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Vocal performace as a double major or minor - question


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Hi all,

 

My dd has been singing before she spoke and is a very musical child. She loves to sing but doesn't think it will be her career. On the other hand, I don't think it is something she should count out. I know she wants to go to a college with a good choir and I am thinking that maybe she could minor or double major in music. (I am really thinking of portable careers because her overriding desire is to be in a military family and if she can't be the member, she wants to marry someone in the military). As I think I understand it, there are two kinds of music majors- theoretical and performance, is that correct? WHat kind of requirements are typical for a vocal major? Is it like other instruments where they also need to play the piano? She had years of piano but stopped when she realized that she would never be able to read music quick enough when the music she was playing had multiple notes at the same time. SHe has a vision problem which normally isn't much of an issue but reading four or more notes at a time is a problem. Any advise?

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I majored in vocal performance in college, but don't have any *recent* experience with it. At my college music majors were required to choose performance, music education, or music therapy as their focus. I was in performance. I did have to take 2 full years of college level piano but it wasn't an issue that I was starting out as a semi-beginner. To become a vocal performance major I had to audition for acceptance into that major (as well as apply to the university).

 

HTH In the end, I switched majors because I realized it wasn't something I could make a living at - and I didn't want to become a music teacher. Looking back it might have been helpful to finish my music degree and then teach piano and voice lessons - but I wasn't thinking in terms of "what will I do to earn extra money when I'm married", I was thinking in terms of "what career do I want".

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I would second Emmy. The tracks that I am familiar with are music education, music business, music performance, and music therapy.

 

When my son started expressing a desire to major in music, vocal performance, I put down my foot and insisted that he learn piano and theory. I didn't want him to end up in Freshman theory and die, like I did. There is a good reason that there are so many jokes about singers.

 

So, yes, voice students do need to basically proficient at the keyboard. Keyboard is required in most music theory courses, and music theory is required for a major or a minor, so the vision issue might be a concern. Do you have a Suzuki piano teacher in your neck of the woods? The Suzuki method trains students to learn music by ear. That might be a good option for her.

 

There are awesome music opportunities in the military. The tuba instructor at the university where I work was in the army band and loved it.

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Hi! I was a music education major for two years before I switched. I also sang out of the cradle. I am a little worried about her majoring in music for several reasons. Music is much more academic than people realize. You normally take 3 or 4 semesters of music theory and then composition. I thought, no problem, I play the piano. However, what threw me was ear training. No one had ever done that with me. They play something on the piano and expect you to write it on the staff and they only tell you the key they are in. At the end of the second class they were playing chords and melody lines. I could handle the written theory, but the audio was hard for me.

 

I also had to take string methods, brass methods, etc. and had to learn to play each of those instruments just a little in case I was sent to a small, rural school and was the only music teacher. Music history was like any other history course except they had drop the needle. They would play a selection and you had to identify the piece it came from. I had to acheive a level 4 in piano which consisted of not only playing pieces, but accompanying a soloist for the jury. That was easy for me, but not so easy for the other vocal majors.

 

I'm still doing what i love. I sing in choir and praise team. I do music in VBS and also have lead a children's choir 12 out of the last 14 years. So even though I didn't end up with a major, it worked out just fine. Just a thought.

 

Christine

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I was a music education major. I think the most important thing, in this day and age, if you are going to be a music major, is what job skills do you have when finished with your degree.

 

I had skills when I got out of college. I had a teaching degree. However, my friends, who were performance majors, went into other fields when they graduated. For them, there wasn't a lot they could do with that major. Not always the case, but for them, that is what happened.

 

I too agree with all that was said by the wonderful ladies who have posted above me.....Great job, guys!:iagree:

 

If I had it to do all over again, I think I would major in HISTORY EDUCATION!;)

 

 

Blessings,

 

Brenda:001_smile:

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Ditto above.

 

I was a voice performance major & had 2 yrs theory, ear training, & piano (any level.) Theory was the big "weeding out" class (like Calculus for engineers.) Voice performance is really an Opera degree so if that's not her interest, look into musical theater or other options.

 

Things to consider:

 

1) For my degree as a Bach. of Music, I didn't have to take all the regular core curriculum (except for Fresh. Comp I) so if I decided to go back to school, I'd have to start from scratch. BA's in music do.

 

2) Had to have 2 yrs college level foreign language (regardless of what you had in hs.)

 

3) Performance doesn't prepare you for a career, unlike music ed or therapy. While you're trained to be a good musician, that doesn't mean you'll get work in the field. That's based on your auditions & what's on your resume.

 

4) It would be difficult to double major since practically none of the classes are used for any other major and many take lots of actual hours of work, but only get you 1 or 2 hrs of credit.

 

Honestly, I don't recommend performance degrees as a rule. Learn your basic theory (note reading & counting are huge) & then do all the performances you can. In colleges (esp. small ones) anyone can audition.

Edited by K-FL
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Just a note to say I agree with K-FL it would be very hard to double major in music and something else. During my 2 years in vocal performance I found it all encompassing - it's a lifestyle because your work in your major far extends beyond class time. There are practices, performances, competitions, etc.

 

And I would agree - vocal performance is all about being a professional singer. Most of the people I knew in school either wanted to be an opera singer (myself included) or had a minor in theatre and planned to go into musical theatre.

 

I would have probably continued in my music degree had my parents not made it plainly clear that they would not support me more than 4 years of college (no extra semester or 5th year) nor would they help me get started in a music career. They were wanting to retire and anxious to complete any financial connections with me so they set a very hard and fast deadline for me.

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Hi all,

 

My dd has been singing before she spoke and is a very musical child. She loves to sing but doesn't think it will be her career. On the other hand, I don't think it is something she should count out. I know she wants to go to a college with a good choir and I am thinking that maybe she could minor or double major in music. (I am really thinking of portable careers because her overriding desire is to be in a military family and if she can't be the member, she wants to marry someone in the military). As I think I understand it, there are two kinds of music majors- theoretical and performance, is that correct? WHat kind of requirements are typical for a vocal major? Is it like other instruments where they also need to play the piano? She had years of piano but stopped when she realized that she would never be able to read music quick enough when the music she was playing had multiple notes at the same time. SHe has a vision problem which normally isn't much of an issue but reading four or more notes at a time is a problem. Any advise?

 

I majored in music at a small liberal arts college, with a very small department (in my graduating class there were 8 music majors!). We didn't have differentiations in the major, i.e. performance or theory. We all had to take the same theory and music history classes. We all had to pass a piano proficiency exam, which was playing a four-part hymn on the piano. I think we all had to perform at a recital appropriate for our level of ability. Those who were more inclined towards perfomance just went further with their performance studies/private lessons, and had either a half or full recital (where they were the only performer). I was not, so the only performance class I took was the piano I needed to pass the exam; I did a recital where many other students performed before and after me.

 

The major had a reputation of being one of the more difficult ones on campus, with more required credits than many of the other majors. Even with the music minor, it was said that one might as well be a major, as the requirements were pretty close to that of the major. The upper level music theory classes did require music dictation, with more than one line going on. I don't remember needing to know much piano for music theory, just the basics. We didn't have "drop the needle" exams in music history, or much that tested what we memorized because a majority of evaluations, even in other departments, were done as essays or papers to see how we synthesized information.

 

Being at a liberal arts college, we did have to take other courses in social sciences, physical sciences, and humanities (I think it was two in each). But we had many choices to choose from to fulfill those requirements, so no student's first or second year looked like any othe student's.

 

Out of the 8 of us who graduated in '91, one is a professional singer, and one plays her sax in a band, but is a graphic designer by day. I don't know about the other 6...I think one or two of them went to grad school for musicology, and one went to grad school for piano performance. One woman was going into performance, but decided against it and was/is working in admisisons at Emory University. I teach a music theory class at our music co-op, and I'm considering a humanities or anthropology MA degree in the not to distant future. :D

 

Having a career as a professional musician can be tough. Each time we met, my college advisor reminded me that I wasn't going to make a lot of money with a music major. But having musical skills can be useful. You don't have to major or even minor in music to teach private lessons. Your dd could just participate in the choir/s at her college, and gain enough experience to do that, or to direct a church or community choir. Also, though, don't discount the other things one can do as a performance major. Majoring in performance doesn't exclude working in the music business, as there are many behind the scenes jobs at symphonies and operas: fund raising, ticketing, education outreach, management, etc.

Edited by LanaTron
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My ds ER is a sophomore music major at a small Christian college. Unfortunately, his college is phasing out all music degrees as of the end of 2009, so students who want to continue in that field will have to transfer to other schools. The college has been offering four music degree programs: Bachelor of Music with a major in Music Education, Bachelor of Music with a major in Performance, Bachelor of Music with a major in Church Music, and the Bachelor of Arts in Music.

 

ER chose to pursue a Bachelor of Arts because it is slightly less demanding, and he thought he might be able to pursue a double-major (Christian Studies in addition to Music). However, all of the music majors are expected to require FIVE years of study for a bachelor's degree.

 

Here's what I know about the requirements ER's school. (Much of this is taken directly from ER's Music Majors' Handbook.):

 

"All students seeking admission as a music major or minor must audition before the music faculty. If the audition is passed, freshman students will be

placed in the first semester of the first year of applied music study. ...A candidate may attempt the audition/evaluation process three times."

 

Majors choose a primary applied instrument (ER's is voice) and also a secondary (ER's is piano). They are required to take applied music (weekly private lessons) in their primary instrument, and in their secondary instrument they study in a class setting (several students in a weekly workshop-type setting). They are required to take from 4 to 8 semesters of each, depending on their major.

 

All music majors must also pass a piano proficiency evaluation, regardless of their primary or secondary instrument choice. (The handbook states: "All students, regardless of performance medium, will develop a minimal level of proficiency at the keyboard, which will include some knowledge and ability in improvisation.")

 

They are also required to take 4 semesters each of music theory and sight singing/ear training. ER is known as a prodigy among his peers in these areas, but he says that MANY students have great difficulty with these and it is not at all uncommon for students to have to repeat these courses.

 

All music majors are required to participate in one or more of the college's ensembles, which include: Concert Choir, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, Brass Ensemble, Lyric Theater, Handbells, Woodwind Ensemble, and others.

 

More from the handbook:

 

 

  • All music majors are required to read at sight and develop improvisation skills on their primary medium of musical expression. For primary concentration students, these skills will be addressed regularly in lessons and will be evaluated during juries at the end of each semester of study. ...All students taking applied music are required to take a jury at the end of each semester of study. Music majors will take a jury before the entire music faculty on their primary concentration instrument. This will involve performing the assigned literature for the semester and reading at sight.
     
  • All students taking applied music are required to devote a minimum of one hour of practice per day per contact hour for applied music preparation. Applied music professors may require Practice Reports to be submitted.
     
  • Student recitals are scheduled on selected Friday afternoons. Music majors are required to perform at least once each semester. [This is in addition to the required juries.]
     
  • At the end of the Sophomore year, all music majors must successfully complete an examination in written harmony, ear training, keyboard skills, music technology, and music literature. Sophomore Comprehensive Examinations may be taken only after the completion of second year theory. When these examinations have been successfully passed, the student will be admitted into upper division music courses.
     
  • The semester before the semester of graduation, all senior music degree candidates must successfully complete a written and oral Senior Comprehensive Examination covering all phases of his/her undergraduate work in music. A student may be required to complete additional work without credit to remove any deficiencies. Only upon completion of the Senior Comprehensive Examination will a student be permitted to register for the final semester.
     
  • Upon completion of the core of music theory and music history and literature courses, all music majors will be able to analyze the musical score and/or performance of a representative composition from the Western musical tradition and then be able to discuss, orally or in writing, the stylistic
    characteristics seen or heard. Based upon those observed characteristics, the student will be able to identify the genre of the work, the historical period of composition, and possible composer of the work. This process of analysis will demonstrate the student’s understanding of the evolution and change that has taken place in Western music to the present. This kind of analysis will require the student to correlate and synthesize a wide range of knowledge from all his/her courses in music.
     
  • All music majors will have a familiarity with and basic understanding of non-Western music. All music majors will have a basic comprehension of the physical properties of musical sounds, various tuning systems, and acoustical phenomena.
     
  • All music majors will become acquainted with standard computer hardware and software designed for music applications and will demonstrate competency in one or more programs for the notation of music.
     
  • All students, regardless of major, will develop conducting and rehearsal skills adequate to exhibit understanding of musical interpretation and will participate as a valuable member of an approved major ensemble to further enhance their understanding of performance and knowledge of musical literature.

 

Edited by ereks mom
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I had one more thought about this today. Last year we went up to Seattle to see the St. Olaf College choir perform. They were incredible. One of the singers was blind. Curiously, the singers all held hands when they sang (with an impressive little flip of their robe sleeves as they latched together). I wondered if they would have done this anyway, or if they were holding hands to be able to signal directing cues to the gal who was blind, or both. Now I don't know whether this little gal was a music major -- there are plenty of singers at St. Olaf majoring in other fields. But remembering that concert today, I was thinking that if your daughter is passionate about music, a sight impairment does not have to get in the way of singing and performing.

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As others have mentioned, a music degree is VERY DIFFICULT. Can I stress it enough? To complete my music performance degree, I was taking a minimum of 9 classes each semester (regular courses like science and English plus music courses) and that was a regular 18 credit load. There are so many requirements to a music degree that half the classes are only 1 or 1/2 credit. And I had it "easy" because I tested out of the math and language requirements and was able to finish in 4 years. A music degree keeps you constantly moving between rehearsals, performances, recital/concert attendence, lessons in voice and an instrument, not to mention time for practice, which could be as much as 4 hours per day, plus regular coursework.

 

All this to say, if she does not feel strongly about a music degree/career, don't attempt it. She will certainly be allowed to take vocal lessons and perform with choirs. This is the route I would go and if she wants, she can add a minor later on in her college career.

 

One other thing that might be worth mentioning - when I was in college I had a fellow music major who left school for two years for the military. He ended up singing in a choir (not sure what branch) and he spent most of his military career touring around the world. Not a bad route to go, I'd say.

Edited by Susan in TN
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Thanks for all your help. I will just make sure she goes to a college which has a choir she can join and then she can take some music classes as electives. After looking at what the music majors entail, it is most probable that she would be interested in Church Music or some other major that dealt with choirs. I could see her transitioning into a choir director at some point but I know she doesn't want to be a professional musician who makes their living performing. All the choir directors she has known are ony directing choirs part time. Otherwise they have other careers, sometimes in music and other times in a completely unrelated field.

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