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Too late to go to school for music?

Hello everyone,
I have struggled for years with whether or not it would even be possible for me to go to school for music.
I am 28 years old.  Year after year, I get really depressed about never having gone to school to pursue music.  I go through all of the regrets (how much time has been wasted, how I could have been somehow trying to learn as much as possible outside of school, and that I SHOULD have been trying to get more involved in music by trying to start a new group or getting out there and trying to gig).  I know obviously my big issue here is fear of failure, as that would explain why - instead of trying to do what I can- I have ended up doing nothing.  And now I am left with nothing.  
I've tried pursuing other options, but I always feel a pull for music.  I sing with a chorus in my area, and I am so grateful to have that in my life.  I love singing, I love harmony. I knew I never wanted to be a principal singer in an opera, or a lead star in a band- I actually enjoy chorus roles and background singing. I always thought I'd love to go for music education, but then when I see or hear teachers I know talk about their jobs, they don't seem very happy, so then I'm not sure WHAT I should do.  I just know I love music, and I want to be involved in it as much as possible in my life, but most options usually require a degree.
My close friends and family always say "you can do anything you want, follow your dreams, it's never too late!"  But they are not always practical, because they love me haha
Being so much older, could I even get accepted? Would I be good enough? Would it even be possible to go now that I have insurance, car payments, so many other bills to pay that an 18 year old most likely wouldn't have to worry about?  And that's the other thing...Could I keep up with students so much younger than myself? Would I just be this isolated oddball? I didn't ever get to have private coaching or lessons and my family never got me involved in anything because they weren't involved with music or college whatsoever. I didn't go to a high school that put emphasis on the arts, let alone being consulted about going to college and so forth.  
I feel sad that I missed out on so many potentially wonderful and amazing learning opportunities, and the opportunity to just be a part of that  world.  I know I can never get those opportunities being the age I am now (college life, music summer camps that were for teenagers,etc), but I still want to be able to somehow have more music in my life.
I am just sincerely interested in getting others' advice.  Is it practical?  Should I just attempt more along the lines of having music in my own personal life (i.e. trying to afford personal lessons, forming a group to gig with, or finding an agent to maybe get some backup singing jobs?)
Are there certain people I should be reaching out to/ talking to?
A few years ago, I wrote to a professor at a university I really had wanted to go to, and I had expressed similar concerns such as age,etc (although now that I look back I'm like "you were only 25!")  I was disappointed when I got my reply and this professor had not only really not addressed any parts of my letter whatsoever, but they had recommended me read a book they'd written to help me.  I read it, and it had nothing even remotely to do with what I was struggling with, so I was left very disheartened and disappointed.  I tried to take that as a sign to move on, and I felt good about that for a while, but this surging wave of regret and sadness always comes back at some point every year.
Thank you for reading and for your thoughts.
It's a vicious cycle- I get so depressed that I think "I MUST try to do this, I WILL try to do this, I will put myself out there!"  But the fear is so strong that it prevents me from ever even really trying, so I do  nothing...and back to the beginning!
Replies (53): Threaded | Chronological
on July 28, 2015 5:34pm
Crystal Chandler asks about the prospects of beginning professional music study at age 28.
On one hand, there are many people who go back to school in their 40s -- for years -- in order to change careers. YOU'RE NOT OLD.
On the other hand, Igor Markevitch said that beginning conducting study past age 9 (the age at which Barenboim came to him as a pupil) was too late.
The truth for you is somewhere in between, no doubt.
Best regards,
Jerome Hoberman
Music Director/Conductor, The Hong Kong Bach Choir & Orchestra
Applauded by an audience of 1
on July 29, 2015 3:16am
Do it.  It'll be hard, but worth it.  I was a music major for a very short time, then an English major.  I took music classes like choir and voice throughout college, and was able to use those courses to add a music certification to my English degree and certification after passing the music Praxis.  I started out in MD and then my certificate was reciprocal with WV.  I taught English for 15 years then chorus for the last 3.  The first year was rough because I replaced a beloved teacher (who sings with me in a Christian trio), and we, obviously, are not identical in our teaching styles.  I love it now!  My kids are there for the right reasons, and I get to sing all day!  Ignore what everyone says & follow your heart.  In the meantime, search out other venues for music ed that don't require a degree like teaching songs to kids at church or Bible school, singing with small groups, doing solos, and what you're already doing.  (Just a note for inspiration - check out Eric Whitacre's history:
Applauded by an audience of 2
on August 3, 2015 7:33am
Dear Crystal,
As Peggy (and probably others) has said, IT'S NEVER TOO LATE!
Schewitzer's famous quote is salient here:  “Success is not the key to Happiness; Happiness is the key to success.  If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” (Albert Schweitzer - 1875-1965)
Within what you can manage financially, follow that dream!  Find a person nearby whose career path you would like to emulate and ask him/her to be your MENTOR.   Over the years I have mentored numerous budding musicians.  I have never regretten ONE SECOND of the hours and days I spent with struggling young people, some of who went on to rewarding if not stellar careers as professional musicians.  If you fail to follow that pull (even if you LATER abandon it) it will always be there — unsatisfied.   Try volunteeering in the areas of music which you find most attractive.  Often you can at least make «pin money» while coming to a better understanding of what you REALLY want.   Now «in my dotage» I look back on my several(!!!) distinctly different careers.  Ther ONLY things I clearly remember with a warm heart relate to my choirs and my musical protégés.  LISTEN to SCHWEITZER!
Applauded by an audience of 2
on August 4, 2015 6:41pm
Thanks for the encouragement, Laura! And thanks for the tip on reading Eric Whitacre's mini bio- I LOVE LOVE LOVE his pieces!  I knew he'd gone to Julliard but I did not know the rest of the details, also encouraging. I wish I could talk to him more about it!  I've been lucky enough to have been able to sing a couple of his pieces with the chorus I am with.  They are just amazing.. SO gorgeous I can't really even bring myself to listen to them because they just invoke so much emotion it can be overwhelming in the best way :D
Applauded by an audience of 1
on July 29, 2015 4:30am
Dear Crystal,
It is never too late to try if this is your dream!  Please write to me at pdettwil(a)
I look forward to hearing from you!
Peggy Dettwiler, Director of Choral Activities
Mansfield University
Mansfield, PA
Applauded by an audience of 6
on July 29, 2015 4:43am
I knew somewhere around 7th grade that I wanted to do something with music, most likely teaching.  My junior high and high school choir teachers were wonderful role models and by sophomore year I was SURE I wanted to teach high school choral music.  Life sometimes takes us on a roller coaster, however, and I ended up getting a job in an office after graduation, and also got married when I was 21.   At the ripe old age of 32 I was divorced and decided to enroll in a state college that was near my home.  It was suggested that I sit for the CLEP test, which was designed for people like me who could get college credit for "life experience."  I bought the study guide, worked diligently, took the all-day test and passed everything relatively easily, including math and science!  As a result, I entered college in the fall of 1977 as a sophomore!  All freshman classes were waived.  In addition, by working with my counselor and the chair of the music department, I challenged several music classes, and those courses were also waived.  For instance, I'd been playing piano since age 4, and frankly outplayed every piano student in the program -- freshman piano class and juries were not required in my case.
Your concern about keeping up with other students because they are "so much younger" is nothing to worry about.  I was there to get a music education and teaching certificate as quickly as I could.  I wasn't there to socialize or party, and in retrospect, I'm sure I got a better education than I would have if I'd entered college at 18 with my peers.  I was firmly focused on my goal and easily worked my way through all the courses, AND, I had a blast doing it!  I felt so good about myself and what I was accomplishing -- it was very empowering.  It turned out that many of my younger college acquaintances told me how much they admired me for finally doing what I'd always wanted to do.
I also had a part-time job at a school in the afternoons and played for theater rehearsals at night.  I played church organ on Sunday mornngs.  I had car payments and rent and insurance and all the other usual expenses to worry about.  But I managed.  The college helped me arrange my course schedule so I could get my classes done between 8am and 1pm and still get to my part-time job.  I also signed up for summer school classes, and took advantage of those 1-week "blitz" courses offered between semesters -- these were intense 5-day / 45-hour immersion classes, but they were a lifesaver in completing my required credits for the year.  I graduated summa cum laude in May of 1980 -- a total of 3 solid years of hard work and no sleep, but it seemed like heaven while I was going through it.  I got hired for my first high school choral teaching job that following September, and in 2008 I retired after a 28-year successful run.  As I've sometimes quipped, "it was time to let someone else have all the fun!"  (Now, in my 70th year, I'm still enjoying a life of free-lance music and related travel.)
Yes, teaching is different now than when I first started -- I too hear all the stories about what is expected of teachers these days -- all the political stuff can be quite daunting.  But I also ALWAYS heard similar stories from colleagues throughout my own career -- I was ecstatic about finally being a music teacher, and wanted no part of their negativity.  I had waited a long time and worked very hard to get there, and nothing was going to take away my joy!!
You're 28, I was 32 -- get started NOW!!  It will take determination and it will at times be stressful, but I truly feel that if you don't do it, you'll be 70 someday and still looking back with regret.  Just keep sights on your goals and plans, and DO IT! 
Carol Walker
Applauded by an audience of 7
on August 4, 2015 6:49pm
I can't thank you enough, Carol, for sharing your inspirational story with me- it is much appreciated!  And congratulations to you for working so hard and getting what you wanted to make you happy!  I only hope to get to that same place! :)  And I have heard about being able to earn some credits from life experience skills, but I didn't realize that that was CLEP.  I will definitely look into that as well.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on July 29, 2015 6:03am
A music career is a serious gamble at any age ... so I don't think that is an issue.  My suggestion would be to seek out some advice from a music professional who you trust and is capable of evaluating your vocal potential.  However that goes ... seek a second opinion and a third, maybe.  This to give you some objective advice about what you might accomplish.  The things you enjoy are certainly not beyond a singer of your age.  If you sing well you can do so into your 70's. However, singing in a choir is not going to earn you a living.  Teaching is a possibility, but as you note, there are few really happy music teachers ... particularly in public school situations these days.  Even wealthy districts have their financial problems and jobs are not secure.  And if you are not deeply drawn to teaching ... stay away.  A music business degree or a music technology degree could land you some work if you go to the right places to train.  And if you are interested in those things.  That said ... a college education is never a waste of time or effort.  The enrichment of your life is worth the money as long as you keep it within reason.  College tuition is off the charts these days, and you need to find a 'value' school that offers a great education for a decent price.  
Some things to think about.  What you do for a living now ... is it an OK way to make money?  If so, you might want to stick with it and get a degree on a part-time basis.  This gives you the security of a 'day job' and allows you to further your education.  You have to be at the right place to do this ... but it is possible, even if you have to relocate.  Another issue is simply that at your age a college education may not be necessary.  If you can find some private teachers who are fine musicians, you can learn as much simply paying the rates for their lessons.  The question ... do you need the degree to do what you wish?  Or are you intellectually curious enough to just want the degree beyond any particular practical reason.  That's reason enough to do the formal training.  But if you just wish to sing and do as much as possible ... private tutoring in voice and theory ... seriously reading music history, etc. might be your ticket.
This is not an easy question, as you know.  And even with 'kids' at age 18, one wonders if going to music school is a good idea unless they have 'overwhelming' talent to be a professional musician and the 'fire in the belly' to pursue a professional music career.  My goddaughter had the talent and went to two superb universities and at your age dumped it all to pursue a medical career because of that lack of ... "I've got to do this ... or nothing" attitude necessary to succeed in professional music.  
I don't know that this is a real help.  But it's a perspective from having watched young people ... and those of all ages ... struggle with the love of music and the lack of rewarding jobs in the field.  Many of the happiest musicians I know are excellently trained but also have a 'day job' so they only play the gigs they really want.  Food for thought.  Best of luck in making a decision that's right for you!  
Applauded by an audience of 4
on July 29, 2015 8:59am
I agree with everything Tom said.  I would also add that you seem to have a paralyzing fear of failure: "I get so depressed that I think "I MUST try to do this, I WILL try to do this, I will put myself out there!"  But the fear is so strong that it prevents me from ever even really trying, so I do  nothing..."  Regardless of what you decide in persuing a music degree, learning to overcome your fear will beneift all aspects of your life.
Applauded by an audience of 6
on August 4, 2015 7:01pm
Thank you Tom, I agree with you on so many things, and I thank you for all of the pointers!
It is shocking to hear the costs of tuition these days- I live in Northwest Indiana so many people I know have gone or have children going to schools in Chicago and the costs are crazy!  I don't feel that that always equals a better education either.  
Although I think I could be happy with private tutoring so that I could just try to gig for a living (or do the gigging along with a day job like you said),  I also would really love the accomplishment of finally getting a degree.  I used to think I needed to get one just to feel better about myself in comparison with others, but now I realize that I want and need it for myself, for my own happiness and self accomplished feeling.  I think I would actually appreciate it even more now being older too perhaps.
I always thought I would enjoy teaching music, like teaching chorus in a highschool environment-  however I also have never been on that teaching side so i wouldn't know for sure I suppose.  I do know of a few music teachers that perhaps could sit down sometime to talk to me about what their experiences are, perhaps it would help.  Other than that I also like the idea of work in a music administration environment- not sure if that would be the same as music business..but really if I could just be someplace that was revolved around music, i.e. a symphony office, children's chorus, theatre,etc, I think I would be very satisfied.  Just need to pinpoint further I suppose.
Thanks again Tom!
Applauded by an audience of 1
on July 29, 2015 7:16am
Your post really struck a chord.  I've struggled with fear and anxiety about "putting myself out there" my entire life (I'm old enough to be your mother, nearly 60), and whenever I publish anything and try to market it (a book, a piece of music) it generates a sense of panic that I still have very little control over.  I learned as a child that the only way to stay safe and well was to always remain quiet and invisible, and I struggle with that "rule" that was burned into my brain to this day.  (It even causes me anxiety to write this message.)  And I was about your age when I was newly divorced with three small children and decided that the only way I could support them adequately and have a decent and interesting life was to apply for admission to the local university, get a degree, and then have a good career.  It took me five years to get a B.S., but I did it.  I paid for school with scholarships (I had been an "A" student in high school), PELL grants, Work-Study income, and a total of $7,000 in loans that took me ten years to pay off.  Was I afraid of failing?  Of course!  EVERYBODY is afraid of failing at something, even those people who appear on the outside to be terribly self-confident and capable.
You have legitimate concerns.  It costs a lot of money to go to college these days, and only you can decide if you can financially afford it without going into lots of debt that would be extremely difficult to pay off later.  Would getting a degree in music would be worth the financial sacrifice?  Are you willing to pare down your current expenses to the lowest possible level in order to finance your education?  Are you willing to devote the time, energy, and money that getting a higher education demands?  You didn't mention what you do for a living now, or if you are partnered or have children.  If you are single with only yourself to take care of, going to college would be much easier, time-wise and otherwise, than if you were partnered or were raising children.
If you DID go to college and graduate, what exactly would you try to do with your degree?  I couldn't tell from your post if you have a specific career goal in mind, only that you have considered various options and that teaching is perhaps not very appealing.  It isn't easy to make a living in "the arts" these days, regardless of the specific field of endeavor.  Have you explored typical salary ranges for various careers?  Would they be acceptable to you?  Have you done a little research about the kinds of job opportunities that exist in your geographic area and elsewhere?  Are you already in a career that provides not only a decent paycheck but satisfies you in many other ways?  If your answer is a resounding "No!" then I would encourage you to make changes in your life WHILE YOU CAN.
Finally, you worry about being an "oddball" in college.  The fact is that nobody will be paying much attention to YOU at all, because they are all much too interested in paying attention to THEMSELVES.  People like us who have social anxiety or other fears often think that other people are actually paying attention to us and judging us negatively in some way.  For example, when I would walk through the college cafeteria and a group of people at a table I was passing by happened to be laughing at something, I thought they were laughing at me.  (I'm over that, fortunately...)  And most college professors (I'm now married to one) actually appreciate "older" students who come to college with a little bit more maturity, a clear vision of where they are going, and the willingness to really work their butts off, day after day, year after year, in pursuit of a goal.  Would you be good enough?  If you focus your mind and your energies and work your butt off, I would say yes.
I read somewhere a long time ago that courage is not defined by a lack of fear, but by going ahead in spite of that fear.  And then there's a wonderful couple of lines from the poem "Maud Muller" by John Greenleaf Whittier:  For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: "It might have been!"
Applauded by an audience of 8
on August 4, 2015 7:07pm
I am posting that Whittier quote everywhere around me now so that I have to see it constantly!  Same with the Courage one.  
It's very encouraging to read your empathetic words and to know that others have the same feelings as I do.  I feel so grateful for all of the support I've seen on this page, and only wish I would have discovered it sooner!
I do not have any dependents, and I also do not have a job that can provide a stable living (let alone pay my monthly bills most of the time), so I wouldn't have trouble of leaving a great job or trying to take care of children etc.  Perhaps this is why I have not been able to find something that has worked for me so far...perhaps it is "meant to be", even though I cant be sure I always believe that.  However I certainly like that perspective at the moment!
Thank you for writing!
Applauded by an audience of 1
on August 5, 2015 6:00am
And thank YOU for being brave enough to share your fears here and ask for advice.  It sounds like you will definitely be eligible for some financial aid of various kinds to help pay for college.  All of us wish you the very best.  Happy trails!
on July 29, 2015 8:20am
I started singing in chorus at age 61. I loved it, as you do. I sang more and more, took individual lessons, joined some other groups. Then, with some friendly prodding, I auditioned, and now, at age 66, I am singing with the symphony chorus --- something I never would have thought possible 5 years ago. I am 66 and it's a whole new world. 
Do not listen to the noise in your head. Do what you love at whatever level you can. My head told me repeatedly that I shouldn't be doing any of this "at my age," and sometimes it felt like I had to run through a ring of fire around the door to get to rehearsal in the early days, but I kept getting there. Now it's the centerpiece of my life and my greatest joy. That was some work for 5 years, but I've never done anything that served me better. The fear lessened as I took action and as my reality denied the mental negativity. Now I am occasionally singing solo in friendly environments to get over THAT fear. I don't think I'm much of a soloist, but others seem to think differently, so I have to trust them, not my own head. 
Applauded by an audience of 8
on July 29, 2015 10:19am
"Some of these things are not like the others, some of these things are kind of the same."
Your story is both very similar and very different than mine. The short answer about it being to late - absolutely not. The rest... here is my story.
I loved music in high school, though I never had any lessons and my last two years were basically music free, due to circumstance. Still, at 18 I went off to school to pursue a degree in Music Education. I was full of life and hope and let no nay-sayers hold me back. About half-way through, I switched to a double major that included Music Theory and Composition. They had a lot of overlap, and I found that Theory was my favorite subject. (And, BTW, we had adults in their 30s with us. They did fine. Their life experience was a boon and it tended to counter the lower energy, kids, or work schedule they had to contend with.) Then, two things happened and changed my trajectory.
First, I got  in a serious car accident and while my injuries did not require a long hospital stay, they seem to have fundamentally changed me. I went from a high energy person - able to juggle 23 credits without overnighters - to struggling at 12 credits. I knew I would have to ease off a bit. Second, I had gotten into the higher education classes, and I became angry. I hated the BS of school politics, the underfunding, and lack of respect wrapped up in "Do it for the KIDS!" teachers were immersed in.
So, I dropped Music Education, graduated, and got a job in a call center. Over the years, I worked customer service, some office work, some volunteer work. And, several jobs related to music and education. I was still passionate about education and, of course, music. I had simply decided to "be realistic" and get a real job. But, I never could. I made peanuts.
"Time and tears went by, and I collected dust" until several things happened at once. First, a nearish university set up a community chorus, and I joined in. There was no fee, just the kind of music I had always love to sing. Morten Lauridesen, Duke Ellington, The King's Singers. I got to sing, be challenged, and do so as an adult with an entire life experience to draw upon.
My husband left his very well paying job to go back to school and I decided to do the same. I was scared $%!tless, of course, but I had been encouraged to go back so many times, and had let fear paralyze me. So, I applied and was accepted into a Master of Arts in Teaching program, using my Music T & C degree to ground the incoming certificate.
It was hard.  It was part theory, part practice, and part introspection. Most of my cohort was my age (35 now) or even older. Student teaching was terrifying and glorious. I did HS and MS. I got to see the good, the bad, and hear about the ugly. It is not a walk in the park. But, it seems that, if you can build a solid program, the kids revel in it. They love to sing, love to be involved, love to surprise you with their maturity (and shock you with their immaturity, it’s true!).
I graduated this spring with my MAT and I am still walking on clouds.
So, my answer is this: age is not an issue. The loans can be high, but there can be lots of aid, especially if you have never pursued a degree before. Find a school with people who will support you. It can make all the difference in the world. Build a support network and use it. And, decide what really, really matters to you.
To be a successful choir director, so a successful choir director said, you don’t have to be the best singer, the best accompanist, or the best musician. You have to be a choir director. And, the wisdom of teachers? You will get a job - if you are willing to relocate. Are you? Are you willing to substitute until work opens up? What is your state doing with the Arts? Mine in increasing support for them (huzzah!), but not all are. Or, if you don’t want to teach at public school, will you sing for your supper? Direct? Will it pay the bills? Does your salary have to cover it all, or do you have a partner to help?
There are a lot of questions, and they are good questions to ask. But, I agree with the previous poster - What If is a terrible thing. Now that I finally did it, I rather regret waiting 10 years to get on with it - though I also recognize that my life experiences made possible and excellent what would otherwise have been more difficult.
The long and the short of it? I let fear and “responsible practicality” drive me, but I still wound up back where I had started. As I looked back, I saw job after job relating to music, literacy, and education, and still I insisted that I would not follow this path. It sounded like you might know this pattern. If so, perhaps you should ask yourself what you really want (not gonna quote the Spice Girls here!) and if what you are getting instead will do.
Then, follow the wisdom of your heart while letting your head find a way to make it as feasible as possible.
Applauded by an audience of 6
on August 4, 2015 8:12pm
THANK  you Marianne for sharing your story, and CONGRATS on graduating!
I've worked many jobs involving child supervision, and it was always quite discouraging (NEVER the kids, it was always their parents that made me feel so), so I always wondered if I could really be happy in music education because of that.  I would totally be willing to relocate, and would love to be working in a district that is trying to expand arts instead of downsizing :/  
Applauded by an audience of 1
on July 29, 2015 11:40am
Why not try your local community college for a spin?
Applauded by an audience of 3
on July 29, 2015 1:40pm
Some things to consider, based on my own experience and solutions when I changed careers and living situations 20 years ago in my 40s.  In no particular order:
1.  Regarding your fears, if you live near a college that has a graduate program to train counselors or social workers, you may be able to get free counseling, because those students need the professional experience and are required to work in a free campus clinic, open to the community.  Also, remember that the reaction of others is a wonderfully simple revelation of their value in your life.  The ones who consider you an "oddball" have immediately indicated they have nothing to offer, and the ones who will work with you are the ones who can help you.
2.  Consider EVERY expense in your life.  Did you let a salesman sell you too much car?  Do you have to have an expensive phone and data plan, or cable TV?  And can you afford the time those activities waste?  Do you really have to live in a certain kind of house or neighborhood?  I lived in a $6,000 house in an inner city neighborhood for seven years, and can tell you from first hand experience that there are many such neighborhoods that are safe, with many good neighbors.  Ask the police, church members, and those involve in community action groups for more information about low cost housing in "disadvantaged" but safe neighborhoods.  Urban renewal departments in larger cities maintain lists of distressed houses for sale, and some cities with declining populations offer incentive programs to get people to move in, repair and refurbish.  This is 100% a buyer's market, because it costs a city $8,000 and up to demolition a house. 
   As a general financial guide, I recommend Dave Ramsey's best selling book Total Money Makeover, also offered as a 10-week series of lessons at churches through out the country.  I wish I had read it in my 20s instead of in my 50s.
3.  Give music education a try by volunteering to help a public school teacher, assist with a children's choir, or bring music to a children's organization like the Y.  Many schools have after-school programs and would love to have someone start a choir or give individual lessons.  Some districts might pay you a coach's stipend of $600-800 per "season" or semester.  Being a coach at the intramural or activity level generally requires only a background check, basic first aid certification, and a training session of a few hours to a day.
   True story: For several years in the early 2000s (and probably still today!), there were 80 public elementary and middle schools in NYC with NO music programs.  The Board of Education and the Metropolitan Opera Guild (financed by Seagram's) put together a series of free Saturday workshops to train and encourage volunteers to provide something--anything--in the way of music in those schools.
4.  As for the college life and summer music camps that you missed--  You most certainly can experience these, regardless of your age.  Colleges, universities, conservatories, and community colleges all have some type of "community education" programming these days.  They are obligated to do this--often by state law--because of the various tax breaks and public money they receive.  Look around and you might find theatrical and musical productions, community band, beginner band, jazz band, auditioned choir and beginner choir, all open to the public, and all needing more members.  You can audit regular college music courses, and might also find music courses in a separate community education department. 
   Across the country in the summer, there are all kinds of academic, participatory, and performance opportunities on college campuses; these are for adults, typically last five days, and you live in a dorm and eat in the cafeteria.  You can align these with your vacation time from work.  Call your local college and ask for the director of community education and the director of summer programs. 
   If there is a music camp in your area, perhaps you could volunteer as a counselor, or apply for a paid position.  At the camp I attended, everyone sang in the concert choir, and there were never enough coaches for small student ensembles.
4.  In all of this, in order to get an accurate understanding you must keep an open mind, look beyond your assumptions and what some people will tell you, and go directly to multiple sources in the field.  For example, a police officer who lived in a "good" section of town told me the neighborhood I mentioned above was "terrible"; but people who actually lived there said "We've got some problems, but it's a good neighborhood over all," and they were correct.  Another example; when I was 18, I was a clarinet and composition major at a conservatory, and quickly discovered I didn't have the dedication and capacity for hard work (in those fields at that level) that Thomas and Julia mention above.  My advisor said "You should be a music education major--you will always be able to find a job somewhere, and you get to make music with kids all day."  Instead of actually going out an experiencing what music education was, I followed my preconceptions and replied, "Why on earth would I want to work with little kids?" and transferred to a liberal arts college.  Guess what I'm doing now, for 14 years, with great love and capacity for hard work?  K-6 public school music education.
Best wishes!
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on July 30, 2015 3:40am
If your goal is to earn a living as a school music teacher, it's a gamble at any age and age 28 is young.  
If your goal is self-fulfillment, age doesn't matter.  In fact, having directed college choirs after retirement in the public schools, I had wonderful students of all ages.  The more mature (28 year olds) were a role model to the 19-22 year old crowd, and I never observed friendship discrimination because of age.  
If your goal is to be a voice major with aspirations of employment as a performer, I yield to college vocal faculty for advice.  However, I suspect most would tell you it is rocky road you should avoid.  Best wishes on your journey
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on August 5, 2015 6:37am
The employment outlook for music teachers is improving. I keep hearing from my colleagues that there are over 150 jobs in my state (CA) that have gone unfilled because of a lack of new teachers. But there's also jobs in  music, such as therapy or industry studies (publishing, etc), that aren't focused on teaching, so I would do what others have suggested...identify your goals,  and talk to several schools as how to refine your plan. And I second the community college angle; I've taught students much older than you (including vets), and I will say that since you've stayed active in music, you should do fine. Best of luck to you.
Heather KinKennon
Antelope Valley College
Lancaster, CA
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on August 4, 2015 8:18pm
Great tips, THANK YOU Bart!  I went out and rented that book at the library TODAY and will start reading it!  I will definitely explore all of the options you gave me and hopefully find something that leads me even further to where I'd like to be :)
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on July 30, 2015 3:46am
Some things to consider:
1.  School is ageless!  There are lots of people at all ages going to college at various levels. I was in my 40's when I went to grad school. I'm a high school choir director but had not been working in my field for over 20 years(raising kids, etc). I've now been teaching for 10 years and will retire in 10 years. My oldest son who is 32, just graduated from the local technical college and is going to art school in the fall!  My youngest child, now 21 is taking a break from the college of her dreams!  At the college graduations I've been to, there are people of ALL ages graduating. 
2.  My son was and is very nervous about going to art school this fall. He asked me what if he made a mistake in choosing to go!  I told him that he should go and give it his best!  If he discovers it is not what he wants or hoped it would be, then it is life experience, NOT a mistake!  You don't know until you try!
3.  One of the other people was talking about finances!  It is very wise to take a look at your expenses and see where you can "trim the fat" and figure out what is important. Then figure out where you might want to go to school. Apply to FAFSA and see how much financial aid you can get. It's important to plan and research. 
4.  Fear of failure is common!  Exploring, trying things out and discovering what you really want to do is important. If you aren't as successful as you wish to be, it's NOT failure. It is experience and very valuable. If you really want to make changes and do something different, then you must purpose in your heart to make things happen!  Never give up! Follow your heart and see where it leads you!  Don't make decisions when you are mad, upset or emotional!  Research and go for it!
best wishes for your future!
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on August 4, 2015 8:22pm
Thank you for your support and encouragment Cherie, and I wish your son nothing but the best in his awesome adventure of starting art school-- how exciting!  It's inspiring to me, and I love hearing all of these stories- kudos to him for going for it!
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on July 30, 2015 5:55pm
I went back to school at the tender age of 30. I was a much better student as an adult. I was motivated to do my best realizing I was PAYING to learn. After I had my undergrad degree, I started teaching for several years, then pursued my Masters Degree. The thing that helped me conquer my fears was the thought, "ten years is going to pass. Do I want to be glad I did, or am I going to sigh and say, I wish I had...."  I didn't want to live my life and wish I had...... My friend went back to school to pursue her Doctorate in music after she was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 34. The desire you have is there for a reason. I am a firm believer that God puts His plan for us in our heart. Pray. And just go get the application. You don't even have to fill it out right away. Just get the application. Take the first step. The journey will unfold. :) blessings!
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on July 30, 2015 9:34pm
Just a quick response to one of your statements...... If you are hearing a music teacher lament their job, they aren't doing it right. I've been directing junior high and high school choirs for the past 25 year and I haven't worked a day in my life. When I feel like it is work, it will be time for me to retire. I'm not saying it isn't tough, tiring, emotional and stressful at times but I wouldn't trade this gig for any 9 to 5 job. Ugh!
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on July 31, 2015 4:24am
"FEAR" is a luxury that you cannot afford. 
From MY vantage point, you are very, VERY young, and yet you are an ADULT, so you are in a WONDERFUL situation for college study.
Your ten eloquently written paragraphs are SATURATED with negativity, and yet what quietly and modestly glows from your statements is your yearning to live your passion, MUSIC!
As an adult it is time for you to assume a place for yourself, tutored, but not defeated, by your fear.
If you really think it is difficult to claim your place at the ripe old age of 28, give a thought to how I felt as I attempted to find a musical niche at 65...... But I did it.
I had an old music education degree, operant word, OLD. I had made up my mind over my whole professional career that
I would actively return to music.
I found the most amazing community college within my area, and begin taking music courses with the very gifted staff there. I have completed + or - 30 credits with a 4.0 average.
Recently, a door opened to me in the field that I had barely considered in the past. Call me "amazed" and "grateful".
Bear in mind, you can't embrace your passion by running away from it. If it suits your comfort level, by all means DO start with just one step. BUT TAKE THAT STEP!
Were there bumps in my road? Definitely. But my ultimate focus, once fixed, never waivered.
I have NO regrets with the course my life has taken, because music was always there or on the horizon. But no matter what, that horizon was ALWAYS in front of me, and I was always following it.
Find a starting place and GO FOR IT.
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on July 31, 2015 7:46am
To the many fine responses offered so far, I would add two things:
1. 28 is not too old, and it's definitely not too late for you to start a career in music.  For heaven's sake, you could go to school part-time and STILL have 30 years to teach before you retire!
2. I've taught in college for 40 years, and have counseled a number of would-be music education majors over that span. In almost all cases, their favorite HS class was choir, and so they assume that teaching music would replicate that enjoyable experience.  What theysoon find is that directing the choir is a very different experience than singing in the choir.  It requires a more "all-encompassing" ear -- the ability to keep track of and recognize mistakes in 4 or more sections, not just one.  It also requires skills in group leadership, conducting, music history and choral style, voice production, etc.  For many of my students, these additional skills are something they look forward to acquiring and enjoy using their college years to hone.  For some others, those skills proved to be a barrier that caused this "different side" of the choral experience to be far less pleasant than singing in the choir.  
I bring this up not to make you more apprehensive about "taking the plunge" into a music degree experience, because you already seem apprehensive enough.  But I mention this to urge you to look a little more deeply into what it would be like to lead the choir before you jump head-long into the college degree experience.  First, I would urge you to talk to your current conductor to see if he/she feels you have the musical aptitude and the group leadership skills to be a director.  If the conductor is encouraging, see if there are ways that you could "test the waters" while in your current choir.  Does the choir have sectional rehearsals?  Could you convince your director to lead a sectional?  (Perhaps you already do.)  Are there any occasions where an assitant director would be useful to your choir?  Would your director trust you in that role?  Any additional experiences like these would help you to get a sense of what it's like to be on the other side of the podium, and to see whether or not you enjoy it and want more.
In the meantime, I would suggest that you experience your rehearsals with a different mind-set and ears.  When your director does something in rehearsal, ask yourself why he/she is doing that and what the goal behind that is.  Did you hear the same problem in the choir that caused the director to react that way?  If you were leading the rehearsal, would you have handled it the same way?  As you're singing and listening in the rehearsal, try to become more aware of, and sensitive to, the other sections of the choir.  Can you tell if they're singing wrong pitches or rhythms?  Is there anything that you think should be changed about their vocal tone or register?  Vowel color?  What might you suggest that the singers do in order to accomplish that?  How is the pacing of the rehearsal?  Is the director spending enough time on given issues to fix (or begin fixing) them without the rehearsal seeming to drag?  Is there variety in the pacing of the rehearsal and in the kinds of issues the director works on?  
Realize that you shouldn't expect to have all the answers to those questions right away.  Many of those answers will come through the courses you would take and the experiences you would have in college.  But I suggest this so that you begin developing an awareness of the issues a choir director must deal with that a singer encounters in a less direct way.  The singer is the recipient of the elements of instruction in good singing and music making.  The conductor is the initiator of these elements of instruction.  Would taking on that role excite you or turn you off?  THAT is the crucial question.  
I wish you the best of luck, no matter what decision you make.  And I hope whichever decision you make brings you closure that will keep you from looking back and saying "what if."  Regardless of which path you take, I'm glad that singing is an enjoyable part of your life, and I trust that it will continue to be.  
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on August 5, 2015 8:15pm
I thank you for your wonderful insight and perspectives about all of this.  You are so right, singing in a choir and directing one would be two completely different things!  There are many times I have thought "I really want to become director of a choir one day so that I can do things the way I think work better!", but then other days I think "boy I am glad to just be singing in this choir and not be the head of all of this chaos!"
Your advice is wonderful and I can't wait for the start of another singing season so I can really focus on all of those details and further explore if it is something I think I really want to do!
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on July 31, 2015 10:55am
I can only point to all the posts above and say, "What they said!" 
For various reasons I started college about 5 years after finishing high school. Due to a potential career path I wasn't a music major at first, but was able to take some music courses as electives. When I was able to get out of the original path, I immediately changed my major to music (composition), even though it meant another year. A side benefit was a broader education overall than what a typical music major had. 
Over the years I've worked at a number of jobs, some related to music and others not. I've never made much money, but looking back I realize that if I hadn't gone ahead and got my degree in composition and then just worked at whatever jobs I could find, I would have hated my life and become a miserable mess. I had to keep telling myself: I am a professional musician. I am a composer. I am a choral conductor." And my non-music work became simply what I needed to do so that I could do what I was meant to do. And I've had the opportunity to do many things I never thought would happen. I've had pieces performed and published. I've trained many choirs and choruses. I've conducted La Boheme and West Side Story. And I've worked with a few top professionals and very many wonderful and dedicated amateurs from kids to seniors.
Don't give into fear. It's a huge lie. Your desire to do music is consuming you; you can't ignore or deny it. You're young. Find out what opportunities are available and go after them. You can start voice lessons any time, and get the courses as you can. An old Russian monk, St. Seraphim of Sarov, was once asked why miracles didn't happen much anymore as they did in earlier times. He replied, "The only thing lacking is resolve." Go let your miracle happen.
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on August 1, 2015 7:09am
Some of my best students have been non-traditional. Take a chance. Maturity trumps most everything else! It won't be easy, but few things worth the effort are.
Matthew P. Fritz, D.M.A.
Associate Professor of Music
Elizabethtown College
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on August 2, 2015 3:44am
I too have sometimes listen to people too much about their jobs and trying to find too much information about things and that has kept me back from pursuing things so I wouldn't do too much research I would just plunge ahead and any opportunity you can to sing I just recently got paid money to for a demo for someone riding original songs that could be a nice outlet.
you could always try and form your own choir if there's enough people around .  Just don't listen to other people's fears and because we are all unique are all different and we all have to pursue our own path
on August 2, 2015 9:18am
A lot of real life experience advice here. I come from a slightly different paradigm. My four avenues to success for you are still in effect:
1. Right place
2. Right time
3. Right stuff
4. Right people
Add your personal drive to make it work
AND the all important accessment of
a. skill level and
b. talent residual
As the coordinator of brass studies at Long Beach State I had to access these things for the students (80 brass players) every year and had to advise many students to get another gig. Painful as it was, many went on to be fantastically successful in other fields. The biggest detriments were a. and b. above. So, it is vitally important that you get an outside, honest accessment of your capabilities (skill level) and talent level.
My life has been filled with singing and choral conducting. Basically Compline all I have left. 
About 1970, during my second year in the LAPhil, backstage at the Hollywood Bowl, Roger Wagner and I had a short chat. My lovely bride Jeanie was singing with some other ladies on the last mvt. of Holsts' The Planets, and I had nothing to play on that mvt. I boldly asked him, "To what do you attribute your relative success in the choral field?" His reply drew laughter: "Jeff, it's easy. Know what you want and know how to get it." After thinking about his reply, it became a standard story for all my trombone students. I've had many students who knew what they wanted to do, but not a clue on how to get there. And visa versa. Another saying was, "When you go to bed tonight, someone is up practicing your part." I had a whole section devoted to this in my book:
Jeff Reynolds
A Comprehensive Workbook for Bass Trombone and Tenor Trombone with F-attachment published by Cherry Classics Music. Unbelievably, it has sold more than 2500 copies.
One more antictdote: I had a very capable bass trombone student who was asked to play with the LAPhil as an extra on some big piece. He hesitated, and said to the personell manager; " I don't think I'm ready yet." He never was.
If there is anything else you love to do and have the talent and drive to do it easily: do that. 
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on August 2, 2015 1:45pm
I encourage you to follow your dream.  My story is a bit different than yours, but-----  I received the Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance and Music Education at age 20.   After teaching for 15 years I went back to school and received the Master of Music in Vocal Performance at age 39.  Had two babies during that time.  Then I received the Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting when I was 60 years old!  You are never too old!  Go for it!  I have had 60 wonderful years of teaching music and conducting choirs, plus I am still conducting a community choir, and am assistant choir director at my church in my retirement years!
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on August 2, 2015 6:19pm
I have several friends who are successful directors and teachers who went to school at a, shall we say, more advanced age than yours. Do you love it? Does it make you happy? Do it. And never look back!
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on August 3, 2015 3:48am
Never too late!!! Do it!
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on August 3, 2015 9:50am
Hi Crystal:  Wow!  lots of responses to your question.  I will make mine short.  Our son started Music school at U. of North Texas at age 32.  His girl  friend at the time told him to follow his passion.  He did!!1  Yes, he was in with 18 year olds and yes he was the  the oldest one in his choir.  But, he was older, and  LOTS more mature and finished with high marks and good leads to a job.  He is happy now as a head director in a large high school in Texas.  Follow your Passion!!!!!!!!!!
Tom Council
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on August 3, 2015 3:36pm
I did law and ecomonics for my first undergrad, and hated it. I went back at 29, and am now going in to final year in a BA in Music. Couldn't be happier.

The age thign shouldn't be the barrier. You need to decide first if Music is what you want your career to be about. If it is, then go for it.
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on August 5, 2015 5:03am
You are NOT too old.  Do not let fear stop you, especially at the very young age of 28.  And if you are around music teachers who aren't happy, I would say that's quite unusual.  I teach at Plymouth State University in NH and I gotta say, I have never met a more dedicated, lively, upbeat group of people than our Music Ed majors.  And they get jobs...and they are doing terrific things in our communities. Go for it!
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on August 5, 2015 6:46am
Crystal, could you maybe say more about your vision for AFTER school? What are you hoping the degree will do for you? What are you unable to do now that school might make possible?
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on August 6, 2015 6:16am
Go!   I was a stay at home mom for a number of years.  When my youngest was 12 -  I went back to school.  I was 42 at the time.  I love music and could play piano.  I took the regular classes and added in some extra music classes to learn more about music (my knowledge was fairly limited).  I started with "Teaching music to children - Kodaly methold)  and as classes progressed -  I began teaching afterschool programs to children.  Pretty soon I was connected to schools.  I graduated in 2008 (age 57) and am going into my 13th year - FULL TIME teaching muisc grades K-8.   I have learned a great deal (conducting, organizing, being creative, etc. etc.)    
It is NEVER TOO LATE!   Go for it!  See where your journey leads you.  You will be amazed!   - Darleen Herriman
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on August 8, 2015 11:35am
I didn't start music school until the month that I turned 30 and IT WAS THE BEST CHOICE I HAVE EVER MADE!  Since then it hasn't always been smooth sailing but I have made a living (sometimes a meager one) directing choirs, teaching music, and church music directing since then.  I'm 53 and I'm applying for grad school this winter. 
When I was applying for music school at age 29 I was talking with my mom and kind of whiningly saying "But I'll be 34 when I graduate!"  She said, "You'll be 34 either way, why not have a music degree?" 


If I had anything to do differently, I would have signed up for therapy sessions from my first semester in college.  I'm not kidding. Music school can bring up any insecurities or fears you might have -- I know it did for me and some of my good friends.  Most schools have low-cost or free counseling.  But the biggest antidote to fear is IN THE MUSIC ITSELF.  Just today I was working with a counselor and ended up with the phrase, "I choose music." Like any long-term love relationship, you must choose it over and over again.
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on August 9, 2015 5:59am
Hi Crystal,
I was trying to check the responses to make sure no one had said this already: is a 4 year universtiy or college really the answer? I'm only 26, and I did go to college to get a Bachelor's of Music in Voice Performance, graduating in 2011. My university cost roughly $40,000 per year (I was lucky that I had a generous scholarship and equally generous parents). The most important thing about music school, I think, was the community of other musicians and the opportunities to make music with them. I had a few friends who were 28 and above when I went to school, too, and it wasn't weird.

However, have you considered trying to learn everything you need to known through private instruction? Really good private lessons can cost $100 per hour, but do the math: Say you want to take voice lessons, conducting lessons, and piano lessons every week for an entire year. For one teacher that's $400 per month, $4800 per year, with all three subjects, that's $14,400 for the year. Way less than university, and if you're already singing in a commuity choir, and if you really hustle to meet more musicians in your area and try to start groups and make music with them, I feel you could have a very comprable music education without needing to shell out the tuition for a university.
Learning this way takes more personal drive and commitment of time outside of lessons, but it sounds like you are not lacking in the area of personal drive, to me. Food for thought, and good luck! Short answer: it's never too late.
on August 9, 2015 4:33pm
Thank you Tony for your suggestions, they are GREATLY appreciated.
And you are right, in doing the math it would make sense and be possible to do it via private tutoring, especially if I just wanted the personal growth of becoming a better musician.  However, as Charles and Julia point out, I have always felt pulled in the direction of teaching, in which I would need the degree, and also the fact that I'm definitely not a financially full person at the moment, so I'd need to be enrolled full time at an institution in order to receive financial aid.  
I definitely agree with your viewpoint, Tony, that it is important to immerse yourself and be around as many musicians as possible!
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on August 9, 2015 6:34am
Only one problem with your suggestion, Tony:  If Crystal wants to teach music in a school as she suggested she might, she would need to have that degree in music ed. from an accredited school.  
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on August 9, 2015 9:44am
Two problems.  I may be wrong, but I think there is no traditional type of financial aid available for private instruction in music.  As far as I know, one still has to be accepted by and/or enrolled in a fully-accredited institution of higher education in order to apply for various kinds of financial aid, which Crystal clearly needs.
on August 11, 2015 9:16am
Hi Crystal,
I want to encourage you that 28 is not at all too old, other than for perhaps a performing career as has been mentioned. I was an avocational singer in churches and community choral groups and had some years of piano lessons, but my life up to that point was not musically rich even though I felt passionate about music.  I studied human biology when I went to univeristy the first time, but always at an urban campus because I could never afford to live on campus, so I, too, missed out on the traditional college experience.  I went back to music school at the ripe old age of 42.  I had been recently divorced after being a stay-at-home mom for 13 years, and simultaneously went back to work part time while raising two children and taking care of all house and child responsibilities, but (long story short) the doors were suddenly open to me to study choral music education.  I  hadn't been in school in 20 years, and the performance aspect (voice lessons and juries) scared me spitless!
It took me one year part-time and four years full time to get just the music credits I needed, plus two classes to make up deficits from my first time through school.  I commuted to an urban campus, a necessity because of my children. For four of those five years, all my tuition was covered through talent and academic scholarships.  I won several awards, and graduated with honors.  I even eventually completed graduate school. I don't say any of this to toot my own horn, but to say only that I did  make it work even at that age, and was able to excel through loads of hard work and great professors, to whom I am very much indebted. 
I am now in my 16th year of teaching middle school choral music and drama, and while I would consider myself an average musician, I do love teaching and my stuents and would consider myself successful. It has been 20 years since I began this journey, and I have never regretted it.  If I began at 42, you can begin at 28.
All the best to you in your decision.
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on August 13, 2015 1:51pm
I, too, want to encourage you to pursue your music dream.  While singing and choral work have been predominately mentioned here, I would suggest that you not rule out other ways to have a successful career in music.  A wonderful path to consider in music is Music Therapy.  It is an exciting career path and much research and recognition of it's importance is current and more forthcoming.  Music Librarian is another path.  Musical Arts administration is also an option.  Consider all your options and then forge ahead and with JOY!!
Alison Vernon
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on August 15, 2015 8:30am
Thank you for the recommendations Alison!  I have thought about music therapy, and lately music administration has been on my mind.  Being in a chorus, I am always seeing admin staff here and there, so I observe and sometimes think it is something I would enjoy doing.  I will continue to try to explore the possibilities- and perhaps something will stand out, or perhaps it won't stand out until I've been in school for a while
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on August 16, 2015 12:22pm
Good observation, Crystal.  Very often it's the classes you take in school that help to sharpen your focus on what direction you'd like to take with your career.  Keep us posted on what you discover.  I think there may be several like me who are curious to see what you wind up doing with your music.  
Good luck!
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on August 15, 2015 12:36pm
My sister sent this link to me the other day (we share the same crappy emotional baggage): 
Thought it might be of interest to you (and others).  Twenty interesting, enlightening, and often amusing minutes about vulnerability, fear, etc.
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on August 16, 2015 4:36am
Oh, my gosh, I thought you were going to say you were 60!  I got three degrees in music, then went to law school at 36!  After practicing 15 years, I needed to pursue my music passion, music, full time, so I'm back.  There is research that if you are talented and interested in music, you will not be happy unless you are doing something with it, full time or not.  
Do it now and don't wait!  There are NOT OLD!!!!
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on August 16, 2015 3:40pm
I would like to share with you story of the woman that was thecooperating teacher for my student teaching experience.  She finished high school, got married soon after, and had her 1st child about a yr. after that.  When her oldest child entered high school, she entered college at an age even older than you are now.  She graduated w/ her Bachelor's degree at the same time her oldest child graduated from H. S.  She began teaching right away and then took summer and Sat. classes to finish her Master's, guidance counselor certification, and course work for a doctorate.  She eventually became head of the music dept. in a large and prestigious suburban high sch. in Indiana and was a sought-after clincian, as well as being a frequent cooperating teacher for many student teachers. 
This woman had been inspiration for me throughout my career.  I know her situation is much different from you would face in persuing a degree and career in music; nevertheless, I hope you can make your dream a reality.  There will always be a need for bright, energetic, motivated, and dedicated music professionals.  I hope you will become one of them.  Please contact me privately if I can be of any further assistance.
Donald Snyder
Silver Spring, MD
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on September 1, 2015 8:02am
I know this question is a month old, but we have similar stories so I thought it would be worthwhile to comment.
I wanted to go to college and study music.  My family was not supportive so I ended up an English major who spent all my time performing in the choral ensembles on campus and taking voice lessons and music theory classes.  Truth be told, the entire thing was a wash and I ended up leaving a semester before graduating.
I walked away from music for a number of years.
About 5 years ago, at 29 years old, I felt such a hole in my life from not being involved in music.  I joined a local community choir and sang with them for a few years to get my feet wet.  I went on auditions.  I took voice lessons again.  It was a slow process, but worth every minute and penny.
I made more musical friends (I had some still from my college days) and we started to dream together.  We made half-assed plans for the future ("Wouldn't it be amazing to do a recital of Pergolesi's Stabat Mater with a chamber orchestra playing period instruments?" ).
7 months ago, I finally decided that waiting and fantasizing was a waste of my life.  I started an a capella ensemble and was invited to direct a new choir at my church.  The first few months were pretty hellish.  Although I had years of experience as a choral singer and soloist, I had no idea how to put the knowledge I had to good use.  I don't play the piano (I am getting better though, by necessity).  It's taken a long time, but I now have two thriving ensembles and I feel in control when I walk into the rehearsal room.
Going back to school could help you avoid some of the learning curve I've experienced, but ultimately I am here to tell you - do what you love.  Life is so short.  It's gone in the blink of an eye.  Don't let fear turn to regret and then to bitterness.  Just get out there are do it.  Join an existing group that doesn't require auditions - get your feet wet.  The fear will evaporate.
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