Should You Major in Music?

Choosing any college major is a big deal. You are making the decision to focus on a certain discipline for your college career. That doesn’t mean you must continue in that field for your professional career. Majoring in music is an option at many schools, but it is not easy. A music degree is not just “playing in band every day.”

Killer Harmony | Should You Major in Music? | Should you major in music? There's a lot to think about when choosing what you will focus on in college. Your skills and interests are only the beginning.

There are academic music classes, lessons, ensembles, and general education course that you have to take. Music is one of the most difficult majors you can choose, but it can be well worth the extra work.

It can be hard to know what majoring in music is really like until you get there. As a recent Bachelor of Music graduate, I want to give my thoughts on who should, or should not, major in Music in college.

Why Music?

What is it about music that makes you want to study it? There are many reasons why we pick up an instrument. It is a great way to be creative, you can make some life long friends, and music education can help your skills in other ways.

If you want to major in music, it is good to treat music as more than just a hobby. You don’t have to be practicing in every spare moment of your time. You should, however, be fairly serious about music and your instrument.

Private lessons are important for building your skills outside of your school music program. They also allow you to explore solo music and harness your craft on your own time. While private lessons can get expensive, they are an invest in your music career.

What Other Interests Do You Have?

There is this school of thought that if you enjoy anything else as much as music, then you should pursue that anything else. I don’t fully agree with that idea, but it does have a bit of merit.

If you are interested in an outside field, particularly one that goes well with music, keep that interest around. You can double major or minor in a second field. Doing that builds your marketability for after you graduate.

I chose to add a minor in Spanish, and so I can work with the Spanish language to increase my chances of finding a good job. Complementary majors include communications, business, languages, theatre, and so many others.

What is Your Musical Background?

If you just started learning music for the first time in high school, you probably don’t have enough experience to really flourish as a music major. While I did not start my primary instrument, flute, until then, I had previous experience on piano, violin, and other instruments. I understood music theory, and I knew how to discipline myself to make good progress.

You don’t have to play your instrument for years, but you should have a good grasp of the fundamentals of technique as well as other basics. Knowledge of scales, arpeggios, and a few solos is enough to get you started. Just know that there is a lot of work involved in studying music.

If you go into college with a jumpstart on music theory and some slightly challenging repertoire, it will make your first semester that much easier. Having s strong background in music is also a benefit.

What Do You Want from Music?

What is it about music that you want to achieve? Think about what you might want to do after you graduate. Do you want to perform? Teach? Something else? Narrowing down your long term goals will help you decide what to concentrate on during your time in college.

If you want to try your hand at composing, see if you can take a class or lessons to help you build your portfolio. If performance is your goal, seek out performance and competition opportunities. For future music educators, be sure you are taking all of the required methods courses.

If your goal is to work in arts administration, use your elective credits to take classes in business or even pursue it as a minor.

Music is a tough field to study and make a career in, and it is nice to plan ahead for the future. Being passionate and driven will help you tremendously, and setting goals will give you direction.

What Else?

If you decide now or later that music is not the major for you, you should definitely keep playing. Ask the music department at your college about opportunities for non-majors. You can probably join the large ensemble for your instrument and maybe take lessons, depending on the professor’s load.

It’s not required for you to major in music to keep playing in college.

You do not have to be a professional to play music. There are many amateurs who keep their passion for music alive well past college. I hope that, no matter your career goals, Music will stay a part of your life. There is nothing to be had but benefits.

So…

Are you considering a major  in music? What do you want to know about it? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

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Tales of a College Music Major

Well folks, the time has come. Within a week, I will have gone through my undergraduate commencement. I will officially have a degree in music. I have already finished all of my classes and finals, so I wanted to write about my college experience.

If you will be majoring in music or you just want to learn more about it, I hope I can shed some light on the reality of being a musician. It’s tough, and it will be even tougher in the future, but it is so worth it.

Killer Harmony | Tales from a College Music Major | Majoring in music in college is rough. You have more work than many of your friends, but that work is worth it in the end. Here's my music major experience.

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about my musical background. I had a different musical upbringing, but I managed to thrive throughout my college music career. Here are the details of my college education.

Freshman Year

I started college at a community college, and I began in the college concert band and music theory and ear training. I really enjoyed playing in band for the first time and studying music at an advanced level. Flute lessons were also a part of my schedule.

Sadly, I had to study flute with the saxophone professor, because my school didn’t have a flutist on staff. While I was able to improve and make up for the time I lost by not playing flute earlier, I could have progressed even more if I had a proper instructor.

I also got to take my first, and only, semester of music composition. It was an interesting class, and it got me more interested in composing as part of my career.

Sophomore Year

I had a bit of a setback this year, because my college did not offer the second year theory courses. I would have to transfer or wait to take those classes. At the time, I took this as a sign that I shouldn’t study music. We all know how that went now.

I finished the requirements for an associates degree in liberal arts halfway through my second year. So, I tried my luck and auditioned for a local conservatory. My lack of experience and lack of a proper flute teacher were enough for me to be denied.

I had a moment to cry, but I remembered a state school not too far from home. I then decided to see about studying music there. That February, I auditioned and received a music talent scholarship. I accepted the offer.

That spring, I attended a local university so that I could take a few more advanced classes. It was then that I was able to get experience teaching music and flute to kids. I decided that I really wanted to be a music/flute teacher.

Junior Year

I was finally on my own. It was my first time not living at home. I had a single room on campus, and I was able to study music at a bigger program than before. I struggled with the decision to major in performance instead of music education. Teaching interested me, but I didn’t want to direct ensembles.

I decided on flute performance. It would take a shorter time because there were less requirements, and I could really grow as a flutist. (Yes, I say flutist. I play the flute, not the flaut.)

I was also able to finally take the second year theory and ear training courses as well as music history. It was also my first ever marching band season. Neither my high school nor community college had a football team, and therefore no marching band. Marching was certainly an experience that I don’t regret having, but it was difficult.

My junior year also brought with it my first time performing a solo for flute. I had worked on solos before but never for the purpose of performing them. I was also able to get rid of any stage fright that I had.

Senior Year

I still can’t believe how fast this year came and went. I had a lot of cool stuff happen this year. I gave not one, but two, solo recitals. They were both a lot of work, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

There was a bit of drama during the middle of the year, but I think that I was able to overcome the craziness. Spring break was just what I needed. I also got a bit of a break from music in the form of a minor in Spanish. I’m so glad I added it to my degree.

This year, I only had one real music “class” aside from lessons and ensembles. That was my basic conducting class. It was not basic at all, but it was a senior level course. While I don’t plan on conducting much in the future, I am glad that I can if necessary.

This year was probably my favorite year of college, because I became really close to friends in my dorm as well as other music majors. I know that I will miss it, even though I might not always admit it.

Looking Ahead

My music degree prepared me for more than just music performance. I learned a lot about music and the concepts behind pieces. I learned how to teach flute to others, and I came into my own as a musician.

Lately, I have been contacting places back home for music related jobs. I hope to start a career as a flutist, teacher, composer and writer. Music is my passion and my biggest skill. I hope to use that passion and skill to inspire the next generation of musicians.

So…

Do you have any specific questions about majoring in music? Let me know in the comments and I will cover them in a future post!

Thanks for reading!

What to do During Spring Break

Ah, spring break. It’s a time to take a week off from school and responsibilities, to hang out with friends and to travel, usually. What do you do if you don’t have any plans for travel? Or you can’t afford to go somewhere? There are many things you can do.

Killer Harmony | What to do During Spring Break | Spring break is a great time to go out, but what if you don't have any plans? Here are 7 things you can do for fun from your own home, for free!

While spring break is usually portrayed as a week of fun, you can also spend it working towards your future. There are multiple ways to spend spring break that don’t cost a ton of money or require you to travel.

Here are some of those ideas.

1. Look/Apply for Summer Jobs.

If you plan to work over the summer, now is the time to start looking for those jobs. It can take awhile to get a response from companies, so you don’t want to wait until finals are over to start your applications.

If you will be graduating from college, you should start thinking about what you will be doing after graduation. This could include a job. So take this free week to start your job search.

2. Enroll in Classes.

If you are not graduating, or you will be going to graduate school, you can spend spring break planning out your classes. If you wait too long to enroll, you might not get your first choice schedule.

It obviously won’t take all week to enroll in classes, but you can spend a few hours or a day planning out your schedule. Think of the classes you still need to take, what will be offered next semester, when you want to take those classes, etc.

3. Get Some Sleep.

If you are like most college students, you are probably pretty tired. It doesn’t help that this past weekend, most of the United States moved the clocks forward an hour. We all lost some sleep this weekend, and spring break is the perfect time to get that sleep back.

If you don’t have a your whole break planned out, spend an extra hour each morning getting some sleep. You shouldn’t sleep the day away, but your body will thank you for getting back on track.

Sleep is also a nice way to pamper yourself. There are so many benefits to sleeping, and it can even help you forget about some of the stressful things you have going on, if only for a little while.

4. Catch Up on Homework.

I know, I sound like a nag. But, spending this week catching up on your work is going to make going back to school a breeze. Things come up, and we can easily forget about our homework for a day or two. Use your spring break to catch up, and who knows? Maybe you can get ahead?

Homework is not the most fun thing to do over break, but if you get caught up or even ahead in some classes, you can save yourself a lot of stress later on. You won’t have to worry about staying up at all hours of the night to finish a paper. You can say yes to dinner with friends.

It’s totally worth it. Trust me.

5. Spend Time on a Hobby.

With classes, you don’t have a ton of time left over to do something fun. Use your extra free time to something you enjoy. Pick up a new (or old) hobby.

Go to your local craft store and see what inspires you. Watch some YouTube videos on things that interest you. Start a blog. Check out that new Netflix show everyone is talking about.

Do something that you wouldn’t normally have time to do. You will have fun, get to relax a little and you might even find a new activity that you want to pursue in the future!

6. Have a Spa Day.

Do you have a day with no plans whatsoever? Turn it into a spa day! Break out the soaps, nail polishes and whatever else you want to use. You can make it into a whole day event.

Start with gathering everything you need. You can make some DIY products, like skin masks or bath bombs. Take a bath. Do your nails. See if you have a friend who is free and wants to join. Or, make it a “me day.”

Blast your favorite songs, and just enjoy yourself. You have earned a day off.

7. Do Some Spring Cleaning.

This will work better depending on where you end up over spring break, so this might not apply to everyone. If you will be either in your college dorm or apartment, or you are going home, get in the spirit of spring cleaning.

Get rid of any trash or old stuff you no longer need. Break out the summer clothes. Make a few piles of stuff: trash, keep, donate, etc.

This week is a great time to get organized and refresh before spring is in full gear.

So…

What are you doing for spring break? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter (@HannahHaefele)!

Thanks for reading!

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Should You Start College Undeclared?

It’s a question that every high school senior gets asked: what are you going to study/major in in college? If you have always known you wanted to go to medical school or you have always had a passion for teaching or some other thing, this question might be easy for you. For most incoming students, that question can be stressful.

Killer Harmony | Should You Start College Undeclared? | With the pressure to make life decisions coming from everyone, deciding what to major in can be stressful. Here's why it's okay to start college undeclared.

We have this idea that we are supposed to know what to do when we enter college, but not everyone does. Many people even change their majors through the course of college. So, I am going to talk about why it’s okay be undecided or undeclared while you figure things out.

Here are some things to think about when deciding if you should start college undeclared.

1. You have multiple interests…that don’t fit together.

In some cases, you can merge two different interests together when deciding what career to pursue. In some cases, they really don’t fit. Maybe your two biggest passions are music and law/political science. You would love to major in one or both of those subjects, but you aren’t sure how that would work.

You might be able to pursue a double major, but that takes time, and both music and law are time consuming.

Having multiple interests is certainly not a bad thing; it can only increase the chances of finding a career you enjoy. But at the start of college, it could be a good chance to explore those interests to see how far they go.

2. You have no clear career goal.

This is nothing to be ashamed of, but having no goals for your degree means that declaring now could be a waste of your time and money. Maybe you decide that since you like drawing, art is what you should major in. But then you get into a semester full of art classes and realize you can’t do it all day.

Going in undeclared gives you the chance to explore different subjects and fulfill general education requirements at the same time. Maybe your college has an anthropology class that can fill a social science credit. You can take certain electives to fill your basic requirements and open yourself up to new subjects you never thought of.

It’s okay to not know what you want to do after college, and spending time getting those pesky general classes done means that when you do find your perfect major, you can dedicate more time to it.

3. You want options.

Even if you have a general idea of what you want to study, starting undeclared can give you more options. In some majors, you might be tempted to start those major requirements and put off the general education classes. Music is one of these, because of all of the progressive classes you have to take. The earlier, the better.

But declaring a major like this and spending time in those classes only to realize it was never for you can be heart breaking…and wallet breaking. If you have some ideas of your interests but want to be open to new ideas, going in undeclared is a good choice.

It’s okay to not want to commit. When you start college, you’re only 18. You’re barely an adult, and who can expect you to make decisions that could potentially make or break your adult life?

4. Your interests change a lot.

I’m not going to say that changing interests is bad; I had a period of time where my career goals changed at least once a week. But if you change career interests as regularly as the days or weeks, it’s not a bad idea to put off that decision of choosing a major.

Eventually, you will find an area of interest that is so strong and that you always find enjoyment with. That is a sign that you should declare that major. If you have yet to have that moment or you look at dozens of majors on the regular, spend some time undeclared.

Use that time to explore all your interests and to talk to students and professors in those fields. What are the classes like? What types of jobs can you get? Do enough of the classes interest you?

5. The pressure of choosing is getting to you.

If you just can’t stand the constant questions from well meaning family members or you don’t want to choose, it’s okay to go in undeclared. Feeling pressured is a good way to end up making a decision you might later regret.

In our culture, we put so much pressure on high school seniors to know what their life goal is. We expect them to know just what they want to study and what they want to do after college. The only thing that does is stress out the people we think we’re helping.

If you feel pressured to decide on a major, know that that pressure is part of life, but also that you don’t have to listen to it. If you know that undeclared is for you, do it. There’s no reason to make a hasty decision just because of something your crazy aunt or other relatives tell you.

So…

I wish I went in undeclared. I would have been able to consider more options than just the one thing I thought about when I was 17: the thing I thought I SHOULD major in.

Have you been undeclared? What advice do you have for rising freshmen? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter (@HannahHaefele)!

Thanks for reading!

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Dorm Room Request Tips

It’s that time of year, guys! If you plan to live on campus next year, you will have to fill out a form with your room request. Those forms usually come out around now or in the next few weeks. Whether you are an incoming freshman or a returning student, room requests are something you have to do.

Killer Harmony | Dorm Room Request Tips | In college, if you want to live on campus, you have to fill out a room request form. Here are 6 tips for filling out your on campus housing application.

It may seem annoying to have to fill out a room request form, especially with all of the other forms related to college. If you want to live in a dorm (or have to), then you need to fill out a room request. Here are my tips for increasing your chances of getting what you want.

1. Apply Early.

This tip can be applied to almost anything, from college itself to your dorm room assignment. As soon as you decide to live on campus, get online and see if the room request form for your school is up. If it is, apply ASAP. If it is not up, check to see if you can find out when it will be up.

Applying early helps increase the likelihood of getting the room assignment of your choice. Most colleges have different housing options, from single rooms to suite style rooms to themed floors. If you want a specific room type, the earlier you apply, the better.

2. Read the Directions.

This may seem obvious, but reading the directions when filling out any important form is necessary. You don’t want to fill out an entire housing application only to have missed an important detail.

The directions will also have information on how and when you can make changes to your room request. If you decide that you want a different room or to live off campus, you need to know those important dates.

3. Mark any and all Preferences.

Each college will have a different housing application, so your school won’t be the same as mine, but there are some general things you can mark. Obviously, you will have to rank your housing preferences. You might have to rank your choice by building, room type or some other factors.

There might also be a section on roommates. Even if you request a single room, you still have to give information about your roommate preferences in case you don’t get your own room.

For my housing application, I had to answer yes or no to statements such as:

  • I plan on having class before 10 am
  • I go to bed before 11 pm
  • My roommate can smoke (outside the dorms)
  • etc.

Your housing application might have those sorts of questions or different ones, or you can even request a specific person as your roommates.

4. Be Ready to Pay.

In most cases, your housing application won’t be accepted unless you pay the housing deposit as soon as you submit your application. Yeah, it sucks to have to pay a fee for housing when you won’t even move in for another six months, but that deposit will reserve your spot.

The earlier you submit your application and payment, the higher a priority you will be to the people or system in charge of housing assignments. If you decide to live off campus, you can usually request a refund of at least part of that deposit, so the risk isn’t super high.

5. Pay Attention to Housing Costs.

Not all rooms are created equal. Single rooms, new dorms and some specialty rooms will cost more. When looking at housing options, take note of the prices and see if there are any options that are totally out of your price range.

As yourself if a single room is worth the extra money. Are you even eligible for a single room? Some colleges reserve them for upperclassmen.

Do you want to live on a quiet floor so you can study in your dorm? If you are 21 or over, do you want a “clean” dorm or are you okay living with people who have alcohol?

Those are some questions to ask when putting in your request. If something, such as a quiet floor, is important to you, make that known in your application.

6. Stay up to Date.

After you submit your application, check your school email regularly. You never know if you might get an update on the status of your application or if you need to submit more information. You will also probably receive some sort of confirmation email with your housing request and payment information, so keep that for your records.

Most housing assignments won’t come out until summer, but it’s still a good idea to stay up to date with your email and contact your school if you have any questions.

So…

Have you lived in a dorm? What are some things you wish you knew when filling out a room request form? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter (@HannahHaefele).

Thanks for reading!

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