Should I Major in Music?
So you’re in or getting close to your senior year of high school…. and people are starting to ask what you’re going to study in college. You’re thinking, Do I really have to figure this out already? While the major you choose first might not necessarily be the one you stick with, it’s worth thinking about now, especially if you’re considering majoring in music. Because auditioning for a college music program takes a lot of preparation, you’ll want to decide early if that’s a road you’re interested in taking.
So how do you know if you should major in music? Being a music major isn’t a good fit for every musician, but if you can answer “yes” to most or all of these questions, it’s an option worth considering.
- Do you enjoy practicing? Practice is hard work for everyone, and even professional musicians have days when they don’t LOVE to practice. But as a very wise professor once told me, if you’re not the kind of person who wouldn’t mind sitting inside and practicing on a Friday night, then this major might not be for you. The required amount of practice varies from one program to the next, but you can expect several hours of practice per day.
- Do you enjoy performing? All music majors are involved in performing at some level. Performance opportunities for piano majors can include solo recitals, studio/area recitals, masterclasses, accompanying other soloists, playing in chamber groups, or playing with larger ensembles such as orchestras or choirs.
- Can you take constructive criticism? Beyond the notes and rhythms, music can be very subjective, and for a student that means receiving feedback on their playing from many different sources. A good musician knows how to learn from others without taking criticism of their playing personally.
- Are you a hard worker? Being a music major is incredibly rewarding, but it’s very hard work. At many schools, 12 credits (full time) for a music major can mean 2-3 more classes than 12 credits in another major – that is, there are more classes worth fewer credits. You’ll be busy practicing, rehearsing, and doing homework for several different classes at once.
- Are you interested in the parts of a music degree that AREN’T performing? As a piano major, some of the classes you will take (in addition to private lessons and your school’s General Education credits) could include:
- Music history and literature
- Music theory
- Ear training
- Collaborative piano
- Pedagogy (teaching methods)
- Functional keyboard skills (arranging, composing, improvisation, etc.)
- Are you interested in a career in music? The possibilities are actually more varied than you might think – they include teaching, performing, composing/arranging, conducting, music therapy, recording, managing…. so look into your options! (Fun fact: Lots of graduate programs aren’t picky about what your undergraduate degree is in, so as long as you take the necessary prerequisite classes, you could get a degree in music and then go on to medical school! If you want to study music but have a career in another field, this might be an option to look into.)
- Do you love music enough to spend hours every day immersed in it? Does the thought of learning, practicing, and performing music make you excited to get out of bed in the morning? Is music making a joyful and meaningful experience for you? Will a college music degree help you find purpose and happiness in your life?
If you answered positively to most or all of these questions, majoring in music could be a great fit for you! Talk to your music teacher(s) about how to get started on the road to auditioning (watch for our next blog post on that topic!) or come talk to us about starting lessons with that goal in mind!