‘Don’t go to music school’

‘Don’t go to music school’


norman lebrecht

June 15, 2015

A part-time musician has shared with the New York Times the advice he gave his son, who politely ignored him.

The son seems to be doing quite well, uploading his new material online before taking it on tour. He must have learned something at music school.

We’re still trying to figure out the point of the article. Read it here.

jacobs school of music indiana


  • Martin Perry says:

    The point of this article is…wait, I can’t figure it out either. The last nine paragraphs are non sequiter, so it’s tough to tell. The apparent takeaways:
    1) My dad was an artless creep, so now I have to sell real estate for a living instead of playing in a band full-time
    2) Everyone said music school was a big waste of time, but I let my son go anyway because I’m a good dad
    3) My son has flourished as a commercial musician via prescient tech-savvy maneuvers
    4) Have you heard about Bandcamp?

  • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

    I actually like the article and find a whimsical message of “do whatcha gotta do” even if Dad tells you otherwise. I think the author wishes that he had had his son’s intestinal fortitude when it came to “disobeying” papa.

    Perhaps the real title is “Don’t go to music school” (unless you have to…).

  • MacroV says:

    Everybody tells their kids not to go to music school, unless you can’t think of doing anything else. What’s new? And more kids should probably heed the advice. Crazy world: far too many highly competent musicians, apparently too few people to pay to listen to them.

  • Phillip says:

    I met my wife at music school, and went on to have 2 beloved sons, so it wasn’t entirely wasted. I’ll be advising both not to go to music school, but the eldest (8) seems to have figured it out for himself anyway. No interest in taking up music (he’s witnessed too much of my practise). Good for him.

  • James says:

    What really bugs me about these types of articles is that most of them are either written by naive and jaded people who gave up early and always regretted it, or people who are in a completely different field and feel superior for choosing a ‘traditional’ career path. No one gives a shit what you think about their career or how you think you can improve their life. They might not want it improved. They might like just where they’re at.

    Being a musician is hard. So is being a CEO. Or a doctor. Or a lawyer. In each of these fields you face setbacks, spend money to make money and put a lot of unpaid man hours into learning the trade. And for what? It could be money. It could be just because you have a desire to do it.

    The bottom line is you do what you do because you’re trying to create a life for yourself. That could involve kids and a wife and being home every night to be with them while providing for them. That doesn’t mean you don’t have passion for your life it just means it’s not about your career.

    There’s no clear path to create the specific life you want. It may involve college, it may not. I think the real problem here is that too many people let their path dictate their livelihood instead of letting their livelihood dictate their path. Be bold, and learn to ask for what you want, then find a way to make it happen for yourself.

    In terms of music, there is such a wide variety of things you can do to make a living, you literally have to create your own career. I always find it funny how people always compare making a living as a musician to the demand for musicians nationally and how there’s more supply than needed. But they don’t factor in how 80% of that supply don’t have the business ambition to do more than go on an American Idol audition. Being a musician is so much more than just playing music, and once people get a taste of that they quit. Only the strong succeed.

    Just for reference purposes, I am a professional musician who plays for all sorts of different purposes. I use a combination of bar bands, corporate bands, touring bands, original projects, etc. to make sure I make a decent living to support the life I want. I went to music school for 2 years but never finished because I started playing so much. That doesn’t mean that I regret going, I had lots of profound and enriching experiences at music school, I just feel that I got the tools I needed. If I felt like I needed more, I would finish.