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Should Students Consider a Career in Music?

Posted by on in Ideas in Music Education
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Let's create a sample student named Bobby. One day, in general music class, the teacher introduces the students to the music of The Beatles. All of a sudden something happened to Bobby. He’s now changed, forever and says “That's what I want to do with my life.” Let's say that Bobby is eight years old and for the next two years of his life, he spends a fair amount of his time playing video games like guitar hero or rock band. He also listens to classic rock recordings trying to hear exactly what the electric guitarist is playing, and he feels more connected to the music by age 10 than he did when he first heard it at age 8.

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10-year-old Bobby now asks his parents if he can have private guitar. His parents can afford it and they start sending him to weekly guitar lessons. For two years Bobby never misses a lesson. By age 12 he’s really able to get around the guitar. Then the murmuring and mumbling begins to happen. Bobby's family and family friends start to talk amongst themselves. Eventually, somebody shares their viewpoint that maybe this isn't such a good idea.

"Shouldn't Bobby stop playing? It's not like he could ever make money doing this." [This isn’t that farfetched. Now consider what Bobby is being told by his guidance counselor in High school. Has any Guidance Counselor in the history of guidance counselors ever said, “You’re really good! Why don’t you pursue a career in music?”]

After spending my first three years of high school at a selective public vocational school called the Marine Academy of Science and Technology, I had to transfer to a public school which provided music education (since the Marine Academy offered none). So that’s just what I did. My senior year teacher, Dennis Klein, did his best to prepare me for a career in music.

I took for granted all of the teachings he was exposing me to at the time. It wasn't until years later that I truly understood what he was doing. Without telling me that I couldn't be like Bobby, that next big musician, he was painting pictures of all the different careers I could possibly have in music. My guidance counselor, on the other hand, was doing everything in his power to dissuade me from pursuing music. They were actually taking me out of class to talk to me about other career options.

So the question is: can you be the “Mr. Klein” to all the little “Bobby’s” out there?

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