High school, now what?
In 2008 when I had to figure out what to study after high school, my mind went blank. I had no idea what I wanted to do, and pretty much all the things I checked out seemed very bland and uninteresting, even more so than the general studies in high school. After a bit of searching around, I found one single music production program by a public university (the private ones cost a fortune). I sent them a 5-track demo, along with an application letter; quite confident that I’d get accepted, after hearing some very poor compositions by former students.
I wasn’t accepted; and I never got to hear why. A slight bit of frustration rose, but I kept thinking «they’re the ones missing out» and «maybe it’s for the best, perhaps I wouldn’t have liked it at all». The 2nd choice was a bachelor’s degree in Media Technology, since I liked working with computers, and I imagined media as relevant, since I made electronic music.
So, my student life started. The subjects were alright (web development, programming, video, etc.), but I often found them uninspiring. As the semesters passed, I gradually realised that these things didn’t interest me at all. I got increasingly tired of using computers all the time.
With that said, all the other aspects of my student life were amazing; and let me emphasize that studying at a small university is highly recommended. The student community is tighter, and teachers are more easily available. There was lots of free time, and by living in a student dorm, I met friends from all parts of Norway and the rest of the world.
The social aspect (which I consider my most important student experience) taught and gave me a lot. During this time, I got to discover new interests, such as language learning, pedagogy, diet, exercise, hiking, partying all night with Erasmus students (I still meet up with many of them occasionally), and much more.
Bachelor’s degree, now what?
As the final semester of my bachelor’s degree neared, I was yet again faced with the same problem as before: What do I do now? I was communicating with the director of a British master’s program in music technology, a program which looked quite interesting. They were also interested in having me there; I just needed to graduate first. However, while spending my final semester abroad, I was getting unsure about this path.
Would I enjoy working in audio, and more importantly, would I even get a job? I knew the last one didn’t have the best prospects, and even so, it would likely have to be as an engineer – working with other people’s music. I just couldn’t imagine myself recording some boring vocalist’s mediocre album.
I started applying for jobs in various other unrelated fields, and got rejected. Uncertainty in regards to what to do was increasing, and I was slightly annoyed at always feeling like I had no idea what I wanted to do. Then, in the midst of all the confusion, my parents and I came up with an idea. I could take a one-year program in a language or in pedagogy, followed by a one-year program of teacher education, and get qualified for teaching positions in middle and high school.
I ended up choosing Spanish, which I’m doing at the time of writing, and I’m hoping to start my teacher education this autumn. Teaching IT and Spanish (and maybe even music production too eventually?) actually sounds like a really nice job, with music production as a pure enjoyable spare time activity. I’ve already taught some spanish at the local high school, and I must say it’s quite enjoyable. It’s nice to get to spread my view on language learning a bit.
Thoughts (empty assumptions) on studying music production
Of course, I’ll always wonder what studying music technology would have been like. There’s no doubt I would have learned a lot of neat things. On the other hand, I’m glad things turned out the way they did. Following are some reasons I’m glad for not having entered music production education:
- I imagine it would have emphasised the technological aspect of it, rather than the visual and imaginative mindset behind making music, which I’ve come to realise is what I really enjoy.
- Someone would be telling me what to do and given me grades. I’m not entirely negative to being told what to do, but I have some issues with grading as a form of feedback.
- I would probably have to rig, record and master someone else’s music. Imagine hour-long recording sessions with awful «up-and-coming» solo artists singing «is there a way, when you are away, for my heart, to start, o whoa baby» – or bands giving vague instructions – no thanks!
- Making music as homework/work.
- Would I even enjoy making my own music anymore? Too often, I’ve had interests ruined by “learning” about them in school.
- And most importantly, I’ve realised that I’m not very interested in music technology, but rather its creative wizardry uses. I imagine music tech lectures for me would be the same as crayon lectures for a child, resulting in taking myself way too seriously, which is actually one of the main problems I already have.
Of course, these are all assumptions. I have no idea what it’s like to actually study music technology, so if you’re a current of former music tech/production student, I would very much like to hear from you in the comments or on Facebook. I hope didn’t step on too many toes. :)
Moreover, people keep telling me to get my ass into videogame or film music. It sounds compelling at first, but then my worries kick in, as described above. If anyone who has some experience with this could fill me in, that would be nice.