So I apologize if this question has come up before but I didn't find anything.

So, I applied and got accepted to my local music school which is one of the best in the country (Iceland). I'm studying vocal performance. They told me that I would spend approximately 5 hours per week at school, 1 of which would be theory, 1 ear training and 1 singing lesson.

My question is, how is this in the UK and United States specifically? I've been practicing on my own for a year, can read sheet music and arrange songs and I can sing pretty well, although I realize I still have a way to go before I'd be considered excellent. If I go to a college in the US, would I be accepted or would they tell me: "No you need X years of study before studying with us".

Essentially, I'm wondering why this school is going to spend 8 years teaching me to sing and the theoretical knowledge I need. Is there any specific reason there are only 5 hours of study per week?

  • Did you audition before they accepted you? – jazzboy Aug 19 '16 at 0:54
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    Is this a university or is it in addition to regular studies before university? Either way, I'm sure the assumption/implication is that you'll also be spending one to three hours per day practicing on your own time. You don't learn in the lessons, you learn in the practice. – Todd Wilcox Aug 19 '16 at 2:22
  • A personal, but relevant, question, is how old are you? At what age would this 8yr course start? – Tim Aug 19 '16 at 13:34

There is a figure of 10,000 hrs quoted to 'become a musician'. Obviously it's going to vary - considerably - even if it's half accurate, but it gives a figure to juggle with. The course - 8 yrs , at 5 hrs a week. 2,000 hrs. Practice at home, etc., @3 hrs daily for 8 yrs =8,760 hrs.Have days off for the leap years... There's the sums!

I'd have thought that 8 yrs is too long a span - it doesn't take that long to become a doctor. 3 or 4 would be reasonable, but to sort of answer your thoughts, have a look at some of the grading systems for music/singing around. There's several in U.K. and lots of different ones in U.S. - each state works in isolation apparently. Bear in mind that grade viii is considered a starting point rather than the target, for uni. That will give you an opportunity to realise what level you are already at.

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    In the context of classical music, somebody who has been "practising on their own for a year" is likely to be almost a beginner, and about 8 years "part time" music study while still at school (starting at an age somewhere between say 7 and 13) would be quite a normal path to get to the level required to start full-time music study at a conservatoire. But I don't really understand what the OP is asking about, and I know nothing about music education in Iceland. – user19146 Aug 19 '16 at 13:09
  • In the US it takes longer than 8 years to become a doctor, depending on how you measure it. I believe the program in the question is pre-university. – Todd Wilcox Aug 19 '16 at 13:26

From my experience, 5 hours of study in classes per week does not translate to 5 hours of practice per week. My Berklee Online classes consume about 15 hours of practice per week per class. Almost killed me when I took two classes a couple semesters ago. I have found that consistent and applied practice means much more than quantity for certain things like guitar. For singing, the same would apply but in a different way, but the rule still applies. The 10,000 hour rule mentioned above is something I have heard before, but scratch my head at that one. On guitar, I have blown that away and still figure things out when I sit for a session. I will say one thing though, once you pass the two year mark of consistent study and practice, practicing actually just turns into playing, because through muscle memory, you pick up new techniques much quicker.

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