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Why Major in Music in College?
This is a question that every student of music must develop a strong and satisfying answer to. What are your goals in pursuing a music degree? Are they reasonable? Will they lead to a career in which you can support yourself and your family? Do you love music enough to make it such an important part of your life?
There are many different answers to these questions; some are reasonable, some are not. This is where the wise advice of teachers and parents will prove invaluable. A music degree can take you in many directions, often ones you never anticipated at first. It is your responsibility to make sure you end up where you want to go.
Performance: A number of music majors begin their studies with the dream of earning a living playing music professionally. But the majority of them won’t make it and only a very, very small percentage of them will only earn a living through performance. The professional music scene, whether popular, orchestral, lyrical, jazz, etc. works much like the world of professional sports: a very small number of people earn very high salaries, while the majority earn a small amount as part-time work or a hobby. . The wise music performance major (even one who is very confident in his abilities) continues to nurture a parallel career plan that can sustain them in the almost certain event that they won’t make a living being Michael Jackson or Pavarotti.
Education: Most music majors make preparation for the profession of music educator one of the central elements of their education. I believe this is crucial, not only because music teaching jobs are much easier to find than lucrative performing jobs, but also because I believe the best performers are those who know their instrument well enough. for teaching it. The fields in which a music student can go on to teach music are very wide and flexible – ranging from independent private teacher to public high school teacher to university professor – and can be combined with a career as a music teacher. ‘semi-professional interpreter to make it more feasible. As students continue their education, they should ensure they take the necessary steps to qualify for these positions:
private music teacher: No degree required but strongly encouraged, one-on-one instruction and small business experience necessary for success.
K-12 Music Teacher: Music education degree encouraged (but performance majors may take remedial classes to qualify). Teaching degree required in many states (one additional year of study).
middle school teacher: PhD or Masters degree and extensive performance experience generally required. High school teaching experience is often also important to gaining a position.
Musicology and composition: A third major area that music majors sometimes pursue is musicology (including music theory, history, and perhaps socio-ethnic studies) and composition. With the rare exception of a handful of film composers such as John Williams, these fields are designed to lead to a career as a college professor who perhaps publishes music or books on the side. For more academic music majors, this field can be not only extremely satisfying but also quite lucrative.
One important thing to remember about music careers is that they are almost never straightforward and easy. They almost always need, at least during an early period when careers are still developing, either a part-time side job or self-employment as a private music teacher. (A possible and common exception to this is becoming a public school teacher straight out of college.) Many aspiring young opera singers take on “day jobs” as bank tellers or designers of websites while advancing in the industry. Composers almost always sit on university faculties and teach their share of theory and history courses. A career in music requires great self-confidence, ingenuity and perseverance. This, however, is not much different from the odds or requirements of an entrepreneur, financial consultant, or many other professionals. Although the financial rewards may generally be a little lower than those in these other fields, the job satisfaction is generally much greater.
One final possible career path for a music major at the college level is often overlooked, but extremely viable, and I encourage it: complete a bachelor’s degree in music and then move on to a professional degree in another field such as business, medicine, law, etc. obvious first questions would be Why the hell would you waste four years studying music theory and an instrument when you won’t use any of them in your career? Answering this question exposes some of the common ignorance of the college music major curriculum. Music majors graduating with a Bachelor of Arts and/or a Science degree (like any other degree) are required to complete a dozen “general” courses designed to give them a well-rounded education. This includes courses in hard sciences (chemistry, physics, biology), soft sciences (philosophy, psychology, sociology, humanities), mathematics, history, literature, foreign languages, performing arts, etc. . This means that a music major will have to take many courses that they should take like any other major and can usually easily take the prerequisite courses to apply for a graduate program in other subjects. For this to work, however, it will require research into the prerequisites of the desired professional program and how they can be met at your undergraduate school.
Would being a music student put them at a disadvantage? On the contrary, studies have shown that medical schools take a higher percentage of application from music majors than even biochemistry majors. (66% to 44%, see “The Case for Music in the Schools”, Phi Delta Kappan, February 1994). Graduate schools, as well as employers, are usually happy to accept music majors for the strong dedication they derive from their training, as well as the artistic perspective and creativity they have developed. It is not at all uncommon for highly skilled musicians to hold a lucrative Silicon Valley software job while performing in a community or corporate symphony alongside (see Grant Venerable, “The Paradox of the Silicon Savior “).
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