Music School Survival Guide: 5 Tips for a Successful Journey - Progressions: Success in the Music Industry

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Published on:

30th Aug 2023

Music School Survival Guide: 5 Tips for a Successful Journey

Want to get the most out of your music school experience? Set yourself up for success this fall (and for the rest of your career) with these five tips.

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Credits:

Host: Travis Ference

Editor: Travis Ference

Theme Music: inter.ference

Transcript
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Are you dreaming of a career in music and thinking about enrolling in music school?

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Or perhaps you've already secured a spot at one of the top institutions for the

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fall. I want to share with you five things I wish I knew before I

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went to music school. What's up, y'all? I'm Travis Fence, a Grammy nominated recording engineer

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in Mixer. And on this channel, I've set out to help industry newcomers and

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veterans alike create the career they've always wanted and

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hopefully skip some of the mistakes I've made along the way. Going to college

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is big deal if you're in the process of making that decision right now.

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I feel your pain. I know it can be daunting. I've been there. It was

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like 20 years ago, but I was there. Ultimately, I decided to go to

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Berkeley College Music and study music production and engineering. I spent four years there

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before moving to Los Angeles and starting my career at Capital Studios. When I reflect

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back on my experience, there are definitely some things that I think are invaluable to

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know before you step into one of these top music schools. And I guarantee you

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they are not in the admissions brochure and they are not on the website. So

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here we go. Number one, you're not going to be the best, and that's okay.

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If you're watching this, it's likely you're a high school student considering college. It's also

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highly likely that you are the best musician in your school or even your

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town. This is no longer going to be the case when you land at one

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of these top schools. So take this reality check to heart now so you're not

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blindsided by it later. When I went to Berkeley, I was immediately hit by the

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fact that pretty much everybody there was a better musician than me in one way

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or another. A lot of these top schools have extremely high first year dropout rates,

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and I think that's due to the fact that a lot of people can't cope

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with no longer being the best at their craft. There's always going to be somebody

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better than you. Don't get discouraged by it. Instead, be inspired to get better.

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Number two, music school is the beginning of your education, not

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the end of it. A lot of people leave these prestigious universities thinking they have

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everything they need to have a successful career, and this couldn't be any more

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wrong. College will give you a baseline set of skills and knowledge that you then

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have to take to the real world to apply and develop. And remember, these educational

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institutions, as good as they are, can only simulate the real world to a certain

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extent, because how the music industry actually works is not always going to align

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with the best way to train you for it. So if you want to have

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a long career in this industry, you have got to commit to being a lifelong

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learner. Number three, you will get out of music school what you put in. Now,

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I know that sounds cliche, but there's really no better way to put it. My

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experience is that it is not that hard to graduate a music school with a

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high GPA. And if you're currently a high school student, your educational experience has

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put a hefty weight on your actual grades. Unfortunately, once you go to

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college, especially in art school, grades are going to give you zero bearing on whether

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you actually learned anything. I'm not telling you to fail. What I'm telling you is

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that what you learn in music school is significantly influenced by

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how immersed in the community and the experience you are. You got to be jamming

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with other students, writing songs, going to shows, and taking advantage

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of all the access to technology and guest lectures. Music is not

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something you can just memorize and recite. Music is something that needs to be

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experienced. Next up, attending music school is as much about the

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people as it is about the knowledge. If you're going to attend a college where

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you're going to be surrounded by like minded individuals with similar career aspirations,

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you would be doing yourself a huge injustice by not starting to build your

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network. Now, I'll use myself as an example. All of my closest friends and my

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core group of fellow engineers here in Los Angeles are all people I went to

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Berkeley with. I got my job at Capital Studios because of somebody I met at

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Berkeley, and a surprising number of people I run into on gigs are people that

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I've either met or known of because of my time at school. The importance of

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your network has come up on every single interview I've done for the podcast,

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regardless of what part of the industry the guest is from. So do not waste

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this opportunity to start your network at school. Plus, it

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may or may not involve some partying last up on the list, but maybe the

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most important. Music is your passion, but it's about to become your

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job. When your livelihood is based on something, it can be easy to start feeling

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the pressure, and it can go from being very fun to very workLIKE.

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And this is an unfortunate reality that everybody in the music industry has to deal

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with eventually. So remember to always set aside time to keep that passion

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alive. Make some music for yourself or explore some new sounds. Whatever it

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is that makes music fun for you, be sure that you're doing that. If you

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want to get more of a jump start in your career, then check out this

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video about how to turn your mistakes into opportunities for growth. Also, don't forget to

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check out the progression success of the Music Industry podcast, available here on this

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About the Podcast

Progressions: Success in the Music Industry
Host Travis Ference chats with music producers, engineers, mixers, artists, musicians, and songwriters about the tips, tricks, mindsets, and ideas that helped them define their careers.
Insightful conversations about building and maintaining a fulfilling and successful career in the music industry. Music producers, engineers, mixers, artists, songwriters, musicians, composers and various other audio professionals sit down and share the tips, tricks, mindsets and ideas that helped them define their careers.

Created and hosted by Grammy nominated recording and mixing engineer Travis Ference, Progressions: Success in the Music Industry is inspired by the journey of his career so far. Travis is determined to set the next generation of music creators up with the tools they need to define their own success and live a happy, healthy, and prosperous career in the music business.

Donโ€™t wait for luck. Start building your future now.

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About your host

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Travis Ference

Travis Ference is a Grammy nominated mixer, producer, and recording engineer based out of Los Angeles, CA. With over a decade of experience in the music business he has worked on multiple #1 albums, several top 10's, numerous RIAA platinum and gold certified records, as well as hit TV shows and blockbuster films. His work can be heard on more than 15 million albums sold and billions streams worldwide.

The inspiration for his podcast came from his journey over the last 5 years to redefine what success is for him, to take control of his time, and to ultimately live the life he wants while making the records he loves.