Music Major?

I'm in high school and debating whether or not to major in music. My teachers tell me i'll have no problem but I know this could be very stressful. A lot of people I know that used to be music majors changed their major because they hated it so much. Any advice or opinions?

12 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I got my degree in music. I started out as a Music Therapy major - but then changed to a BA in music.

    First, you need to decide what in music do you want. Do you want a BA in Music (general music degree) or do you want to be more specific about it - Bachelor of Music in Music Performance, Music Education, or Music Therapy. Each specific disciplines have their own requirements.

    Yes, being a music major can be stressful - especially if you choose a school that's highly competative amongst the students (be sure to research the schools and visit their music programs).

    You do need to know a lot of stuff - and if you choose Music Education or Music Therapy, be prepared to go out in the real world during your last semesters. It was after I had done a couple of Student Music Therapy practicums that I decided that it wasn't for me. It's a lot harder in the real world than it seems in the classroom.

    If you choose Music Performance, then be prepared for lots of practice, practice, practice - and lots of performing. And there's no guarantee that you'll make it in the real world.

    You'll also be required to be in performing groups (orchestra, choir, band, etc) and are encouraged to join groups outside the college. You'll also be required to perform in recitals.

    As for a BA in Music - this is much easier as it's not as stressful as the others - it's not as specific as the others. You take the basic classes and then take a concentration of classes - similar to a minor - in another field.

    I was happy that the college I choose (CO State) didn't have the competative cliques that other colleges seem to have. Everyone at the music building got along and helped one another out - there wasn't too much back biting and clawing for the top.

    I advise you to narrow down what in music you want to major in. Then pick a college that offers that (not all colleges offer Music Therapy). Be sure to check out each and every college you're interested in. Pay special attention to the music program and talk to some of the music students there to find out about the atmosphere.

    Also, think about taking classes at a local community college (be sure that your classes will transfer). I got my AA degree at a community college and just about all of my core classes transfered to CSU - making my life there easy as I only had to take the classes that were specific to my major. All of my core classes were taken in a small setting and were easier to get through. Also take core classes during the summer to free up your fall and spring semesters to focus on your music.

    And yes, start learning basic music theory!!! You will be taking at least 4 semesters of music theory depending on the program you choose. I can tell you that the students that did the best in music theory class were the ones who had a basic knowledge before they went in. Learn your scales, the circle of fifths for both major and minor, intervals, etc. I know I was very happy I had an orchestra director in high school who tested us on music theory. It made a huge difference.

    Good luck!

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  • 1 decade ago

    I currently am a Music Major, and yes it is stressful. Pretty much all of the good advice has been given, be prepared for competiton, Music Theory, etc... But I was talking about choice of major in a class of mine the other day, because I am currently a Music Ed Major, but I am completely torn between Music Ed and Performance for a career, and someone told me a great tool to use to figure out if something is right for you. If you can see yourself putting up through all of the stressful, not-so-fun parts of a major, because you want it that badly, then that is the career/major for you, however, of you just cant see yourself taking a music theory class, or being competitve at all, then maybe music should be just a hobby for you, which is still great. I truly wish that you figure out what you want to do

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  • 1 decade ago

    The thing that drives many people out of music education is that most high school programs do not prepare you for the work and knowledge that will be required of you to be successful. If you decide to major in music be prepared to practice for at least an hour each day on your major instrument plus another half hour or more on the other new instruments that you are asked to learn in your methods classes. Add to this the music theory (chords, scales, counterpoint, composing, arranging, etc.) that most high schools do not teach and you will find it a challenge unless you are dedicated and truly love music.

    I was not adequately prepared for the transition to the expectations of a college music major and it hurt me badly during my first two years. In high school everything was easy. I was first chair, the teacher's pet, and was at the top of the food chain so to speak. In college that totally changed when I found myself competing against real musicians instead of just my buddies from the high school band. Finally I wised up and told myself that I was born to be a band director and if I wanted to be one I had to change my philosophy and really dedicate myself to it.

    To make a long answer short, if you really love music and know that you want it to be your career then go for it. But before you get there, get your local teacher to help you learn as much music theory as possible and get used to practicing daily on your major instrument so that you are prepared for your college professors.

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  • mfg
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    One thing you might look into are stress reduction techniques. College, and life in general can be stressful, no matter what. If you start now, you will be ahead of the game. My college has a class in stress reduction and I think it should be a requirement. It should be the first thing students take.

    Other than that, many music ands art students seem to just do what they want, and lack desire and discipline. So for them, musical training is not the right thing. Only you know how much you want it, but if you do, go for it. You can change majors. Good luck.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Usually what I've found with the people who dropped out of music was that they liked music, but they didn't really want to make a living at it. It's a very nice dream to think of thousands of people screaming your name, but the life of a musician is fairly hard. They spend most every moment around music. When they aren't working on music themselves, they're meeting other musicians because connection is just as important (probably more) than performance. They live, and eat, and breath music, and to top it off, they listen to the stupidest stories constantly about this person who personally knows this great conductor, and is sure to be a star themself any day (you learn never to believe another musician).

    Personally, I love it. I was never good at all the connection side of things, but I love just messing with music all day. I rarely get tired of it (sometimes though), and the whole process of building up for a performance is a thrill.

    I guess the best advice I can give is not to study music because you think you're good at it, and you want to do something your good at. You're only good right now because you're in high school. You will spend the first 7 years of college being very bad at it, because college is the next level. If you don't love music more than everything else, study financing... maybe it will be boring but you'll get a nice car and house of it- for music, you'll only get music out of it.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Many things depend on what exactly you want to study in music. Most of the other answers assumed you wanted to do Music Ed. and I agree with many of their answers. (Although I know plenty of people who finished in 4 years without summer school.)

    No matter your emphasis in music the main thing to know about is music theory. If you are not already strong in this area this is probably the single most difficult area of the music major. If you have studied piano and learned some theory from that then you should be fine. That's not to say it is impossible but it is easy to get discouraged.

    I would be interested to know what exactly you think you would study in music because there are different considerations that depend on that.

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  • 1 decade ago

    I loved singing and wanted to major in music as well when i was back in school. However, have stage fright and was not sure what to do with the major, so i decided against it. If you feel that you would like to pursue a career in this field, then go for it. However, I would suggest for you to take additional classes other than music, such as business, etc just in case you decide not to pursue a career in this area later on. A possible area for you to go into if you are interested in the arts is arts administration/management.

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  • 1 decade ago

    I agree with several of the answers already stated, but I wanted to put a bit of a different outlook on it.

    In a lot of places, a music performance degree is basically like a music ed. degree, but without all the education classes (psychology, methods, and all of that). I tell my students that given a choice, it's better to have a music ed. degree and have the option of teaching than to have the performance degree and not being able to teach because you don't have the right degree. In other words, it's better to have the ed. degree and not need it than to need the degree and not have it!

    I made it out of a college music program in 4 years, but I'm an older person (I graduated from college in 1981). Even then, my semesters were loaded (at least 19 hours per semester). My son is currently majoring in music ed., and it's looking like at least 5 years for him.

    Colleges require a lot of different classes besides music. That should be one of your steps in looking at colleges. An education degree requires a lot of classes that you think you may not need...and some of them, you really don't, but you have to take them anyway (For example: I had to take a class in Educational Media--all of the items I trained on [filmstrip projector, 16mm film projector, mimeograph machine, spirit master copier, and slide projector] are all obsolete now----COMPLETE waste of time!)

    The advice that you're getting about being familiar with music theory is VERY important! Theory seems to be one of the classes that "weeds out" those who are NOT serious about their music. BUT! Don't let it absolutely terrify you.... You haven't told us what your instrument is (including voice), but if you have had any training in how to read notes, learning scales, and played or sang in any group, you've been exposed to music theory. The best advice I have seen here is to go to your teacher and ask for extra help in the basics of theory. There are also a lot of websites that offer help and information about music theory. Do a web search and just dive into theory!

    Another excellent point is that the ability to play piano is required for music degrees. If you don't play, however, don't panic. Most schools have piano classes that start with "this is a has white and black keys." The sooner you can find your way around a piano, the better it will be.

    The best advice I can give you has already been stated. You don't go into music for the money (teachers really don't make that much, and performance majors are not all guaranteed that they can make a living out of it), or for the glamour of it. It's hard work and takes an extraordinary amount of time and energy. You go into music because you love it (even though sometimes you hate it, too!) :)

    I've been teaching music for 26 years. Some people think it's because it's the only thing I've been trained to do. I teach because I love music, I love kids, and I just can't see myself doing anything else---and I DON'T want to do anything else!

    I hope this helps! Good luck to you---we need young exciting people to take over for the folks my age when we retire. Keep your spirit up, and remember that people do care!

    Source(s): A lifetime of music----student, performer, teacher, listener, supporter. Here's a couple of music theory websites for you:
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  • 1 decade ago

    Take summer school!! If you are going to major in music education it is a must. Basically you a doing a double major. You have to take all the requirements for music performance, music ed., plus the regular education requirements. On top of that you have to meet the 40 cr hr requirements for your gen eds. So, I would take as many classes during the summer as you can. Then, during the year you don't have to take 20+ cr a semester to make it out in five (yes five) years.

    Source(s): ex- music ed major
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  • 1 decade ago

    Hi Tadpole! I would go back to those people and ask them what exactly made them want to quit their music major. Ask yourself if you think these things would be an issue for you. Educate yourself about what would be required to fulfill this goal. If you still think this is what you want to do, then learn as much as you can, and make your dreams come true. No one else can do this for you, and if you posses the desire than you posses the ability to do it. Believe in yourself and your abilities and enjoy the gift that music is. Keep it fresh, experiment, play around with it and have fun. Music is a gift. Good luck to you Tadpole!

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