Questions to ask the percussion faculty and students at each school you consider:
percussion faculty demonstrated they are sincerely interested in having you join their
•Are the percussion faculty excellent performers and teachers? Have you seen their biographies? Have you heard them perform live or on recordings?
•Is the percussion curriculum flexible enough to adequately address your individual career goals?
•Have you been invited to observe the percussion faculty teach private lessons? Can you study with them to help prepare your audition and assess their teaching before you commit to their program?
•Will you study with the percussion faculty during your freshman and sophomore years? Some schools, to reduce costs, require freshman and/or sophomores to study with graduate assistants.
•Are small group percussion lessons offered on a weekly basis? If not, why? Have you been invited to observe these?
•Advisement. Is the percussion faculty sincerely interested in assisting in your career advisement and professional referrals? What do the present students say about this?
•Percussion ensemble. Are you afforded performance, touring, and recording opportunities? Will you have opportunities to perform, tour, and record in other school of music ensembles? Have you heard these ensembles? Do they have recent recordings available?
•Instruments and facilities. Have you received a facilities tour? Are the instruments and facilities of excellent quality? Are there enough practice rooms relative to the number of majors? What do the current students say about this? Are the facilities clean and well organized?
•Do you have access to info about the accomplishments of the percussion alumni and their testimonials?
Ideally, all qualified music students would receive a full music achievement scholarship. Therefore, they would not need a part-time (non-music related) job during the academic year and could dedicate all their efforts to their education and gaining professional musical experience. Realistically, however, most students must work a part-time job (often outside of music) to finance their education. The question becomes how do you maximize your time for studies and musical experience?
The solution includes the following. One, prepare the best audition you can - as this is the primary determinant of music scholarships. Two, earn the highest GPA you can - as this is the primary determinant of academic scholarships and is also a requirements (minimum 3.0GPA) for many music scholarships. Three, consider student loans as an investment in ‘time’ to pursue your education. Four, choose a teacher and school where you will be given opportunities to earn income via music related employment.
We urge you to seriously consider the advantages of student loans. The primary challenge for most music majors is the considerable time management issue of allocating at least 21 hours per week practice time. Considered as an aid to buy yourself time, student loans are an outstanding investment, especially considering the low interest rates and re-payments.
A considerable body of recent neurological research confirms that to achieve peer recognition as a “master” or “expert”, in music or other fields, that at least 10,000 hours of focused individual practice must be accumulated. Such research has not identified such mastery occurring with less than 10,000 hours. This equates to roughly 3 hours daily or 20 hours per week, for 10 years. See - Levitin, Daniel. J. This Is Your Brain On Music: The Science of a Human Obsession. New York: Dutton, 2006. Discussion of environmental and genetic effects on musical mastery, the science of music, from the perspective of cognitive neuroscience.
Assume, on the one hand, you need approximately $2000 per semester to finance your education. $2000 divided by 15 weeks of the semester equals $133 weekly income. If you earn $7 per hour, you need 19 hours per week to earn $133. Unfortunately, these 19 hours will impact your schooling.
If, on the other hand, you secure a student loan that provides $133 per week, you will need a loan of $2000 per semester. This will allow you to allocate 19 hours per week practicing – almost three hours per day. The advantages you will accrue during college would more than compensate for the short term lost income. In addition, the additional skills you develop while practicing will significantly increase your long-term employment potential, place you in a higher income bracket, and will provide greater career satisfaction.
How many performance and teaching referrals will you receive from your university teachers and student colleagues? Have you asked faculty and current students about this? Professional work income is invaluable. Some students spend 15 or more hours per week working non-music related jobs to help finance their education. Although financially effective, this is obviously not musical experience and may limit your career progress. We help our students gain employment opportunities to hasten their transition from student to professional musician.
•Tuition and out of state fees
•Books and other student fees
•Room and board
2. Financial assistance
•University work-study opportunities
•Costs minus financial assistance and student income = the bottom line