This may seem like a funny thing to talk about, considering I’ve been a music instructor for over 9 years. However, I don’t think it’s a subject that should be taken lightly or ignored completely. Presented here are some of my thoughts about music education and its upsides as well as its downsides.
Music Education is Overpriced?
On the one extreme, there are those who say that music education is overpriced and of minimal benefit. And among this group, there are those who have considered this intelligently, and those who are mostly just unwilling to learn.
On the intelligent side of the discussion, there are those who say that music education has become less relevant supporting the notion that you can succeed in the industry if you have three or four marketable skills as opposed to pure talent. In other words, if you are adept at things like social media, video production, blogging, podcasting, building websites, booking shows, or promotion and marketing, then you have a brighter future in the industry than those who just study music. This notion assumes that schooling wouldn’t teach you any of these skills. And while that is not entirely true, there are also a lot of tremendous resources online that one could access to learn more about these subjects at minimal cost.
On the less thought-provoking side of the discussion (those who aren’t interested in learning), there are those who believe that they simply wouldn’t benefit from musical education. In other words, they feel they wouldn’t learn anything new and school wouldn’t have anything to offer them. If you think you won’t learn anything, you are probably right. My personal feeling is that you can learn something from most experiences if you are willing to remain a student. Being a student of life means you are open and receptive to new ideas, and you are less likely to get stuck in a rut with your personal growth. But that’s just my opinion.
Music Education is Essential?
Then on the opposite end of the discussion, there are those who say that musical education is absolutely essential and beneficial. For starters, you learn the fundamentals of music theory and the inner workings of music. These are tools that could come in handy when composing, writing, or creating music of any genre and any kind. Extremists would even say that you’re not a real musician if you don’t know the type of information that this kind of training offers. Secondly, schooling enables you to quickly create a network of other musicians, instructors, and contacts that can and will refer you to others.
Ultimately, as long as you can figure out a way to hone your craft as an instrumentalist, singer, composer or songwriter, develop other aforementioned skillsets, and create a network, it probably doesn’t matter which way you go about it. The point is to do something every day towards the progression of your career.
In conclusion, I don’t write on this subject merely to stir up controversy or to make light of either side of the discussion. I think it is good to think about where you are spending your money, and more importantly how. And, to be perfectly honest, I believe your personal growth should be a priority and preferably ongoing. If you are investing in your personal growth (however you conceive of that), the investment is going to pay off. It is a better investment opportunity than just about anything else out there.
Author: David Andrew Wiebe
David Andrew Wiebe has built an extensive career in songwriting, live performance, recording, session playing, production work, investing, and music instruction. In addition to helping musicians unlock their full potential, he also continues to maintain a touring schedule with multiple bands.