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Music Aspirations in High School

College/Career Expert Advice from Carol Carter

Q: My 14-year-old grandson aspires to have his own band. He plays the trumpet, but he prefers the guitar, and has taken lessons for both. He writes some of his own music and has been told by his instructor that he should be in a high school that has a music program. What do you advise for his education and for reaching his goal? And how important is location?

A: It is wonderful that your grandson is able to recognize his talents at such a young age! There are lots of musical conservatories available, however many of them are expensive. Depending on your financial situation, you could look into those (the Internet has listings of them by location) or you could try setting him up with rigorous private lessons and summer camps (for example, those hosted by Interlochen). I think that there are great musician and teacher connections to be made in most major cities, so location at this stage of the game is not as important. What's important is developing his musical talent and pushing himself to the highest level possible.

Just as important is booking gigs and playing in public at every opportunity available. He should get his name out, play at coffeehouses, and meet music professors at the major universities. Once he does this, and proves that he is the competition (rather than just trying to keep up with it), opportunities will come to him. At that point, changing locations might be an issue.

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Carol Carter is the author of many books on college and career planning. She is the cofounder of Lifeskills, Inc., a nonprofit organization that encourages high-school students to explore their goals, career options, and the real world through part-time work and internships. She also gives workshops around the country on career exploration and other issues directly related to helping students succeed in college, career, and life.


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