Why study more than just music?
“The music profession is incredibly multifaceted and it is always changing,” says Phillip Placenti at USC. “Developing one’s musical skills is of course of utmost importance, but developing other skills, talents and interests is also very important because of how they will both enhance artistic development and help a young music professional to be more prepared for the ever-changing professional landscape.”
What if I start off majoring in music but want to switch after a semester?
Brad Andrews at Redlands suggests taking the time to research schools to make sure switching majors isn’t too complicated. Most liberal arts schools allow easy transition between majors in the first year, but check with advisors at the schools you’re interested in.
Should I still audition if I’m not 100% committed to majoring in music?
“Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!” says Amy Mertz at Syracuse. If music is at all a top consideration, make sure to get an audition on file so you’re not scrambling at the last minute if you do decide to major in music. It’s also easier to start off in music as a freshman than later on.
What if the stress is getting hard to handle?
Janice Li co-founded Northwestern’s Association for Music Dual Degree Students, which acts as an extra support system for students in the program. If you find yourself needing support or advice, check out organizations designed for students in intensive programs. Also, don’t be ashamed of taking that extra year to complete your degree if you feel overworked.
What about financial aid and scholarships?
Will any financial aid or merit awards you receive extend beyond four years if it takes you longer to get your bachelor’s degree? Check financial aid policies at any of the schools you’re interested in, as well as scholarships from any outside sources, before taking on a double- or dual-degree program.
Example: National Merit Scholarships for undergraduates are renewable annually for four years only. In addition, if a National Merit scholar enrolls in a five-year bachelor’s/master’s program, the merit scholarship will only be given for the years the student is considered an undergrad.
Will I have to give up other things if I go for a dual degree or double major?
Like many music students, you may have to sacrifice some of your social life or ability to join clubs, etc., in order to fit practice, lessons, and performances into your schedule. With additional coursework, you may have to spend even more time studying. Grace Prestamo at Queens doesn’t have as much time for hanging out with friends or relaxing, but tries to be efficient with her schedule by planning everything down to the minute. Time management is key.
A 5-year study on double majors released in March, 2013 by the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University, includes these interesting findings:
• Students must take responsibility for juggling and integrating two majors. Most schools “have no formal way of helping students” do this.
• “When students major in two disparate domains of knowledge, especially combining science with art and humanities, they are more likely to report creative thinking outcomes; whereas when they double major in more similar domains, they report more integrative learning.”
• “Double majors are more likely to go to graduate school and are rewarded with slightly higher salaries in the job market. But, these benefits—getting into medical school or impressing a job recruiter— require the rhetorical ability to tell a compelling story about one’s educational pathway.” In other words, you need to be able to present a compelling explanation as to why you chose your majors and how you see yourself as a better candidate for wherever you’re applying.
• “While double majors might generally feel more creative, true creative output requires deep immersion. The ‘do more, do more’ life of the double major can work against such deep thinking.”
• “We suspect that the minor might be an excellent compromise for many students—giving them a chance to gain additional expertise in a different subject area while not imposing as many additional demands.”