Possible to become a studio drummer without having a degree?

liggs88

Junior Member
Hey I was just wondering if it is possible to become a studio drummer without having a degree in some field of music.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
You don't need a degree to play music. You don't need a degree to get hired for gigs.

However, a degree doesn't hurt your resume, and the information and experience gained in college is totally worth it, if you want to pursue what you're studying. The best preparation is to play with a whole bunch of people in all different styles, become fluent in those styles, learn how to read music AND charts, and practice with a metronome all of the time. Those, and some experience under your belt so you don't get red light fever...
 

Stoney

Senior Member
I studied music at university. Yes it's great to have it on paper but it means nothing in the grand scheme of things. In answer to your question: Of course you can! Possibly even more so without it!
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
A music degree means nothing when it comes to getting jobs in bands or studio. It's about how well can you play for the situation at hand.

Of course, the experience that comes with a degree is certainly helpful. There are name players who appear to be better off for the experience they got getting their degree.

But no one is going to ask if you have one, nor is anyone going to be particularly impressed because you have one. It still comes down to your playing.
 

mrchattr

Gold Member
I know far more successful studio musicians, including myself, without degrees, than I do studio musicians with degrees. So yeah, it's quite possible!
 

Skitch

Pioneer Member
Hey I was just wondering if it is possible to become a studio drummer without having a degree in some field of music.
I have a degree - in Computer Science! Steve Gadd doesn't have a degree that I know of. Probably, some of the best advice I have ever been given was when I audtioned for scholarships in College. The man said, "We don't encourage performance degrees here because that in a meaningless piece of paper. The proof is in your playing. Let me hear you play."

Schools, whether traditional or specialized, will not give you the fast track to being what you want to become. They will provide the opportunity, though, as the LA scene in the 1980s (the golden age of recording) was dominated by Berkely alums who knew each other form school.


Mike

http://www.mikemccraw.com
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drumgeek93

Senior Member
Yah, I agree with the guys here. I'm kind of young but still I get studio sessions, and everyone knows I definitely have not gotten my degree yet. I talked to a lot of graduates, and a lot from even Berklee, and they will all tell you that degree isn't going to get you anything more than you started. Yes It will look a good amount better on your resume. But the decision of whether your getting that gig is in your playing. Like the other guys said. Practicing with a metronome, reading charts, etc, etc.
 

Eric

Senior Member
I got some good connections and experience from college but my degree (in percussion performance) has gotten me absolutely nothing. In fact, a friend of mine who almost finished college is adjunct faculty at a university because he lied about graduating and never checked him out. I, on the other hand, don't have a teaching gig, but play plenty of gigs. If you only want to play on stage or in studio, save your money and get a good teacher, or get a degree in something else is my advice-especially if you have to take out student loans!
 

Skitch

Pioneer Member
Hey I was just wondering if it is possible to become a studio drummer without having a degree in some field of music.
I will say this;

given the current American idol attitude towards music, the more you know about music, the more advantage you give yourself. For instance, in the studio, you are probably going to come across some strange looking charts called "number charts" which use numbers to represent chords. If you know E from E flat, you more than likely will never get lost in those charts. I read these regularly and know some really brilliant musicians who use these.


Mike

http://www.mikemccraw.com
http://www.dominoretroplate.com
http://www.patentcoachmike.com
http://www.youtube.com/drummermikemccraw
http://www.myspace.com/drummermikemccraw
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
I have a degree - in Computer Science! Steve Gadd doesn't have a degree that I know of. Probably, some of the best advice I have ever been given was when I audtioned for scholarships in College. The man said, "We don't encourage performance degrees here because that in a meaningless piece of paper. The proof is in your playing. Let me hear you play."

Schools, whether traditional or specialized, will not give you the fast track to being what you want to become. They will provide the opportunity, though, as the LA scene in the 1980s (the golden age of recording) was dominated by Berkely alums who knew each other form school.


Mike

http://www.mikemccraw.com
http://www.dominoretroplate.com
http://www.patentcoachmike.com
http://www.youtube.com/drummermikemccraw
http://www.myspace.com/drummermikemccraw
You touch on something very important here. It isn't just about talent alone. There are many gigs and recording sessions where a very competent drummer is playing, but an even more competent drummer isn't playing. Why might that be? The drummer who is playing made important connections while going to school, Pros taught classes, teachers knew someone who knew someone, classmates hooked up the drummer with opportunities.

You get more than just technical ability from a music school. You get connections as well, and those are valuable. Can you get connections in other ways? Yes, of course. But music school is one way to do it, quickly and efficiently. Schools of all kinds have done this for thousands of years. If you are a sociable person, you can meet a lot of people and make many good connections, and that will give you opportunities to display your talent and audition.

I think a degree is worthwhile pursuing if you have the desire and money. By getting one, you will learn the skills you need to survive. If you have the talent and ambition, you can capitalize on your formal training.
 

mrchattr

Gold Member
You touch on something very important here. It isn't just about talent alone. There are many gigs and recording sessions where a very competent drummer is playing, but an even more competent drummer isn't playing. Why might that be? The drummer who is playing made important connections while going to school, Pros taught classes, teachers knew someone who knew someone, classmates hooked up the drummer with opportunities.

You get more than just technical ability from a music school. You get connections as well, and those are valuable. Can you get connections in other ways? Yes, of course. But music school is one way to do it, quickly and efficiently. Schools of all kinds have done this for thousands of years. If you are a sociable person, you can meet a lot of people and make many good connections, and that will give you opportunities to display your talent and audition.

I think a degree is worthwhile pursuing if you have the desire and money. By getting one, you will learn the skills you need to survive. If you have the talent and ambition, you can capitalize on your formal training.
In a way, this makes sense, but in a way, I disagree. You don't need to go to a music school to make those connections...any school you go to, majoring in anything, but still playing in all the bands, etc, will help you make connections. While there are a lot more connections to be made at a music school, there are also a lot more people who are drummers, etc. I would rather connect with 400 musicians at a school as one of 10 drummers than connect with 4000 musicians at a school as one of 1500 drummers (pulling numbers to illustrate my point). I think if you are so talented that you can truly set yourself apart at Berklee or whatever, your point makes sense...but for most drummers there, that's simply not going to happen. It's easier to set yourself apart and get in the minds and memories of the people at a non-music school, but one that still has a good music program.
 

FunkyJazzer

Senior Member
I just want to practice really hard, take regular lessons with a great drummer and play with as many good musicians as possible. It just so happens that college is the best place to get that I think...
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Don't think a degree will open any doors you are looking to pass through. It's a great thing for sure, as others have made clear, and by all means go for it. But in the real world, it all comes down to your ability to make songs come to life, and your likeability as a person. That is an oversimplification, but good players will create a buzz, and you will be sought out. This doesn't mean you have to be a Billy Cobham. But you have to get yourself seen. Open mics are a great place to network, as is school. I would rather be the guy that all the good musicians think of first as the guy they want to back them up, as opposed to being an "amazing drummer".
I know a guy who has a Masters in Music Performance.
His playing does not move me one bit.
I was really surprised when I found out he had a degree, I found that out after knowing him for 5 years. Natural feel and talent trumps any diploma in my book. Not knocking diplomas at all, but diplomas alone don't mean anything if you can't deliver the goods in fine style.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
In a way, this makes sense, but in a way, I disagree. You don't need to go to a music school to make those connections...any school you go to, majoring in anything, but still playing in all the bands, etc, will help you make connections. While there are a lot more connections to be made at a music school, there are also a lot more people who are drummers, etc. I would rather connect with 400 musicians at a school as one of 10 drummers than connect with 4000 musicians at a school as one of 1500 drummers (pulling numbers to illustrate my point). I think if you are so talented that you can truly set yourself apart at Berklee or whatever, your point makes sense...but for most drummers there, that's simply not going to happen. It's easier to set yourself apart and get in the minds and memories of the people at a non-music school, but one that still has a good music program.
You are right, it doesn't necessarily have to be a music school, or even the music program in a school. People may form good networks in any school. In a music program, though, you will learn a lot about the theory and structure of music and that will always help you. Also, there are a lot of great guest and established instructors coming through who can inspire you and possibly provide you with more connections. In some cases, it may not be a matter of setting yourself apart though your talent, but integrating yourself into the social milieu and jamming with the right people and making an impression on them. I'm sure there are many good examples of people succeeding every way imaginable.

It would be worth considering for a musician to a school that is known for something else, like film production, seeking to make contacts in the film industry.
 

Skitch

Pioneer Member
In a way, this makes sense, but in a way, I disagree. You don't need to go to a music school to make those connections...any school you go to, majoring in anything, but still playing in all the bands, etc, will help you make connections. While there are a lot more connections to be made at a music school, there are also a lot more people who are drummers, etc. I would rather connect with 400 musicians at a school as one of 10 drummers than connect with 4000 musicians at a school as one of 1500 drummers (pulling numbers to illustrate my point). I think if you are so talented that you can truly set yourself apart at Berklee or whatever, your point makes sense...but for most drummers there, that's simply not going to happen. It's easier to set yourself apart and get in the minds and memories of the people at a non-music school, but one that still has a good music program.
A good parallel would be going to law school at UCLA and practicing law on the west coast; it isn't always what you know but who you know that gets the door opened.


Mike

http://www.mikemccraw.com
http://www.dominoretroplate.com
http://www.patentcoachmike.com
http://www.youtube.com/drummermikemccraw
http://www.myspace.com/drummermikemccraw
 

dale w miller

Silver Member
I will say this;

given the current American idol attitude towards music, the more you know about music, the more advantage you give yourself. For instance, in the studio, you are probably going to come across some strange looking charts called "number charts" which use numbers to represent chords. If you know E from E flat, you more than likely will never get lost in those charts. I read these regularly and know some really brilliant musicians who use these.
Number Charts? Could you post an example?
 
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