To college, or not to college? That is the highly debated question (one of many) in the music industry. With success stories ranging widely from both college educated and non-college educated musicians, it can be difficult to weigh the pros and cons of spending time and money for a piece of paper with some black ink on it. Let's take a look at our options for the Film Scoring career path.
When you're done, check out my list of Film Scoring programs.
What Does A Degree Give You?
My guess is that the most popular music degrees in the US are probably Performance and Education, with maybe Jazz Studies and Composition right behind them. While most music degrees will have very similar general requirements, the specialized courses can range quite a bit. For musicians interested in the Film Scoring path, I would say the best degrees to pursue would be Composition or Film Scoring. So let's look at what those two degrees could have to offer:
What Does A Degree NOT Give You?
It's amazing what you learn outside of college. In the first 6 months after my graduation from Berklee, I learned as much if not more about Film Scoring than I did in my years in school. I will say that, had I not graduated from Berklee, I wouldn't have even been able to get the job I had at the time, but the real life experiences I've had since could not have been taught. Here's what a degree does not give you:
The "No Degree" Path
So let's say you don't go for the degree. You're out of high school, may or may not be out of your parents' house, you have a day job and you want to pursue the Film Scoring career - what should you do to be on top of your game and play with the top players?
It's extremely important to understand that without this education, you are starting from zero and the people who are ahead of you are miles ahead. I don't say this to scare you away, it's just something you have to understand going in. Here's a short list of what I would recommend for this route, and much of this will apply to even those who went for the degree:
College isn't for everyone; it's tough, costs a lot, and ultimately does not guarantee a job. But that being said, my education has done so much for my career as a composer. Do you NEED a degree to be a film composer? No, absolutely not - and honestly, nobody in the business wants to see your degree. They want experience and they want results. Do you need to be educated to be a film composer? Yes. If it doesn't come from an institution, it has to come from you.
Film | Music
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