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August 2009 – I graduate from Berklee College of Music, one of the most prestigious music universities in the world and….and now what??

My little brother is 18, plays drums and he’s anxious to know what is next for him once high school is over. Music University is an option, but he’s afraid of being tied up to a loan that will take a lifetime to pay back. The other option would be to move to a big city like NewYork, London, or LA and work his way up until he can get some work. But that will also take time, especially knowing the vast amount of musicians trying to get gigs. So what to do?

My advice is to take neither of these options, but to follow these 3 rules instead:

RULE#1 DON’T GO TO MUSIC COLLEGE BECAUSE YOU WANT TO LEARN HOW TO PLAY YOUR INSTRUMENT

-Smile, it’s a great time to be alive!

We are very lucky to live in a time where information travels at the speed of light. Anything you need you can find it online. Want to buy something? Go on Amazon. Want to know how to play an instrument? There are music courses online. Want to record drums online? Just visit this website 🙂   

Thanks to the internet and with the myriad of great music teachers out there, there are literally no excuses not to learn today. My recommendation is to spend money on a really good private teacher, that will challenge you and give you the motivation to improve. Find a person you admire, a mentor that has the passion, the experience and knows how to transfer his/her knowledge to students and you’ll start seeing great results. Once you are at a good level and want to really master your instrument, then you can move on and think about studying in a music college. Even then, that is not your main reason for going to music university.

RULE#2 THE MAIN REASON FOR YOU TO STUDY IN A MUSIC COLLEGE IS TO CREATE RELATIONSHIPS WITH YOUR FUTURE COLLEAGUES

-If you want to make the most out of your studies, don’t study!

Music is pretty much like all team sports. You need to be able to collaborate and work with people to make good music. It is bad to say, but I believe that in certain cases your attitude can bring you more work than your music skills. At the end of the day, if you have a concert you’ll be playing for maximum 2hrs, but the rest of the day you will be spending it traveling in a van with your band.

Consequently, if you’re going to music college, DON’T LOCK YOURSELF IN A PRACTICE ROOM 10HRS A DAY. Go and create connections with your future colleagues!

RULE#3 SMALL TOWN, BIG CITY

– If you think you’re average in your town, then why should you be great in a big city?

Before moving to a big city and comparing yourself with a million other musicians, see what’s your level in your hometown. Are you the most in demand drummer in your city? Did you play pretty much all the gigs where you’re from and feel that is time to move on? Then do it! Go to NY, London, LA etc. and keep challenging yourself by being in contact with the top musicians in the world.

It can be frightening to see the level of musicianship of some players in those big cities, so like for college, be prepared!

Finally, I made up these 3 rules myself and I wish I had followed them before going to Berklee or moving to London, as they would have saved me so much time in the process of being a musician.

I thought I would share them with you, hoping they could help whoever is thinking of taking such an important decision

‘till next time!

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Chris Castellitto

Author Chris Castellitto

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