Music Major: Performance, Education, or Something Else?

Since I have been studying music, it has occurred to me that current and prospective music majors may not know exactly what each of the different music degrees mean and what they require. Each degree is different, and so it is important to know what the degree or degrees you are considering would entail. This is true whether or not you end up studying music. Each type of degree requires different classes, and each major within the type of degree has certain requirements. Be sure to look at the specifics of the colleges you are considering, because not all schools are the same. Before going into the different degrees, I want to stress that, if you want to get a degree in music, focus on schools that are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM). These schools have to live up to certain standards, and attending a non-accredited school could cost you admission to graduate school or a job in music.

Bachelor of Arts in Music
We have probably all heard of a Bachelor of Arts degree. It is one of the most common, and you can earn a BA in almost any subject from art to a language to music! This degree is a good choice if you want to study another field in addition to music. At least at my university, the Bachelor of Arts music majors are required to declare a second field of study-either a minor or a second major. You don’t have as many music courses, but you do get a more broad-based education, if that is what you are interested in.
Bachelor of Music in Performance
This is the degree that I am pursuing. You choose your applied voice or instrument, take lessons on that instrument, and you have more music classes than that of a BA music degree. If music is your focus, you want to go to graduate school for music, or you want experience performing on your instrument, this is a good way to go. My career goals at the moment are to be either a flute (and possibly other instruments) private teacher. I would also love to look more into music therapy.
Bachelor of Music Education
If you want to teach music in a K-12 public school, this is your best option. This degree has the most clear cut career out of all music degrees. It might also be considered the safest degree, but that really depends on the person, where you live, and what you want to do after graduation. I believe some schools have different concentrations in the field of music education. At my university, you can focus on vocal or instrumental music ed, depending on whether you are a singer or an instrumentalist. Some schools have a concentration for elementary or general music education and then another concentration in secondary, however, many schools require studying both elementary and secondary. If I had the option to study elementary or general music education without the added requirements of band and orchestra and choir methods, I would, but that is not an option. I will stick with my performance degree for now,
There are other degrees that can be found at different schools based on how focused the school is and the size of the music department. I am not going to go into those here. If you are curious, you can do a web search for different music degrees and concetrations. I have found tons of information on the Internet. If you are looking a a particular school or schools, you should take a look at what music degrees are offered there.
Thanks for reading!

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What About Community College?

If you are worried about financing your post-secondary education, you are not alone. Many students have that same worry. College costs are rising, and community college is a good option, at least for the first two years of a degree. I am not going to to go into too much depth here, but community college does cost quite a bit less than a typical four-year university. You don’t have to factor in room and board, and tuition is significantly cheaper. Not all community college students are high school dropouts or parents or whatever the stereotype is. There are a good number of traditional college aged students attending community colleges. I was one. I went to a community college for a couple years and even received my associates degree. All I’m saying is don’t knock it until you try it.

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Tips for Applying to College

If you are a high school senior or you are just preparing to apply to college no matter your age, this is the post for you. In this post, I will be giving some tips for how to do the best job when applying to different colleges. Please keep in mind that these tips come from my personal experience applying to schools, and the experience you have may be different. Nevertheless, you can still hopefully use these tips, even if it means making slight changes.

Tip #1: Apply online where you can.
Applying online versus through a paper application will save time, stress, and money. If you apply online, the admissions team will be able to view your application as soon as you hit send. You won’t have to worry about it getting lost in the mail or somehow ending up in the wrong pile. Electronic applications will (probably, I don’t know, I’m not a college counselor) be sorted by a computer and they have a better chance of being received-and received quickly at that-than paper applications sent through the mail. The fees for online applications, at least for the colleges I applied to, were less than the fee for applying by mail.
Tip #2: Create a word document with your basic information.
This tip I stole from the YouTube channel daceycouture, but I’m going to change the bulk of the information just a little. When you start applying to colleges, especially if you are applying online, you will have to repeat quite a bit of information for each one-unless you are using the common application. Most college applications will require things like your name, address, phone number, email address, parent contact info, etc. To make things easier, you can type all of that information in a word document so that you don’t have to re type your name, address, phone… on each application that you fill out. All you would have to do is copy and paste the necessary information. If you can’t decide what to put in that document, fill out your first application, and then use the field required for inspiration.
Tip #3: Prioritize your applications.
If you have one or two colleges with early application deadlines, get those done first. That way you won’t have to worry about missing the cut off date. Also, applying early to schools with rigid deadlines might make you look better. Also, apply to all the schools on your list as early as you can, but don’t worry as much about the schools with what is called a “rolling deadline”. Those schools accept applications basically anytime, but there might still be deadlines for certain programs and majors that you are interested, so you still want to apply early.
Tip #4: Take the ACT and/or SAT as soon as you can.
If you have already taken the standardized test(s) you need, good for you. Get those scores sent soon! If you have not taken the proper standardized test, do it the next available date. You should do it early, that way you can retake the test if you aren’t happy with your score. Then when you are done with the test, send those scores off so you have one less thing to worry about.
Tip #5: Don’t wait to start your applications.
Start working on your applications early. I always think that you should avoid procrastination, and applying to college is no exception. Get those bad boys done. Even if you can’t finish an application in one go, many universities give you the option to create a login name and password so that you can save your work for later. If you are applying online or on paper, keep those applications organized and work on them on a regular basis.
My tips aren’t the most original, but they work. At least, I think they do. As always, take tips from others with a grain of salt, because everyone has a different experience in life, and we’re all different. I, for one, have no experience with the common application nor was I required to write any essays for college admission. Therefore, I have no experience in those areas and no tips to give. But, I hope the tips I gave can help you in some way, shape, or form when you are working on your applications.
Thanks for reading!


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Working While a Student

I have had experience working as both a high school and a college student, and I have also had experience with both high school and college without a job. So, which is better? I think it depends on the person, who you are and what your schedule is like can have a big impact on how well you would do as a student and an employee. For me, it depends on my schedule for the semester, but I prefer having no job if I can. In my situation, I am a music student, which music in itself is a job, but school and practicing music requires time that could be taken away from me if I had a job. I got my first job as a high school senior. I was a part time student and a family friend asked me to stop by in the middle of the day to check on their dog while they were away at work. It was that school year that I got another job (my first real job, you could say). This job was as an employee for a quick service restaurant. Quick service means you order and pay at the counter and the employees bring the food to the table; there may or may not be a drive thru. This job was good, not the greatest, but I was working with good people. In the months leading up to me quitting, I did not enjoy going to work really at all. As I would get ready for work, I yearned for the moment that I would stand in that spot taking my work clothes off. That has got to be a bad sign. I decided to quit at about the time that I was gearing up to transfer from a community college to a four-year university. I would still be living at home (although I later transferred to another university in a different area), but I ended up having three upper level courses, two of which were honors. I could have managed a job, but I would have had to sacrifice time in some other area, be it music, sleep, or my personal sanity. As nice as it is to have money, a job takes time. At that job, I usually worked Friday evenings from 5-10. That’s not a bad schedule, except it involved me driving out to a busy area right at rush hour and then working on my feet, in a busy drive thru, alone, for five hours, often without any breaks, even though I was scheduled for one. It was a five hour shift that took up more than six hours of my night. I decided at that point that I would rather work on building up a business that could be done from home. So, I quit, and while I’d be lying if I said I never looked back, when I do wish that I still had that job, I remind myself of how miserable it made me.

Have you worked as a student? Did you enjoy it or did it make you go crazy? Tell me in the comments or on Twitter!
Thanks for reading!


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Tips for College Visits

Today’s post is for the high school junior, the senior who has been putting it off, and the person who plans to go back to college. Tips for visit day! I have a few common tips that you have probably heard, but I also have some tips that you might not have heard of before. All tips are from my experience, and I hope you can learn a little something from them.

Tip #1: Learn about the school before you visit.
Take a look at the university’s website and look at what the college has to offer. You can also look online to see if the college you will be visiting has a video tour or something similar on their website. You don’t have to become an expert, but knowing a little bit will help you ask the right questions. ou don’t want to be asking a school without a music program about their choir or band.
Tip #2: See if you can speak with someone from a department of interest.
If at all possible, try and schedule an appointment with someone from the major or majors you are considering. Speaking with someone directly can give you a good idea of the program(s) you are looking at. You can also schedule an appointment with someone from a sport or activity of interest.
Tip #3: Get to the college early.
You never know what the parking will be like, especially during the week or on special visit days. Sometimes you might get a visitors permit, but you might also have to park a ways away in a metered lot or on the street. Getting there with plenty of time will help keep your stress levels low.
Tip #4: Write down any questions you have before and throughout your visit.
If you have any questions about the college before your visit, be sure to write them down so you don’t forget. If any questions come to mind while you are there, write them down if it is not an appropriate time to speak up and ask them. You can always ask the question later in the day or through email.
Tip #5: Walk around campus on your own.
Whether you do this on your first visit or you wait until you have narrowed down your top colleges, take a walk around campus without an official tour guide so that you can get a feel for where things are in a way that is different to the official tour. The tours are usually one route of campus, and it includes all of the buildings. If you take your own time to walk around, you can focus on the buildings and paths that are relevant to you.
Tip #6: See the town/city if you can.
After your visit, take a walk down a popular area close to campus. Do they have any of your favorite restaurants or shops? Look at the local stuff to see what the town is all about. If you are visiting a college in your area, check out what is next to campus, specifically.
Tip #7: Visit a variety of colleges.
If it’s possible, visit a few colleges of different a sizes, public vs private, and different specializations. This way you can get an idea as to what makes you comfortable and what you like best. Don’t just tick to visiting big public research universities or small liberal arts schools. Pick schools that are different, at least to start. Once you have settled on the factors most important to you, then you can start looking at different schools of your preferred size, location, price range, etc.
Tip #8: Visit during the school week.
Some universities offer Saturday visits, and while this can be tempting so you don’t have to miss school and your parents don’t have to miss work, you won’t get the full experience of what the campus looks and feels like during the week. Visit when classes are in session so that you can see how busy (or not) the campus is.
Tip #9: Don’t be afraid to visit schools more than once.
Once you have narrowed down your list of colleges, schedule another, visit at the ones of most interest to you. Some of the information will seem repetitive, but you will be able to get a different view of the school having learned more about it, and you will probably have a more ironed out list of questions.
Tip #10: Utalize specialized visit days.
Whether there is a day specific to freshman, transfer students (if you will be transferring), or a specific program, try to attend that event. Last spring, I went to the event that was scheduled specifically for incoming and prospective music students. I was transferring from another university, but that didn’t matter. On that day, I got to sit in on a couple of classes, meet my future studio teachers, and that was also another opportunity for me to explore campus and the surrounding area.
So those are my top tips for when you visit a college or university. For all of the high school juniors out there, this year can be stressful, but you will get through it. Take advantage of your winter break and other days off. For the seniors, you are almost there! I will soon be putting up a post of my tips for applying to college. I don’t have as many tips for that as for visiting, but I have a few. For those going back to school, congratulations on making the choice to continue your education!
Thanks for reading!


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