May 20, 2022

Why I dropped out of Capilano University

I dropped out of Capilano University's Jazz Studies program at 18 years old, after one year of studies there. And the most common question my colleagues have asked me in the past ten years is, "Why?"

How I got to CapU, and specifically Cap Jazz, in the first place is the subject of one of the first articles on Rhythm Changes.

The question: how I got there

That article is called, "Becoming a professional musician: I failed". And I wrote:

A friend told me, “There’s probably 50 people in the world who work as a professional jazz guitarist full-time, but I want to be one of the 50.” I wanted to join the Canadian 50 as a bassist. The opportunities would follow the practice, and a long career in music would come.

I had a wonderful high school band, gigs to attend in the Vancouver jazz scene, and university ahead of me. My plan was, “To attend Capilano University’s jazz studies program which may lead to a performance or teaching career.”

Cap was the place to go, and it still is for many people. I respect that. It's a solid program for most of the younger friends I know now.


The answer: why I dropped out of Capilano University

The truest answer, though general, is, "It just wasn't working for me."

Maybe the better question is why did I enroll in the first place? And I think that's revealing, because I just followed my friends and colleagues to Cap at 17, not knowing what else to do. When you're just trying things, they don't work out a solid percentage of the time.

I was too young to succeed there. I didn't have the life experience or social skills to be happy on campus, and I didn't know how to make the best of my educational opportunities at Cap. If I did other things for five years and enrolled for the first time at age 22 (still not yet engaged or married, even!), I think I could've made it through the program.

But even then, I have never intended to be a schoolteacher or academic/professor, so getting the B.Mus. wouldn't make much sense. Many of my friends are quite good at being schoolteachers, and I don't have what it takes.