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We know, of course, that Albert Einstein was an accomplished violinist. I believe he knew something about the velocity of light, and how it's related to energy, and how everything is relative to everything else (and how you can slow down time and stay young wink ). He also knew, of course, that his work at the patents office gave him the means to dabble in his twin passions of math and music, until one of them took over the world......

Alfred Einstein, on the other hand, stayed with music.

Sherlock Holmes too was an accomplished violinist, but he knew his method, founded upon the observation of trifles. Therefore, violin played second fiddle to his sleuthing, and in fact is complimentary to it.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
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At good universities, professors may have a dozen or more roles. Teaching may represent a small (or no) part of the week. Other activities might include such areas as: researching, writing, reading, reviewing, making presentations, networking, mentoring, recruiting, fundraising, administering, etc. Roles can vary wildly by university, department, concentration, country, interest, the economy, etc. As a professor builds up experience, the roles change.

Frankly, nobody can speculate on what branch of maths you might like.

If you think you might be interested in programming, try programming for a hobby. Buy a book on some language or find a class on the internet from say Khan Academy.

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Originally Posted by jeffcat
These places are also typically very crowded with alot of young people who are arguably sub-human until they're 35/40. They're typically all quite dirty and of poor hygiene.
hehehe. That is not the case for everyone.

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After reading some of the latest comments/replies, I'd like to add a few more:

1) If you don't want to become a professor, definitely do NOT go into pure math.

2) It is NOT true that they've gotten rid of tenure. Tenure is very much alive and well.

3) Being good at (applied) math means you'll be fine doing statistics, machine learning, etc. which many companies are paying high salaries for. There are in fact several companies (Google, Amazon, Apple, etc.) that specifically look for folks with doctoral degrees in optimization (a sub-field of applied math), machine learning, etc. You quickly get into the 6-figure range and buy a nice piano!


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Originally Posted by newer player
Originally Posted by jeffcat
These places are also typically very crowded with alot of young people who are arguably sub-human until they're 35/40. They're typically all quite dirty and of poor hygiene.
hehehe. That is not the case for everyone.

Originally Posted by jeffcat
Computer Sci, machine learning is the future, and more fun, so if that's your thing, could be fun. It doesn't pay well though, because they concentrate in high cost living areas, even if they offer you 150-300thousand, it's technically a worse salary than 1/2 of that living some where cheaper.

Lol, that was funny. But can't say it's been my experience, well, maybe some sub-human people a little ;0 Can't agree with the pay though. You can do quite well if you are good. And 300K in Southern Cal? That's about $150 hour, piano teacher rate? You won't be suffering at all ...


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At the university level, the study of music offers career opportunities besides being a performer or composer. A rewarding option might be music therapy. Music therapists are employed by hospitals, county governments, and retirement homes. They get to help people by making music and sharing music making with others. They work in clean environments and bring home a steady if not spectacular pay check.

Completely outside the field of music, if you're good with computers, you might consider medical informatics. It's organizing and governing the ever-growing needs required by todays hospitals. It's a growing field and the pay is good.


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You could also consider arts management, concentrating on the music industry.


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Nobody can predict the future, just follow your instinct.


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Originally Posted by Jethro
Also I agree with the others in this thread, if you are having these questions now most likely you are going to have these questions as a musician when you run into challenges that are often monetary in nature. The people I know who have a genuine love for music never questioned their career choice, their only questions now are more in the nature of how do I maximize my income doing the thing I love. Those who made a mistake are the ones who are constantly asking themselves whether they should have pursued another career.

I agree with this so much. I think the key is doing music for the right reasons. Many of the full-time musicians I know who keep warning others about becoming a musician have, I always feel, gone into music without a love that's free of ulterior motives. It was maybe a love of playing- the physical gratification of it, the admiration of friends and of strangers, the thrill of performing or of being on stage, the desire to be accomplished and good at something, the desire to be doing something interesting and elite, maybe even curiosity and love of learning- which is noble in itself, but not enough to sustain a life in music. When students came to Nadia Boulanger, the first question she asked was, "Can you love without music? If you can live without music, then thank the Lord and goodbye!" She continues, "Because it's only if it's unavoidable that one must do music. The one who wants to do it will never be discouraged. I will discourage him! But he will go to the streets, he will go to someone else, but he will do it. The one you must push will never do anything." It's like love. There are so many feelings that look like love, that present themselves as love, and they are so common they easily pose for the real thing, which is much rarer in comparison. When you love someone, even if it sounds like a crazy idea, you want to commit to them for the rest of your life. You want to do it against reason, against logic, because you feel like you're missing out on life itself if you don't. And you know that if you had one lifetime, ten lifetimes, a hundred lifetimes, you wouldn't make a different choice- maybe only make it with more courage. Committing to music without love is like marrying someone you don't love. It does work for so many. But if one hasn't experienced complete and overwhelming certainty, one wouldn't know that there's something more. (And maybe that's a blessing, because otherwise life with it but without its object is too painful).

Other people you have feelings for, but something always tells you maybe it's best that they remain lovers or friends- you have this constant worry that you would ruin it if you share too much of your life with them, and part of you always thinks of everything and everyone you might miss out on if you commit to them (which doesn't mean that they mean little to you or that the relationship cannot still be really rewarding).

Sorry if I took the analogy too far, but it's something I always feel strongly about.

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I have no children, but a strong relation with many youngsters that I have met through my passions for sailing, archeology, art, computer games and music, and who naturally ask me for advice in studies and careers.

Although I am not religious, I have due respect for Genesis 3.19 : "By the sweat of your brow you will earn your bread". What this really means today is that you cannot earn a living by indulging only in your own whims, you must satisfy your fellow humans' needs if they will give you their cash willingly (unless you have the desire and opportunity to join a racket like the mafia or government).

That your own pleasure, and your fellow human needs, will align, is possible but very uncertain. It is a very tempting proposition in the field of music, but in reality restricted to a few geniuses, and mainly creators of original material, ie. popular music composers rather than instrumentalists. In mathematics this is easier to predict, but not in cutting edge Fields Medal kind of work. This work is today restricted to academia, as the era of independently wealthy geniuses like Henri Poincaré or Bertrand Russell is gone. Academia has charms for some, it is also a world of treacherous politics and years of slavery.

Both Music and Mathematics are exhausting studies. They require major talent and ages of concentrated work that will leave little time for anything else. This has two unfortunate consequences:
(1) Many other rewarding fields of human endeavor will remain ignored, (2) Mid-career changes will be nigh impossible : you will be a lifer.

However there is a huge difference. Mathematics depends on a high level of abstract intelligence. Music depends more on instinct. And logical thought is encouraged by the study of mathematics, which become a precious tool for all the sciences (a requisite except for biology) and many other fields of human action based on making bets on the future, like business, or also professions where leadership of others, rather than simply personal performance, is required for success.

Now of course, money and material success is not the ultimate recipe for the "Pursuit of Happiness".. One of my best and most treasured friend, for the depth of his knowledge and enjoyment of life, was a monk. But I ceaselessly tell my more utopian young protégés that a life without any concern for money is a very risky proposal. For all its faults, money brings freedom, independence from the whim of others. Therefore I always end up telling them to focus on what they do best rather than like best, and that others, rather than themselves, will appreciate most. They will always be time at some point for self-satisfaction playing (at last, at 75) Mozart's K 545.

As an avid gamer, like millions since December 10th, I am deep into Cyberpunk 2077. I chose to play a "Corpo Rat", that is a trained cerebral executive type deep into computer hacking and treachery. Indeed a mathematician. And it reflects my past : long ago I was a promising Mathematics major who switched at the last moment for Business School.

Last edited by Vikendios; 12/17/20 04:42 PM.

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Question: Should you become a musician or a mathematician?
Answer: Both


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To OP:

I haven't read most of the responses, but here are my two cents: don't go for either Math or Music. Instead, opt for software engineering or other computer science or engineering based profession. If you are good at Math and Music, you will likely do very well with programming and computer science. You clearly have aptitude for hard work and perseverance. That will give you a stable career where you can maximize your earnings per hour and will have plenty of free time for Music. You can just enjoy music or to even pursue it as a secondary hobby/profession. At this point of time in your life, supporting a family (spouse, kids etc.) is probably not on your mind - but keep that in mind as you choose your profession. Note that choice of profession is not about maximizing earnings or maximizing pleasure/happiness, it is about maximizing earning per hour of your time - so you can have a high quality of life with limited hours in your profession. That gives you ample free time to pursue what you enjoy in your life at different stages of life. This would change at different times in your life. At some point, it may be spending time with friends/family, or spending time with kids, or playing music, or traveling, or golfing, or <insert any other leisure activity here>.

In my experience, those who enjoy Music most throughout their lives are the ones who aren't doing it for a living. Doing anything for a living, takes a toll and you don't really want to do that for leisure/pleasure.


Osho

Last edited by Osho; 12/17/20 11:03 PM.

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Incidently, I read this a few minutes after replying to this thread: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/17/arts/music/performing-arts-unions-pandemic.html

May be of interest.

Osho


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Something just isn't adding up here (if you will permit another pun). Why do you have to pick one or the other at this time? Why does a high school sophomore have to decide on a career choice now?

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Wow, I did not expect this many answers! Many thanks to all of you, I am truly humbled.

Originally Posted by c++
Something just isn't adding up here (if you will permit another pun). Why do you have to pick one or the other at this time? Why does a high school sophomore have to decide on a career choice now?

I feel like I need to start focusing, after quite a while of being idle and indecisive.

To those suggesting I choose a career in engineering or comp sci, etc., thanks for your input. I understand it’s a much more stable career path, but I don’t feel suited for it and will likely feel the same way when I enter college (although I’m a teenager, so I might just be confused and change my mind :)).

Thanks again for all the messages. I have been thinking very hard the past few days and still cannot imagine a career outside of music. I will likely study music technology (as a general piano major) at a music school, perhaps studying mathematics pretty seriously also. I appreciate everyone’s input on this! Hope I haven’t wasted too much time with my question laugh


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Originally Posted by chopinliszt27
To those suggesting I choose a career in engineering or comp sci, etc., thanks for your input. I understand it’s a much more stable career path, but I don’t feel suited for it and will likely feel the same way when I enter college (although I’m a teenager, so I might just be confused and change my mind :)).

I can relate to that. When i chose my career path i did not think it was suited for me, my character and my skills, quite the contrary but i chose it anyway. Essentially, as i said because it was the most evolutive possibility. All in all in my case it worked out very well and i dont regret my choice. It certainly put some pressure on me as i had to compensate and force myself for the skills that were not natural to me, but most people have to do that in some way.

At this point you may think of a profession in technical terms, but it is only a part of what makes a profession. There are plenty of other skills like relationships capability that constitute probably the largest component in a successful career. You have to think of a profession more broadly. What sort of people will you be working with, travel involved (some like it some dont), what type of environment, what possibility to evolve, change locations, number of open positions. Salary, If you want to be free(r), you should pick an activity where you can find a job more easily and where it suits you, ..... all in all what shoud guide you is the type of life you want.

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Originally Posted by chopinliszt27
I feel like I need to start focusing, after quite a while of being idle and indecisive.

Seriously, why not do both? If you are well-organized, hardworking, smart, and blessed with talent, there's no reason why you can't double major in math and music at a university with good programs in both. I am a professor of electrical engineering at a decent university and over the years I've encountered about a dozen undergrads who double majored in a STEM field and music performance. They all had excellent time management skills, in addition to the other qualities I listed. Most of them finished in 4 years by planning ahead so that some courses could be used to fulfill requirements in both majors. You might want to start looking into admissions requirements for the majors. You will probably have to audition to be admitted to the music school for a piano performance major.

Here is some information you may find useful:

Yup, it's possible to double major in STEM and music

Dual-degree programs

So, my recommendation is...go for both! Follow your passions! At this stage in your life there's no need to close any doors. After your undergraduate studies you will most likely have to choose one of the two as your primary occupation. Most of the double majors I mentioned went on to graduate study in STEM fields but still have a very rich amateur music performance life. With their STEM degrees and employment, they're able to afford instruments most professional musicians can only lust after. smile

Here's a mathematician and pianist: Eugenia Cheng


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Originally Posted by jazzyprof
Here's a mathematician and pianist: Eugenia Cheng

And here's another!

https://elainechew-research.blogspot.com/


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Have you considered...neither?

I majored in math and I don't regret it (I still intend to go do my PhD someday), but out of practical considerations, I wish I took a few computer science classes in school so I could have an easier time making money. Knowing math beyond your usual university linear algebra course is pretty much useless, as much as I hate to say it.

Studying music professionally is even worse, don't get me started on how many Juilliard grads I know who struggle to make a living, or quit to do a corporate job. I strongly recommend you steer clear of this path.

If you don't even like math that much (I can already tell based on how you're talking about it), then you probably want to think about branching out into say computer science or statistics or engineering. Math is the most competitive field out there, and if your heart isn't 100% in it, you aren't going to make it, so you need to think about what else you wouldn't mind doing to make a living.

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Pure mathematics is not an easy field in which to find employment. You're probably looking at going all the way and getting a PhD, but the college job market is pretty tough for Math Assistant Professors. If you're open to doing statistics or physics, or an applied field like engineering or computer science that are math-intensive, you'll have more opportunities, as far as I know.

Similarly, the prospects for solo careers as a pianist are limited. People applying to the Juiliard are probably known by the time they're 12.

Maybe I'm totally wrong, and maybe you're the next great pianist to come along, I don't know you, so take everything with a grain of salt.


But I have an idea: have you thought about becoming a teacher? Are there openings for someone who could teach math and direct a school orchestra or music program? You might need to pick up an orchestral instrument like the violin, but you have plenty of time to do that. It might be a career in which you could do both.

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