Jump to content

Menu

How to prepare for music major?


Recommended Posts

My 9th grader has expressed interest in majoring in music in college, and I'm hoping to get some guidance about what he/we should be doing now to prepare for that. He's been taking private piano lessons for 4 years (with local competitions and recitals, nothing major) and just started playing clarinet last year (couple of years of guitar lessons before piano, but he doesn't play regularly anymore). He started clarinet on his own over the summer and auditioned into advanced band with the local homeschool band. He's also playing keyboards in jazz band at the same place. He's planning to add in marching band next year, and he'll likely start dual enrollment at a local university in 11th grade and can audition for assorted ensembles and marching band there. What else should we be looking at? This is all totally new to me, so any advice is appreciated! 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Many music majors wash out their freshman year because they don't already have a good foundation in music theory and can't keep up with the pace of college Music Theory 1. I would explore what he already knows and work from there to be sure he's solid before heading off to college.  His piano and clarinet instructors are likely to be good resources, both for evaluating him and for recommending additional resources. FWIW, he may find this website useful for theory https://www.musictheory.net/ and this one for rhythm practice https://practicesightreading.com/.  

 

 

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

This is the way I think about it from what my older ds has done.  He is not a music major in university, but does have a music scholarship. 

4 pieces of performance: 

1. playing with accompaniment/ group

2. Earwork

3. Sightreading

4. Scales 

Most students are very weak on the earwork and sightreading . ABRSM has an excellent graded program in both. Going into university you should be at a grade 8 in all categories. 

Then there is theory, composition, and music history. My ds did not do composition, but was tested in both theory and music history for his first-year Diploma from ABRSM.

Ruth in NZ

 

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

What specialty in music?

If he wants to be a performer, pick an instrument and practice as many hours as  possible + get some ear training and theory knowledge. 

If he wants to one day be a music teacher at a school, or maybe a conductor, it will be very helpful to learn as many instruments as possible.

 

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Roadrunner said:

What specialty in music?

If he wants to be a performer, pick an instrument and practice as many hours as  possible + get some ear training and theory knowledge. 

If he wants to one day be a music teacher at a school, or maybe a conductor, it will be very helpful to learn as many instruments as possible.

 

That's a good question--he has no idea. I know he doesn't want to give up either instrument right now, but he may have to do some prioritizing soon if he really wants to pursue this.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks so much everyone! He doesn't have a private clarinet teacher right now; I imagine getting that going is probably where we need to start, with the hope that s/he will be able to give us some direction about what else he could be doing.

Link to post
Share on other sites

There are traditional and non-traditional music degrees.  For instance our son(16) feels called into Music ministry, at the present time he is studying 4 days(Weekend, 2 weekdays) a week with a large non-donomational church(over 4000 per weekend attendance) he is learning all... production, worship, and media.  He is a keys(piano) player - the professionals in which he plays with have told him he needs at least 10,000 hours of practice to be in the professional ranking.  Outside training(at home) he practices ear training, music theory, finger dexterity, sound mixing and being able to pick up any piece of music and play it flawlessly at a moments notice.  He spends hours gets so ingrossed that I have to remind him continuously to do his core subjects 😂.   So my advice is to sit down with your son...look up the best colleges for a music degree(google), figure out what is his main interest, pick a college or two and follow their admission requirements.  

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Every post has great points. Start looking at degree completion requirements, they'll differ for a BM (Bachelors of Music) a BA or a BS. Also, as stated, there are many varieties of music majors. Performance v. music education, for ex.

My music major dc got a BM in mus ed. It was practically a double major, b/c of all the music classes and all the ed classes (and pre-reqs). Proud to say this kid got it all in and finished in 4 years (the scholarship wasn't going past 4 years!) - actually in 7 semesters b/c student teaching took up that last semester. This kid never carried less than 18 credits and that was including is not counting what was earned in high school w AP and CLEP and while knocking out classes over summer and winter breaks for the first 2.5 years. Hard work, but that kid is debt free!

Yes to practice hours, probably 10 hours/week minimum and that doesn't even count rehearsals for concerts, concerts or special music events like holiday shows, baccalaureate, and graduation. Really. Oh, and don't forget all the concerts/recitals music majors have to attend too. Get those required swipes but you get zero credit hours for it. It's fine. They're all going to their friends' recitals anyway. 

Yes to ear training, absolutely, and singing. Sounds like you have piano covered, but keep that up. Depending on the major, several levels of piano skills are required. Also, piano helps w/ music theory. We lucked out w/ theory. I threw an AP book at my child junior year of high school, got that kid signed up for an AP music theory class at homeschool coop, and that was the intro to theory. (Passed the AP, btw.) Glad we didn't wait. And while Violin Teacher can not fathom that one of her students loves theory, my child is now looking at post grad studies in music theory. Go figure. 

I know it's early, but start looking at schools (and conservatories? Not for our clan or even for Violin Teacher) now for sample lessons, sitting in on classes and orchestra/choir rehearsals. Fine arts students often choose the school based on ONE PROFESSOR. That prof will shape that student and forever be part of that musician's bio. It's not the end of the world if it doesn't work out. Ask me how I know! My child had worked w/ one prof for ~2 yrs while in high school. Got in the school, in the music school*, in the honors college, even got a small scholarship only to have the prof leave the school - and teaching at that level. Oy!

*Did you catch my comment about getting in both schools? Not an issue for my child, but we knew of 2 kids at one school who didn't get into both. One got into the uni, but didn't cut it for the SoM. The other got accepted in the School of Music, but didn't meet the uni's requirements. 

Lastly, and none of this is to discourage you, but we learned it all the hard way: Sometimes, some professors treat non-performance majors like second class citizens. Do non-performance majors pay less tuition? No, no they do not. Do they still put in a ton of hours of work for their major? Why, yes. Yes they do. But a friend of ours (who had that prof my child worked w/ who left while he was there) was "just" a music major and not a performance major (he could have been - he's top notch! He just double majored in computer science and couldn't do CS and performance). The replacement for the wonderful prof was in a great professional orchestra and treated him and all non-perf majors like crap. Inexcusable, but it happened and can happen.

Also, look into different careers in music. We know a gal who entered as a performance major and changed to music therapy. 

I reserve the right to add more later. 

Edited by Angie in VA
Edited for clarity (at least, I live in hope!) See strike through.
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Angie in VA said:

 

 

I know it's early, but start looking at schools (and conservatories? Not for our clan or even for Violin Teacher) now for sample lessons, sitting in on classes and orchestra/choir rehearsals. Fine arts students often choose the school based on ONE PROFESSOR. That prof will shape that student and forever be part of that musician's bio. It's not the end of the world if it doesn't work out. Ask me how I know! My child had worked w/ one prof for ~2 yrs while in high school. Got in the school, in the music school*, in the honors college, even got a small scholarship only to have the prof leave the school - and teaching at that level. Oy!

 

 

Thanks so much for all this, Angie! WRT to this point....we're likely visiting Oberlin and/or St. Olaf over spring break with my older son (who wants to be math or physics major, but happens to have applied to those two schools with conservatories)....you think it's not too early to schedule sample lessons for him? I mean, the schools are hundreds of miles away, so it seems like we might as well if we'll be there anyway,  assuming the professors are open to it....also I'm thinking the more he sees right now about what a music major would involve, the better--so he can decide sooner rather than later if it's not really for him.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
31 minutes ago, kokotg said:

 

Thanks so much for all this, Angie! WRT to this point....we're likely visiting Oberlin and/or St. Olaf over spring break with my older son (who wants to be math or physics major, but happens to have applied to those two schools with conservatories)....you think it's not too early to schedule sample lessons for him? I mean, the schools are hundreds of miles away, so it seems like we might as well if we'll be there anyway,  assuming the professors are open to it....also I'm thinking the more he sees right now about what a music major would involve, the better--so he can decide sooner rather than later if it's not really for him.

 

Yeah, 9th grade might be a little early, but I believe that every experience (sample lesson, class observation, playing along w/ the orchestra or singing along w/ the choir, interactions with students and profs and conductors, etc.) is great exposure for the student. If an observation or sample lesson isn't possible, at least try to schedule an appointment w/ a prof. You could get great advice. 

ITA that while you're there, might as well. Yes, call or write first to arrange it. Sure, your child is in "only" 9th grade, but it's not unheard of to graduate a homeschooler early, kwim? 

Let us know how it goes! 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, Roadrunner said:

Also look at audition requirements if he wants a performance major. They will be clearly outlined for each instrument. That will give you an idea if he can be competitive for his chosen instrument. 

 

CMU's music program had very specific pieces that needed to be played to be considered.

For ds's audition for his current scholarship, he had to sight read. 

For ds's first year music-performance diploma, he had a 20-minute *very* difficult oral exam on the music theory and music history of the pieces he played during the hour long exam.

Edited by lewelma
  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/14/2019 at 11:38 AM, kokotg said:

 

Thanks so much for all this, Angie! WRT to this point....we're likely visiting Oberlin and/or St. Olaf over spring break with my older son (who wants to be math or physics major, but happens to have applied to those two schools with conservatories)....you think it's not too early to schedule sample lessons for him? I mean, the schools are hundreds of miles away, so it seems like we might as well if we'll be there anyway,  assuming the professors are open to it....also I'm thinking the more he sees right now about what a music major would involve, the better--so he can decide sooner rather than later if it's not really for him.

I think 9th grade might be a little young for a lesson with a conservatory professor. Also keep in mind that not all college professors give free lessons to perspective students. When my daughter was visiting schools (public, private, and conservatories) she had to pay for at least two lessons with professors at well over $150 for an hour.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, brookspr said:

I think 9th grade might be a little young for a lesson with a conservatory professor. Also keep in mind that not all college professors give free lessons to perspective students. When my daughter was visiting schools (public, private, and conservatories) she had to pay for at least two lessons with professors at well over $150 for an hour.

They also have the option to sit in on a class and/or rehearsals, so we'll likely just go for that for now. I'm a compulsive planner, and it's making me crazy that I can't even make travel plans until we find out if my oldest gets in to Oberlin or not. I suspect he'd rather not spend his spring break touring a college that just rejected him 🙂

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...