Should I major in music? Does it make sense to spend the next four years of my life plus all that tuition to study music in college?
There’s a big difference between singing or playing an instrument in high school, even being told you’re good enough to make All-State Choir or Band — and deciding to become a music major when you graduate. The bottom line is this: Do you want to major in music because it’s your calling, because you are so passionate about music that you are willing to take on all it requires to make it the focus of your life after high school?
It’s a myth that majoring in music is easy and fun, compared to engineering or pre-med or business.
As a music major, you have to study:
- music theory
- music history
- your specific area of focus
- aural skills
You also have to:
- expand your keyboard proficiency (for most majors)
- take music lessons
- practice more than you ever have on your major instrument and possibly a second instrument
- take classes to help you succeed as a performer
- learn how to prevent repetitive motion injuries
- learn to communicate effectively and use criticism well
Add to the list:
- any required academics
- rehearsals with required ensembles, orchestras or choirs
- required master classes
- all the extracurricular music opportunities that music majors delve into
- junior year and/or senior year recitals
- other professionally-related experiences
- everything else any college student needs to do (eat, sleep, laundry, work, and hang out with friends)
…and you get a bird’s eye view of what you are stepping into as a music major.
BUT if music is your calling, it’s all achievable. And yes, you will enjoy it, or most of it, and you will feel like it is the right thing — and probably the only thing — for you to be spending so much of your time and your (or your family’s) hard-earned money on at this point in your life. As with any major, time management and the ability to organize yourself will pay off more than you would ever have imagined.
It’s also essential to continue to think ahead about what you might do with your degree. Many schools offer classes and even entire tracks that teach the business skills most music majors will need at some point in their careers in order to be successful. (see: “Entrepreneurship + Music: What, Why and How”) If you think you’ll want to teach, check out pedagogy requirements. Even subbing for a music teacher may require you to have some music education classes under your belt.
If you get a music degree and decide not to pursue a career in music, you haven’t wasted your time. The skills gained as a music major will provide you with the background necessary to enter many other fields as well as graduate programs. (see: “Transferable Skills: You Can Take Them with You”)