I'm a junior in high school and I want to focus on playing jazz vibes in college. But iv heard there are a good amount of vibes players who studied something else in college... percussion, or piano, etc along with vibes. If I could do everything I wanted I'd just play vibes, but I also play drum set for five years on and of and I play a little piano and general percussion. It'd be great to hear some of advice from people, especially if you've been in a similar situation.
I'm really serious about playing and getting better at vibes. and I probably don't want to get a teaching degree. I just want to play!!!! Hah. I don't want to sound naive about being a musician, I know it's not easy as a career, but I'm thinking iif I love it enough it'l be worth everything.

Hey! I'm a junior in highcschool too, I play alto sax and just became very serious this past summer but I don't enjoy sax and I really want to switch to vibes/piano and want to study jazz. I only know of one school where you can major in jazz vibes - Temple U in PA. For me, I'd like to double major in business and jazz or just business and minor in music.

I think there are more school if you look into it a little more. NYU, Manhatan school for music, and some others have options to major in jazz vibes if i'm not wrong. glad to see someone on the site that's my age! although i think it really import to hang around older guys with more experience too

Yes cool to see you too, how long have you been playing?

I just checked, The New School for Jazz and contemporary music in NYC has vibes, I visited this school too, it looks pretty good

Uv of the arts where I teach, Berklee, most of the New York schools also. Prob north Texas state. I always tell students tha it's best to go to a school that's in an area where you might want to live when you graduate, so you can network and possibly have gigs when you get out.

Yes for piano, learn it and be as good as you can be on it. Piano players gig. And only be a music major if you feel as though you are willing to sacrifice everything to play. Nothing in the world is more important!

a total can of worms. For one, if you decide to spend time on another instrument it should be piano. Everything you learn on piano is directly transferable to the vibes. learning how harmony functions on a piano where you can play bass and chords is not something to over look. If your really into the drums though def keep it up, im sure you would be able to get gigs on both!

saying that music is not an easy career is an understatement. In this day and age its almost impossible. Unless you are a good bass player, No matter how good you become on the vibes it is next to impossible to live off of a performing career. You will need a teaching gig or some other form of income to survive. Especially if you want a savings account and health insurance. I know its hard to grasp these things when thinking about college, but no body told me this stuff and now I am struggling to pay bills. Im not saying you shouldnt persue the degree and the music, but all the way through you should understand truthfully the struggle your getting into.

just some of my thoughts....

thanks for the input. what did u do in college for music? and so now, are you doing anything music-related besides performing?

Mike is right, it's very hard to sustain a living playing jazz vibes, but there's other things to help supplement it. I'd like to add a very important point; while it's not going to make you a ton of money either, I would heavily advise anyone entering college to consider composition over performance, and possibly add some kind of minor in business. As a jazz musician, you're going to find yourself in a situation where you will need to write. I love writing, and when I first did it, I thought I couldn't do it and sucked at it, but it got easier, and now I'm obsessed with it. I know alot of jazz musicians that do film scoring, and they make good money from it. And even though it's time consuming, most of the guys I know are still smoking great players! I also know musicians who are involved in the industry part of the business. I know a guy who does publicist work, which can be quite lucrative if you've got good business skills.
With all that said, you should still do what you want. I struggle, but I wouldn't have done anything differently if I could go back. I get really dark sometimes about things, but that's life! You have to take the bad with the good!

As to your second paragraph, my own experience of 25 years of fixing computers to support my music habit may be proof enough... that or I am just not a good enough player to make it. No matter which. I love playing and I can afford to do it because of my day gig. I have my cake and am well fed. I definitely agree that you should go into this knowing what the real impact of the choice you are making will be and prepare for that.

But, as for the first paragraph, I only partly agree with you. Yes, piano is HUGELY valuable as a tool and I am in the camp that think all should learn at least basic piano skills. But, I am not in the camp that thinks everything is transferrable to vibes. The stuggle with dampening and for independence of line and chord is a whole different beast and MUCH more akin to the guitar than the piano. Also, the overtones of the notes seem to lend themselves more to voicings typically used by guitarists to my ears... and then, there is the limited range of the instrument.

Also, there is a great deal of technical and touch stuff that is to be learned from basic rudimental drumming skills. Stickings, shadings of phrases, etc can all be mastered in a big way on a snare drum and much of that transfers to any instrument played with a stick or mallet in my opinion.

So, I would also put in a vote for guitar and drum skills as well, if for no other reason than there being such a wealth of material out there to learn from.

It's all good.

Hindsight is 20/20, and I wish now that I had gone to a school that focused more on today's music scene. I can't speak for the university for the arts, but from what I've researched places like Berklee (especially) and the New School (NY) get you major time with the pros and get you involved in the music of today. Oh, how much time I spent learning dinosaur music theory! (no offense, I love and appreciate Bach, but it's 300 years old and would put a bar crowd to sleep).

Ed Saindon (vibes teacher at Berklee) is amazing, too. Check out his vids on or youtube to see him (if you haven't already). I also hear that he gigs on piano AND vibes, about equally.

You could talk to Dana on this site if you wanted to inquire about Unv. of North Texas, since he went there.


ed is a great great teacher! i think it's important to also have the teacher in mind. someone who is playing the way you want to play.

uarts is def a school with music of today. we are heading so much in that direction incorporating tech and more. I think that's important to consider. what is your end result. on the tech side all you arts students get a mac laptop (i think that's still the case) loaded with software and it's incorporated in the classes. that is (or was?) part of the package. check that out if you're interested.

i mean if you want to be tech savy when you graduate, i'd stay away from amish jazz schools. get it??

next how do you want to play? that's important, because i believe that different areas still have styles and sounds that are characteristic to the town. philly is a traditional town. i think chicago is along those lines also, based on what musicians tell me. new york is everything.

i do think it's good to get as close to new york as you can, so you can go and check out music.

I’d like to cast a slightly wider net on things you may wish to consider. Needless to say, a lot of things that are of interest to someone who is a junior in high school are going to change over the next few years, so I’ll pose some ideas for reference and hope that you’ll use them as a point of reference.

1. Consider that Tony’s workshops are expanding to the point where attending one of two of those per year may yield greater results for a lot less money when compared to college tuition. Four years of college is an investment; even if you are on full scholarship or your folks are picking up the tab, it is still four years of your life that you’ll never get back again. Invest wisely.

2. Unlike many other majors, music schools employ faculty that are part-time rather than full-time. When reviewing a school, look at the number of faculty whose title is full professor or associate professor to tell you if they will even be there next fall. I don't know if I'd choose a medical school based on their part-time physicians on staff.

3. Consider whether a school’s program is gearing you for a career in the past rather than a future. Along those lines, the academic regimen required for a classical percussion major may be more rewarding in view of future opportunity considering that Tony’s excellent in-person workshops will serve well to fill in the blanks of what a jazz education (combined with online instruction and reading a few books) can yield.

great comments here. and thanks for thinking of VW. this is MY fantasy. to make a place where a vibe player can come and become great. and we need two things for this to work. students and faculty (oops and a programmer). that's what i'm trying to build with the help of you guys. we have a long way to go and we've come a long way. we'll get there by working hard together.

but these are great comments for evaluating a school.

My opinion would be that a jazz vibes performance degree - to the exclusion of composition or education- represents tuition money that could be MUCH better invested elsewhere since the vibesworkshop in available. It's all here - online lessons, on-site workshops that continue to become more numerous as time goes on, a community where you can directly ask Friedman a question and get an answer the same day. Plus from a numbers standpoint, the 20 dollars a month plus the fees and accommodations for attending an on-site workshop is a lot less than a thousand dollars week tuition at some schools (even with grants and whatever, it's still a huge chunk of change with no guarantee of getting a professional-caliber gig). I say all of this having never attended a workshop, but it's definitely the route I would go.

Just so there is no confusion - I'm not dissuading anyone from going to college, but rather just saying that it's incredibly expensive and one should simply think in terms of the return on that investment.

Everyone should keep in mind that being in a music school is a very good environment for growth. Being surrounded by tons of other musicians that are all trying to get better is inspiring. Also, having the option of calling people to come over and just shed is an advantage. I play almost every night with people for a few hours. Sometimes I play many different sessions in one night. It's so much better than a play-a-long. I've attached a tune from a little session I had with my neighbor that just happened to have a drum set set up.

Within 1 and a half semesters here at Berklee, I've had the opportunity to study with Ed and Dave Samuels and get some really personal feedback. I've also been able to play in ensembles with Terri Lynn Carrington, Greg Osby, and Dave Samuels. I've landed the regular gig at the Wally's weekly jam session on Saturdays. I've also been able to play gigs with Oscar Stagnaro and Dave Liebman.

I also think the classes make a difference. The systems for learning Ear Training and Theory are pretty refined. I can't imagine trying to learn all of the theory I've already learned here on my own.

-Joe Doubleday

Thanks for sharing your option as "new" Berklee student... and for sharing your music too: smoking evidence of your words! Keep it up! :o)

another advantage : you are building friendship with people of you generation who are going to be your musical partners in the future. Starting a professionnal career with a book full of names, knowing each one very well, and having already played with them cannot be a disadvantage !
hope the best for you.

This may sound crazy but here goes:

It's important to have a very clear understanding of what success means to you. Without this understanding getting to where you want to be will be more difficult if not impossible.

Self: Hey self where are we going?
Self: Uh...I don't know man.

The key to any success is to know the end game(your understanding of success) and work backwards to determine the prerequisites.

If you think in periods for example, you can visualize your way through 'your life vision' and work your way backwards. Decades or major events may be good places to mark periods. At each period write down what a typical day looks like to you; from the moment you get up until you go to bed. Describe every little detail. What you see, feel, hear, smell and do. Who is in your life? Where are you? Where do you live? What's for breakfast? What do you see? How do you live? Describe everything in as much detail as you can possibly stand.

With that done.....
Now all you need to determine is how to get all these people,things, senses, and events into your life at those times. Each of these has prerequisites to experience, obtain, or acquire!

With that done.....
Where does college fit into that vision; when and how?
I am certain this will impact your decision about college in a very dramatic way.

BTW: This is not an easy thing to do. Give it the time it deserves and you will be amazed.

Also I'd like to add that the most powerful income generator in music is published music.
This is passive income that stays with you most of your life. Start NOW. Get to know the business and write, write, write, and write more.

Do these things and you will experience your notion of success!

Hope that helps,

You are a wise person to ask questions.

Even with all the best planning and best advice where to go to college, you are going to have to learn stuff and do stuff that you wont like. Whether it's a jerk for a professor, or some requirment etc., EVERYONE who graduates with a degree has some kind of story of having to just put your head down and do it(unless it's dishonest or a violation of your personal ethics). Knowing which battles to win and ones you can't saves a lot of time.

My favorite college quote is "you have to Cooperate to GRADUATE". Concetrating on vibes is cool and it's a good question to find a vibe-friendly program; but be prepaired to learn other instruments regardless of where you go.

Reading your message implies you have the means and support to go to college. Take advantage of it!!

At Berklee, I only play vibes. No one makes me play anything else. It's a good idea to play piano as well.

Yu don't take a piano class????

There is no required piano class. Ed teaches me piano in my lessons though because I asked him. There are piano classes that you can enroll in if you want.

IMHO i think piano should be mandatory for all students always. just my 2 cents. you are smart enough to know how important piano is, so good for you!

i think every graduating musician should be an ok piano player. but that's just what i think.

I'll just say, all of the good musicians here can play piano.

I'm hesitant to comment on Berklee's curriculum since I have absolutely no first-hand contact or experience with that institution. Based on my experience with my own university, if rudimentary piano is not required it would be because the enrollment would shrink if prospective students were required to learn a new instrument (or failed the course). Obviously, it's less of an issue for a vibes player than a horn player. There is really no logical reason for not requiring piano in an institution of higher learning; it's not the same as requiring flute lessons. When enrollment shrinks, payroll isn't met and I believe the rest if rather obvious.

Again, I'm not denigrating music schools, but rather just saying that it's a poor investment to spend four years in college and not know how to play rudimentary piano. It's like an arts and science major not knowing how to combine sentences into a well-constructed paragraph.

I play sax but really want to play vibes instead. How competitive is it to get in as a jazz vibe major, are there a lot of jazz players coming out of highschool? Do you think it'd be possible to get good enough for college if I just started now and only have a year?

but you'll have to work really hard. don't quit the sax either. IMHO

Well here's my dilemma(that's probably spelled wrong..).
I will have to play lead alto in jazz band and cnocert band next year because we don't really have anyone else, but I don't like playing sax. Recently I realized I've never enjoyed playing sax or practicing but I'm so excited when I get to play vibes or piano. This might be because I am new to these, but when I got into sax I was never "yay i get to practice now" which leads me to think that I'd rather play something else. I really like chords and I want to double on vibes/piano. But, since I have so little time I have to pick an instrument but I don't want to not practice sax because I'll probably have to play a lot of solos next year and I don't want to suck. AHHH Idk what to do.

have to? you certainly don't HAVE to.

Yea i guess, but my teacher won't want to put in a weaker, younger kid as lead, especially because we're losing a lot of good players next year and we're going to be pretty bad. Maybe if I get really good at vibes and talk to him about it I won't HAVE to.

Here's a list of schools where you can major in jazz vibes that I've collected (obviously not all schools - all on east coast)

NYU, The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, Manhattan School of Music, William Paterson U, Temple U

Wow a lot of wise folks here. I wanted to add this. Wherever you go, the single most important factor on your success will be what you make of it. There will be great stuff and not so great stuff. If you want to be the best, there's going to be times were you are alone in the practice room or behind a desk, or in the library when your friends are out having fun. Having fun is even more fun when you are caught up with your work. The two best tips I ever got about college:

1) An hour a day, is 100 times better than trying to do 7 hours straight on Sunday night (and it works out to the same amount of time spent)

2) Treat it like a job, try to work 9-5 i.e. a normal work day... as much as you can.

OK time to step off of the soap box!