Re: Performance vs. Education

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Posted by Bob on August 30, 1999 at 16:50:15:

In Reply to: Performance vs. Education posted by John Visel on August 25, 1999 at 21:58:47:


You started quite a thread. Life is about choices and some of them aren't very simple.

I didn't major in music of any form because I knew I wouldn't be competitive. Unfortunately, where I grew up, there wasn't anyone who taught tuba and by the time high school was over, I was way behind. Start with an honest self-assessment.

I don't know of any career where any specific degree guarantees success. In some careers like medicine, a specific degree is necessary but an MD doesn't make you a good doctor. In careers where the demand is high, mediocre performers can make it; but not at the highest level. In the career you have chosen, there is only the highest level. I compare professional tubists to NFL quarterbacks; there are only about 30 starters (highest level) in the US and another 60 backups. I would guess that there are 90-100 professional tubists that actually make the majority of their living in performance. Unlike quarterbacks, tubists last for a long time and this impacts the availability of those few positions. I would hazard a guess that all of those 90 or so top tubists teach in one form or another.

I have noticed three common threads amongst those who make it.
1). They want it more than anything. They study it with a dedication very seldom found in other areas. They usually develop related side-interests such as horn design, composition, music literature etc. The comment reported about Sam Pliafian describing Warren Deck as 'knowing it all' was very telling. He was referring to literature, but Warren Deck is also very knowledgable in instrument construction.
2). They find a teacher that they admire and want to emulate. In my mind, that is the most important issue in your selection of a college program.
3). The teacher they select has a proven track record. OK, everyone had at least one lesson with Arnold Jacobs but if you look at the Tuba Source Book you will notice some other 'common threads'.

Best wishes in your career. I have known some great performers and some great teachers. In a few cases, they were the same people. But, in all cases, they are providing something very unique and valuable for their audience.

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