Studying in England, is it worth it?

(14 posts)
  1. JorgeRubiales

    Hello everybody!

    I'm moving to England (well, not now, but definitely as I can't find work in my country and I have more chances there).

    I was planning on doing a BA on jazz there, but I'm kind of concerned about the quality of the teachers there. As far as I can listen (just what's available online), I haven't been able to find any one that plays traditional jazz, bebop, or similar. The teacher on the Royal Academy, which is supposed to be the best place there, makes some kind of electroacoustic music, but in his page I coulnd't find a trace of anything resembling jazz...

    I don't want to trash talk on anyone, but based on what I've been able to hear, I'm starting to think that to learn jazz you have to have an american teacher...

    Is it really this way, or it's just a failure on marketing? There are "sheryl baileys" and "mick goodricks" in England, or its just a myth? I feel really discouraged now....

  2. Matt

    In my opinion, schools aren't the way you learn jazz. sure, i think they're necessary, as they provide a lot of theory, exposure, and just a good habitat, but i think that you'll only truly learn jazz through practice, playing, and listening.

    i wouldn't be too discouraged :)

  3. I don't know Matt. In my school I'm surrounded by jazz everyday, play in two small groups and a big band. Their are players around me that are better, and I have access to getting them to show me stuff whenever I want. Jazz programs have negative aspects, but they can be wonderful times of focus, and immersion that you would have a hard time finding out in the 'real' world. I would also imagine that there is a vast of amount of Teachers running these programs that are very good players, as many, if not the majority, of really good musicians usually end up teaching to some degree in their lives(Kurt for example).

  4. Matt

    @jason - that's very true. i don't want to come off as 'well, you have to move to NYC and jam 12 hours a day and transcribe if you wanna learn jazz'. however, i do think that university education is only a portion of one's journey - and an important one admittedly!
    just don't lose sight of playing

  5. andyjazz

    Hi Jorge,
    I'm an American and live in London, and have done for 15 years, and I play jazz guitar. When it comes to studying jazz, I would not recommend the UK system, if I had the option of going to one of the New York schools or Berklee. The main reasons being that there are three main music schools in London that have jazz courses: the Royal Academy of Music (which you mentioned), the Guildhall School of Music, and Trinity College of Music. There are a handful of others which, depending on who is teaching, can be very rewarding as well. All only take a handful of students, generally enough to fill a big band, and that is it, which means if they don't need a guitar player for that year, no matter how good you are, you don't get in. Also, the student fees are about to sky rocket in price, even for EU students. Non EU ones would be wiser to go to the States to study because the price would be similar. In the UK, Arts and Humanities funding has been cut by 80% by the government, and the living costs in London are about the most expensive on the planet.

    If I were to stay in Europe, I'd consider the school that Kurt teaches at, even if you never get to study with him one to one, its an excellent school. Also, the one in Graz is incredible. Both, would also be significantly cheaper than the London option.

    That being said, in the UK there are some great players here on the guitar who also teach, who I have learned a lot from like Mike Outram, Colin Oxley, and Phil Robson. There is also Mike Walker who teaches privately near Manchester, he was Outram's teacher for awhile. If any of these guys were in New York, every one who is into guitar would know their names.

    Also, have a look at Dave Binney's website where he talks about schools. I found that very interesting.

  6. JorgeRubiales

    While I agree with some of the things Binney says, I don't think that, as things are going today, the wiser decision is not to go to school.

    While is not my case (I already have a bachelor in education), I think you have to have some kind of "safety net", just in case you're not the next metheny or rosenwinkel.

    As for going to the States, I'm afraid I can't, at least for now. I'm moving with my girlfriend and dogs, and I already have nice job offers to teach in London, and having a very decent income, so the decision about England is firm. Plus, I am an EU citizen, so I would pay home fees.

    I wanted to go to Berlin to study with Kurt, but I can't get to study to the level of German that is required to enter the school.

    Thank you all for the answers, and if you feel like, keep discussing this, I'm sure there will be some interesting points :)

  7. andyjazz

    Not to be the bearer of bad news, but the previous government in the UK brought in a policy called ELQ (Equivalent Learning Qualification) a year and a half ago, which means that anyone regardless of where that degree was obtained from now has to pay the actual cost of the degree. I know this because I applied to all three of the main London schools and was told that I would have to pay fees of £17,000 per year because I already had an undergraduate degree. It made no difference that it was not from the UK. An EU student is going to have to pay around £9000 per year for 4 years. . I'm an English citizen now by the way, and would still have to pay the full cost of the degree. I'm not sure how they will classify the degree you already hold.

    I was told that I could do a masters in music if I wanted to, but that's around £10,000 a year for one year. The killer is that you can only take out a bank loan, if they will even lend it to you in the current climate. All of this made me just think that the whole education thing is a gigantic rip off here in the UK.

    My advice would be to study privately over here. That's what I've done, and don't feel like I missed out in any way. You can get the same information, and you can organise gigs and play with people on your own. Also, you save a lot of money. Again that's just my opinion.


  9. Basile865

    I went through a similar question of whether or not to study music in a university. I looked into a number of schools including Berklee and the pricing, the curriculum, etc. I talked to a number of people who had gone to various music schools. The commonality among them all was that they had a good time - learned important concepts from the teachers - but most importantly it was the community they were a part of. Being among other people who were striving like you to become the best they could be made it easier to become better in a shorter amount of time.

    The truth is, all the musical information in the world is available to you for basically "free" through youtube, books, dvd's, and transcribing CD's (in my opinion that is). Its harder to maintain discipline but the information is there. The community of higher caliber musicians is harder to find I think, but the way I'm beginning to see it is NOTHING will get you to your destination other then cold hard work - putting the time in on the fretboard transcribing guitars pianos and horns. I think once you can seriously play the doors will hopefully open.

    All my opinion of course.

  10. JorgeRubiales

    andyjazz, thanks for pointing that out. I was so crazy diving through huge amounts of websites that I completely misunderstood that. Well, that makes it a lot harder, but not impossible by any means, if I manage to get a long time working and saving.

    Do you know if it's possible to study one year, leave the school to save more money, and resume the degree where you left it? That would be awesome, really.

    Basile, I know the information is there. I myself have been a self-taught for a long time, but I'm interested in "getting some papers", because I want to make sure that I don't have problems finding work in the future. I'm 25 now, and if I ever decide to go back to Spain, a degree in an English conservatory would pretty much open me lots of doors here. And as I already have a degree in education, I would be able to ask for a job in conservatoriums mostly around europe, if I have to move. But thanks for your advice!

    jaso, in case I would be able to move to America, I would go to Berklee or MI, no doubt, but I'm moving with my girlfriend and we must find a place where both of us can live our lives, not the other one's life, and it seems like that place is England right now ;)

  11. JorgeRubiales

    Ahhh forget it, someone already informed me that it's not possible to "resume" when you drop in the middle of the bachelor.

    Anyway, it seems my only option right now would be Middlesex, which allows for part time studies. Is this a good place, or just a "so-so" school?

    Thanks again for the answers guys ;)

  12. andyjazz

    Yeah, there have been some really good players come out of there. Also, Stuart Hall teaches there.

  13. Hey JorgeRubiales,

    Just recently came across this post (after a long time away from this great forum). Was wondering if you have in fact made the move to England and, if so, how you've found the jazz scene there? Thanks!

  14. JorgeRubiales

    Hey! Not yet, I'm still living in Spain so I can't help you, but I'm sure people will answer ;)


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