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Back to the future?

JerryPH

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Those that know me here know that I don't post many questions, especially ones that involve a twist that the person asking the question SHOULD know the answer to, but I am sincerely curious about the thoughts, comments and opinions of others on this topic.

Over 40 years ago I was taking lessons and courses at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. I worked hard and advanced a lot, but I never took an exam, never was there for that, I was there for the knowledge only. Now, in a way I regret never having taken an exam.

I just recently found out that the RCM *still* has not just a syllabus but that the accordion program is alive there and they now offer exams for the Free Bass accordion program... all via ZOOM!

I am having some serious thoughts about starting over and going through those exams, but of course at 61 years old and still working full time, I have a few questions and doubts that I will have to answer:
1. At an arthritic 61 years old, would it even be possible for me to attain this goal?
2. SHOULD I even be thinking like that?
3. Currently with a full time job, how can I make time to climb that ladder?

So... if YOU had the chance to start over again and had the opportunity to gain the knowledge, skills and accreditation of a diploma from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto Ontario... as an adult student that basically needs to start over from scratch... would you?

Thanks for sharing your opinions! :)
 
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JeffJetton

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1. Sure. Why wouldn't it be? People set, work toward, and then achieve goals at all sorts of ages.
2. Absolutely! I hope I never stop "thinking like that" myself. :)
3. You can't "make" time, but you can reallocate it. Like a lot of things in life, it's not just about what you're willing to do, but also about what you're willing to no longer do (at least for a period of time).

I'm assuming there's not a time limit or deadline here, right? So you at least have control over the trade-off between the number of hours you devote each week and the length of time it will take you.

You know, I'm sort of in your shoes here. I went to a music college here in the states decades ago but had to drop out due to finances. I wound up getting my (non-music) degrees elsewhere eventually, but always considered not getting the music degree from there as a loose thread I'd love to tie up one day. Of course it's even more cost-prohibitive now than it was then, not to mention not being available online. If those two things weren't the case, I would totally do it, even if I could only squeeze in one class per term and it took me ages.
 

JeffJetton

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And you know, it reminds me of a (perhaps apocryphal) story related to me recently about a guy who was contemplating enrolling in college at a later-than-usual age. He would only be able to go part-time, so it would take many years too.

He complained to his wife "If I do this, I'll be 40 years old before I graduate!".

She smiled and replied, "How old will you be if you don't do it?"
 

debra

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We cannot answer this question for you, especially since you mention "an arthritic 61 years old"...
I could not take accordion courses at the conservatory when I was young, because accordion was a forbidden instrument.
People have suggested that I should do it after retirement (which I planned early) but I asked myself: why? What would I gain by trying to get a degree from the conservatory. I know what I can and cannot do. Most people who know me also know what I can and cannot do. So the real question is: what purpose would the degree from the conservatory serve? Is it to get some type of recognition from people who don't know you or know what you can do?
I answered the question for myself with a "no". I don't need that degree for anything, and people who only respect a musician based on a degree instead of on actual performance are not the people I would try to please by going for a degree. I did go to Castelfidardo to take courses in accordion repair, not to get a degree in that but to learn how to do repair properly. I don't believe that courses in accordion are worth my time.
So there you go... you have to ask yourself what YOU gain by taking these courses and exams at the conservatory... and then you will have your answer.
 

olivigus

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I think both of the above replies are very useful perspectives. Answering the “Why?” first seems key. Why does the thought of doing this appeal? How much “pull” is it exerting? Does it feel more like an impulse of the moment because you just found out it is a possibility, or would it satisfy a deep yearning you didn’t even realize you had until you found out it was possible? How much do you regret not going for the exam back then? What would completing it now signify for you? I’d agree with @debra that if it’s more about external recognition or some stamp of approval from the outside world, it may not be worth it. But also agree with @JeffJetton that it would be totally possible to do, if it is indeed an internal longing and something you don’t want to leave this earth without having accomplished.
 

JerryPH

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Maybe I've not worded my post very well and for that I'll apologize.

I've posted all the reasons why *I* shouldn't, and I'll later post why I should and finally in that post will divulge what my decision is concerning me, because I had already made a decision before posting. ;)

I wasn't asking others what I should do, I was asking if YOU had this opportunity, would you devote yourself to that kind of journey? :)

So far, we have a yes, a no and a neutral. :D
 

olivigus

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@JerryPH Ah, I understand now. The parallel situation/question for me was always whether I should commit to getting an MFA in acting. I actually think if that were something I could do via Zoom over time from a Royal-Conservatory-level institution, I would jump on it, purely for the fun, challenge, learning, personal satisfaction aspects (and, yeah, maybe a little for the outside validation, if I’m honest). But the reality of trying to do it in person, which would most likely involve being somewhere else for two or three years, paying for it, giving up my long-time satisfying job, working with classmates who are possibly decades younger, juggling existing life choices, and missing spouse, house, pets, etc., just isn’t worth it to me. Especially when I’ve already had numerous opportunities (pre-pandemic at least) to be honing my craft and acting with people who already know what I can do and value my work. Curious to find out what you decided.
 

jozz

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maybe for the experience of being part of that and getting to know new people and enthusiasts

not for the accreditation at that age

i would go for light music and not conservatory anyway

i guess changing to a parttime job, at that age would also financially impact your retirement later on

all in all: no
 

godgi

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Sorry I deleted post.
Godgi
 
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JerryPH

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Well, to make a long story short, I'll be hopping on that bus, and that decision was finalized about 1 hour after calling the RCM yesterday morning around 10:00am. Most of that decision was already made 2 days earlier when I was told that the RCM still offered these exams..

As of today:
- Employers have been notified of the "weekends and most evenings are now sacrosanct" rule
- My account at the RCM has been created
- Arrangements made for most of the materials to start coming in, the rest get ordered as I solidify the direction I want to take over the next couple days

A decision I've made is that I start from the beginning on Free Bass, instead of waiting until after the 5th exam to start with it. I technically could "cheat" and start from Stradella, but that's not the direction I am taking and I know it would be a lot easier, but that is not the goal.

Many good reasons to do this too... I decided its a great way to motivate me, its a great way to literally force me to get a work/life balance and irrespective of what the outcome is, diploma or not (and it *really* isn't about some paper, either... I have over 300 attestations, certifications, diplomas, all are in a suitcase in my shed out back).

It's all about personal validation, redemption and honestly a way to capture a lot of that fun and pleasure that I always wanted but didn't have as a kid. That was a big chapter that was left incomplete until now.

So, why did I post it here? Couldn't I just do it and not say anything? For sure, but what a GREAT way to hold myself accountable. I've said I would do something and in public no less, so, now I have to do it, no matter where it takes me... 1 step, 10 steps, all the way... makes no difference!

There have not been many things that really excited me for a long time as much as this does and I am really looking forward to this journey. :)
 
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JeffJetton

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There have not been many things that really excited me for a long time as much as this does and I am really looking forward to this journey. :)

And I'm excited for you! I hope you'll post frequent updates as to how everything's going.

Just the prep for the exams has got to wind up improving you skills and knowledge immensely. That's a pretty good outcome right there, diploma or no.
 

debra

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Good to hear about your decision. I wish you the best of luck with the study and the exams. It's going to be tough but I'm sure you can do it!
Have you considered getting a different accordion for this? The MIII on the Morino is not very comfortable for free bass (and limited to 3 rows) but of course many people got their degrees playing an accordion with MIII before convertors were invented. You may have tried some free bass on the Roland and can decide whether convertor is more convenient for you or not, but I'm pretty sure a Roland will not be acceptable for these courses and exams...
 

godgi

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Sorry Jerry it was a bit of a personal rant I changed my mind and took it down. Best of luck in your quest

Godgi
 
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JerryPH

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Have you considered getting a different accordion for this? The MIII on the Morino is not very comfortable for free bass (and limited to 3 rows) but of course many people got their degrees playing an accordion with MIII before convertors were invented. You may have tried some free bass on the Roland and can decide whether convertor is more convenient for you or not, but I'm pretty sure a Roland will not be acceptable for these courses and exams...
I am famous for sticking through some decisions. If I was starting over as a young man, it 100% would be on a CBA and likely on the setup that has the stepped bass, that one is a converter system that mirrors the setup of the right hand.

I started out on that old Morino and as good or bad as it is, that is the accordion I am going to use to do the course with, unless I trip over a Gola 459 (yet another "bad decision"... haha). I tried for several weeks to use the converter setup on the Roland, and basically it did me more negative than positive just because of who I am. In the words of Clint Eastwood "A man's got to know his limitations". I have many limitations! :)
 

debra

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I am famous for sticking through some decisions. If I was starting over as a young man, it 100% would be on a CBA and likely on the setup that has the stepped bass, that one is a converter system that mirrors the setup of the right hand.

I started out on that old Morino and as good or bad as it is, that is the accordion I am going to use to do the course with, unless I trip over a Gola 459 (yet another "bad decision"... haha). I tried for several weeks to use the converter setup on the Roland, and basically it did me more negative than positive just because of who I am. In the words of Clint Eastwood "A man's got to know his limitations". I have many limitations! :)
No problem in sticking with what you have and know. Mie Miki (from Germany) plays fabulously on a Gola with MIII melody bass!
 

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Congratulations on your new course!

I nearly took my master's degree in art (theory, criticism). I loved and enjoyed studying at university, and was among the most fecund period of my life. I eventually realized that, aside from the personal satisfaction of studying, obtaining the degree would merely qualify me to teach. I had absolutely zero interest in a life in academia. And so I took my degree in other fields.

A formal program exposes you to particular sources of information and enables opportunities, which facilitates an exquisite environment for learning. However, there are also opportunities elsewhere, outside of academia, of course.
 

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