Out of all the college degrees, you may not think that music majors are some of the busiest. But between ensembles, lessons and concerts, you have a lot to do.
Majoring in music takes a lot of work and determination, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. I majored in flute performance, so I have some tips for current music majors.
Keep reading to learn how to make the most of your music degree.
What Music Majors Need to Know
Majoring in music can be the best decision of you life, but it’s not a decision to make lightly. A music degree requires a lot of work, and it’s much more than “having band all day.”
But if you’re passionate about music, you will be able to make it work. So keep these things in mind if you’re currently or want to be a music major.
A Music Degree Is Hard
Whether you major in music performance or education, music majors require a lot. You have to take multiple semesters of music theory and ear training. A year of music theory is another requirement.
Music majors also need to take group piano or pass a proficiency exam. You have to take private lessons on your main instrument, and you have to perform in ensembles.
Performance majors need to take instrument pedagogy and literature classes. Music education majors need to take instrumental methods courses.
And that doesn’t even cover your general education requirements. You’ll still have English, math and science classes.
You Need Discipline
Because of all of your classes, you need to be able to motivate yourself. You won’t always want to practice or study. If you have friends in other majors, they may have more free time than you.
But you’ll have to push through and go to the practice rooms instead of your friend’s dorm room. Discipline is a skill everyone should have, but it’s especially important for music majors.
If you aren’t disciplined, it will be very hard for you to make progress. Do what you need to do to make sure you get everything done. But don’t forget to take care of yourself too.
Doing Music for Fun Is Okay
If you realize that majoring in music isn’t for you, that’s perfectly fine! Music majors have a lot on their plates, and it can be easy to burn out. You don’t have to stay in a major when you aren’t happy.
Depending on your university, you can participate in ensembles or lessons and a non-major. You can still play your instrument, but you won’t have to worry about all of the other music classes.
Majoring in music isn’t for everyone. Some of the best players decide to study something else and play music on the side. So don’t be afraid to do what’s right for you and your future.
Tips for New Music Majors
If you’re still interested in majoring in music, that’s great. You can spend your time doing something you love, and you can work toward a career in it.
While a music career can be hard, you have more options than ever thanks to the internet. So whether you’re a freshman music major or are entering your senior year, here are some tips you should know.
Manage Your Time
Music majors have a lot of classes and activities. If you have a job, that’s one more thing to schedule into your week. So you need to manage your time wisely.
You probably can’t spend hours on social media every day, though a social media presence is important. You’ll need to spend time practicing each day, and if you live with others, you need to consider their schedules when you practice.
It’s also important to schedule in time for homework and other school-related tasks. And unless you live on campus, you’ll need to account for your commute to and from school.
You can use a planner, a digital calendar or a to do list. Use whatever works for you to get everything done.
Take Non-Music Classes Online
This tip is especially relevant in 2020, but it can apply if you read this years later. Taking non-music classes online can save you a lot of time. Some people say that online classes require more time than on campus ones.
However, you don’t have to go to and from class. And if you learn well, you won’t need to spend as much time on the coursework. It’s up to you to get it all done, so you can work at your own pace.
I took most of my non-music classes online. Because of that, when I did go to class, I could focus on music. I didn’t have to worry about rushing to the other side of campus to make my next class.
You can also take your general education courses over the summer. That way, they won’t interfere with your music classes.
Practice How You Work Best
While you will need to practice quite a bit, you can improve that time by focusing. So try and practice when you’re most alert. If you’re a morning bird, practice in the morning.
And if you get distracted easily, practice across multiple short sessions throughout the day. Do what you need to do so that you can hit your fundamentals, scales and repertoire.
You may still not get to everything every day. But the better you use your practice time, the more stuff you can accomplish.
Make Friends With Other Musicians
Some of my best friends in college weren’t music majors. But some of my closest friends were in the music department. Music friends will understand your struggles, and you may be able to study together.
Whenever you get the chance to play some chamber music, you’ll have some people you can ask. All of my chamber experiences have been with other music majors who were my good friends.
You can make friends with people who play your instrument. But you can also play with people from other studios. Then, you can expose yourself to more music.
Be Willing to Make Sacrifices
Majoring in music can be very rewarding, but it also requires a lot of sacrifice. If you have friends in other majors, they will probably have a more flexible schedule than you.
In college, I would go to lunch with my friends, but I would then go to the music building for class or to practice. I’d also get to dinner late some nights because of an ensemble rehearsal.
While it was annoying to miss out on social time, it was worth it. I got to learn a lot about flute and music. It also made me enjoy the social time I had even more.
If you go away to school, you may not get to go home as often as other people. Marching band and concerts can take up your evenings and weekends. But if you major in music because you love it, you won’t have a problem with that.
Find a Flexible Job
Some music majors may be lucky enough to not need a job. However, most of us need some money to help with tuition or living costs. If you need to work, you should look for a flexible job.
A good place to start is on campus, because those jobs will understand your student schedule. You can also look off campus, but make sure you can request off when you need to.
I’ve worked at a quick service restaurant, for my university newspaper and as a freelancer. All of those jobs have allowed me to still participate in music as much as possible.
Music majors have a lot going on, but you don’t have to overwork yourself in this degree. If you want to major in music, keep these things in mind so that you can enjoy your experience.
Want more tips for music majors? Check out my blog each week for new posts!