I run across musicians who have told me plenty of times "I'd love to start writing my own music but I didn't go to school for it or anything, I just took some instrument lessons/was in a band/was a great whistler. I don't have the education really for it."
I've thought this myself at times. In fact the first music I wrote that was ever played was for a band I was in. It was certainly nothing impressive though and it makes me cringe to hear it now. Because of my search history google regularly tempts me with ads for Full Sail and Art Institute of Chicago among other schools with music production and composition degrees. Every now and then the inadequacy creeps in when I feel overwhelmed learning a new concept strictly through googling it.
Or podcasts, I love listening to podcasts on my commute to work and actually want to butt in with a story and to give a shout out to a great podcast for composers who want to see inside the minds and processes of other composers. The podcast name is similar to this blog's name (but I think Charlie got the cooler name)
It's called Composer Quest and it's hosted by Charlie McCarron. He, like me, once worked in videography and switched to music composition as a career focus (though I'm still straddling that fence until the music work really picks up). Tune in for some great meaty material made accessible without all the really heavy and heady music major jargon, all in a very laid back but professional presentation style. You can find it at the previous link or on iTunes.
Anyway that plug over, Charlie's episode this week was with Rick Sowash, a Cincinnati-based composer that writes and arranges chamber music and says he's made that his business for 25 years. He's a delightful fellow with a really positive outlook. He mentioned his college education and that it was a frustrating process for him because there was little to be learned that he didn't already know from his grade school music education and experience. I thought this odd since most successful composers I know put a lot of stock in their education, but he had something very profound to say about it:
"You can't teach creativity, and anyone who says they can is a charlatan."
And that's really what it all boils down to isn't it? You can teach the TOOLS of music composition, like melody, harmony, rhythm, scales, triads, and even music history and appreciation. Learning those things will make you a very smart person and I highly recommend you do so! But none of them will make you a creative composer in and of themselves. Creativity isn't learned in a classroom, it's learned by being willing to play and experiment and try new and interesting ways to express a musical idea. Creativity comes from assimilating the knowledge you obtain and being able to mold it into something else. Simply put... There's no reason you shouldn't learn everything you can, but the fancy education isn't the important part, it's how you put your knowledge into practice.
BTW if any of you are looking for some educational resources without dishing out tens of thousands on music school tuition, check out some of these links below (I've decided not to include the obvious ones like wikipedia that are obviously a first choice for looking up musical terminology):
MacProVideo.com/ - While the name matches its business model of being a mac software resource, there are also some fantastic tutorials on general music theory, jazz theory, recording and production, not to mention that most audio DAW software that you'd use for recording have interchangable concepts and plugins and Logic Pro is really the only major one that doesn't have a PC version. I highly recommend it if you want the most info very quickly. It is a paid option but at $25/mo for all you can watch it's a deal if not a steal.
Composer Quest - Gotta plug Charlie again. Great for those of you who are super busy and want to take advantage of those commuting minutes (or hours here in DC). There's some other music podcasts out there you should check out but this one is the most on point for the widest range of composers in my opinion.
WeAreTheMusicMakers - This is a great subreddit for composers and music makers of all kinds. This is where you can get free feedback and advice on questions that are a little tougher to find on google. A great open community with loads of members looking to help each other out in their musical endeavors.