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#13577 - 05/18/05 12:54 PM College Student Woes
CR Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 03/18/01
Posts: 289
Loc: Idaho
I've finished with my first year at college (yay), but now have the joy :rolleyes: of seeking summer employment to pay for next semester. I generally teach over the summer for my source of income, but half my students aren't going to take this time, and being that i don't have many in the first place (9), that leaves my income drastically reduced, especially this summer because i now have to pay for college.

I've sent out on a local e-group an advertisement for lessons this summer and have so far received a call for 2 potential students. But I'd need at least a handful more if I'm going to make something decent.... So, I'm having to resort to getting a job somewhere to make up the difference.

Okay, coming to the main question I have regarding this post.... I'm a piano performance major. Being that I have to work in extra time for practice that other majors may not have to do, as well as keep up a credit load and grades enough to keep the scholarships I've received...and make an income to at least partially pay for each semester... well, needless to say, i'm becoming a bit stressed thinking how on earth am i going to survive? Not to mention, there's an insatiable desire to get a place of my own right now, too, but I have absolutely no means of pursuing that right now. \:\(

Sooo, those of you that were music majors, heck, maybe even specifically performance majors, how did you manage things? Did you work through college and frantically juggle your schedule? Did you have that special someone in your life during the time, too, where you wanted to make time to spend with them, despite the hectic life of school and work? Did you live on your own or with your parents? Ack, how did you manage the expenses of college life?

Ergh... so often I look at the path I've chosen and want to pursue... the poor life of a musician... :p and wonder how other musicians survived and are surviving. Ahhh.... someone have pity on me and share your college life stories if you will.
It goes without saying that technical proficiency should be the first acquisition of a student who would be a fine pianist.

#13578 - 05/18/05 04:57 PM Re: College Student Woes
arsnova02 Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 07/29/01
Posts: 908
Loc: St. Louis, MO
1. Take out loans. Do not get the idea that you can make it out of school debt free. It's just too expensive. That's not to say you can't work, but there's no way you can work enough to pay for the whole thing on your own.

2. As far as the schedule goes, just get used to it. You will never, ever have the same luxury of free time as your friends who are communications majors. But, at the same time, if you're head over heels in love with what you're doing, it's totally worth it. That doesn't mean you'll never envy your communications major friends, but just keep reminding yourself of why you're doing what you're doing, and it'll be fine.

Honestly, every single semester, I freak out, and ask myself "How am I going to make it?", both in terms of time and money. This fall, I'm taking a full course load (including one writing intensive graduate course), studying a secondary instrument, preparing for a winter piano recital and a spring conducting recital, playing in a couple of chamber groups, all while teaching and accompanying to keep something in my wallet. Every time I think about it, I want to panic. So I just try not to think about it until it gets here, and realize that nobody ever died from learning too much music.

It'll all work out. Really.

#13579 - 05/18/05 05:21 PM Re: College Student Woes
PFVTeach Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 09/17/04
Posts: 481
Loc: USA
free time in college? kiss it goodbye. It is'nt just music majors who have no free time anymore, its any major if the person is truly dedicated to it. The key is to pace yourself and don't take on any extra stuff that you don't absolutely have to or you will burn out and make yourself sick from stress. RELAX and take it one day at a time, one task at a time and you'll be fine.

As far as money goes, check into some of the grants available - there are some with low interest paybacks but also alot of free grants that are available. It takes time to fill out a little paperwork for them but if you get them its worth it.
If you are in a case where finances are a crunch for school, check out what kind of financial aid package your school offers and what they can do to help you out. The worst they can tell you is that your too rich to get it and too poor for it to matter, but there are other options out there.

If you end up taking a second job I would advise you to avoid fast food if at all possible. The only thing that job ever did for people in college was to give a good swift kick in the behind to remind you that "this is not what I want to be stuck doing the rest of my life" and to get through school. Try asking at local music stores about teaching through the summer in your area. They can get students for you so to speak.

Above all, remember that there is no time like college and to enjoy it- even when you are pulling your hair out from juries, exams and work.
Someday you will look back on it and wish you were still there.

#13580 - 05/18/05 05:21 PM Re: College Student Woes
alidoremi Offline
Star Member

Registered: 03/11/02
Posts: 2120
Loc: California
I started out as a music major (piano), but soon found out that the performance part just wasn't for me. I didn't have the discipline necessary for all the practicing, I had a steady boyfriend, and I was SO into teaching piano and really enjoying that aspect of the instrument. I basically wasn't willing to give up all these things. And honestly, does being a performance major really pay? There are only a handful of truly successful musicians who make a living at it. If you are passionate about piano, then go for it. But you might also look into other options that allow you to study and perform yet also learn something that you can make a career out of (like piano pedagogy, music therapy, etc...).

#13581 - 05/19/05 02:58 AM Re: College Student Woes
Susan Offline
Star Member

Registered: 01/03/01
Posts: 2168
Loc: Texas
I was like Aldoremi. I needed loans, and I needed a job that paid enough to eventually pay back the loans. I taught music education in a low income school for a while, and my debt was completely forgiven by Uncle Sam.
I got home from school fairly early, and taught piano. I had full medical benefits, a retirement plan, and I was able to put money away in a tax free savings account. I was even able to go to graduate school and receive my Masters. (I had to stop teaching piano then.) I taught school for about 15 years, and then started teaching piano only.
Now that retirement is just around the corner, those accounts have grown, and I have a nice nest egg.
I'm a very practical person, and I know what I did is not for everyone, but it has worked for me.
I noticed that Melody Bober majored in Music Education.

#13582 - 05/19/05 04:14 AM Re: College Student Woes
shannonspiano Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 07/01/04
Posts: 694
Loc: WI
My college experience.. Yes I worked the entire way through..and took out loans. I was a performance major, who junior and senior year was practicing 5 hrs a day.. Taking 16-17 credits most years, than senior year was only allowed to take 13.
I worked on campus, as I found those jobs required less energy, and I could study while working. The summer before my senior year, I worked 2 jobs, was planning a wedding, and practicing. Yes it can be done, but it's not for everyone. It was hard to do. I often only had time to do homework on the weekends.. Something that required planning. Then during my senior year I was able to get a job teaching private piano lessons at a dance studio, and had 20 students. Needless to say by that point I was only working one other job about an hr a week.. I'd get back to my dorm after spending a total of 10hrs at the piano and could do nothing but lay on the floor.

If teaching is what you want to be doing, and can switch majors, switch. It will be so much better for you in the long run.
Just hints from a teacher who's been there done that.. and still paying for it.

#13583 - 05/19/05 05:55 AM Re: College Student Woes
ABA Offline
Regular Member

Registered: 02/21/05
Posts: 50
Loc: Nashville

Try some small group classes. This will utilize your time better, and will give those participating interaction with other students. This is not a substitue for the one-one-one private lesson; but something special, like PREPARING FOR PERFORMANCE, THEORY, etc. You can use your education thus far to introduce older students ot all kinds of music interests. You just have to be creative.

#13584 - 05/19/05 06:22 AM Re: College Student Woes
ABA Offline
Regular Member

Registered: 02/21/05
Posts: 50
Loc: Nashville
"I noticed that Melody Bober majored in Music Education"

Susan, I found it interesting that you pointed out Melody, with whom I am acquainted. She did indeed major in Music Education, presumably to be a music teacher. I did as well. But we both ended up in Music Education Publishing, even though we are in different areas of that industry. But you are right...performance does not have to be all there is. When it comes to music, most schools have 3 broad disciplines:
1) Perfomance, 2) Theory/Composition, and 3) Teaching. In real life there are 100s of other jobs in music that are never taught and/or degreed in school.

There are some schools like Belmont, here in Nashville, that actually offer degrees in the Music Entertainment Business. Those students, many of which study the piano, end up taking jobs like licensing, publishing, artist management, etc. So there are a variety of opportunities in music other than what you are traditionally taught.

#13585 - 05/19/05 08:03 AM Re: College Student Woes
Ginger Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 06/08/04
Posts: 277
Loc: Indianapolis, Indiana
Yes, take out loans, and see if you qualify for grants. I worked at a movie theater for 3 years working my way up to manager by the time I had to move on. It was great, I started about 5:00 at night when classes were over. We just had one huge theater in the building so I would sit in my office and study during the show after all my duties were finished. It was great!

I also accompanied a lot for a violin teacher. She taught from the university somehow, but it was kind of an Enrichment or Outreach program where the community could be involved. She had a million violinists and cellists that I accompanied. I played for all her group classes and for a lot of the kids solo stuff. That made great money.

#13586 - 05/20/05 04:40 PM Re: College Student Woes
Jon Administrator Online   content

Registered: 12/16/04
Posts: 593
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI
Hi, CR,

I graduated a year ago with a Bachelor's Degree in Composition from the University of Michigan School of Music. The first two years of college, I lived at home in my parents' basement, so basic living costs were covered. Even so, I worked a number of jobs on the side over the years, including computer technical support for the university, teaching piano, secreterial work in my church's office, even stocking in a supermarket bakery. I became financially responsible for myself after I moved out and got engaged in my third year of college. I don't think I really had a mature concept of what life was like until I moved out and paid for everything. In hindsight, I wish that I had lived away from home throughout my college experience, not only for the financial independence but the social independence as well.

CR, you are making the discoveries and decisions that all of us make in our college years. When looking for jobs during college, you might not be able to limit yourself to music, and that's OK. As others have mentioned, there aren't college degrees for every job out there, and the experience you obtain from an unrelated job may be just as important as your classwork (in terms of responsibility, time management, working with people, etc.).

And regarding your question about a social life and a special someone, I got married before I graduated. Your social life is very important! Your career might be fulfilling, but you will enjoy life more if you have friends and family to share it with. My piano teacher at U of M, Katherine Collier, always said she regretted having locked herself in a practice room so much while she was in school, apart from the rest of the college experience.

Best wishes, and good luck juggling!


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