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  Degree Unsatisfaction  piargno at 18:52 on 29 May 2006

I just recently received a Bachelor's degree. I know this should feel like a big accomplishment, but I just don't feel that way. I feel like because I'm not at a point where I'm supporting myself mostly as a musician, my bachelor's is practically inconsequential. I haven't won any big competitions (and I haven't entered many), I haven't gotten big recognition, and while I did so much at my alma mater, I still feel like I've done nothing as a composer, and this Bachelor's degree is just rubbing it in my face. (Ha! You've earned this, and you still work at an insurance company...)

Any advice? Anybody going through the same thing?

  Re: Degree Unsatisfaction  John Robertson at 08:01 on 30 May 2006

LOL! Very hard to give advice on that one. Many composers take the 'endless student' approach (a Masters or two, a PhD) , and at least get the benefit of the odd student performance or workshop. There's quite a bit to be said for that.

On the other hand if your strong of mind you might just strike out on your own - forget competitions and the in-crowd, just run your own group and make a name for yourself.

From my own experience I really needed the student days - I finished my undergrad knowing hardly anything! But it also took until I finally left academia altogether (and yes got a job doing something completely different) that I finally found my true compositional voice - it's a real conundrum...

  Re: Degree Unsatisfaction  red5 at 16:55 on 31 May 2006

What's an alma mater?

I wouldn't worry about not making it big yet, a forty year old composer is still classed as a young composer...!

  Re: Degree Unsatisfaction  piargno at 12:46 on 01 June 2006

I'm not sure if I spelled it right, but an alma mater is a school you've attended in the past. I'm not sure how wide the phrase is, but we say it a bit here in the states...

I guess I'm just comparing myself to certain others... I'm not naming names. To a certain extent, I know why I'm not further in my career now, and I don't want to think about it...

Any composers here have crazy stories about their compositional careers? One of my teachers at BU had to stop everything and join the army, and when he came back, after winning awards, and conducting Composers with Red Sneakers and doing so much more, he was rejected from Eastman. Then the next year, he was accepted, with a full scholarship, and a living stipend... For the most part, I hate this uncertainty, and this waiting. But a part of me secretly enjoys the excitement of, for the most part, never knowing what's gonna' happen next. But what if nothing ever happens?!?

  Re: Degree Unsatisfaction  scott_good at 16:25 on 04 June 2006


I think these are what could be coined as growing pains.

It takes many years to develop a career as a composer, I wouldn't sweat that you are not making your living composing. One of my teachers (who is very successful) told me that you need to get to 40 to have a full fledged writing career (in art music that is). Yes, a "random" number, but certainly telling of the struggle we face.

But, might I suggest a couple of things: I strongly believe that composers should be performers, so, keep up the instrument. Also, try to be apprecietive of the knowledge that you gained at University. It is not a ticket for employment, and, frankly, has nothing to do with composing as a career.

It is your body of work and contacts you make that will lead to a career. So, compose great music and meet lots of people in the industry.

I don't have any "crazy" strories - just hard work, persistence, and passion.


btw-yes, alma mater is the correct term and spelling

  Re: Degree Unsatisfaction  piargno at 05:11 on 12 June 2006

OMG I love you and am obsessed with your sound clips. But I have questions: The saxophone concerto is by Babbit or by you, and inspired by Babbit? Were you the conductor of that performance?

Do you get many "gigs" as a trombonist? Do you play other instruments? I haven't looked at your homepage in while, but the last time I looked, it had no real information about you, and no descriptions of the sound clips, which I absolutely love, and wish I could hear in full!!

Thanks for the info. May I ask how old you are?