Jazz Studies

acorn484

Junior Member
I'm a high school junior and am interested in majoring in jazz studies in college on drumset. I'm looking for a program in or near a city with a good jazz scene and that has a strong emphasis on small group playing as opposed to being primarly a big band school. I don't want to be in a school that encourages cut-throat competition. Schools I'm considering applying to are Cornish College of the Arts, The Peabody Institute, The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, The Hartt School, William Paterson University, and CalArts. I would greatly appreciate any insights on your (or your child's) experiences at any of these schools. If there are other schools you would recommend checking out based on the criteria above, feel free to post (especially if there is a drumset teacher who you've heard good things about). If any of the aforementioned schools (or other schools) don't meet the criteria listed above, please let me know.

Thanks,

Vincent
 

jeffwj

Platinum Member
Temple University in Philadelphia. My good friend and teacher Steve Fidyk is on jazz faculty there. Terell Stafford heads the department. Other teachers there are Dick Oates and John Fedchock.

Jeff
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
I know several great players who went to Wm. Patterson and to the New School- those are probably the most high-powered places on your list. I also know many of the faculty at Cornish, and it's a fine place to go if you want to be in Seattle; or you could go to UW and study with my brother, John Bishop. If you want to be in the northwest, Portland is at least as attractive as Seattle scene-wise these days- PSU has a nice small program run by Darryl Grant with Alan Jones teaching drums. Alan's kind of an intense cat as far as competitiveness is concerned, but a lot of your good teachers are going to be that way. There are quite a few decent programs around the northwest, actually- in Eugene and even in Boise. Drop me a line if you decide on Portland or Seattle- maybe I can give you some more info.
 

Austin DV

Junior Member
Are you a WA guy like me too? If so what high school?

I got some friends up at new school and I know that is not a place you want to go if you dont want cutthroat competition. Actually, almost any school will have a ton of competition, it's just something that comes with most music colleges.

Is money a problem for you/ are you trying to get a scholarship? I know Cornish is expensive as hell, and I've also heard that they're not as good as they used to be.

Check out North Texas too, lots of big drummers have gone there and they have one of the most killin big bands around.
 

acorn484

Junior Member
Hey Austin DV,

I'm actually from Eugene, OR. That's good to know about the New School. I know competitiveness to some degree is inevitable but I just wouldn't want a faculty that encourages it as I think cooperation is the best way to go for a creative art form like jazz. How have your friends liked the New School in general?

I know some people who go to Cornish right now and they're really liking the program. The faculty is great. As far as the price, they seem fairly comparable to other private schools; they're all quite expensive.

Vincent
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I don't want to be in a school that encourages cut-throat competition.
Forgive me, but I don't understand this statement in the context of being a musician. So, does this mean that for all the money you're willing to spend on a music performance education, you're not interested in making any of that money back?

I don't believe that nice guys always finish last, nor do I believe being competitive has to be a cut-throat business, but just the general idea of I bought this degree, now I want some payback for it really rings for me, anyway.

When I started playing with the Disney Resort some 23 years ago, at my first audition, about 90+ drummers showed up. You know how many spots they had open? One. And then once I was on the gig, did you think I'd allow myself to be late or make mistakes when there were at least 20 guys ready to step in? No way.

Competitive-ness is good. It makes you better, and you learn things you wouldn't necessarily be interested in. If I was going to USC's jazz school at $25,000 a year, well, $100K later I'd seriously be thinking I want my degree to pay for itself. Things change as you get older: I like having my own house with my own heat and AC, and food, and I like to be able to go to the doctor whenever I need to. I like going on vacations and I like having a nice car to be able to get around - that's why people get degrees, yes? Or are you totally financially independent?

I really don't mean to dash any hopes you may have, I was just wonderin'. Maybe I'm being too practical about it. I wish you luck in your endeavor.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
I know several great players who went to Wm. Patterson and to the New School- those are probably the most high-powered places on your list. I also know many of the faculty at Cornish, and it's a fine place to go if you want to be in Seattle; or you could go to UW and study with my brother, John Bishop. If you want to be in the northwest, Portland is at least as attractive as Seattle scene-wise these days- PSU has a nice small program run by Darryl Grant with Alan Jones teaching drums. Alan's kind of an intense cat as far as competitiveness is concerned, but a lot of your good teachers are going to be that way. There are quite a few decent programs around the northwest, actually- in Eugene and even in Boise. Drop me a line if you decide on Portland or Seattle- maybe I can give you some more info.
Alan Jones at Portland State IS an amazing teacher. He really challenges you to get to the heart of jazz, not just through your playing, but through your thinking and feeling. Some of the best "jazz philosophy" discussion I've had was during lessons with him...
 

Frost

Silver Member
I think I understand where he is coming from, there is a difference between natural competitiveness and forced competition where more often then not, it is the "alpha male" or more dominant personality that wins out, not the quiet guy in the corner with the real talent.

I've played sport at a relatively high level before (A grade soccer in a minor league), I was good, but every game I had to work to earn my place on the pitch, the stress of it made it harder for me to perform at my best, yet the games where I felt assured and comfortable, I made far less blunders and had a better time.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to enjoy your education.

Forgive me, but I don't understand this statement in the context of being a musician. So, does this mean that for all the money you're willing to spend on a music performance education, you're not interested in making any of that money back?

I don't believe that nice guys always finish last, nor do I believe being competitive has to be a cut-throat business, but just the general idea of I bought this degree, now I want some payback for it really rings for me, anyway.

When I started playing with the Disney Resort some 23 years ago, at my first audition, about 90+ drummers showed up. You know how many spots they had open? One. And then once I was on the gig, did you think I'd allow myself to be late or make mistakes when there were at least 20 guys ready to step in? No way.

Competitive-ness is good. It makes you better, and you learn things you wouldn't necessarily be interested in. If I was going to USC's jazz school at $25,000 a year, well, $100K later I'd seriously be thinking I want my degree to pay for itself. Things change as you get older: I like having my own house with my own heat and AC, and food, and I like to be able to go to the doctor whenever I need to. I like going on vacations and I like having a nice car to be able to get around - that's why people get degrees, yes? Or are you totally financially independent?

I really don't mean to dash any hopes you may have, I was just wonderin'. Maybe I'm being too practical about it. I wish you luck in your endeavor.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I think I understand where he is coming from, there is a difference between natural competitiveness and forced competition where more often then not, it is the "alpha male" or more dominant personality that wins out, not the quiet guy in the corner with the real talent.

I've played sport at a relatively high level before (A grade soccer in a minor league), I was good, but every game I had to work to earn my place on the pitch, the stress of it made it harder for me to perform at my best, yet the games where I felt assured and comfortable, I made far less blunders and had a better time.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to enjoy your education.
Well, I'm not saying you shouldn't enjoy your education. I'm saying that after you've spent all the money, what do you have? I don't think it's too hard to set a reasonable goal for yourself first, then decide how to go about getting it. I see too many people going to music school with absolutely no plan for what to do with it when they're done. If I was the parent paying for it, I'd be pissed if my kid got a music degree and is working as a salesman at a BestBuy.

For instance, if I said, "I want to be part of the percussion section for the Boston Symphony Orchestra", and knowing there are only four or five guys who do that full-time, my first thought is not to enroll in a music school setting myself on some meandering path to a music degree. My first thought would be, "How do I talk to the guys in the BSO so I can pick their brains on how they got there?". This is the same advice I give kids interested in business - if you want to run a nice money-making gas station, don't go out and get an MBA, talk to a guy who owns and runs a successful gas station. Once you get the information from the people who are doing what you want to do, then you go about devising a plan to achieve that goal.

I'm all for education. I think it's great. But just reading some news on the internet I found a story on how 100,000 law school graduates this year will not have a job to interview for! True or not (most likely true) the financial situation sucks out there. If it's bad for people used to expecting to go into some kind of business to pay off their student loans, what about those students who don't know where their degrees will take them? It just doesn't seem right to spend 100K for an education with no idea how to make a living after you have it. Imagine showing up for an interview to manage a small local business - who would you hire? The guy with the JD degree out of law school who can run a business? Or the guy with the BA in Music Performance who just wants to be a musician anyway?

I apologize, I've said too much. Continue....
 

Austin DV

Junior Member
Sorry it took me so long to get back to you, I actually forgot I posted here.

They absolutely love it. It's definitely in the right location for jazz, and they have amazing faculty, however it is an extremely competitive environment, although everyone is really supportive. Everyone there is trying to be a professional musician of some sort, so It's reasonable that there is going to be competition.

As for Cornish, I would definitely apply, but for the money you'd be paying I think that if you get into another school it would be worth weighing your options. Just find out what school has better teachers, and who you would enjoy working with.

If you got an questions about music colleges this is definitely the place to ask. I'm going to Berklee, and it's freakin awesome, so maybe check them out too.


Hey Austin DV,

I'm actually from Eugene, OR. That's good to know about the New School. I know competitiveness to some degree is inevitable but I just wouldn't want a faculty that encourages it as I think cooperation is the best way to go for a creative art form like jazz. How have your friends liked the New School in general?

I know some people who go to Cornish right now and they're really liking the program. The faculty is great. As far as the price, they seem fairly comparable to other private schools; they're all quite expensive.

Vincent
 

deltdrum

Senior Member
Hey you might go check out the University of Idaho since you live pretty close. Its WAY underrated as far as music programs go. You can play Lionel Hampton's vibes on a daily basis, and the private instructor, Dan Bukvich, is an AMAZING drummer.

I'd seriously suggest going and touring the place. They have an event called Vandal Friday where you can go check out the school, and it would be a good chance to get your foot in the door.
 
Temple University in Philadelphia. My good friend and teacher Steve Fidyk is on jazz faculty there. Terell Stafford heads the department. Other teachers there are Dick Oates and John Fedchock.

Jeff
Steve is the man! I've seen him give masterclasses before!!!
 
Frank Russo teaches at Towson Uninversity. He is just the man when it comes to teaching jazz. and he's more of a combo player than a big band guy. Although, he can play both well. I don't attend Towson, I am actaully a music ed major at York College...I just spent a week learing from him when I went to a jazz camp at Rowan University. LVC also has a great jazz studies program. My uncle graduated with a dual degree in music education and jazz studies. Tom Strohman who is a very well known jazz woodwind specialist is the director there. He is like the master of jazz theory. It's carzy!
 

mattsmith

Platinum Member
I'm a high school junior and am interested in majoring in jazz studies in college on drumset. I'm looking for a program in or near a city with a good jazz scene and that has a strong emphasis on small group playing as opposed to being primarly a big band school. I don't want to be in a school that encourages cut-throat competition. Schools I'm considering applying to are Cornish College of the Arts, The Peabody Institute, The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, The Hartt School, William Paterson University, and CalArts. I would greatly appreciate any insights on your (or your child's) experiences at any of these schools. If there are other schools you would recommend checking out based on the criteria above, feel free to post (especially if there is a drumset teacher who you've heard good things about). If any of the aforementioned schools (or other schools) don't meet the criteria listed above, please let me know.

Thanks,

Vincent
Every school mentioned here is intensively competitive as it should be. If you do not share that willingness to play along you simply will not get in and this entire thread is a waste of time. Now there are a handful of places who will hear you say these things, smile and say sure, then accept you while using your tuition to pay for the scholarships of the intensively competitive people who will ridicule you during your time there as they occupy the slots of every good ensemble that you wished you had developed the competitive edge to have been in.

After a time you will talk yourself into believing that the reason for your failures was something other than what I've just stated, and you will either drop out, or hang around long enough to have received a totally useless education, to say nothing of your never having a friend in school who will ever respect you as a musician.

In your spare time /and in your case you will have plenty/ you can visit those big city jazz clubs you've paid all that money to be so close to, and wonder why the world class drummer allows your roomate to sit in at the open jam while always believing that the peculiar vibe you're getting is everyone else's arrogant attitude.

Frankly, I never have a problem with anyone who enters into a situation with a noncompetitive attitude. It simply means more work for me while you help pay for that. Now never in a million years would I wish you anything but the best, because anybody who wants to try is a musical brother. But if I were to take the trouble to explain the flaws of your attitude and you were to persist, I would merely shake my head and say... Well best of luck to you, as I headed for my gig and you headed for your computer to tell some drum forum what a jerk I was.

I'm sorry this sounds harsh but I'm only trying to help, meaning I hope your perspective receives a dose of reality, including how as a high school junior, you've already decided to specialize at a jazz school of all things, by taking big band off the table.

Re: this thread:

Every jazz school on the planet is intensely competitive. In fact any kind of music school worth attending is this way.

Bo Elder is right.

Anyone who disagrees with Bo Elder is wrong.

Sometimes it really is that cut and dry. Good luck with your search.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
You guys are projecting an awful lot into one little comment. Maybe you should have a conversation with him about what he means instead of just declaring him condemned to a life of unemployability and hopeless debt.
 

mattsmith

Platinum Member
You guys are projecting an awful lot into one little comment. Maybe you should have a conversation with him about what he means instead of just declaring him condemned to a life of unemployability and hopeless debt.
He stated twice that he wanted to attend a jazz school that did not encourage cutthroat competition then listed as his interests incredibly cutthroat competitive schools. Then he stated that jazz was best acheived through cooperation instead of competition, oblivious to the concept that he needed that competitive edge he so wants to avoid to even get into that very band that enjoys his prescribed level of satisfying cooperation. He's a potential student after all, not a fully developed veteran who has passed the larger part of the getting in the door part. In my view his thinking although correct in the long term, is for now cart before the horse and incredibly naive.

I read nothing into anything. I merely read the actual words he used twice and responded to them. I was also trying to help. If he doesn't like my advice he can discard it.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Then he stated that jazz was best acheived through cooperation instead of competition, oblivious to the concept that he needed that competitive edge he so wants to avoid to even get into that very band that enjoys his prescribed level of satisfying cooperation.
Yeah, I don't necessarily agree with that. What will land him gigs is how good a musician he is, and the quality of his presentation and his relationships. Competitiveness is only one possible motivator among many for achieving that. He's right that it's a negative in the actual making of music- the tradition of cutting is jive BS, for example- so I credit him for thinking like an artist ahead of his years.

Personally, I have a lot of faith in him, without actually knowing him. We're from the same hippie town that has produced a lot of great musicians over the decades, and I'm very familiar with what seems to be his attitude. It never stopped anyone I know from being a real musician and getting and holding work.
 

bigd

Silver Member
Matt and Bo are totally right on. My son is 15 and already gearing up to become part of a conservatory orchestral program. His practice routine is becoming solid and he is preparing to get into position to audition at the best orchestral schools in the country. If you don't attend these highly competitive schools you won't even get a chance to attend the auditions. I would think jazz players need the competitive environment to be able to land and keep a real gig. It's also not just about the percussion/ drumset program. You have attend a school with great ensembles.

Bo on a side note, Tim Genis and Lee Vinson of the Boston Symphony both attended Eastman. Genis didn't finish because he won an audition in the far east and ended up finishing his degree once he returned to America I believe.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I wasn't condemning him to a life of bitterness or anything. I was merely stating facts in cases I've seen throughout my lifetime. I know it sucks when someone older tells you your dream of doing something is just a waste of time, and I know the younger generation won't listen - they have to go out and find out for themselves, and that's OK. I know what I know, and our OP will know what he knows when he's my age.

I think I'm being helpful, at least, though. Every young person I talk to about this music education business always wows me with where they want to attend and what kind of music they want to play. Nobody has ever told me where they wanted to end up. It's like when it comes to education the journey is more important than the destination and all I'm sayin' is that after all the money going out, that destination better be pretty dang special!

There's no shame in saying that all you want to do is play drums in a band and take that as far as you can. If that's all you want to do, then talk to guys who do that successfully, and they're out there. When I was in high school, I don't think I ever dreamed of being a mallet percussionist or anything else other than a drummer and would-be entertainer - and believe me, just being a drummer is hard enough. When I met Harvey Mason, that man can do everything - it was depressing. But then you realize you're talking to one of five guys that do everything here in L.A.!

When I realized those odds were against me (the ratio of top-flight working percussionists to the amount of regular percussionists in Los Angeles alone) I totally placed focus on what I did best, and what I did best isn't really taught in school.

For some people taking lessons with pros would be a better, and maybe cheaper, investment. Hell, everyone remember what Tony Williams did when he wanted to learn composition? He hired the professor of music composition at UC San Francisco for private lessons! I learned about big band drumming by taking a couple of lessons with Ed Shaugnessy, and then picking the brains of guys like Gregg Field and Steve Houghton when I was in college. It helped that my local college jazz band director actually played in one of Maynard Ferguson's big bands and also for Stan Kenton. Talk about an education in that one year alone!

I'm not saying do what I do. I'm just saying state your destination, and then find the right path. It might not lead through a music school.
 
Top