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Should You Choose a Music Major?

music festivalNo matter where you are in the world, music is the great unifying factor – the one thing that can bring masses together and unite them in its rhythm. If you are a traveler- roaming the world to satiate the never-ending wanderlust, there is something even more interesting you can imbibe from your travels than just the sights and sounds. A lot of teens take music classes in high school or as an extracurricular activity. Inevitably, particularly if they are quite good, they will start to wonder whether they should also go to music college. This isn’t an easy question to ask, and the answer should be found by carefully considering all different options, and seeking counsel from parents and educators alike. The following information may help you determine whether a music degree is right for you or your child.

Can You Do It?

First of all, you need to make sure that you understand that studying music in college is incredibly different from studying music at school. Usually, in high school you will focus on certain areas of performance, and there will be little to no competition in it. The only exception is the “Music Theory AP” class, although very few schools actually offer this. Music theory AP is the only class that is comparable to those taken in college.

Once you do go to college, you will have to take three different types of course:

  1. Classroom education, which will offer various courses that are a necessary part of any type of bachelor’s degree program (math, foreign language, humanities etc…), but also classes focusing on music, including composition/harmony, aural skills, music theory, and music history. You may also have more specialized courses, such as K-12 music education. These courses will make you a more well-rounded musician. You may also be required to complete a demonstration of skills.
  2. Solo performance and private lessons, where you will be able to focus more on the specific instrument that you choose. Usually, as part of this, you will have to prepare for two separate recitals, one in your junior years, and one in your senior year. During these lessons you will be able to improve your skills, while also learning more about repertoire. It is very common for students and their private teacher to build a lifelong mentorship relationship.
  3. Performance ensembles, which is perhaps comparable to band or choir practice in school, but of a much higher standard and quality. This is a hugely demanding element of your study. You will have to be able to sing in foreign languages, read music, learn different parts with minimal instructions and rehearsal, and more. There will usually be an opportunity for you to choose areas like orchestra, band, or choir, although you may also be chosen for an elite ensemble or group, if you are really good. In this case, an entire semester will be dedicated to this. To take part in it, you will have to pass an audition that is hugely competitive.

So can you do it? Be realistic about what it means to complete a music major in real life. It is not your talent that is being questioned here, but rather your dedication to becoming a true professional musician, which is someone with a great deal of understanding of every element of the art of music.

If you have any questions, please ask below!