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A Future in Music
By Jennifer Bailey
Did you know that in ancient Greece and Rome, music was believed to be a force that could persuade people to do good? Is this your belief today?
The study of music is quite varied. Music majors study everything from producing current music albums to classical performances that are staged as if they were in Mozart’s era.
There is a big difference between singing or playing an instrument in high school or even being told that you are good enough to make All-State Choir or Band and officially declaring yourself a music major.
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? You will want to be sure that you have a real passion as that is what it will take in order to excel in this major.
Serious reflection may be in order before diving into this degree track. Be sure to take time to clarify your reasons for pursuing a music major.
Be sure to keep a portfolio of your progress throughout your studies. Theory tests that you received high marks on, programs of ensemble work and student recitals, of course, notes from classes and other professionally related experiences will demonstrate your determination to succeed. Be sure to manage your time carefully. You must allow time for core courses, music major courses, a lot of studio practice time, ensemble rehearsal and ensemble performance dates. From an organizational standpoint, this is often the true test of whether you can "make it." Prepare for your proficiency tests with great care. Juries and recitals with your major instrument are the cornerstone for your musicianship. Work closely and diligently with your teacher. Plan appropriately for secondary instrumental requirements. If you need remedial work, it is best to discover this early on. Success in school and, particularly in this major, depends on punctuality, reliability, preparedness, industriousness and effort.
If music is your calling, it’s achievable and enjoyable. Bottom line, you need to be a person who is extremely self-disciplined and able to take criticism very well. As with any major, time management and the ability to organize will pay off.
It’s also essential to be thinking toward the future and what you might do with your degree. Many schools offer classes and even entire tracks that teach the business skills that most music majors will need at some point in their careers in order to be successful. If you think you want to teach, learn about those requirements, as even subbing for a music teacher may require you to have some music education classes under your belt. In the end, 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. “Many employers outside of the field of music value the rigor and breadth of training that musicians receive.” Judy Lochhead, Professor and Chair, Department of Music, SUNY Stony Brook. No matter what, the skills learned, the detailed organization, effortand determination will serve you well in whatever long term career path you find yourself on.