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The best music colleges in the US

If you enjoy music and want to create a career from it, then the good idea is to enroll in one of the best music colleges in the US. Finding the right one can be a bit challenging at first, but results can indeed be extraordinary in the end. With that in mind, here are some of the best options to focus on.

Oberlin Conservatory of Music – Oberlin, OH

What makes this one of the best music colleges in the US is that it has it has a string undergraduate program. It also allows you to ascent to some of the best orchestras in the world, and they don’t take more than 600 students at one time. This offers a more compact and exciting place to study.

University of North Texas College of Music – Denton, TX

The reason why you may want to study music here is the fact that this is one of the largest music conservatories in the world. It’s also one of the few places out there where you can have a degree in jazz.

Curtis Institute of Music – Philadelphia, PA

This institute, in particular, is widely known for its piano programs, and they are also the only faculty free of charge in this sector. That sets it apart from most of the music colleges in the US.

Indiana University Jacobs School of Music (Bloomington, IN)

Around 1600 students can enroll here on a yearly basis. You can study vocal performance, percussion performance, music librarianship, orchestral conducting, music composition and many others.

Juilliard School – New York, NY

Aside from the fact that it’s a prestigious school with plenty of programs, this is one of the music colleges in the US that gives you an amazing exposure to the industry. It’s located in New York, so finding a job after your graduation is easy.

University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance (Ann Arbor, MI)

A lot of people consider this to be one of the best music colleges in the US for those that want to prepare for classical saxophone and music theater. They also have cello programs too.

Yale School of Music (New Haven, CT)

Yale’s music school can easily help you harness a wide array of instruments. It’s also great for composers, and lots of musicians like David Shifrin and Aldo Parisot graduated from here. So, it can easily prepare you for a multitude of musical paths.

Berklee College of Music (Boston, MA)

The Berklee College of Music is very good for those that want music production, jazz performance, film scoring and even music business degrees. That alone, combined with the great exposure of the town, allows you to gain access to some incredible music paths and a wonderful career in the industry.

The Colburn School (Los Angeles, CA)

The Colburn School is one of the most interesting music colleges in the US because they are free of tuition to all the enrolled students., On top of that, they have faculties for winds, strings, brass, and percussion.

Rice University Shepherd School of Music – Houston, TX

The Rice University Shepherd School of Music is a great place where you can prepare for both classical and modern music. Many bassoonists, violists, and trumpet professionals attended this school. Plus, the college is one of the few schools out there that present hundreds of concerts each year.

As you can see, there are many music colleges in the US that you can choose from. Whether you want to be a sound engineer or a music therapist. These schools can get you there. It all comes down to where you live, the opportunities you want and what musical sub-category interests you the most. One thing is certain; there are lots of amazing opportunities to be had here, so just study the list and see what works best for you!



Update: The NEA and Federal Funding for the Arts

The federal government has always been a supporter of art, and things have only gotten better in the past few years for art advocates. In fact, in December 2015 alone, the Congress increased the appropriation of the NEA with $2 million, reaching a total of $148 million in total. The per capita has increased by less than one cent. While it’s not a lot, it’s progress, and things can only get better in the end.

Another thing to note is that 55% of all Americans are supporting the move to double the NEA budget and funds. This is a very important move for the art community which has constantly struggled to find some new, better ways to acquire the much-needed funds for various activities.

Moreover, it’s crucial to note that the local and state governments have a very high approval rating, mostly thanks to the boost offered by the federal government. The nice thing in here is that more and more grants are awarded to artists and arts, not to mention that the community oriented arts funding has a very good value.

Then there’s also the fact that federal candidates can feel safe voting to support the artists and arts they want. Arts funding created for some specific purposes tend to have a very high public value, and that does bring in front some incredible opportunities as a whole.

The federal government has a direct funding for the art sector via the National Endowment for the Arts. But at the same time, they also focus on investing in various regional and state arts agencies. Another clear focus is on investing in local arts agencies. There are around 5000 local arts agencies, and their number will certainly increase exponentially in the very near future.

But the federal government also delivers a variety of public funding for culture and arts. They focus on direct funding sources, as well as sponsorships for the federal museums and many of the performing art centers.

The federal government has a huge focus on supporting a multitude of arts programs, especially those designed to help the local communities as well as the US Army and Navy.

Will this type of support change? Although the support for art has gotten very strong in the past decade, the election of Donald Trump did bring a new perspective to things. A lot of people in the art community are scared that they won’t be able to receive more funds, however that may not be a problem. Not a lot has changed, and things will only end up getting better for the longer term. One thing is certain, the federal government is constantly investing in arts, and this won’t stop anytime soon.

So, you should not worry about the government’s contribution to the art funding. Sure, there will be debates and some struggle, but in the end, the art community will always thrive, and it will certainly reach new heights!

How Robo-Advisors Can Help Music School Graduates Succeed

First, start keeping a budget

If you have recently graduated from music school and are having a hard time making ends meet, do not be surprised—you are hardly alone in that respect.  It is notoriously difficult to make a living as a musician.  Berklee reports that the starting base salary for an orchestral musician runs anywhere from $28,000-$143,000.  Needless to say, a lot of musicians are earning at the lower end of that bracket—and many musicians cannot find full-time employment at all.  Long-term unemployment is common.

If that is your situation, you may wonder how you will ever be able to save money for retirement.  Even if you eventually do start pulling in a high salary, you may be getting a late start at saving up a nest egg.  Plus, there is a good chance you will always be struggling just to pay your monthly bills.

Even so, that is a challenge these days for workers in all professions—not just musicianship.  Millennials in particular are having a very hard time saving for retirement—if they can save at all.

This is why there are now new investment products aimed specifically at consumers who have very little time and money to invest, but who still want to give themselves a shot a building p a retirement fund.  One of those products is known as a “robo-advisor.”

What Is a Robo-Advisor?

A robo-advisor is a software program which is designed to replace the role of a traditional human financial advisor.  So instead of getting advice on your investments from a human being, you just open an account, upload information about your financial situation and goals, and receive automated advice personalized to your needs.  You can then make investments directly through the same platform with a few simple clicks.

How a Robo-Advisor Can Help Struggling Musicians to Save for Retirement

Why use one of the top robo-advisors instead of going a more traditional route for your retirement investments?

  • Start investing even if you do not have a lot of money.  A lot of musicians have very small savings accounts—if they have anything saved at all.  But even if all you have is $100 to invest, you can do it through a robo-advisor.  By contrast, the entry barriers at traditional investment houses might be insurmountable.
  • Cut back on fees.  It is not cheap to talk to a human financial advisor—much less have one manage your portfolios for you.  Nonetheless, most people do not have time to learn how to manage their investments manually.  You want to focus on becoming a great musician, not starting a career in investing.  A robo-advisor offers you a third path—one where you can take a hands-off approach without paying the high fees commanded by traditional financial advisors.
  • With a robo-advisor, you can check up on your accounts anytime.  You do not need to call anyone or visit an office; you just log on using your desktop, laptop, or mobile device.  You can see how your investments are doing or make changes any time of the day or night.
  • If you need to ask a human expert a question about your finances, you may be able to do so—without paying an arm and a leg.  Many of these companies have advisors you can speak to over the phone.
  • The advice that you get is tailored to your situation, and if you need to revisit your investments later to diversify, the program will take care of it for you.  So you do not need to do the hard work of researching and rebalancing your portfolio yourself.

With so many different robo-advisors out there, how do you figure out which one to go with?  You should stick with companies which are well-established and which have strong reputations, and you should search for features which are a fit for your needs.  Two of the top choices right now are Betterment and Wealthfront.  Before you can figure out which one is right for you, you need to compare Wealthfront vs. Betterment by reading reviews.

Saving up for retirement as a struggling musician isn’t easy.  Even if you manage to find steady work, there is a good chance that you will be earning a low salary. And even if you find a job which pays well, it may well be a temporary gig.  Even if you only have a small amount of money saved, however, you can invest through a robo-advisor and build a nest egg!

Where Do Musicians Fall In Terms of Average Net Worth?

Where Do Musicians Fall In Terms of Average Net Worth?

If you are currently in music school, thinking about it, or have already graduated, you may be wondering how much money musicians actually make and what kind of net worth you can expect.

Berklee reports that there is actually quite a significant range in musician earnings, depending on where you end up:

• Orchestral musicians may start anywhere from $28,000-$143,000. This is for a full-time season. If you work a shorter season, your salary could be lower.

• If you work for a community orchestra, you might receive around $100-$120 for each of your performances.

• Military musicians earn anywhere from $21,000-$77,000.

• If you are a Broadway pit musician, you will probably earn $800-$1,500 per week for as long as the show is on.

• Club musicians may earn anywhere from $75-$125 for club dates.

If you check the link, you can find a much more comprehensive list covering numerous other music careers.

How does all of this average out?  According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the 2015 median pay for musicians and singers came out to $24.20 per hour. Job growth is slow, however, and the BLS also reports that many musicians work only part-time or intermittently and suffer from long periods without work.

So if you find yourself struggling to get by on a musician’s salary, you should not be surprised. Even though the median hourly rate of pay is actually not too bad, over time it may not add up to a whole lot.

Being a musician often follows the “feast or famine” cycle of income. For a few months, you may be doing great—but then you end up out of work and burning through all the money you made.

Where Do You Fall in Terms of Average Net Worth?

If you try to look up the “average net worth of musicians,” you will find a lot of lists of the richest musicians alive. This is not very useful information, as it does nothing to shed light on the net worth of the average musician. There is really no point in comparing yourself with the highest earners.

A much more useful thing to do is to consider the average net worth of workers altogether, and then consider where you fall with regards to that.  The average net worth by age is actually quite a bit lower than you may think.  If you click through to the link, you will find a chart which compares the average net worth by age and percentile.

Are you under the age of 35?  If so, if you have just $7,000 or so (and that includes all of your assets, not just the balance in your bank account) to your name, then you are actually doing better than 50% of your peers.

It is difficult to extrapolate how you fit in with other musicians given this data, because there are so many variations where lifestyle is concerned. You might for example earn $30,000 a year as an orchestral musician, and you might sit next to a player who earns the same amount. Whereas you have $6,000 to your name, he might have $20,000.

Even if you graduated the same year and started working at the same time, there are many other factors to explain the difference in your net worth. He might have had more savings or borrowed less for school. He may work a second job. He may have a spouse who brings in a second stream of income. He may have fewer expenses.

The bottom line here is that comparing yourself to other musicians is only so useful. In the end, the only person you are really competing with financially is yourself. Try not to be too hard on yourself if you have a low net worth right now; you are trying to make it in a tough field where it is hard to find full-time work.

Do what you can to cut back on expenses and get more gigs. Consider a day job if you need one. Do not worry about what the guy in the next chair is making. Just focus on playing your best and saving and investing toward your financial goals.