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University versus music college. Aaaargh. watch

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    I'm currently an AS student, planning on going on to study music, and beginning to think about where I'm going to apply. I just don't know whether music college or university is a better option for me.

    I want to specialise in performance, I know that much. Eventually I'd ideally like to do a year-long post-PGCE opera course and then start trying to make a living out of performance. I'm also very interested in building on my knowledge of vocal physiology (and possibly teaching privately if Plan A doesn't work out) and I wonder if a college might be the best place to learn both of these things. However, will I be un-employable if both of these things fall through and I don't have a university degree?

    I'm also a singer, and I heard that this means I'd be unlikely to be accepted first time into a music college since I won't be vocally experienced enough to cope with the course. But I've suffered vocal damage in the last year and consequently I'm going to be taking a year out anyway before I apply anywhere - I want to have an absolutely solid technique back before I audition for colleges OR universities. I'm not sure how much difference a year will make to whether they'll take me, though - any experiences?

    The best-of-both-worlds option is of course to do a degree at one place and a PGCE at another, but I don't know if it's harder to get on to a PGCE in a college from a university, or the other way around. I don't really know who to ask for information about this since my school know nothing, and my singing teacher went through the system twenty years ago when you could come fresh out of an undergrad and go straight into performance (which I gather would be laughed at now) . Any advice would be much appreciated.

    Thanks.
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    (Original post by Satine)
    I'm currently an AS student, planning on going on to study music, and beginning to think about where I'm going to apply. I just don't know whether music college or university is a better option for me.

    I want to specialise in performance, I know that much. Eventually I'd ideally like to do a year-long post-PGCE opera course and then start trying to make a living out of performance. I'm also very interested in building on my knowledge of vocal physiology (and possibly teaching privately if Plan A doesn't work out) and I wonder if a college might be the best place to learn both of these things. However, will I be un-employable if both of these things fall through and I don't have a university degree?

    I'm also a singer, and I heard that this means I'd be unlikely to be accepted first time into a music college since I won't be vocally experienced enough to cope with the course. But I've suffered vocal damage in the last year and consequently I'm going to be taking a year out anyway before I apply anywhere - I want to have an absolutely solid technique back before I audition for colleges OR universities. I'm not sure how much difference a year will make to whether they'll take me, though - any experiences?

    The best-of-both-worlds option is of course to do a degree at one place and a PGCE at another, but I don't know if it's harder to get on to a PGCE in a college from a university, or the other way around. I don't really know who to ask for information about this since my school know nothing, and my singing teacher went through the system twenty years ago when you could come fresh out of an undergrad and go straight into performance (which I gather would be laughed at now) . Any advice would be much appreciated.

    Thanks.
    I get the feeling you don't actually mean PGCE (Post-Graduate Certificate in Education) which is actually a teaching qualification and it doesn't sound like what you want to do. Unfortunately you'll have to deal with the fact that it's not that easy to make cash as a singer. Yes, being an operatic or lieder soloist pays, as does being a member of a small specialist early music choir (a la 16) but unfortunately there's not much else that pays. Of course you could be a teacher, but if this doesn't seem like your thing, or you're not confident of doing very well, then I doubt music college is for you. You can carry on singing as part of a lot of music degrees, and if that's your thing you can take it as a major option in your final degree classification. Also, if you're near a major city, you should be able to organise some tuition at a music college. For example, most of the serious players in Cambridge go to London for lessons. You need to think about whether you want to do a music degree cos you care about academic music (the mainstay of any serious music degree) or merely cos you want to be a musician but also want a degree (which is actually a really rubbish reason to do a music degree). You can always do a postgraduate performance degree/diploma which might be what you need to do. There is one final option. If you intend on getting straight As and are a good singer there is a joint course at Manchester in which you do a music degree at Manchester University and a performance degree at RNCM. It takes 4 years and you get 2 degrees. It's supposed to be very tough and very competitive but if that's your thing you can always apply.

    MB
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    I have a suggestion for you.
    I am currently studying at the Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) in Guildford; www.acm.ac.uk

    They do courses for Guitar, Bass, Drums and Vocals. I can assure you from personal experience that the tutors there are good.
    They do three levels of courses - Diploma, Higher Diploma and Degree. The info is on the site, but when you apply they put you where they think would be best for you. Certainly the Diploma and Higher Diploma courses (both 1 year long) and very focused on performance and the industry. The vocalists also learn about the Biology of the voice.
    Many people progress from the Higher Diploma onto the 2 year Degree course. And some do all three courses. Check it out anyway, might be useful for you.

    Good luck,
    Chris
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    (Original post by ChrisPeel)
    I have a suggestion for you.
    I am currently studying at the Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) in Guildford; www.acm.ac.uk

    They do courses for Guitar, Bass, Drums and Vocals. I can assure you from personal experience that the tutors there are good.
    They do three levels of courses - Diploma, Higher Diploma and Degree. The info is on the site, but when you apply they put you where they think would be best for you. Certainly the Diploma and Higher Diploma courses (both 1 year long) and very focused on performance and the industry. The vocalists also learn about the Biology of the voice.
    Many people progress from the Higher Diploma onto the 2 year Degree course. And some do all three courses. Check it out anyway, might be useful for you.

    Good luck,
    Chris
    Mate, I don't mean to be rude, but the quality of players/singers at these places is just not comparable. To get into a serious college course you'd be expected to be of high diploma standard, and when I say diploma I'm talking about that tough thing after grade 8. You can get into ACM and other similar colleges (BIMM, LIPA, Leeds) with crap musicianship and get an absolutely useless degree and not even deal with real music.

    MB
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    Also it seems like the OP is interested in Opera, not contemporary music.
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    Heya, I'm currently studying for a Bmus music degree at Cardiff University, simply because I wanted to get an academic university degree first, and after my degree I would then like to apply to study at a Conservatoire for post-grad. Many of my friends are doing the same thing, including those studying music at Oxbridge. I was advised that this was the best thing to do, as then at least you have an academic university degree and can always go to a Conservatoire purely for specialism in performance afterwards. I think it is the best way of doing things.
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    Leeds does a performance based Music course, I'm sure. Have a look on their website!
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    All my teachers have said that colleges are much stronger than unis on performance in general. Alexander Meyrick (pro bassoonist) said at a masterclass I went to that if you go to uni but you want to keep up your performing standard it's good to find a uni with good connections to a college so you can keep up with the performing scene. Kings College London uses tutors from the London Colleges and they work together a lot I think. Manchester has the joint course with the RNCM. Basically, people who go to college spend hours each day practicing performance and there's just no time on a uni course to keep up with that standard. Hope that helps.
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    oh, there is time to practise at a uni music course! it's just that it is more up to the individual to focus on it if they want to. you have to look carefully at each uni course components also. music is an arts course meaning that the contact time each week can be little compared to other degrees. it is up to the individual what they choose to do with their time. if they want to waste it and then claim that they didn't have time to practise, then they can do that. but many professional performers have gone through uni first and then onto a post-grad performance course at a music college.
    i'm at junior guildhall and have spoken to many professional musicians there, and as far as i can remember, only one has specifically told me that music college is the only option. others have all said that if you have the opportunity and ability to do a uni course, do to so.

    oh, and sorry to seem pedantic, but it's meyrick alexander. i know his son.
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    (Original post by Pink*Guildhall)
    oh, there is time to practise at a uni music course! it's just that it is more up to the individual to focus on it if they want to. you have to look carefully at each uni course components also. music is an arts course meaning that the contact time each week can be little compared to other degrees. it is up to the individual what they choose to do with their time. if they want to waste it and then claim that they didn't have time to practise, then they can do that. but many professional performers have gone through uni first and then onto a post-grad performance course at a music college.
    i'm at junior guildhall and have spoken to many professional musicians there, and as far as i can remember, only one has specifically told me that music college is the only option. others have all said that if you have the opportunity and ability to do a uni course, do to so.

    oh, and sorry to seem pedantic, but it's meyrick alexander. i know his son.
    Depends where you are. My course is about 55-60 hours a week of work. If you want to put in another 10-20 hours practice, then you'll never go out.

    MB
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    (Original post by musicbloke)
    Depends where you are. My course is about 55-60 hours a week of work. If you want to put in another 10-20 hours practice, then you'll never go out.

    MB
    If you genuinely sat down and worked solidly, would you still have to work that long? And please tell me Oxford music is slightly less intense! Not that I want to practise like I was at music college...
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    (Original post by fatboy06)
    If you genuinely sat down and worked solidly, would you still have to work that long? And please tell me Oxford music is slightly less intense! Not that I want to practise like I was at music college...
    What do you mean by "worked solidly"? If I look at a standard week (I'll do one for each of the first two years)

    1st year.

    1 harmony exercise = 2-3 hours
    1 counterpoint exercise = 2-3 hours
    1 history essay = 16-24 hours
    1 Analysis essay = 8-10 hours
    Aural and keyboard practice = 3 hours
    harmony and counterpoint lectures = 2.5 hours
    Analysis lectures = 1.5 hours
    History lectures = 3-5 hours
    H+C supo = 1 hour
    Analysis supo = 1 hour
    Aural session = 1 hour
    History supo = 3 hours per two weeks (ish)
    Then there's other random crap

    2nd year (with the courses I do)
    Lectures = anywhere between 1 and 8 hours a week
    Tonal comp = about 3-5 minutes of music a week and then sorting out pieces for portfolio - expect to spend 1-1.5 working days on it
    History = 20-30 hours per essay
    Dissertation = your life.
    Analysis = 8-10 hours a week

    Meh, it's a *****.

    MB
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    (Original post by musicbloke)
    Depends where you are. My course is about 55-60 hours a week of work. If you want to put in another 10-20 hours practice, then you'll never go out.

    MB
    yes, but there are people who would do this. and beneficial practise does not have to be 10-20 hours per week. it would not be possible for me to do that at the moment, yet my practise is still good and productive because i've adapted the way i practise and the methods that i use.
    also, if you choose a performance-type module within the course, there won't be the additional work that you would have had you chosen a more academic module. this time can be spent on practise.
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    (Original post by Pink*Guildhall)
    yes, but there are people who would do this. and beneficial practise does not have to be 10-20 hours per week. it would not be possible for me to do that at the moment, yet my practise is still good and productive because i've adapted the way i practise and the methods that i use.
    also, if you choose a performance-type module within the course, there won't be the additional work that you would have had you chosen a more academic module. this time can be spent on practise.
    Plus I'd be surprised if other courses are as demanding as Cambridge.
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    (Original post by Pink*Guildhall)
    oh, and sorry to seem pedantic, but it's meyrick alexander. i know his son.
    Oops sorry. That's awful!
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    I'm at Oxford doing Physics but I was in the same situation trying to decide between music college and university. I discussed the issue with Tim Gill, a professional cellist, and Roger Coull (of the Coull quartet) who both gave me masterclasses. Tim studied music at Cambridge where as Roger went to the Academy, but they both agreed that so long as you practise, find a good teacher and get involved with groups at uni, you can easily go on to become a professional musician.

    On the workload front... at the moment I have 3 hours of orchestral/quartet rehearsals on 5 days each week, and I manage that quite happily on top of my degree. It doesn't mean you forego any social life either - we head down to the pub after rehearsals! And it's general consensus that 1st year musicians do less work than 1st year physicists - certainly not 60 hours a week! :eek: So if you want to play/sing, it's not a problem even here. My friends in quartet (who are both ex-NYO violinists studying music and considering careers as musicians) do even more rehearsals than I do and fit in a couple of hours of private practice too.

    All my teachers have said that colleges are much stronger than unis on performance in general.
    I completely agree - it would be stupid if they weren't frankly. However certain universities have a particularly good music scene, like Oxbridge. I'm not sure about the standard at London, Manchester or Birmingham, which are linked to music colleges.

    And PGCE... what do you mean? Professional teaching qualification?
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    What do you play diana? If you still have instrumental lessons, do you go down to London for them or what?
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    In response to the original question, it all depends on what you want out of a degree. I know plenty of excellent practical musicians who would rather die than have to do the sort of academia associated with, say, the Cambridge degree. However, I have a friend at Cambridge and apparently the person next door to her practises non-stop, but I somehow I doubt this has a good effect on his grades and I don't see why if you're that dedicated to your instrument, you wouldn't just go to music college. At uni generally speaking I don't think there would be enough time for really hardcore practice; I know people in the RSAMD who practise for 3-6 hours a day and I don't think that would be possible alongside a uni degree course. There are some places that offer some balance, like Manchester, Glasgow and KCL. Uni degrees offer more stability on the jobs front, but in the case of the majority of unis are not advisable unless you have an interest in musicology,compositon etc.
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    (Original post by J'en ai marre)
    In response to the original question, it all depends on what you want out of a degree. I know plenty of excellent practical musicians who would rather die than have to do the sort of academia associated with, say, the Cambridge degree. However, I have a friend at Cambridge and apparently the person next door to her practises non-stop, but I somehow I doubt this has a good effect on his grades and I don't see why if you're that dedicated to your instrument, you wouldn't just go to music college. At uni generally speaking I don't think there would be enough time for really hardcore practice; I know people in the RSAMD who practise for 3-6 hours a day and I don't think that would be possible alongside a uni degree course. There are some places that offer some balance, like Manchester, Glasgow and KCL. Uni degrees offer more stability on the jobs front, but in the case of the majority of unis are not advisable unless you have an interest in musicology,compositon etc.

    if this is the case, then please could you inform as to why i was recommended by professional musicians to do an academic degree if at all possible. i can understand that an academic course isn't right for some poeple, but surely if you have the ability, then it is worth it?
    there are many professional musicians (some of whom are in the top of their field) who have come through the university system.
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    I was not suggesting it was a bad idea; I merely meant to say it's not for everyone. If I thought it was a bad idea, I certainly wouldn't be doing it myself, since I turned down a place at the RSAMD in favour of a gap year followed by an academic music degree. My double bass teacher evens recommends doing a uni degree in something other than music and then going to music college afterwards if you want,which is another possibilty.
 
 
 
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