PORTLAND -- If you have a musically gifted child you may one day be dealing with dreams for turning that talent into a career.

Students at three Oregon High Schools have a rare chance this week to hear from music industry insiders. The group from Los Angeles will hold panel discussions at the schools and share secrets for making it in the business.

There are just so many people who want to do it. It s just so competitive, said Gresham High School Senior Taylor Johnson.

She was selected as the state s best soprano in a recent competition. The panel of experts featuring a singer/songwriter and a talent manager visited her school, Gresham High, on Wednesday.

We want to help the kids decide what path to take and let them know what they should be doing now to get there, explained David Sears of the Grammy Foundation.

Students also heard from Geoff Byrd whose career has taken him to LA and then back to Portland.

I want to save them from the mistakes I made, said the singer with a laugh.

Byrd told the young musicians good management is one key to success and he told students where to look for their big break, Many artists are breaking through when their songs end up in films and on TV. It s not like it used to be with the record companies and radio, he said.

Music students at Philomath and David Douglas High Schools will also have a chance to hear from the panel. In addition, those two schools will receive Ford Fund Awards of $5,500 for being identified as Signature Schools. Eighteen schools in the country are getting the money as part of an effort to help under-served programs.

The main message from the Grammy Foundation is one students might have already heard from parents, but it carries more weight coming from an industry insider.

Go to college. The music job or gig that s there when you graduate from high school will be there when you graduate from college, said Sears, who directs education programs for the Grammy Foundation.

Taylor Johnson is headed to college at NYU as she chases her dream of a career in music. I can t imagine my life without music in it, she said.

We always say, Do what you love and then it won t seem like work, concluded panelist Byrd.

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