9 Alternatives to Music College

9 alternatives to music college

Did you know…..

Student loan debt has surpassed 1 trillion dollars?

More than mortgage debt, consumer credit card debt, car debt, etc..

The worst part of it is you can’t get out of it. You can’t file bankruptcy you’re stuck with it the rest of your life. Unless you receive debt forgiveness. When does that really happen?

Probably never!

My buddy came over to my house the other day. We were chatting about church, music, Jesus and other things. Out of nowhere I blurted out to him.

“Did you know that student loan debt in this country has surpassed 1 trillion dollars?”

He said, “I believe it, I’m over $30,000 in student loan debt.”

“What? 15 years we’ve known each other. How come you never told me?” I mentioned. “You never asked.” He responded.


“… the borrower is slave to the lender.” 

Proverbs 22:7


When I graduated high school almost 20 years ago. My school of choice was Cal Arts in Valencia, Ca. They had a great music and animation program.

These were the fields I was interested in. When I received the costs of tuition my eyes flew out of my sockets. “Who was gonna pay this?” I thought to myself.

My mom or dad don’t have any cash, I could receive financial aid but even that won’t cover everything. I would still owe thousands of dollars.

I decided to take an alternative route to community college. As of today I’m glad I did.

Don’t let financial burdens make you lose hope. It will effect the way you worship God.

If you’re thinking of attending college or a prestigious university please rethink your motives. I have various alternatives that are super cost savings.

Here are the 9 Alternatives to Music College.

1. Music Heroes: In today’s age communication is awesome. Go online and google your top favorite musicians on the planet. Nine times out of ten your favorite music hero has an email address.

Email them and be courteous. Introduce yourself and ask if they give lessons. If they don’t then move on if they do and they have internet access it doesn’t matter what part of the world they live in you can set up a skype lesson. Isn’t technology awesome.

Try it! It doesn’t hurt to ask.

2. Community College: Even though college tuition has skyrocketed 1000%. Community college is most likely a more affordable option.

Learning your diatonic modes is the same at a community college then at a 4 year university. I guess the only difference is the tuition.

3. Local Music Teachers: Many times your favorite musicians are local teachers at a private school. There are also many undiscovered music teachers at your local private school where tuition is on a monthly basis.

The average monthly tuition here in LA is $120 per month for a 30 minute session per week. That’s $1440 per year and $5,760 for 4 years.

Even if you took 1 hour sessions just double it at $11,520.

Tuition at Berklee School of Music each year is over $30,000.

What a deal! Not!

4. Books: Most of the time in college you’ll be learning from their curriculum. Hop on their website and search for the books that their music program uses.

Go to Amazon.com and you’ll most likely find all the material at a super deal!

5. YouTube Videos: All your music heroes nine times out of ten have a video on YouTube where they could be performing or even teaching.

Plus, there are millions of music tutorials where you can most likely find anything. Check it out.

6. Blogs: There is an abundance of music education out there for free. Many great teachers have come out of the woodworks and created their own websites and have grown a fan base.

Great teachers like Mike Johnston from Mikeslessons.com and JaneK Gwizdala from videobasslessons.tv have grown an enormous student community that have helped thousands.  Check them out.

There is also Justin Sandercoe at justinguitar.com. Great site.

Oops! Don’t forget mine.

7. Audit College Courses: One of my goals in life is to be a film composer. A few years back I researched many universities in my area, went to their websites and found the professors that teach composition, found their emails and emailed them.

I asked if I can audit their classes. Out of 5 professors I emailed 2 responded back. I ended up auditing the orchestration class at Cal State Long Beach.

I eventually couldn’t finish the entire course because of work but I learned a lot and plus I didn’t have to cough up thousands of dollars in the process.

8. Online Classes: This is great way to receive your education on your own time. It doesn’t necessarily have to be courses from a university like I said before.

There are many blogs and websites filled with wonderful music instructors where you can purchase their video course, webinars and monthly services.

9. Networking: Many times I hear from folks that mention colleges will give you gig opportunities. While some of that appears to be true, the majority is not the case.

I’ve been in the music business for 15 years and all the major gigs that I’ve acquired was not because of my college degree. It was purely based on my network.

Nobody ever asked for my degree!

Depending on where you live you would have to locate where all the major players in your town flock too. There many local jam sessions here in LA where many big players mingle and perform.

This is your chance to build your network. I don’t need to justify $100,000 to network. All I need is $10 for gas money to drive to the local jam session.

Here is a list of famous musicians with or without college degrees that had nothing to do with their success.

Chis Tomlin: Degree in Psychology
Sting: Degree in Education
Michael Jackson: No degree
Steve Wonder: No degree
Johnny Cash: No degree
Jimi Hendrix: No degree
Stevie Ray Vaughan: No degree, high school dropout.
Ray Charles: No degree
Prince: No degree
Bob Dylan: No degree
Taylor Swift: No degree
Justin Beiber: No degree
Usher: No degree
Rihanna: No degree
Lady Gaga: No degree

As you can see it doesn’t take a college degree to be a successful musician.

I am not against education. What I am against is the unnecessary education that are prerequisites at these high cost institutions.

Here is list of the music schools in the country plus tuition costs of 2014-2015 not including: room and board, books and supplies, and expenses.

Juilliard School: Tuition: $38,190 x 4 years = $152,760
Berklee School of Music: Tuition: $37,800 x 4 years = $151,200
USC: Tuition: $60,700 x 4 years = $242,800
Musicians Institute: Tuition: $20,250 x 4 years = $81,000
Boston University: Tuition: $47,422 x 4 years = $88,256
Cal State Long Beach: Tuition: $6,452 x 4 years = $25,808
Cal State LA: Tuition: $6,343 x 4 years = $25,372
Cal State Northridge: Tuition: $6,520 x 4 years = $26,080
New England Conservatory of Music: Tuition: $40,950 x 4 years = $183,800
Eastman School of Music: Tuition: $31,350 x 4 years = $125,400
Manhattan School of Music: Tuition: $37,250 x 4 years = $149,000

Even if you did have financial aid, they don’t cover everything unless you won a scholarship.

My story

I dropped out of Cerritos college and Fullerton college. The reason why is I took all the music classes that I needed in order to be self sufficient in a music environment.

In order to graduate and receive my associates degree I had to take theses unnecessary GE courses.

No, thanks! They’re not taking my money!

In my early twenties I applied to over 80 private music schools in the greater Los Angeles and Orange county area. My resume wasn’t that impressive and I still applied either way.

Out of 80 schools I remember receiving about 11 responses and out of those 11 responses I received 4 interviews and out of those 4 interviews I was accepted at 3 schools including Yamaha music school in Yorba Linda, Ca.

I turned one down due to distance.

It took a couple of years to build my students up to about 40. Plus auditioning and gigging that supplemented my income. I was raking in at about $35,000-$40,000 per year.

Not bad for someone with no college degree and bit of persistence.


 A, D major scale, Dbm7 chord, and alternate guitar picking, are taught the same way whether you’re at 4 year university, community college, local private instructor, book, and online.

Don’t be fooled by the masses. Protect your pocket book and your future.

I can’t name one well known successful musician that have stated their college degree was the secret to their success.

Inflation is kicking our pants, make sure you keep yours on.

Hope you enjoyed this new light and if you did please share it with friends.

Please let me know what your opinion is on the comment section below.



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