Date: November 21, 2013 05:54AM
I think your dad is scared for you. It is true that for a lot of these really specialized fields, there are a lot of candidates and not very many positions. I'm not sure what the market is like for piano performance. I assume most would be teaching jobs, with some concert jobs.
My husband has a degree in organ performance. The people he went to get his master's with varied widely, from really good to competent. They all made it through. They're pretty much guaranteed a job, though it might not be the best paying. Organists at a church that's willing to pay out for someone with a MA probably make ~$40-60k, with the ritzier jobs heading up towards six figures. But those higher paid jobs are not common. So it's a BA plus an MA mostly for a payout of a median salary. You don't do it for the money, that's for sure.
When it comes to piano performance, I'd think the job openings more limited, because there's not that guaranteed niche of a church job. Some churches do hire pianists, but they don't seem to get paid as much, possibly because there are more of them.
It's hard to gauge how good you are at something prior to college because you can't see your real competition. In college you start to see more people who are very good at what you do. Yes, some of them will be better than you. In grad school, you see even more, and you're likely to see a lot of people better than you there. You don't have to be the best, of course, but it's good to have a realistic idea where you might measure up to the competition. See if you can talk to some people in the field and play for them. They can probably give you a better idea what the job market is like in their field and some good suggestions for success.
Come up with a backup plan too--one should always have a backup plan.
I'm saying all this as someone who got an advanced degree in a field I like and now find it pretty useless. I have a decent job but I'm over-qualified for it. I had been planning on getting a teaching job, but holy hell, those are few and far between in the sciences now. Everyone's all adjunct faculty and horribly underpaid, and there are hardly any tenure-track jobs.
If my kids come to me and say, "Mom, I want to be a doctor!" or "Mom, I want to be a scientist!" I would tell them the same type of stuff I told you. It's a lot of work, a lot of money, and a lot of time, and the payoff may not be worth it. Keep your eyes open.