Over the last year I have had a few people (not a lot) who have come up in the music industry (engineers to be more specific) thru the school of hard knocks, tell me that I am wasting my money attending Berklee Music Online degree program.
I have had one individual tell me that I should invest $5K – $7K in a 3 day how to produce music in a studio program as a better investment. Another tell me I should just go online and learn from YouTube videos. And yet another, who through a friend (yeah, musicians talk to each other) said that I was just plain wasting my time. That I “would still have to invest hours of studio time to learn mix-craft.” I’m not sure what motivates this stance by these individuals. I can only surmise that it is either one of ignorance, or misunderstanding.
The program I am involved in is in the Music Production degree program. I want to emphasize Music Production. This is not the sound engineering degree program. It is not a program that focuses on only the studio aspect of making music. It is a program that strives to help it’s participants to be well rounded in the field of “Music Production” at the point of completion.
What do I mean by that? The education program includes courses that you wont get from abbreviated learn how to mix training. Fundamentals that help to develop mastery of music theory, exposure to multiple DAWs, a Pro Tools program that allows obtaining Pro Tools certification, project management, time management, music arrangement, critical listening, arrangement analysis, lyric writing, music writing, music for cinema & TV, ear training, music history, analysis of diverse styles, mastering, mixing, performance and so much more.
I’ve been composing, writing and recording as a musician for more than 30 years. That makes me an old dog at this game. You would think I learned a lot in that time. And I have. I am still learning outside of my classes. Yet I am learning so much from these classes at Berklee Online. Things that have helped me tremendously in approaching my art, and I’ve only been attending for a year. Things that I would not have learned in an abbreviated, “how to produce music class” at someone’s studio.
Not to mention the insights you get from the instructors. They force you to think outside of the box one can build for themselves in playing or recording a specific genre of music. The exposure I am getting to other styles and the interaction with other students is priceless. These are people who come from diverse backgrounds and from different countries as well. It provides an excellent forum for exposure to the way other people think or interpret things. No to mention that these students are pursuing degrees in different programs.
In all the program is helping me to be a more well rounded individual. And really, a degree from Berklee is acknowledged and accepted better than a degree from the school of hard knocks. You are known to be a well rounded and educated individual in the art of music. Granted, in the end, the capability and the drive of the individual determines their success. (I don’t believe in luck. coming from sales and marketing in the tech industry has shown me that luck is rarely involved).
So here is what I have to say to those considering an online degree program at Berklee College of Music (Berklee Online). If you are serious about your music, I strongly recommend the Berklee Online degree programs.
Distance learning does not mean that the classes are any easier than being on campus. In fact I would say they are harder because you are held to the same high standard as the campus students. You have the ability to participate in class web meetings as well as email communication with your instructors. And your interaction and participation is required. It isn’t just turn in the assignments and you’re done.
You get the education you need and pay for (there are times I have been hard pressed by the faculty to learn a concept. They want you to learn and understand what they are teaching you). They want you to succeed at what you are learning and will make sure you do something till they are certain you get the concept.
I am happy with my decision to engage in the online degree program at Berklee Online. I would not and could not have gotten what I wanted from an abbreviated, 3 day, learn how to produce (mix really) class at someone’s studio. That would not have taught me what I am learning right now. The insights from the instructors and other students is invaluable. And I am learning other instruments as well.
So to the nay sayers I have this to say: unless you have completed the program at Berklee College of Music or Berklee Online, and can say that you have learned nothing from it, you have no space to say anything about what or how I (or anyone else for that matter) am gaining my education. And as an artist who has been at this for most of his life at making music, I can say that there is no way anyone can know everything there is to know about music.
As for my reasons to attend Berklee Online? I live in Idaho, far from Boston. I have a family. I have a home in Idaho, and I’m not moving. An education from Berklee is well rounded and recognized within the music industry and by most of my peers. And really, deep down in side, I’ve always wanted to attend Berklee. I even tried to gain admittance for the fall of 1984, but things didn’t work out. So this is a dream I’ve been holding onto for a long time. A dream that is now being fulfilled.