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As a part of the Texas Music Educators Association Convention 2014, we recently held a question and answer session with students interested in majoring in music. You can listen to that session here:
This post will address the questions that we were not able to address in the session due to time constraints.
I will note that this is all just advice, and everything is really a personal decision. I’m always glad to help in any way possible, but much of this is really just my opinion! Feel free to submit more questions in the comments.
Let's Start With Twitter
Hello Shelby! Let's break apart your question.
First, I would try to identify what is attracting you to your "dream program." Can you put it in to terms? I want you to figure out if there is a legitimate reason you want to go there (ex. program quality/particular professors/locations etc.) or if you're just excited or hyped for some other reason.
After that, you need to cost benefit analyze the situation. In the long term, if you learn, grow, and become amazing, no one will care where you went to school. However, you want to be in the right situation to make that happen, and that might be (no guarantee) better at your dream program.
At the same time, it's hard to be successful after college if you're soaking up to your ears in college debt. So, working out the finances is very important. I know too many people who graduated at the same time I did who will be in debt for years to come.
Go to both schools and meet the professors, see the campus, and go to the finance office. Get all of the information you can. You're going to be making a huge investment of time and money wherever you go.
As a final consideration, you could have your cake and eat it too. I know many people who have opted for smaller colleges for undergraduate work, then used a larger college for graduate work. Good luck!
Hello Valerie (and Coty)
The answer really depends on your relationship with your parents.
The most likely situation is that your parents are worried about you. That is their job after all. I've known many parents that have steered their children away from their passions because they worried about their employ-ability. In many ways, that's a real concern. Music is a very competitive field no matter what you do, and there are no guarantees.
If you have the drive to be the best, you will find work, and you will be doing what you love, and that's worth more than a fatter paycheck. If you don't have the drive to be the best, I'd side with your parents here. Do something less competitive.
Now, assuming you are a music fanatic that can't see yourself doing anything else, and that you work really hard:
You will want to pursuade your parents that you have a plan and a purpose. They will want to know why, how, and for what reason. If you can't tell them why you want to major in music and what you expect from the experience, can you really blame them for not approving? In the end, you'll want to be respectful and understand that they (probably) just want the best for you.
My parents didn't really like the idea of me being a music major either. However, I was an adult (still am) and I made a decision. They weren't supporting me financially, so there were no implications that would hinder me.
I've had to live with that choice, and I'm glad I made it. In the end, you have to decided what you do, and your parents can support it or not, but it's your life.
It is possible, though you should always evaluate the benefit of the pay check versus using your time towards your major. You may not have a choice, depending of your situation, and having a full time job would be almost impossible, but in most cases a part time job is quite feasible.
The other option is to take fewer hours and spend longer on your degree, but again, this really depends on your goal. Most people I knew that worked full time didn't graduate on time or eventually went part time.
If you plan on teaching marching band, it's definitely a good experience, but by no means is it required to major in music. You want as much experience doing what you plan to be teaching, but many areas are specialties (Like jazz, mariachi, marching, elementary) and these mostly depend on what you want to do.
Another example might be, "How important is learning violin to majoring in music?"
- Well, really important if you want to teach orchestra, but not so important for teaching band.
Also, once you get to college you have four more years (at least) to build skill in any of these area.
Will you be looked at differently at a job interview depending on the college you attend before they see your abilities? - From Gage Daulton
Not if I'm conducting the interview.
But will some people? Maybe. I don't think this is as much of an issue as you might fear though. The most important thing about your college is that you obtain the requested degree and that you learn from the experience. People are going to care much more about your abilities and your work experience than your university. Every school puts out good and bad students.
What does matter is building up connections to a job you want. People will be more likely to hire someone that they know and is proven than someone who is just a resume on nice stationary.
Some people do have opinions about different colleges, but will a Texas A&M graduate refuse to hire you because you went to the University of Texas? Well, if they do, you don't want to work for them anyway,
A practical question.. I know every music major student must pass piano proficiency exam. I also have seen students struggling on sight singing and ear training. Any tips for high school students to prepare those? - From Cholho Kim
This is a very practical question. Those students should do as much of those things in high school as possible. There are so many ways to start working on these skills (AP and Dual Credit in high school or piano lessons for example). One of my favorites is MusicTheory.net. There is nothing in college music theory that high school students can't learn right now.
I don't want to teach music, I am striving to perform in the U. S. Army chorus, do I still need to take music theory or does it even matter? - From Meagan Frerich
If you want to be a profession musician, theory totally matters. It's like wanting to be a poet without wanting to learn grammar. Don't be afraid though, it's not that crazy if you have a good teacher and work hard.
A similar question would be, to be a professional performer, do you have to have a music degree? That answer is no, you just have to be the best. However many do, and it really does help you be a much stronger musician.
Any suggestions for Community College transfer students? One more semester of Theory 4 level courses and then I transfer to UTSA. B's and C's in theory. - From Nicholas Stewart
Contact the college you're transferring to and make sure your credits will be transferring. Get all the information you can, and if you're going to lose too many hours, investigate other schools. It helps to look at this as early as possible, and go to a community college that has ties to your intended university if possible (I know that advice is a little late for you).
Next, I personally think you should be getting A's instead of B's and C's. Up your game. You're getting ready for the rest of your life, give it everything you've got. You can do it!
Have more questions or comments? Post Them Below:
I just finished a Christmas Jazz Fakebook. This free .pdf has 23 Christmas songs with lead sheets for C, Bb, Eb, and Bass Clef Instruments.
Week 2 - A Bossa Nova
This week I'm posting Bossa Nova changes. These are the same changes as Blue Bossa. Post a sound cloud/dropbox/youtube etc. link in the comments and lets make some music:
For the accompaniment file this week we're using a file from http://www.ralphpatt.com/VBook.html, the location of the Vanilla Book. This site is a great resource with many tracks and changes. Also, the track is split so that the right channel is piano and the left channel is piano/bass so that you can block one out if you desire.
There is a four bar introduction on these tracks.
Here is the accompaniment file for these changes:
I'm so Impressed with the way animals relate to music. I've compiled my favorite videos of animals dancing and making music. To learn more about animal music listen to our interview with animal music researcher David Rothenberg. Some of these are trained behaviors, some of them are natural, but all of them are amazing.
PBS does these remixes, and I just relived my childhood. I used to watch Mr. Rogers every day.
Instructions are now at the Jazz Tune A Week Landing Page
Week One - Rose Room
For the first week I have chosen Rose Room, as it is not too challenging, and public domain. My intention is to alternate between public domain songs and more modern jazz standards from week to week.
If you plan on recording, go ahead and introduce yourself in the comments.
Here are some youtube clips of this song:
And the Lead Sheets:
Right click the file and choose "save link as" to download
Update: 6/10/2013 - Benny Goodman Transcription
I took some time today to transcribe the way the Benny Goodman plays the melody in the clip above. I have provided sheets and a recording of me playing my transcription. It's not perfect, but it's pretty close. Enjoy.
I just saw an amazing video from Felicia Day's blog over at Geek and Sundry. I'm a huge fan of her work, but only recently realized that she is also an excellent violinist. Here is here duet with Tom Lenk:
Note, On Some iDevices the wrong video has been loading, so, if this is a different video, follow this link to the intended video:
I found this video both fun and impressive. Please go to Geek and Sundry and like all of their videos and their page. They are changing the face of entertainment.
Here's a cool site I found floating on the internets. This is a great resource to point any jazz player towards to see all of the greats in one place.