Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
July 13, 2012 at 8:23 am #382233
L PikeParticipantAre more and more young folks choosing to pursue their musical interests as a hobby (kind of like lawyers who golf) and pursue other career choices and degrees for long term financial reasons? I say this after learning last week that a gifted, award winning and very musical young man told me he was starting a business degree at a local university this fall. He will take a music elective in his first term and accompany one of the small chamber choirs for an honorarium. He sees no financial stability having a career in music. He said, “music is my hobby”.July 14, 2012 at 7:45 am #383200
Ronald Richard DuquetteParticipantWhat the statistics will tell us is one thing; what is happening is altogether another. First off, let’s admit it: the arts in this country are invariably among the last things considered. The culture in this country is: if it isn’t useful, and it doesn’t make you insanely rich, fogeddaboutit. This isn’t new: Gordon Wood’s book “Empire of Liberty” talks to this issue directly, and he points out that in the earliest days of the Republic, if the arts were not useful or brought people to a “moral” point of view (cynically, supported the general view of what morality was), it was considered useless by the general run of the public. I hear it today; my son is hearing it from people who should know better – not that their motivation is evil; they’re sincerely concerned for his future. But their interpretation of what his future will be if he pursues music is that he will be just another poor, starving artist. Well, I’m sure he’s far from being the only young person hearing this, and if enough people bang these folks over the head that they “must have something practical to fall back on,” it should be no surprise that they eventually give in and start pursuing “something practical to fall back on.” Is this right? No. Is it expected? Yes.As for the talented young man of your acquaintance, he’s made a decision – a not surprising one, but one which will haunt him for the rest of his days. I’d be willing to predict that either he will decide that “practicality” as defined by the current run of folk isn’t very satisfying, and he’ll be willing to make the commitment to pursuing his talent to a greater degree; or he will always wistfully wonder what would have happened had he decided to pursue music as his life’s vocation, not merely avocation. As we all know (or should), commitment to what we do costs us – and it should.RonJuly 14, 2012 at 8:13 am #383219
Bill NordanParticipantActually, the young may be absolutely right. I doubt if many of us have pursued our musical interests solely based on how much it pays. If money is what you are looking for, there are far more lucrative “careers”. For me, I prefer to make less money and truly enjoy what I’m doing instead of making boat loads of money, yet hate going to work everyday. As far as music being a hobby, I’d rather see someone who is truly gifted pursuing music from this vantage point than not at all. [I’ll get off of my soapbox now!]July 14, 2012 at 8:42 am #383252
Archive UserMemberUnfortunately, we all live in a world of ever-increasing scarcity of resources of all kinds, and ever-increasing numbers of humans competing for those resources. There is an ever-widening gap between the “haves” and the “have nots,” because the “haves” can game the system in their favor. They always have, and always will. We are living through the worst economic depression since the 30’s. Even “good” jobs are paying less than they used to, while the cost of living continues to rise, and will continue to do so. Individuals in “the arts” are losing their jobs, being hired for fewer gigs, hocking their instruments, etc. etc. etc.I would love for my 30-something daughter, an incredibly talented photographer, to be able to earn a living as a photographer rather than in the payroll office of a large corporation. I would love for my son, an extremely motivated and highly educated IT professional, to be able to start his own business and be able to support his growing family, rather than work for a large corporation. But right now I am mostly glad that they HAVE jobs.One of the problems with individuals “pursuing their dreams” in the face of hard realities is that then, sooner or later, OTHER PEOPLE must support them financially, either short- or long-term. “Commitment to what we do” not only “costs us,” they end up costing other people, as well. These other people are often family members, but can be friends or simply “the taxpayers” who end up footing the bill for all sorts of things. Or, the individual and his or her family simply go without what they need, much less what they would like. I and my two sisters grew up less-than-dirt-poor, because my father “pursued his dream” (unsuccessfully) rather than take a “real” job–ever. And so I speak from hard experience.I wish the world were different, but it is not. The young man you speak of is making a rational, responsible decision based on the world as it is, not as he (or we) wishes it to be. I hope that he will have enough spare time to pursue his musical interests so that they can stay a large part of his life.July 14, 2012 at 10:11 am #383325
Charles LivesayParticipantAs I once heard someone say, “music is a field which you shouldn’t pursue unless you absolutely have to.” In other words, it needs to be a passion which must be pursued regardless of the consequences. Because there are too many sacrifices and drawbacks to endure to make it worthwhile unless it truly is your passion.This is particularly true in the case of performance (unless one only wants to start a studio and teach or wants to get a doctorate and teach at the college level [but getting that degree is quite a sacrifice in itself]). The endless stream of auditions and the temporary length of employment if one does happen to be hired makes eking out a living as a performer a very difficult prospect. If the deep passion — the passion not only to persevere, but the passion to become the best performer possible — isn’t there, a person can’t sustain such a career and tolerate having another job to put food on the table while auditioning to make money at music. (There are exceptions to this among the very elite performers, of course, but for many, the above scenario is all too familiar.)Even for those who pursue a teaching or church music career, which is obviously far more stable financially, if the love for music isn’t strong, the less appealing aspects of the job will not be worthwhile. And if the love and passion for the field isn’t there, it will be sensed by the students and will be a disservice to them and the teacher alike. (I’m sure we’ve all had a teacher somewhere along the line [maybe not in music] who we felt wasn’t really “into” his or her teaching and didn’t care very much for the subject he/she was teaching, and it tended to sour us on that class and maybe even on the subject matter being taught.)Though I don’t know any of the statistics to either confirm or deny the trend that you’re suggesting, I think the choice is the same now as it always has been: do I love music enough to make it my career? Do I “have” to go into music? While we’ve all lamented over a student that has great talent and the ability to succeed in music but chooses another career, in the end they need the passion for it to be successful, and so it should be something they “have” to do. While I’m sure it saddens you to see your talented student choose a business major, it’s probably a sign that the passion wasn’t strong enough to “have” to go into music. (I’ve also had students tell me, “I love music as a hobby but I don’t feel I’d enjoy it as much if it were my job.” I fully understand that perspective and offer them support for realizing that. That too can be a factor, and a sign that the passion isn’t quite strong enough.)July 14, 2012 at 10:50 am #383352
Kevin LindsayParticipantThis is a good discussion in 2012 with the current economy. Back in 1996, I started a 4 year degree in Organ Performance as a Non-Traditional Student. I was 30 and had 2 kids, but the opportunity had come down the road with a fully funded 4 years scholarship that I successfully competed for. Having earned that degree, I am still at the lower end of the income bracket and have to work a couple of jobs just to make ends meet. Who is to say that this young student won’t go on to a music career at this point? I think of the many Organ Scholars at college chapels in England who read degree’s other than music, yet are very professional musicians anyway. Are they somehow dioing it wrong? Many of those same degree’d organ scholars then go on to very fine carreers as choir masters, and/ or organ recitalists having not taken a degree in Music. It may not seem logical, but it does however happen all the time. The big thing in this current economy is staying active and using your skills in whatever job you find yourself. If our students go into Non-musical university pursuits, let’s support them in that and keep them musically active at the same time.July 14, 2012 at 11:07 am #383369
John WexlerParticipantIf it’s true that “more and more young folks [are] choosing to pursue their musical interests as a hobby”, then you could look on the bright side. The world will surely be a better place when more lawyers play music, or sing, in their leisure time. Similarly for business people, politicians and so on. Summon up a mental image of four people who play golf together; four people who play poker together; four people who play Schubert quartets together. Do I need to say more?July 14, 2012 at 7:30 pm #383659
Maybe I’m misreading your post, but are you making a general
assumption based on just one story you have heard? If not, I’m
sorry I misunderstood.July 15, 2012 at 12:15 pm #384230
Vernae BuckParticipantThis makes me think of Charles Ives. He did not pursue a musical career, but went into the insurance business while writing music in all of his spare time. It allowed him to create what he truly wanted without having to cater to the tastes of others in order to feed his family.July 16, 2012 at 10:26 am #385137
Gene LysingerMemberI was advised by my composition teacher in college: “you’d be smart to get into real estate.” That’s what he was doing 45 years ago after 25 years as a tenured professor and chairman of the music department in which I was studying. He had a Ph.D. from Eastman, was published as a composer and had a full-time position.I managed to ignore him, got a baccalaureate degree in conducting, followed by a Master’s in choral conducting. I taught at levels starting at K and ended up teaching in a community college. In parallel I worked in Broadcasting (Public Radio), and consulted on Acoustics. I still occasionally mentor younger choral conductors in a state where Education in general appears to be a low priority. Much of my suppmlement to Social Security comes from Acoustical design, including the manufacture of special-purpose loudspeakers, and helping church building committees try to avoid the acoustical pitfalls of “modern church” design.In a year where there is a higher priority on being a political “winner” than seeing to the educational and cultural needs of the nation, I can only, stealthily and quietly, reinforce the dedication of younger folks who “have” to be in a musical career. We’ll never be able to do without them. Thanks to people like Rod Eichenberger, Roger Emmerson, Kirby Shaw, and Greg Lyne, we can go on being subversive and try to keep our country singing and contributing to a cultural fabric that may be fraying here and there, but still puts grace and joy in our national life.
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