Finding the right mentor is more important than anything else. This quote struck me as a perfect example of the mentor-disciple relationship:
Confronted with a sudden, near-lethal dose of humility, my mind hatched an insane plan. Acting with cleverness and boldness unmatched before or since, I started looking for Wil Shipley. When I finally found him, I blurted out: ���I want to work for you, with no pay, for one year.��� When I got back to Seattle, I sold my condo, gave away most of my things, and moved into Wil’s basement.
For certain disciplines, teacher is everything. Sure you can learn programming and do it well on your own with a solid curriculum of books, dedication, and a few classes. But having an iconic mentor to guide you through and provide answers to your most vexing questions on demand is a huge boost. The same goes for music study: You can go far with private lessons and lots of practice, but having the right teacher makes a big difference when you look at the statistics. Jason Heath states:
Music performance degrees are completely superfluous to your pursuit of a music performance career.
Check out his post on this for the numbers. It is an interesting statistical analysis – the four double bass teachers clearly show a strong track record for who gets hired in modern orchestra bass sections.
I say if you want to do something with your life and are willing to make a life-changing and risky change in your life to pursue that goal, then stop being such a chicken and go for it.