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Why Major in Music in College?

This is a question that every music major should have a definite, satisfying answer to. What are your goals for obtaining a music degree? Are they reasonable? Do they lead to a career in which you can support yourself and your family? Do you love music enough to make it a part of your life?

There are many different answers to these questions; some are reasonable, some are not. This is where the trusted advice of teachers and parents proves invaluable. A music degree can lead you in many directions, often ones you never expected when you started. It is your responsibility to get where you want to go.

Performance: Many music majors start studying with the dream of making a living as a professional music performer. However, the majority of them end up not doing that, and only a very, very small percentage of them will make a living solely from performance. The professional music scene, be it popular, orchestral, operatic, jazz, etc., works the same way as the professional sports world: very few earn very high salaries, while the majority earn a small amount part-time or as a hobby. . The wise music performance major (who is also very confident in his abilities) still maintains a parallel career plan that can support them in the almost certain event that they don’t make a living off of Michael Jackson or Pavarotti.

Education: In most music majors, preparation for becoming a music teacher is one of the central parts of their training. I think this is crucial, not only because music teaching jobs are much easier to find than lucrative performing jobs, but also because I think the best performers are those who know their instrument well enough from teaching. The fields in which a music student can later teach music are very broad and flexible—everything from self-employed private tutor to public high school teacher to college teacher—and can be combined with a semi-professional performing career. more feasible. During graduation, students must take the necessary steps to qualify for these positions:

Private music teacher: No degree required, but strongly encouraged, individual education and small business experience required for success.

K-12 music teacher: A degree in music education is recommended (but performance majors may take remedial classes for certification). Many states require a teaching credential (an additional year of study).

college teacher: A PhD or Master’s degree and extensive performance experience are usually required. High school teaching experience is often also important in obtaining the position.

Musicology and composition: A third major field that music majors sometimes pursue is musicology (including music theory, history, and perhaps socio-ethnic studies) and composition. With the exception of some film composers such as John Williams, these fields lead to a career as a university professor who may publish music or books. For academic music majors, this field can be not only extremely satisfying, but also quite lucrative.

The important thing to remember about music careers is that they are almost never simple and easy. Almost always, at least in the early stages of a career, they need a mid-level part-time job or freelance private music teaching job. (A possible, common exception to this is if you become a public school teacher after college.) Many young aspiring opera singers hold down “day jobs” as bank tellers or web designers as they work their way up the industry ladder. Composers are almost always on university faculties and teach their share of theory and history classes. A career in music requires great self-belief, ingenuity and perseverance. However, this is not much different from the chances and needs of an entrepreneur, financial advisor or many other professionals. Although the financial rewards may generally be somewhat lower than in these fields, the job satisfaction is generally much higher.

The ultimate potential career path of music majors in college is often overlooked, but it is extremely viable and I would recommend this: complete a BA in music and then move on to another field such as business, medicine, law, etc. would be the first obvious questions Why the hell would you waste four years learning music theory and an instrument if you’re not going to use any of it in your career? Answering this question reveals the general ignorance of the college music curriculum. Music majors with a Bachelor of Arts and/or Science degree (like any other degree) must take a dozen or so “general” courses to give them a well-rounded education. This includes hard sciences (chemistry, physics, biology), soft sciences (philosophy, psychology, sociology, humanities), mathematics, history, literature, foreign languages, performing arts, etc. classes. This means that a music major needs to take as many courses as any other major, and you can usually easily complete the prerequisites for applying to graduate programs in other subjects. However, for this to work, you will need some research into the prerequisites of the desired professional program and how these can be fulfilled in the bachelor’s degree.

Would it put them at a disadvantage if they majored in music? On the contrary, studies have shown that medical schools have higher enrollments in music majors than biochemistry majors. (66-44%, see “The Case for Music in Schools” Phi Delta Kappa, February 1994). Music majors are generally looked forward to by graduate schools and employers because of the strong dedication they instill in their training, as well as the artistic outlook and creativity they develop. It’s not at all uncommon for highly skilled musicians to work in lucrative Silicon Valley software positions while performing in a community or corporate symphony (see Grant Venerable, “The Paradox of the Silicon Savior”).

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