Jan. 19, 2022

So you can a Doctorate in…Music?

So you can a Doctorate in…Music?
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Doctorates or equivalent degrees exist across many, many fields and even music! Ever wondered what getting a doctorate in the arts entails or curious as to why these degrees even exist? In this episode, Ciyadh answers those questions and talks about what it was like to get a doctoral degree in the arts.

Show Notes:
What Is a Doctorate or a Doctoral Degree? | Best Graduate Schools | US News
What is the purpose of doing a PhD? - Quora

Music Recommendation:
Pathways by Alexander Flood ft. Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah

Spotify Playlist:
Musically Cogitating Spotify Playlist

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Email Address: musicallycogitating@gmail.com

Ciyadh’s Links:
Ciyadh's Website
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Ciyadh's Facebook

*Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you.


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[00:00:14] Hello. Hello. Hello and welcome to this episode of musically cogitating, a podcast about the relevance and importance of living and contemporary music of all kinds and about how that music and everything else impacts our everyday lives. I am your host. . Thank you so much for joining me here today. Thank you so much for listening, for supporting, for being a part of this really lovely podcast community.

[00:00:42] I love making this podcast and I'm gonna keep doing it. So there you go. As always, anything that I've mentioned will be linked in the show notes. So let me know what you think about.

[00:00:58] This episode  and topic that I'm going to talk about is something that I've been wanting to do for a while. I've been, I've been waiting to do this very episode and I say this episode, but I really need this episode. And probably one six months from now that really, really breaks it down and gets deep inside of it.

[00:01:23] But I'm just. Actually today as a recording, I'm about just just a month out from being done. And so I feel sort of still in the process and I haven't really gotten used to not living that student school life, but I am done. And so I wanted to do an episode now thinking about how I'm feeling. And so you may be wondering.

[00:01:49] Well, you may, or you may not know that I recently graduated from the university of Georgia with a doctorate in music, specifically a guitar performance. And so I [00:02:00] wanted to talk about that. I wanted to talk about why. People pursue doctorates in artistic fields. And I wanted to talk about my journey and my reasoning for doing so, because I don't think that a lot of people know that you can do it.

[00:02:18] And I don't think that a lot of people are aware of all of what that entails. And so I won't go through, you know, my transcript and talk about every detail of every class and every requirement, but I wanted to just give a broad. Overview of what that means. And so, again, specifically, I received a DMA, which is a doctorate of musical arts, not a dark stuff, philosophy, which is a PhD, which is one that people are more familiar with, not an MD, which is a medical doctorate, not a JD, which is a Juris, doctorate, not a DN or an ed.

[00:02:53] You know, there are all of these different types of doctorate that people can get in. They do all. [00:03:00] Make you a doctor, even though you, you might not know that, or you might not really understand, but, but just know that regardless of the letters that they use to distinguish or signify the type of doctorate that.

[00:03:18] That person is still a doctor maybe, or maybe not just a medical doctor. And I want to talk about, you know, why I decided to get a doctorate and what their processes is like, and you know what, yeah, just what it was like, because it's, it's an interesting process to go through for sure. But before I get into that, I wanted to just say a few things like briefly overview.

[00:03:47] What is a doctorate and why people get them. And I also wanted to know for myself, like if they were common because in my world, yeah. I know several people who have [00:04:00] doctorates, but many people may not. You, you know, a person listening to, you might not know anyone who has a doctorate. And so I wanted. Sure a little bit about that.

[00:04:09] So, you know, you might be wondering, well, what is a doctorate degree aside from someone who is, of course, a medical doctor and a doctorate is usually the most advanced degree in the field that someone can get in an academic discipline. So this is according to what I found on the internet that says, you know, that's what a doctorate degree is.

[00:04:30] And I agree with that. They are often referred to as terminal degree. So it's like the last possible degree that someone can get to be qualified in a specific field. And. Of course, this varies wildly across fields and schools and countries, but just think of a doctorate as basically a very advanced degree in which usually [00:05:00] someone does the degree to produce research and knowledge in a field.

[00:05:07] The internet says that nearly. To present of all adults in the U S have a doctorate, which is roughly. 6 million people, which I think is a lot of people. So I'm not sure if that's accurate or not. And it, you know, who knows, but just know that there, there probably, you know, between like four and 6 million people out there who have doctorates, which is, which is quite a lot, but of course that is across all of the various disciplines and I'm willing to use.

[00:05:41] Bet. I would put a lot of money down on this to say that most of those are in the sciences because we need science for all of the reasons that we all know. And so I think that most people who have doctorates have been in some sort of science or science [00:06:00] related, adjacent. So, um, I've got this quote from an article and it says that if someone wants to be respected as an expert in their chosen field, and also wants to have a writer away of array of options in research, writing, publishing and teaching and administration management or private practice, a doctorate is definitely worth considering.

[00:06:24] And so if you want to pursue. A sort of specialized career field, then a lot of people will consider getting a doctorate in order to help qualify them to pursue said field, which is, you know, one of the reasons that I did and I will get in to that later, but that's. You know, their main reason for everyone.

[00:06:46] Some people just decide to get doctorates because they're bored and they want to go back to school and they don't have anything else to do. So the kind of like, why not? Or some people go because [00:07:00] it's free and they don't have to pay for it. Everything. Nothing is free. Everything comes at a cost. So even if you have a lot of your expenses paid for when you get a doctorate, it does have a cost.

[00:07:12] So, so just remember, remember that nothing is free, but some people are just really interested in the knowledge that they get. Some people want the opportunity. Some people want to have a specific job. So there are really a lot of reasons. That you do it, but it can help someone to become an expert in a particular field.

[00:07:36] Now having that degree doesn't necessarily make you an expert. Yeah. I know a lot about guitar and sure. I have this. Credential now that says that I know a lot in that field. I think it makes me very knowledgeable ensure, you know, like no one else has written about the topic that I wrote about my dissertation.

[00:08:00] [00:07:59] So in that way, I, I hold a lot of expertise, but saying that I'm in a. In a field feels weird and I think most people would feel that way too. So instead of saying that someone is an expert necessarily, I would just say that people who pursue doctorates and who ended up getting doctorates are often very knowledgeable in a perfectly.

[00:08:23] Field. And so the output of most doctorate degrees and programs is some sort of research, some sort of knowledge I'm sort of contribution to that particular field. And I would say that for. One who pursues a doctorate. You know, that is the biggest requirement to finishing is the production of knowledge.

[00:08:50] That is to be shared with others in a very public manner. So, you know, it's, you finished your doctorate, you write it, you defend it, which means that people ask you [00:09:00] questions and they approve it. And basically it becomes published. So it's supposed to be available. To the public. Now, again, this varies by degree.

[00:09:12] This varies by school. This varies widely by discipline. You will hear stories of people who wrote entire books for their dissertations. I did not write a book. I wrote a pretty long paper, but some people write books. Some people will do experiments. Some people, instead of doing one really long document, they have to do three articles or, you know, a certain set of articles.

[00:09:39] Some people will have to maybe write a play. Or direct a play, you know, they're all of these different ways that people produce knowledge. In their chosen fields. Um, so there are all these formats, but that, that is usually the outcome and the requirement that someone [00:10:00] needs to fulfill in order to become a doctor.

[00:10:07] And ultimately I think that these degree programs exists so that those who are really knowledgeable in those subjects are best equipped to teach and train others in the subject. So it's this weird, weird cycle that. Isn't probably the best cycle, but it's the one that we have. And so it's the one that we're going to go with in any case, the field of music and the things that we produce in music and more broadly in art and in the arts look very.

[00:10:43] Different. And I wanted to say that I think that these decrees exist in the arts for very good reasons. And know me as someone who has a [00:11:00] doctorate in music, I don't produce life. Treatments and knowledge for science. We don't do that via the things that we create as, as artists. Um, you know, we're not cleaning up the oceans, we're not, um, epidemiologists or anything like that, but I think the art of course is meaningful to our lives and to people and it is important.

[00:11:28] And so that's why. These degrees exists also, you know, we live in a capitalistic state. And so I think that's also part of why. These degrees exists because they need more people to train more people, to train more people to become knowledgeable. But you know, aside from all of that, you know what artists do, even though it might not be as urgent, who someone as someone who is an MD or who is studying in the sciences, that doesn't mean that what we don't [00:12:00] do.

[00:12:00] Is it important and doesn't impact the world in a really positive way. So it's okay that someone who studies in the sciences has, you know, a little bit more urgent of a topic or something like that. But that doesn't mean that my topic was. You know, the work of black women, composers for guitar is not important.

[00:12:20] That just means it's a little less urgent in that way. And that's totally fine. I'm totally happy to, to say that because, you know, I believe it. So that's why I said it. I'm not going to talk about necessarily. All of the admissions requirements are or things like that. Because again, all of that varies by school, by state, by program, by country, by continent and all of that.

[00:12:46] And they're like all of these little small things that go into that, but generally before one pursues, a doctorate, you at least need to have a bachelor's and. Usually [00:13:00] some sort of other degree or qualifications. So sometimes that's like a certificate, sometimes that's a master's before you can enter the program.

[00:13:08] And this is different. Um, there are doctorate programs that are longer than the one that I did because it includes basically a master's degree in that. So, you know, it's, it's all different, but that's just generally some of the requirements. If you would like to know specifically more about that, you can contact me directly.

[00:13:30] You can send me an email, send me an Instagram DM, and I'll be happy to discuss that with you in particular for the school that I went to and for, you know, the schools that I knew, none of the information. But that's not super relevant. Just know that there are requirements and you have to meet them in order to be considered also in the arts.

[00:13:49] Generally you have to audition and send or send in a portfolio or something like that. Usually they ask for a writing sample. So there's a little bit of prep work involved, but there, those are the [00:14:00] requirements for admission and stuff like that. Now I wanted to talk about why I wanted to do this. Why did I want to spend what ended up being four and a half years?

[00:14:12] Of my life pursuing this, this one goal. And I originally entered college way back in 2011, with the intention of finishing and going all the way through and getting a doctorate. So I believe in, in my mind, I worked for this. Or just about 10 years. And there were a lot of reasons why I decided to pursue this degree, but I think there are like four main reasons.

[00:14:41] And the first one is. Pretty obvious I'm sure is that I wanted to become a better musician artist and teacher. And I think I wanted to become a better person as well. I'm always trying to be a better person. So we'll, we'll numb person on the end of that. Um, another reason is that I of course have [00:15:00] interest in Agni.

[00:15:01] As a career field. And so getting a doctorate is one of the many credentials that can help to qualify you for one of those teaching positions. And so, you know, I said one who might end up in academia, this was a good way for me personally, to get that qualification, that knowledge and. Credential another reason is that I really, really enjoy research and writing.

[00:15:30] And so doing a doctorate is essentially like being a researcher and a writer. For that amount of years and, you know, in arts, in music, in particular, most of my, most of the time I was playing in performing and in practicing. But, you know, do you have an interest in research and writing? And so I got to spend a little bit of time doing that.

[00:15:51] There are people in other fields that this is all that they do is they do their research and they write. And so being a [00:16:00] doctorate student, getting a doctorate is just doing it. That for, you know, however long that it takes for some people, it takes them three years. For some people, it takes them 10 years and some people, unfortunately aren't able to finish.

[00:16:16] I think that I've read that about half of the people who start a doctorate don't end up finishing and that's for, you know, so, so many reasons, but one of the reasons is that, yeah, it's. Hard it's harder than it needs to be in my opinion. And so people aren't able to always finish. Um, but you know, it's not something that you do for free.

[00:16:45] And so there is a cost. And so for some people, I think the, the costs don't outweigh the benefits of what they would receive. You know, personally and professionally from doing this sort of degree. And so they [00:17:00] don't, and I don't think that everyone needs to, or wants to do a doctorate or, or even attend, you know, like a post-secondary educational institution.

[00:17:08] You know, college is not a guarantee for. Anything in this world for me pursuing an education in, in this way. And I really formal way was just something that I w that I wanted to do. And so for a lot of people, my thoughts and my advice are if you want to pursue a career in which you will need to have some sort of degree, then you need to do the degree, but otherwise don't, and.

[00:17:41] Or do it if you want to, but otherwise don't in figure out your own way of getting there because you know, you don't have to do a doctorate, especially, you don't have to do a bachelor's, but you can, if you want to. So my last reason, and [00:18:00] this is kind of like related to all the other reasons, but it was just generally it opens up more professional opportunities.

[00:18:07] And so I think. You know, being a student, are you a lot of those opportunities, but getting a doctorate also offers you a lot of those opportunities. And so those were kind of my four reasons. And I would say that I was able to achieve those goals. I'll get to each of those in a minute. And. Maybe not in the way that I necessarily thought, but I was definitely able to do it.

[00:18:30] And just generally speaking, you know, I really do like school. I like learning. I like the structure that comes along with school and that works well for me. And so that was part of why I think I was able to accomplish that. Also I come from. A lot of privilege in, in all sorts of ways. And so I think that [00:19:00] also enabled me to, to finish school, to be able to even think about pursuing school.

[00:19:07] And of course, you know, finishing, like I just said, so I'm going to go over how getting a doctorate helped me briefly achieve those goals. So the first goal was that I wanted to become a better musician artist, teacher, and person. And yes, like I was able to become a better musician, a better artist, a better teacher, hopefully a better person.

[00:19:30] Only you can be the judge of that dear podcast listener, but I don't know that it had necessarily everything to do with school so much as it was. I was. To discover, you know, what these things meant for me and the classes and everything are great. They're helpful. But it was really the time that I spent playing, performing, listening, engaging with everything's that we're reading.

[00:20:01] [00:20:00] What made a difference for me and what helped me to achieve this goal. And I always say and believe that for us artists types, that school is not necessarily about what we learn in the classroom environment, as much as it is about the time. You know, you have this time. That is available to you because you were in school to focus on a thing, to pursue a thing, to be surrounded by tens of thousands of people, essentially, who were interested in achieving that one thing.

[00:20:38] As well, and you also have time built in to your calendar and, and there's all this extra stuff that comes along with being in school that I think for artists is what really matters. Sure. Like I said, the theory classes were helpful, but. I can't really say that. I felt like it [00:21:00] was the reason why I am a better person today is because that geometry of music class, that I took really impacted me as a person.

[00:21:08] It didn't, I won't lie. I don't remember much of what happened in that class. Was it fun? I didn't really have that much fun in that class. I'm you know, I just did it, but it was the time. That I got to spend in the practice room. It was the time that I got to spent with my studio mates. It was a time that I got to spend making friends.

[00:21:29] It was a time that I got to spend going to things and listening to things and having access to, you know, all of this music that I think are what made me a better musician and artist and teacher. So again, my second goal was that I wanted to consider. Or am considering a career in academia and yes, I'm still considering this career, although that's not the field that I work in right now.

[00:21:56] I would say that nonprofits are a really interesting adjacent academic [00:22:00] field, but that's a different podcast episode all in itself. But yeah, getting a doctorate doesn't guarantee you a job in academia by any means, but it can be really helpful. And so that was, you know, of course, part of why. As I said, I enjoy writing and researching.

[00:22:19] And so being a doctoral student helps you to be able to learn those skills and pursue that. And I've always loved that. And, you know, I wouldn't have been able to spend all of that time writing my dissertation or my really long paper if I hadn't been in school and being in grad school or working at an institution being.

[00:22:45] A professor or, or whatever gives you access to resources and tools that you don't get when you're unaffiliated, you know, the day you graduate, they like take away your library card and your library card at an institution gives you [00:23:00] access to so, so, so many things that you just don't get when you're not affiliated with an institution.

[00:23:08] And so I think that's why a lot of people who are really just interested in. In research and writing in that becoming affiliated with the dieticians and becoming professors it's because that's the only way that you can really do it. A lot of those people unfortunately have no interest in teaching, in pedagogy and all of that, but the best way for them to do that.

[00:23:30] Do you be able to research and write is to become a professor. And so that's like the option they have. And so I don't blame them because they get to do what they want to do most of the time, which is research and write. Even if they end up, you know, having a job where and where were they? Teachers and professors and all that.

[00:23:52] So the university gives you access to time, but also resources for researching and [00:24:00] writing. And like I said, my last goal. Was more professional opportunities. And yet there are more opportunities, point blank. Um, not all the opportunities there, you know, you can get opportunities and lots of ways. So I'm not saying that's the only one.

[00:24:16] I'm just saying that that is one of the things. One of the goals that I think I was able to achieve, what was open and accessible for me, because I got this degree, you know, after having done the degree, like. It's been about a month since I've been officially done. And I'm still very tired school for that, that long of a time for 10 years.

[00:24:38] And of course, you know, like high school and K-12 and all that. Um, but I'm just talking like the 10 years I spent in college is a really long time. And so I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about all of it. And I can't really give like sound or solid advice at the moment because I'm really, really close to.

[00:24:54] Do you wait, like I'm still too close to it. So that's why I'm doing this episode now. And then I'll do another episode [00:25:00] in six months or a year about it. But the point of this was not for me to give advice, but it was to really give an overview of what it's like to get an academic degree in an artistic discipline, why people do it, why it matters and what it contributes to society.

[00:25:16] So that's what this was about. Hope that. We're able to, to glean something, learn something, you know, if I had to give any advice to anyone. Or just advice to myself as a, as a lowly, a first year student, you know, almost four years ago or almost five years ago. At this point I had a few things. The first one would be take a break.

[00:25:42] So I went all the way through. I did not stop. I mean, of course, you know, there was like summer break and all that, but I was enrolled. From the fall of 2011 until the fall 2021. And I did not take a break from school and yeah, I'm done and I'm grateful [00:26:00] for being done, but I needed a break. I still need a break.

[00:26:03] I feel like. And so that's what I would have done. Another thing that I would have done another piece of advice. Maybe it's to just learn other things. I was able to take a few classes and things that weren't music, but I wished I could have taken more of those classes. So I have other interests and I want to take more classes in those, and I wish I could have done that.

[00:26:24] And the last thing is to have more fun. I had a lot of fun. Yeah. But I wish I had. More fun. And I have a lot of really great memories and experiences and things like that, but I wish I had more of those. And so that's a piece of advice that I would give to myself or to anyone who is thinking about this, or just to anyone who is considered this.

[00:26:45] Um, and in life generally, we should just be having fun, especially when the arts are concerned. So those are the things that I would have done. Differently, uh, all in all, I'm really happy that I did decide to [00:27:00] pursue it and stick with it, even though I wanted to quit every day for like the final six months.

[00:27:06] Um, I did finish. And so, yeah, it's time to move on and to pursue other things like doing more episodes of this podcast and talking about music and new. And fun and interesting in relevant ways, which I'm really excited about. Of course, this week's music recommendation is pathways, which is a song by Alexander flood featuring Christian Scott.

[00:27:34] And the link is in the show notes as always. So yeah. It's really good. You should definitely take a listen. Don't forget to follow a podcast on social media and at the website newsletter, we'll be going out soon. And if you're listening to this on apple or Spotify, please give it a review. As I really appreciate reading those and all of that good jazz, you can buy a t-shirt.

[00:27:58] You can buy a [00:28:00] book in supportive the podcast. You can buy a coffee in support of the podcast as well. So I'll be back very, very. Well, the next episode of the musically costing podcast until then,