Nashville and College...


Senior Member
Senior year... Ugh. Already sick of college applications lol... Anyways, I'm pushing for a career in music, and I already live in L.A, so it would make sense to go to school around here and work on building connections in L.A...

But I'm also looking into attending a university in Nashville.. From what I hear, the music scene over there is really happening, even more so than L.A...

Belmont University and Vanderbilt are my top Nashville choices right now...

Anyone have any experience they'd like to share regarding playing music at Vandy, Belmont, or any experience whatsoever regarding music in Nashville? I already love country music so that wouldn't be a problem, and from what I hear, the scene has become much more diverse than simply country...

But yeah, I'm just trying to get a picture of what living in Nashville could look like, so if anyone has any experience they'd like to share.. I'm all ears :)



Belmont grad here. Here are my thoughts in no particular order.

1. Everyone's experience will be different, so take any general statements with a grain of salt.
2. Consider the cost. College is expensive. With that comes benefits as well as drawbacks. The benefits include having access to a network that would be hard to find elsewhere (faculty and other students), the quality of private lessons on your instrument you will receive, learning the "book" knowledge and knowing the "right" way to do things, and the degree. In that order. The drawbacks include having to spend lots of time in class, and going into lots of debt to earn a degree that doesn't carry a whole lot of meaning in the professional world unless you go into teaching.
3. Belmont offers a really good program in music business. I will say that of all my classmates, most of those who found success in music were not the ones in the school of music, they were the ones in the business school who took music classes and lessons on the side.
4. Vanderbilt has a very strong classical music school, but doesn't offer much for commercial styles. It is also unbelievably expensive.
5. Success in music has surprisingly little to do with how well you play. There are thousands of great players out there. Being a great player is not unimportant, but that's not the full picture. What is rarer is a great player who is also fun to hang out with, easy to work with, creative, professional, hardworking, intelligent, etc. Especially in Nashville, you've got to be "a good hang." It follows from this that who you know is important to your success. Depending on your personality, you may or may not have a problem with this. The music industry can feel like a lot of people jockeying for position, stepping on each other, breaking up and making up for the sake of exposure and success. You may find this exciting, or you may find it disheartening. But ultimately you need to get to know lots of people in order for opportunities to find their way to you. Treat everyone well. Be discerning and shrewd.
6. Start working on your understanding of jazz right now. If you go to Belmont, it will be heavily emphasized. This may seem annoying, but once you get it, you will see the immense value it has. If you have time, work on your music theory and start your ear training too. With any luck you can test out of the basic levels once you enroll, and you'll have that much less class to sit through so you can spend more time playing, practicing, and hanging out.
7. One thing I have heard from a musician who moved from LA to Nashville is that the scene in Nashville feels a lot more collaborative than that in LA. People are more interested in working together to create great music, rather than purely motivated by self-interest and money. So I'm told.
8. Country put Nashville on the map. But in the last 15 years, the scene has diversified like crazy. There is an incredible indy rock scene. Great hip-hop and gospel. Anything you're interested in, you will find in Nashville.
9. Compared to what you're used to, Nashville is bitter cold in the winter, and extremely humid in the summer.
10. I would wager that there are more aspiring musicians per capita in Nashville than in LA. So competition may feel a little stronger with more bands and artists trying to fill fewer venues, studios, etc.
11. Here's a brief account of my experience for your consideration (see point 1 again). I was the big fish in my high school - top musician all around. So naturally I decided to pursue music at the collegiate level, and picked Belmont because I wanted to play popular styles. I changed majors after my freshman year and ended up with a minor in music. I discovered that music started to feel like work to me, and I didn't like that. I wanted music to stay fun, and I looked down the road a few years and figured if I stuck with it professionally it would lose its joy. The other thing is that you don't necessarily need a degree in music to be successful in it. So I figured while I'm spending tens of thousands of dollars (of my parents' money) on this education, I should probably get a degree that could make me some money in case music doesn't work out. Because let's face it, the chances of supporting yourself with music can be pretty slim. Unless you teach. But I wanted to rock. So now 15 years later I haven't gone on any national tours or recorded any hits, but I have a wonderful family that makes me happier than music ever could, a good job that allows me to buy a piece of gear every now and then, and I have plenty of opportunities to play at church and in a local band to keep me happy. I wouldn't trade my family for anything, and thinking about being a touring musician is pretty distasteful now considering how much I'd have to be away from them. So that's how things worked out for me, but again, see point 1.

Good luck to you. What you really need to do is visit Nashville and take a tour at Belmont.


Senior Member
I am aquaintances with this dude who's currently attending Belmont. Based on what I've seen, he's enjoyed the school quite a bi. I believe he aspires to be a sound engineer. He plays drum also.


Senior Member
Former resident of the area there...

One thing you will have to contend with is the change of atmosphere. Nashville is a big city.... for the South. Biggest city in TN (assuming Memphis isn't winning), but that is about it. Coming from LA, it might seem a bit small and limiting. The other big cities in TN are nowhere near close in size (Knoxville, Murfreesboro, or especially Chattanooga), so you never know if you will feel like you are in the middle of nowhere.

The cost of living is pretty high for TN, but compared to LA, it should be much lower. Something to think about as well.

As for college, are you sure you are getting the best bang for your buck? Those schools you mentioned are very expensive for in state students. How much would it be for an out of state student? And assuming you could afford those schools, would you be able to repay loans (if you use them) after you graduate and get a degree in your field?