Want to go to Berklee for Music Ed degree - unrealistic?

lxh039

Member
I never really had much interest in being a music teacher. Then about 4 months ago I saw a video on YouTube of a middle school music ensemble covering Tool's "46 & 2", and it blew my mind. The idea of being able to teach kids to play the type of music I'm passionate about had never occurred to me in the past, but now I'm pretty sure it's what I want to do. Berklee, because they're so enthusiastic about popular contemporary music, seems like the place to go to get the education and credentials I need to pursue this.

The catch is that, frankly, I have no formal music training. I started playing the drums in my early 20's, played for about a year, took a 5 year hiatus because I had to sell my set and couldn't afford a new one, then just got back into it about 2 months ago. I'm 27 years old now. Having no training, and starting so late, is it even possible for me to get up to a high enough caliber to pass an audition for a place like Berklee? Was hoping to apply in maybe 3 years? What do I need to learn to prepare for something like this?
 

Jeremy Bender

Platinum Member
They have a fairly comprehensive website and you can contact the school. They would steer you best as to what you would need.
A visit to the school is a good idea as well.
I wish I had gone there while living in Boston, but I didn't.



P.S. They have quite a few scholarships and financial aid tools to investigate as well.
 

dwsabianguy

Senior Member
Yeah, you most likely won't get past the audition if you have no formal education in music; Berklee has gotten pretty strict about who they let in, and with good reason - you don't want anyone wasting your time as much as you want them wasting your money. Definitely learn piano; learn some basic theory and learn to read reasonably well.

Berklee is a phenomenal place in large part because of the people you can meet; I don't regret attending for a second.

There are plenty of people in their later years, so don't feel like your age will get in your way - I had a lyric writing class with a man who must have been in his late 50s and there were plenty of people in their late 20s/early 30s hanging around. If you find yourself up there, take a tour; one of my hometown friends is a tour guide/admissions assistant (same job) and they're all very knowledgeable about what you'll need to work on to get into the school. Tours are free, but parking is nearly impossible to find.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
On the other hand, basing where you want to go on a YouTube video is unrealistic as well. Berklee will not be the only school that likes contemporary music. I'm sure if you looked around, you will find other good schools that would be easier to attend. I'm all for going where you are most enthusiastic to be, but you owe it to yourself to look around and see what else is out there. Other schools may speak to you better than Berklee would.

On a downer note, I would speak with music educators and find out how much they actually make to live on. I would then make the attempt to keep my educational debt down to a manageable level so it could actually be paid off should you actually get a job as a music teacher. Out here in California, it ain't that great to start, in fact, it was so bad, I decided to not pursue that goal. I know many teachers who have left the profession because they're so in-debt that they needed to find another job, or a better paying career to get out from under what they paid for their education. Talk to alot of teachers and find out if that's really what you want to do before you start taking those loans out. Good luck!
 

shemp

Silver Member
It's never too late to achieve a goal. The more challenging the better so something being *difficult* should be a consideration but not a deterrent. It can be a challenge and a motivator.

To me, finances would be the main consideration and an honest assessment of your passion to do the dirty work. Then, what kind of living would you make if you did go to Berklee, graduate and then hit the market.

If you projected your life out 7 years from now...where do you want to be financially? Only you can answer that....would a career in music give you the lifestyle you want? How do you feel about 50-60 year old gals with lots of money? Perhaps you can make a compromise and have that music career and also the finer things in life?

Lots of ways to analyze the possibilities...
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
The idea of being able to teach kids to play the type of music I'm passionate about
Your heart's in the right place, but do you think you might also enjoy teaching kids to play the type of music that they are passionate about? Of course it's nice when students want to learn something that's up your alley, but mostly that doesn't happen. And even when it does, it's usually many weeks before the kids actually sound good playing your favorite music. Not trying to rain on your parade here, just offering a bit of perspective.

I teach at exactly the sort of place you mentioned. If you want to talk more about it, feel free to PM me.
 

BillBachman

Gold Member
For a Music Ed degree I could make a very long list of colleges I would go to rather than Berklee. What kind of teacher do you want to be? If you're interested in working in any sort of school system where the piece of paper (degree) is a requirement then they don't really have the resources to train for much of that. If you're self motivated then Berklee is a great school for studying jazz and contemporary stuff (tremendous resources there), but there's nothing there that would sell me on music education. Plus, I hate debt, especially massive debt, and extra-especially ultra-super-colossal soul-crushing debt.

Incidentally I graduated from Berklee with a drumset performance degree (ultimately one of the most useless ever), studied at North Texas for a year and have done clinics, workshops and percussion camps at colleges all over the states & beyond, and teach in Texas which is famous for having dozens of high school percussion programs which are far better than most college programs. Not that any of that makes me cool, I just say that to show you that I have a point of reference.

What are your teaching goals and where are you? Maybe I can offer some specific advice.
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
There's probably a community college with a decent music program where you are. Ask around amongst the studied musicians in your area. Find out if formal music curricula is up your alley. While you may not be passionate about other kinds of music or think that all formal music education is fuddy duddy, you should learn all music. Be as complete and well rounded as possible.

Learning more about music may open your ears to more things. But if you go in thinking you're going to teach the system what is hip, prepare to be disappointed.

With cuts in music education, high school music teachers need to be jack of all trades. Not just percussionists. You at least have to know reading, theory, arrangement and basic composition.

I know a woman in LA who's main instrument is violin and grew up doing session work in Hollywood during her high school years. Now after the music and education degree she teaches at 3 different schools out of a cart. She can only use whatever material she can carry from school to school.

I hope your passion for music is strong enough to carry you through all this. We need more music in schools. And teachers who aren't stuck in the mud musically.
 

Diet Kirk

Silver Member
OP, I have a similar goal to you, except I am 34. So hopefully neither of us have missed the boat!

However I have decided on a slightly different approach. Provided you have your health drumming is a life long ability with no upper age limit so I have decided my goal of teaching will supplement my day job wage and ultimately become my retirement fund.

From the advice I've been soaking up from this forum I've decided to study with teachers and look into doing Grade 8 Drums, which you may not have in the US. Basically obtaining a relatively low cost piece of paper that is recognisable as a mark of your quality but not a financial burden.

I suppose where we differ the most is that I can't afford the time out of work, or to quit my day job. So I have adjusted my expectations. If it takes me 20 years to learn to be a proficient enough player and learn how to teach, then that still fits within my goal. You might not want to wait that long!

From what I've read you might be better off spending that kind of money seeking out great teachers for one to one study?

My fiance is a primary school teacher (ages 5/6) and it is worth getting some perspective on teaching as a profession too if you know anyone. I got some great advice in a thread on here from a number of teaches who warned/advised me of the actual mechanics of teaching and some of the pitfalls that an ideological new teacher may face along the way!

Nice to know that there is someone else out there refusing to let age be a barrier though! *(Having said that 27 is still young enough to be a rock star ;) )
 

bigd

Silver Member
I'd suggest going to the next concert your local middle school and high school put on. Most middle school players can play between 6 and 10 notes on their instrument. If you're lucky. As for playing songs by Tool, yeah good luck even gettting that one by the Pricipal, let alone parents. As for Berklee as a choice for music ed, that piece of paper would be as usful as toilet paper. State schools rule in the music ed world. Be prepared to take trumpet tech, flute tech, clarinet tech you get the drift. These classes teach you to play each of these instruments. Also you get to take singing class.

You may really want to look into this before going any further.

I should say I have a degree in music ed and my son is currently enrolled in a conservatory as a percussion performance/music ed major. He loves the music ed side. I myself left music and teach remedial reading.

Oh, did I mention parents can be brutal as well as administrators? Not trying to discourage you just saying I work in the ed business as a public school teacher and it's not all it's cracked up to be.
 

lxh039

Member
Thanks for the replies and reality checks, guys. I've been an on-again-off-again college student for the better part of my adult life, dabbling in lots of different majors and areas of study, then dropping them due to lack of interest or direction. Never really found something that I was passionate about, or that I could do for the rest of my life and remain sane. Music, specifically percussion, is the only consistent passion I've had throughout the course of my life (though it took me a long time to finally make the leap from listener to student/artist). Now that I'm learning an instrument and finding that I actually have a surprising aptitude for it (this coming from teachers and bandmates, not my own assessment), I know that I want to pursue it professionally.

I just don't know precisely HOW I want to pursue it, I guess. Obstinately shooting for a performance career would be the most personally rewarding path, but it's also the most risky and competitive. I had considered learning to design/build/repair custom instruments, but I don't even know where to start in learning that craft or turning it into a realistic career. I had initially completely discarded the idea of being a teacher, because I have zero interest in teaching half-hearted students to play orchestral arrangements, but when the concept of teaching contemporary styles like rock to passionate, talented students was introduced to me, it made me re-think the profession. Based on what you guys are telling me, though, having that sort of career is kind of a pipe dream. Ideally, I'd like to teach rock, blues, and funk music at a secondary-level boarding school whose curriculum is focused on such contemporary genres. It now occurs to me that I don't even know if such a school exists (though if it doesn't, it should!).

Regarding the specific goal of attending Berklee; I guess I was focused specifically on Berklee because it's the first school I think of when it comes to contemporary music. I know there are plenty of other music schools out there that teach orchestral and jazz performance, but that's not what I want to learn or teach. Rock, blues, funk, fusion, these are the genres I'm interested in, whether my role turns out to be that of a performer or an educator. If there are other schools out there in the same niche, I'd definitely consider them, too.
 

lxh039

Member
With cuts in music education, high school music teachers need to be jack of all trades. Not just percussionists. You at least have to know reading, theory, arrangement and basic composition.
I'm open to learning any and all instruments, really, and learning theory and composition is something I'm really excited about potentially doing. So this, at the very least, won't be an obstacle.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Winging off to Berklee for four years because you saw a video seems a little crazy to me. Not least because paying off your loans before your death, on a middle school teacher's salary, will be next to impossible. I would go talk to someone, and maybe enroll in some classes at your local community college, or state school, and try to get a better sense of whether a music ed degree is for you. You're not going to get to pick your genres, and there's a whole lot of not especially fun stuff involved in it before you get to the picking-cool-stuff-for-your-students-to-play stage. If you just want to teach privately, you could probably just get an associate's degree from a community college to get rolling with that. You'd certainly have more freedom to teach what you want.

You will need to be able to play your own instrument (meaning concert percussion-- concert snare drum, mallets, and timpani-- drumset is optional in ed-world) at least at high school senior level before you can get into a program, so you need to find someone who teaches those things and get caught up on that-- you may be able to do that in a couple of years if you really work at it. It's hard to know, since you say you've only ever played drums for 14 months of the last six years.
 

jackie k

Senior Member
Don't go in the hole for a large student loans, unless you can make that money back and live without struggling. Education is big business, called education industry. Jobs are not guaranteed. There is no rush, you got the rest of your life. One goal at a time. A two year community college have great music degrees at affordable prices, plus go out and play for experience, fun, maybe make some money to pay for college, even if you have another non music job to help make ends meet. Next goal if you still interested go on to a 4 year university, it will be cheaper, you only pay for 2 years. If still interested their are certificate programs in all types of drumming from jazz, rock academies through out the U.S. Good luck with whatever career path you chose.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Thanks for the replies and reality checks, guys. I've been an on-again-off-again college student for the better part of my adult life, dabbling in lots of different majors and areas of study, then dropping them due to lack of interest or direction. Never really found something that I was passionate about, or that I could do for the rest of my life and remain sane. Music, specifically percussion, is the only consistent passion I've had throughout the course of my life (though it took me a long time to finally make the leap from listener to student/artist). Now that I'm learning an instrument and finding that I actually have a surprising aptitude for it (this coming from teachers and bandmates, not my own assessment), I know that I want to pursue it professionally.

I just don't know precisely HOW I want to pursue it, I guess. Obstinately shooting for a performance career would be the most personally rewarding path, but it's also the most risky and competitive. I had considered learning to design/build/repair custom instruments, but I don't even know where to start in learning that craft or turning it into a realistic career. I had initially completely discarded the idea of being a teacher, because I have zero interest in teaching half-hearted students to play orchestral arrangements, but when the concept of teaching contemporary styles like rock to passionate, talented students was introduced to me, it made me re-think the profession. Based on what you guys are telling me, though, having that sort of career is kind of a pipe dream. Ideally, I'd like to teach rock, blues, and funk music at a secondary-level boarding school whose curriculum is focused on such contemporary genres. It now occurs to me that I don't even know if such a school exists (though if it doesn't, it should!).

Regarding the specific goal of attending Berklee; I guess I was focused specifically on Berklee because it's the first school I think of when it comes to contemporary music. I know there are plenty of other music schools out there that teach orchestral and jazz performance, but that's not what I want to learn or teach. Rock, blues, funk, fusion, these are the genres I'm interested in, whether my role turns out to be that of a performer or an educator. If there are other schools out there in the same niche, I'd definitely consider them, too.
Performing and teaching are really two different things. Which one are you? Why not spend your money on pro lessons and be the best you can be? If you're adamant about teaching contemporary stuff, maybe you can be entrepreneurial and start your own school. Look at schools like MI and LAMA - they are not connected to the state school systems and they're in business. You could do the same thing. Heck, George Kollias is starting his own drumming boot camp this month in L.A at the cost of $600 per student! If you become a big enough player, start your own school!
 
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