so you can have a backup in case you don't become a full time working musician.
You can always use the degree to be a music teacher and put some food on the table.

What ever you do, make sure you read the book, "The Big Gig" by Zoro.
It's a great book, it will provide you with the information that you need. Read it ASAP.


.
 

tcspears

Gold Member
I went to school at NEC, which is right near Berklee, and I have to say that Berklee's facilities are mindblowing! Right now, it's about $65k a year to go there, so you are paying for it, but holy crap it's nice.

I played a show in one of their performance halls recently, and they let us rehearse at one of their practice facilities in Allston, and it was like something from the future; all these sound proof white rooms with great quality instruments.

Everyone has mentioned all the downsides to music school (and there are plenty): massive debt, no guarantee of work (although this is the same for any degree), and you could get the same training elsewhere.

But there are some positives. For 4-5 years, you're living and breathing music. Not just the music that you want to play, but everything. With players from all over the world. Think of music as a language; you can learn French in class, but the fastest way to become fluent is to immerse yourself in a place the speaks only french. It's the same with music; being immersed in music is invaluable.

As others mentioned, you usually have to learn another instrument (piano) in order to get through all of your theory and composition classes. Taking drum lessons will only improve your drumming, attending music school works on all aspects of being a musician.

I went to school for Musicology and Music History, but my primary instrument was jazz drum set. I can't say that the degree has directly helped me get jobs, but it does look good on my resume, and it certianly doesn't hurt. There's also the networking aspect, which is pretty helpful.

I don't think school is necessary, and the name brand schools are CRAZY expensive, but going to school will have a positive impact on your playing and your understanding of music. I think it's worth getting more info and then weighing out the pros and cons.
 

GeoB

Gold Member
1. Play
2. school band,
3. Marching band
4. achieve good grades keep a high GPA going
5. Perhaps - qualify for a scholarship to a University for their marching band program.

Corny? Think so? I know several people who got MBA's, EE's etc... with Marching band scholarships. One even supervised a dorm and got free room and board for doing so (she was a piccolo player). It's amazing what can be offered if you think about it. Talk to your guidance counselor? Some actually know their job and can counsel well. Most don't.


IF you're intent on a music degree, prepare yourself with formal piano lessons, mallet work etc... there's no way around it. You will need to take theory, composition, performance (and not just on a drum kit).

IF you think you're going to North Texas to play a kit... that all comes into being after doing the pre-degree foundational course work.

Heck military bands are just about all made up of college grads these days.

Bottom line... solid prep work for ANY eventuality in the field you are dreaming of. It is a VERY selective world at the university level.

A daunting task? Look at the numbers... it is possible, but not without the up front work.
 
Top