I began thinking about this question several weeks ago because 1) my son Chris asked me the question, and 2) one of our dear friends, whose daughter graduated from Las Vegas Academy of the Arts (LVA) as a Vocal Major and a straight A student on the academic side auditioned and was accepted into the Berklee College of Music. Her name is Hannah and she will graduate in December. I told Chris to ask his private teacher, Lynzii O’Connor that question because my answer would be limited, and she provided this great “wheel” graphic as an answer.
Getting back to Hannah, 6 months after she entered Berklee, she declared that she would not continue her quest to become a “professional vocal performer” because she had seen, in just 6 months, enough talented vocal majors to understand that as good a vocalist as she is, in her mind, she didn’t stand a chance in hell of making it! So, she set her goal to focus on the “business” side of music (Berklee and all these major Music schools teach the business side of music too). Hannah has now focused her sights on becoming a booking agent. She posted a really nice piece about her decision on her Facebook page, starting off with the statement that performers (whether single or groups) need to get onto Spotify and from there, how important it is to be booked into the right gig venues that match with your music and performance techniques.
Chris asked me the question because he already knows how hard it is to make it in JAZZ. He is now seeing the level of competition he is facing daily, just at LVA. He’s also sees how much his LVA JAZZ band role models practice compared to him. For instance, Lynzii’s third year LVA student Ian, a Tenor saxophonist (who made it into Jazz Band 3 his Sophomore year and is Chris’s “idol” and “role model”) practices 4 hours a day, 7 days a week. And, he told Chris how he divides his daily 4 hour practice sessions up. Another one of Lynzii’s LVA Jazz Band 3 students, Stone (Baritone sax), told Chris he doesn’t practice much during the school week, but practices virtually all day on Saturdays and Sundays. These 2 are headed for the big Music schools with Lynzii’s help. They also have the overall grades! They have the “passion” for their instrument. Chris? As good as he is, he is struggling to find that “passion” for one’s instrument that drives you to practice almost unconsciously, without having to think about it! Passion leads you to Commitment, which further leads you to continuous and consistent Practice. That in turn takes you, over time, to a “near perfect” saxophonist. However, what distinguishes one Tenor saxophonist from another, in JAZZ, is “improvisation techniques.”
So, what can one do with a music degree? Many wonderful things, as long as they figure out what they want from it, and have the drive and passion to go after it!