When I was a kid I flirted with the idea of going to music school.
When I was 17 I went to Berklee Summer Guitar Sessions to get a taste of what it might be like. Even though it was a good experience, for some reason I shied away from the idea of going to Berklee full time.
Looking back it’s tough to pinpoint why I didn’t pursue a formal music education.
One thing I remember thinking though, was that I didn’t want to be like some of the guitar players I knew who’d come out of music school. I saw them as mindless noodlers who could play scales all day long but couldn’t write a song to save their life.
Somehow I seemed to view music education as a threat to my style, to my own musical values. I unconsciously thought that if I went to school that I might lose some of my raw creative ability.
Looking back now I think that’s a bunch of crap and if I were to do it over again I would go to school.
There was a common but significant flaw in my thinking. I equated correlation with causation.
Just because there are a lot of ‘mindless noodlers’ coming out of Berklee or Musician’s Institude does not mean that Berklee caused them to be mindless noodlers.
I’ve actually found a lot of interesting insight into this in my study of personality theory. Music school attracts a higher percentage of logic oriented personality types. These types are more concerned with information and accuracy than emotional meaning.
School didn’t make them that way. They were born that way.
Just as I was born a more emotionally oriented person. And short of giving me some kind of lobotomy, there’s nothing that any school could do to change that.
Down the line I ended up taking lessons from one of those logical ‘shredder’ types. I learned so much and it’s had such an impact on everything I’ve done since. I didn’t lose anything. I just got a whole lot better.
Now, I see Musician’s Institute students with their guitars on their backs every day in my neighborhood in Hollywood. If I were to do it over again I’d be right there with them.