Employment after ITM at University

Employment after ITM at University

I’m thinking of studying in the ITM course at the University of Limerick (undergraduate) but one concern I have if this degree is really worth anything? Are graduates of post-secondary courses in ITM getting employed with these degrees, especially in Ireland where there are plenty of great musicians who didn’t study ITM at university? I have an acquaintance that graduated from there a few years back with an MA in performance and they’ve seemed to gone into teaching privately full-time, is this the route that most grads go, and if so is it better it to go for an MA following university here (US)? Can you make a living teaching full-time?

Also, if anyone auditioned for this program (or any program in ITM) what’s the audition/entrance/admission process like?

Re: Employment after ITM at University

How about a minor in accounting?

Re: Employment after ITM at University

It’s probably as useful as a degree in history. Fun (ish) but it doesn’t make you particularly employable.

Re: Employment after ITM at University

The people that I know that have graduated with music degrees from Limerick work in music. One is the music director at a church who teaches on the side (and says of his Limerick degree: "that and a quarter will buy you a cup of coffee"), and the other is a college music professor. I know that a good number of the young, hot bands these days were formed by students either in the music degree programs, or after graduation. But I don’t have much of a sense of what portion of the graduates really go on to music careers. I’m curious if the college keeps any stats on that!

Tom’s idea of getting an accounting degree might be more than just being funny or sarcastic. From what I understand (and I could be wrong), Martin Hayes got a business or marketing degree (or at least took classes) before he set out to be a professional musician, and that his style during the peak years (Lonesome Touch?) was a calculated way to play that fit a particular niche and also appealed to a wider audience…

For myself, I have considered trying to make music my profession. I make a decent amount of money playing music, but nothing compared to my regular profession as a software developer. My fear is that the amount of work (and luck) it would take for me to be in the same ballpark, income-wise would completely ruin the fun, and make the one real fun thing in my life more of a grind that I would soon tire of…

So my plan is to have the music to supplement my retirement (god willing). But I’m also quite a bit closer to retirement than college these days…

Re: Employment after ITM at University

I was an art history major. But I obtained my master’s in another (unrelated) field, because I didn’t want a career in academia. This is a typical career path for MFAs, music performance majors, etc.

Posted by .

Re: Employment after ITM at University

I thought the whole point of education is getting educated.
The subject one studies is irrelevant.

Re: Employment after ITM at University

Hey bud, education isnt free. We don’t live in lalaland:)

Re: Employment after ITM at University

There are very few traditional music graduates that make a living by being full time musical artists. It’s very hard to make a living out of purely performing, especially in such a narrow field, and even then the travelling can be gruelling. Which is why most graduates will seek to supplement their earnings in other ways, mainly, but not exclusively, by teaching.
Indeed some graduates will choose to go into teaching full time (through college or privately) as teaching provides a stable income and stable home life. There are some great trad musicians here in Scotland that chose early on to follow the teaching path, missing out on the stardom but gaining in bucketloads on the family life.

I’m not a music graduate (not even grade 1 on anything) but took a mid life career change (and income drop) to follow my musical path which included teaching, transcribing, writing, performing, building and repairing. Variety is the spice of life.

Re: Employment after ITM at University

"We don’t live in lalaland"

Speak for yourself, bud. I’m a long-term resident myself.

Re: Employment after ITM at University

Good heavens CMO….
I nearly spilt my coffee…:)

Re: Employment after ITM at University

I expect the Uni have stats.

Music is a huge industry and you’ll likely get work. If you want to learn then go for it. Education is a great benefit in and of itself - and still it will help you into professions if you’re doing it for money.

Posted by .

Re: Employment after ITM at University

Día dhaoibh! Greetings all!

Regarding the employment situation maybe some of you might like this joke…

Mother to child:
"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

Child to mother:
"I want to be a professional musician!"

Mother:
"Now, now ..you can’t do both!"

All the best
Brian x

Re: Employment after ITM at University

"I nearly spilt my coffee…"

I’ll nearly buy you another one.

Re: Employment after ITM at University

"I expect the Uni have stats."

I wouldn’t trust them. It relies on alumnae self-reporting what they’ve done after graduating, and I imagine that very few people do this. I mean, Glasgow Uni keeps sending me emails about alumnae meetings in Denver, so they haven’t even figured out that I’m still in bloody Glasgow.

Re: Employment after ITM at University

And I should have added that the alumnae who are likely to self-report are the ones who’ve been successful at their dream career. Not the ones who did a PhD and are now working in a bar.

Re: Employment after ITM at University

or as a postman……
(no disrespect to posties intended):)

Re: Employment after ITM at University

~

Posted by .

Re: Employment after ITM at University

Will you die without music? Is music performance the only plan for your life that you have? Is performing all encompassing? Is it the only thing in your life? Are you better then everyone you’ve met and practice 7 hours a day? Do you like being poor? If yes to all of the above then maybe a degree in music performance is worth it, AS LONG AS YOU DON’T GO INTO DEBT. Employment opportunities and pay in any entertainment field (art, music, DJ, sports) are low and pay is horrible. There are some who do make money at it but the vast hoards have to find other means of supplementing their income. I use to make fairly decent money gigging and recording in the mid ‘70’s to early 80’s. I’m still in contact with people I played with then and have a few friends now who are trying to make it today. Gig money is less today than it was back then - (even before taking inflation into account). Majoring in ITM performance isn’t a magical road to music riches, it’s probably similar to those that study classical, jazz, rock, or country, and the likelihood of making a good, long term living from just playing is poor. For example, you’re much more likely to make an NFL football team than you are getting a clarinet principal position with an orchestra that pays reasonably.

Music as a vocation is very different than music as an avocation. As an avocation I play the music I like, with people I like, in places I like, and pay is secondary. I don’t support my family on playing tunes or my other hobbies. When music is paying the bills you have to excel on your instruments, be able to read charts quickly, be able to learn things by ear quickly, excel at marketing yourself, proficient at networking, understand budgets, work for/with people you may not like, play places you would rather not play, gear your sound towards the demands of the audience, while being a good looking, personable person, that everyone likes to hang with (and no drug, drinking, SO problems). You will also need to know how to write grants, compose for film and/or commercials, play in other styles, and work insanely hard at keeping up a good income stream. Most folk’s can’t do it and the remuneration model today makes it hard for everyone to make decent money, and especially folk’s in niche genre’s.

Almost everyone I know who is engaged in music today as their vocation has some other income stream besides performing. Most teach young people how to play. Some hate that but have to do it to survive. Most also have a spouse who works and provides benefits like health insurance (US) and is the primary earner for the family. I feel for those engaged in the entertainment business today. To be successful requires great skill, business acumen, a lot of luck, a great deal of marketing, and a supportive spouse/SO. So, if you wish to pursue it go ahead but also develop other skills that you can use as a plan B. Or just go into IT, make a bunch of money and spend your vacation time pursing music as an avocation and enjoy your life. I make more in IT than almost all 1st call, well known, session bassists.

As an aside, those who work on the production side of the entertainment business don’t make squat either. It’s fun but barely pays the rent. There are a few who make a reasonable living but most recording engineers, live sound folk’s, etc. aren’t very well paid - I’ve done that too (recording engineer, Music Director at a radio station, etc).

Re: Employment after ITM at University

My suspicion is that if you are college-age and you are not already being presented with opportunities due to your talent and accomplishment - and/or your chutzpah and persistence - then you are unlikely to have much of a career in performance. As for other sorts of musical careers, I have no idea of the value of an ITM degree.

Posted by .

Re: Employment after ITM at University

My observation of music as a trade (with some knowledge from my family history) is that for every one musician who makes a good living there are a few thousand who just about manage to pay the bills, and for every one of those here are several thousand who may get the occasional paid gig but mostly play for their own amusement. The thing is that any one muzo’s place on that continuum is not at all related to their skill, as we all know. There are some really excellent players asking ’ Do you want fries with that?’, and maybe one or two with, er, indifferent talent but a private yacht.

One would hope that the curriculum at a college teaching music as a profession would include advice as to how to market the product, and a fairly hard-headed look at the opportunities, such as they are, to earn a crust. It would be irresponsible to let people think they are guaranteed a livelihood on the basis of a college qualification. The paying public will not beat a pathway to one’s door - especially if the sign on the door is ‘folk music’. And anyway, touring, as Frank Zappa pointed out, can make you crazy.

Posted by .

Re: Employment after ITM at University

I’ve thought about your questions all day. I’m really worried you might take the advice of anonymous and uninformed folk on the internet: everybody here has their own agenda ( as I hope you’ve noticed).
Surely you could investigate this course through a careers service, musicians union or academic survey?

Re: Employment after ITM at University

If they’re anonymous folk, allan21, how do you know they are uninformed? And what is your agenda?
Surely if ginsbergkerouac is asking the question here then they are prepared to ponder the thoughts or advice given, anonymous or not.

Re: Employment after ITM at University

Does everyone here not have a degree in sessionology?

Posted by .

Re: Employment after ITM at University

Dr SS - At least your study of the treatment of the mentally unwell must help you greatly in sessions :-D!

Posted by .

Re: Employment after ITM at University

"everybody here has their own agenda "…. I imagine that the agenda of most of us is to participate in the discussions and hopefully help and learn. That’s my agenda anyhow.
"I nearly spilt my coffee…" "I’ll nearly buy you another one." Hmmm … CMO, that is so Spike Milligan-ish that maybe you really do live in La,la land. Made me laugh anyway!

Posted by .

Re: Employment after ITM at University

I’m pretty certain that the Trad Music degree courses in the UK include some time spent on business management: I can think of several young folks who seem particularly good at promoting themselves and attracting full houses, even before they’ve finished their degrees. And they may play/sing solo for some gigs and appear in a variety of other line-ups. Perhaps they are in the minority, just "the cream of the crop", when compared to the total student population in each year: I don’t know.

Go back over 50 years, and I had to decide whether to pursue music or another occupation as my main wage-earner. I went for the latter, but music has been a lifetime hobby and source of many good times, friendships and travel adventures. No regrets.

My son did 2 degrees in music, followed by a few years of scratching together a meagre living teaching guitar and swimming (not at the same time!) He decided he enjoyed teaching, so went and did formal teacher training, and now teaches at primary level, which he loves. And the guitar and trumpet come out for any school productions, as well as he plays in a band in his (limited!) spare time. Maybe not utilising to the max what he learned in the degree courses, but nonetheless valid.

Re: Employment after ITM at University

What you do with such a degree is what you make of it. As others say, professional music is self-employment and self-employment is hustling, no matter your line of work.

I will make the comment that of the people I personally know who have made successful careers in playing (Scottish) traditional music, almost all of them already had experience performing professionally before university and used their degrees not just to increase their musical horizons but to create professional networks that are now sustaining them.

I also see people who have received years of high-quality tuition, get a place at the Conservatoire, sail through, and are then never heard of again, and the one common element is that they never seemed to actually do anything other than what was required of them.

Posted by .

Re: Employment after ITM at University

Obviously, skills will be learned and gathered on all degree courses. So I can’t see such courses as being a hindrance.

However, many of the more really talented musicians would probably have made it anyway and, of course, there can and should be many other learning opportunities available without necessarily having to study for a folk music degree as such.

Personally, I don’t think it matters too much if a degree or course is of any real or practical use in the so called "real world". If it’s something one considers worthwhile doing, why not?
On the other hand, it shouldn’t be considered as the only option out there either.

Re: Employment after ITM at University

Calum:
"the people I personally know who have made successful careers in playing (Scottish) traditional music, almost all of them already had experience performing professionally before university"

Yes, the chances are that most of the more successful musicians would have had a career anyway even although they would obviously gain something from the degree course.
Those who don’t embark on a professional career will gain too, of course, but they may just have slightly different life ambitions.

Re: Employment after ITM at University

A good degree in any subject qualifies you for postgraduate study. I did History and postgraduate Computing to get a job. Music and Computing is another good combination. People I know with Folk Music degrees are working in the music industry, however, but not within traditional music - which, of course, isn’t an industry and can’t be. They tend to go modern and jazzy.

Re: Employment after ITM at University

I suggest you’re approaching this from the wrong direction. You should be thinking about what you want to do afterwards. If your aim is to be a performing musician, then as others have pointed out no one will give you a gig because you have a degree, although a specialist course may give you a range of skills which might help you to succeed. If you are hoping to do something else in the music industry, you may find that a different degree may be more suitable.

Or you could just do the course because it is something you want to study. If you end up doing something related to it then count yourself lucky, but most arts graduates end up working in jobs completely unrelated to their subject. Any degree will give you transferable skills (the ability to research, critical thinking and analytical writing, for example) which can be applied to other professions .

Don’t underestimate the advantages of having a ‘proper job’ to pay the bills and doing music as a hobby. The world of folk music doesn’t set many barriers between professional and semi-professional performers. Although only a semi-professional I have been privileged to perform at many of the most notable venues for folk music, often on the same bill as well-known professional performers. I have appeared on national and local radio, made albums, and met many of my heroes. I have been able to enjoy many of the experiences of a full-time musician whilst avoiding some of the less pleasant aspects, and whilst enjoying a higher standard of living than I could probably have had as a pro, and having my (sometimes expensive) hobby paid for.

Re: Employment after ITM at University

OP—You haven’t specified whether you are considering the undergraduate (Bachelors) course, or the graduate (Masters or Doctorate) course.

It’s also unclear which of the many specialty paths in the UL Trad program you are considering. There are a slew of them. Would your question about auditioning indicate you are considering the performing track?

If so—-Studying UL Trad performance at the undergrad level, as well as the Masters performance track, if performance is the sole degree or degrees you acquire, is virtually worthless in terms of getting you a job and a professional income. Which is not to say worthless in an absolute sense. The experience may vastly enrich and enhance you as a musician and as a human being. It may be a profound once-in-a-lifetime experience in a spiritual or existential sense that is incalculably valuable to you regardless of any professional or monetary recoup. If you are not an Irish native, it may afford you a chance for up-close immersion in the culture, the music and the tradition, not to mention years of session and festival opps as a legal resident on a student visa.

It may also afford musical friendships that double as networking opportunities, though the people who garner this advantage through UL Trad Performance track are usually essentially pro-level virtuosos going in.

But, bottom line, many Irish musicos who do Trad at UL do the undergrad program and then go on to the MA in one of the applied or "practical" tracks. Such as the UL Trad program tracks in Music Therapy, Music Teaching, etc. I have been struck by the number of Irish trad musicians with UL grad degrees whose bios or interviews mention that they teach Special Needs or Special Education. Additionally, many of the best and finest Irish trad musicians have degrees and professional qualifications in fields completely unrelated to trad music or music, as noted in a post above. The reason to do UL performance is for the intangible benefit … and you need to be able to afford that experience.

Again—that’s not to say a pure performance program could not be incredibly worthwhile. But I’d feel better about undertaking that if I had the means to do a double-degree, or a follow undergrad study with a graduate degree in something offering substantive professional vistas, or already had professional qualifications (or a highly skilled trade).

Re: Employment after ITM at University

Sorry—I see the original post DOES mention undergraduate study. So, disregard anything in my post not applicable to that.

Re: Employment after ITM at University

Back in my day (late 70’s early 80’s) I attempted to go for my undergrad in music (just music, not a specific genre). The choices were performance or education then, at least at the University in the States I attended. Performancs is/was risky at that time, as a certain amount of luck was required besides the skills to become a (well paid)star/artist. Although I had an interest in teaching, I knew a lot of music education grads working in occupations totally unrelated to music at all. As luck would have it, the Uni I attended had an agreement with the local school district that allowed even 1st and 2nd year students the opportunity to substitute in our chosen area of interest. I soon discovered that I wasn’t disciplinarian enough to pursue teaching at the primary and secondary school level, and I’m thankful their agreement with the schools taught me that before I wasted 4 years pursuing a career I wouldn’t have been real successful at because I lack that side that teachers teaching at that level of education need. So I switched and pursued a different degree/career path and music, playing and performing became more of a hobby (although I did earn a bit of cash doing session work for a couple of local studios). Our entry into the ITM/STM scene didn’t come about until 1990/91.
Music Education at the Universities has changed considerably in the years since then. Now, there are course/career emphasis areas that didn’t exist back when. Performance, especially Traditional/Folk/Cultural music still doesn’t require a degree, although I believe the theory, history, skills, critique and other courses can certainly help in a career, they’re not neccessary or as helpful as the immersement into the music and the culture from which it developed.
There are so many more areas of emphasis/specialty available now that it’s near impossible to name them all, and I’d be willing to bet that in Europe it’s even more so.
Still, having a degree is a feather in your cap that may make the difference in you being the hiree for a job. Arts degrees are not worthless, there just may not be the careers available that science, engineering and medical have, but there are some for sure.
Even though I pursued a career totally unrelated to music, music followed me and I used that education in various ways. As a private instructor, the money I made teaching sometimes kept food on the table, the same with doing repairs on instruments, and building a few over the years as well, and a few I’ve even managed to sell. From 1991 to 2007, I made enough performing to have had to declare it on my taxes, so there was a degree of success, even if there wasn’t a record contract in the end. I’ve been invited to lecture at public, private schools and even a few Uni lectures about traditional instruments, keeping the traditions alive, their historical development and similar topics. I was never paid fof the lectures but I consider doing such a service and duty to help the next generation keep it going.
In the end, your education and what you do with it, will depend on you and the opportunities you take or help create with it. While you may not get rich pursueing it, there’s a satisfaction and feeling in knowing you did your best and having an appreciative audience express their pleasure that money can’t buy.
Just an old fart rambling on, but I wish you success and good luck with whatever you do.

Re: Employment after ITM at University

Best bet for employment after ITM Grad School? A STEM degree.

Best bet for happiness? Who can say?

Posted by .

Re: Employment after ITM at University

I graduated at UL with a BA in Irish Music and Dance back in 2015. I’m currently in the Coast Guard and getting my MSF in Finance, so unless you’re exceedingly good and willing to scrap out a living performing, you have a few options:

Get your masters in something like music therapy, ethnomusicology, or education and do that. You could go further and get a PhD and be a music professor.

Other than the few of my classmates that are touring, most are teaching now or doing music therapy. Some are teaching English in the UAE and other countries in the Middle East, while others are primary school teachers around the world. Some have dance studios and are quite successful at that.

The course was a blast and I would never give up that experience if given the option. However, if you want to make the most of it, you got to get everything out of the course and network with your classmates and their friends as much as possible. Get a group together etc. Soak up all the theory classes and recording classes. Master that stuff and get confident in performing. Limerick is a nuclear reactor for creativity, so make use of all those creative people. I wish I would have been open to more projects my classmates were involved in instead of being so focused on my own ideas, which is my biggest regret of the course. By the time you’re in fourth year working on your FYP, you’re kinda focused on that. Still, that was one of the best years for me as a musician. In short, play with everyone, and play whatever they’re into. Also, try not to just play tunes like everyone else. Come up with arrangements and variations for them in a group setting and you will grow a lot!

I run a lot of sessions too, which brings in a good bit of beer money on the side ;)

If you do go the performing route, I recommend giving lessons and running sessions as much as possible for extra income.

Good luck to you, and give Niall and Sandra my best!

- Matt