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Could I get some directions on majoring in music?

by tom44 on May 15, 2013

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Question by musicbound: Could I get some directions on majoring in music?
I am currently a senior in high school who has played cello for nearly 2 years. I am able to play my scales, the first movement of the Brahm’s cello sonata in e minor, and am now working on Saint Saen’s Allegro Appassionato. I have been taking private lessons at the Colburn School of Performing Arts in downtown Los Angeles, California for nearly a year with a cello professor (when I first started, I was at Suzuki book 4). I have never gotten to participate in music festivals, camps, and even less, competitions as my family is barely getting by with my private lessons. I am very much inspired to major in music, but at this point, I am unaware of what I can do within my power to come closer to this goal other than practicing. I am most definitely going to stay at my local community college for 2 years after graduation and then transfer.

Because I am not getting the true encouragement and support from my parents (they do not think that I will have a successful career in music if I major in it, but they still want me to eventually play well cello), I am rather lost as to what I can do within these coming two years to advance towards this goal. What type of scholarships should I be looking for? How can I boost my chances of being accepted into good music schools (other than practicing)? I have/am/always will be musically inspired, and I would be very thankful for some advice or references to different websites that will offer me additional information. Thank you in advance!

Best answer:

Answer by Amber Marie
Schools if not the problem, it is finding a job when you graduate. If you get a degree in Music Performance you will have to get your Masters and Ph. D. to be eligible for any sort of employment. Or you can get a BSE in Music and then teach K-12, you can’t teach with a BA. Or you could more practically study music as your minor. Getting into a program like music is a two step process: you have to be accepted into the university, based upon your grades, test scores, references, essay, etc. Then on top of that you’ll have to audition and be accepted into the music department. So work hard academically and practice. Scholarships will come from the school that you will be attending, but there are not many for music. If you are really good and they have an opening you can play in the local symphony for extra money. Where I live they are always looking for good strings. Also, you must to go a community college that has some sort of ensemble that you can play in if you want to transfer to a good school

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2 thoughts on “Could I get some directions on majoring in music?

  1. Ubu says:

    I think the person who can help you the most would be your cello teacher. There are two major kinds of music majors, performance and music education (three if you count music history/ethnomusicology and a fourth if you count theory/composition, a fifth in music therapy and even a sixth now in some places with music/arts administration).

    Your teacher can discuss these with you and help you decide what would be best for you to do with your talent, training and commitment. They also should be aware of some of the opportunities in your locale for you to seek out. You’ll probably have to research each school separately for scholarships as most of these are specific to each school.

    You’re starting this process really late. To be competitive you need to have been preparing for sometimes very specific auditions and apply fairly early, making personal contact with the cello teacher at the school where you wish to study. Also, you began cello very late in life for a performance career, although from reading your question there is a lot of room for unknowing about how well you play. Suzuki Book 4 for example can be played at many many different levels probably even at a professional level. For a career in public education, I think you have a good chance to be successful. Have you seen the movie Mr. Holland’s Opus? What did you think about it? With our economy in such a mess though, you have to wonder if careers in music education will become as difficult to achieve as a performing career, with cutbacks in education looming before us.

    Finally, family support is crucial for many pursuing a cello career as it is a very difficult path to sustain financially. If your family supports your playing but not a career, then you need to accept this as part of your circumstances. Unless you can really inspire a teacher with excellent scholarship resources or a wealthy music lover you will find yourself under additional challenge without these deep family resources. That’s just the way it is.

    Good luck to you. This is a really important decision for you to make and I hope you research it well and find some good people to help you sort it out.

  2. Michelle says:

    Hmm okay, I’m not sure that I am answering any questions, but I just want to point this out. I’m not sure if you are looking into performance, but if you are, it’s very hard to get a job…I know you know this and have been told numerous times, but I’m not even talking about the necessary talent/practice/patience and beating the competition that is to worry about…I’m talking about the MONEY that it costs to audition. In order to compete for the limited amount of jobs you will eventually spend thousands of dollars on airline tickets, hotels, rental cars, and more…and that is JUST to be able to audition for a job. What I’m saying is that this field is really hard…for people who do not have a big savings account to start with or parents who can help support this lifestyle. I know you probably have been told this, but honestly think about it because the worse position to be in is realizing that after spending 6 years in music college/conservatories, with a Masters degree and a crap load of student loans to realize that it’s still going to cost you an arm and a leg to fly out to auditions for jobs that you probably will not get.
    I hate to be pessimistic, but this is the definite reality.

    BUT – if you want to go for music education (K-12), then I say ALL FOR IT! You’ll be able to find a job relatively easy if you pick the right college to go to.
    Another idea – which I STRONGLY suggest – would be to go to school for something different (something stable and will make money….which currently is either in the computer or medical fields) and either double major with cello or minor in music – this way you have a degree that can get you a job and provide financial freedom, while the other half gave you good enough experience to teach cello privately and maybe be a sub for a local orchestra. This way you can still be a great cellist and enjoy music, yet without the financial burden.
    Just a thought…not sure if you were looking into performance or what-not.

    Okay so Community College is really not that great for music…I’m not sure what to say about it, maybe I hadn’t seen any with decent faculty or decent classes, but I would try to get out of that as soon as you can. If you are passionate about music and practice your butt off on cello then you might be able to get a decent amount of scholarship to just go to college and skip the community college…
    I guess, other then practicing, a good way to boost your chances would be to play in front of as many people as you can – if you can, try to have them judge you, this way you get used to that position (for when you audition). Perhaps play in churches to get performing experience (and to put something in your resume, or whatever list of extra-curricular activities that you need to send out when applying to colleges). For scholarships, remember to fill out your FAFSA…this way you can get out student loans, and some schools will look at it and may offer you scholarships based on financial need (which they will see in the FAFSA).
    Not sure if that helps…I would strongly encourage you to double major if you are looking into a music field that is not music education.
    Good luck.

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