Thanks to some convincing on the parts of my composition professor, family, and friends I’ve decided to take the plunge, both feet at a time, and apply to DMA programs for next fall.
I was really struggling with the idea of applying this summer. There is all kinds of pressure I’ve built up around this goal. Not only is doctorate level composition a highly competitive field, but also highly subjective from school to school; different programs look for different things in your music and your background. I worry that I don’t have enough in my portfolio from undergrad till now, that it’s not strong enough to compete. I worry about the cost of applying; app fees alone range from $35-$100 and I’d be applying to 6-9 different schools and mailing in CDs and large scores (though I’m looking into emailing these things instead, which will help drive the costs down significantly). Also, it is the LAST degree I’m ever going to get—the last bit of “education” I’ll get to write on my resume. I want it to be a “good” school, but I also want to like what I’m doing there and feel like it’s useful to my future goals.
Bit of a side note: that’s why I’m going for a DMA instead of a Phd. Usually, a Phd program in composition will require an extra written thesis on a more musicological topic, while a DMA usually only requires you to write a piece for your thesis, sometimes with a lengthy explanation of the piece. I don’t feel like an extra-long research paper will help all that much in getting a job in the future. Perhaps that is naive. Perhaps it is just lazy. I’m not sure. What I am sure of, though, is that I don’t want to do it. Sure Phd sounds cool, but I’ll be Dr. Sproul regardless.
Anyway, there were some good arguments for going straight through. If I waited a year, would I really have THAT much more in my portfolio to show for it? Probably not. What would I do during that year off? Working some J.O.B. in something unrelated to music?
I’ve been assured that my portfolio is strong enough and that my background is extremely marketable. I’ve been assured by my parents (all SIX of them! what a wonderful thing!) that should application assistance be required, it would be gladly given. So, really, I have no excuse.
Fear is a terrible reason not to do something great. Especially if you’re definitely planning to do that something anyway at some point in your life. Why delay your plans and allow room for any other life crises to get in the way?
Get the noseplugs and the goggles. I’m going in.