Making the Decision to Major in Music

For many teens who study music the question eventually comes up: should I major in music in college? The answer to this question is not easy. Ultimately, it will require some personal soul-searching along with plenty of counsel from the student’s teachers and parents. It requires an analysis of whether the student is well suited-in musical skill, work ethic and determination-for studying music in college and, most importantly, what realistic life and career goals that course of study will serve. If big these questions are answered satisfactorily, majoring in music can not only be a very rewarding collegiate experience, but the opening to a world of both future satisfaction and financial stability.

Can I Do It?

A common mistake that high school music students make in considering whether to major in music in college is expecting that college will be like their high school music experience. This, unfortunately, is very much not the case. Most high schools that have music programs have almost exclusively performance classes (band, choir, orchestra), and often ones that are not particularly competitive. You may also find a “Music Appreciation” class, but they are designed for non-music students and so, not indicative of college music major classes. Of all music classes typically held in high schools across the country, only “Music Theory AP” classes approach the workload and expectations of a college music major class.

There are three general kinds of courses that music majors must take in college. The first are classroom courses, somewhat similar to humanities courses in other subject areas. The usual areas are: music history, music theory, aural skills and harmony/composition. There may also be more specialized classes for certain emphasizes such as music education (K-12), jazz, opera and pedagogy (private instructor). These classes are usually taught at desks with textbooks, tests and term papers. Sometimes they require demonstration of skill at the keyboard such as harmony. Perhaps the most notoriously difficult course is “Aural Skills” in which a student will be required to be able to recognize and notate intervals, scales, chords and 4-part harmony just from hearing it. The “classroom courses” of the music major are designed to make the student a well-informed and well-rounded musician and will require much more study and practice than music students ever had to do for high school music classes.

The second area of study is private lessons and solo performance. Students (with some exceptions) are required to major in one instrument (including the voice) for which they will receive weekly private lessons and be required to perform in front of a panel of teachers for their semester grade. They are typically also required to give a junior and/or senior year recital. For more performance-oriented music majors, this area is usually the most fun and rewarding. Students will get to work with high quality private teachers in honing their personal instrumental skills and exploring repertoire. Your private teacher often becomes a cherished advisor and friend for years to come.

The third area is performance ensembles. Unlike high school, however, college performance ensembles are almost always of a much higher quality and much more demanding of students. Students will often be required to read music well, to sing in foreign languages and to learn their part largely on their own, with less rehearsal in class. The selection of college performance ensembles are also much broader than high school often including several levels of choirs, bands and orchestras; small elite performance groups and ensembles that dedicate entire semesters to a single project. Many of the ensembles are by audition only and competition can be high. Still, for those who enjoy it, college ensembles can be some of the most rewarding experiences of a lifetime for the level of skill and artistry they can obtain.

Are you up to the task? Being a music major (contrary to uninformed, common belief) is certainly not all fun and games, but if it is your passion, you will love (almost) every minute of it. It requires an intellectual mind, great study and practice ethics, self-motivation and often thick skin to succeed. It usually requires more hours in the day than other majors, and music majors are increasingly taking five years to complete their Bachelors rather than the usual four. But music programs are well designed because they not only teach their graduates all of the musical skills they will need to succeed, but also the dedication and strength to make a career in an area that is not always easy or clear-cut. And for those who choose to not make a career out of music, music major graduates are widely noted for their intelligence, work ethic and leadership skills.

How to Make Musical Instruments

There is significant research that suggests children who study music from an early age have better memories and higher IQs. Studying music in a traditional fashion is wonderful and has many benefits, but children have other artistic needs beyond musical. One great way to incorporate other creative skills into musical education is teaching them how to make musical instruments.

Percussion instruments are among the easiest for children to make and the most fun for them to play with. A shaker, similar to a maraca, can be made quite simply by folding a paper plate in half and filling it with rice, beans or popcorn kernels before stapling the edges shut. To make this project even more fun, let kids paint the outside of the plate and attach streamers to the edges.

Every family has empty shoe boxes, toilet paper rolls and rubber bands around the house, but they probably have no idea how much fun they could be having with them. These materials are the only thing that is needed to create a homemade guitar. By cutting a hole in the box, stretching rubber bands across and attaching paper towel roles as a neck, kids can make a guitar that is easily played by plucking the rubber bands.

It is very easy to make a set of finger cymbals out of lids from baby food jars, but this project definitely requires the help of an adult. First, the child can use paint or markers to decorate the tops of the lids however they like. A grownup can then use a hammer and nail to punch a hole in the center of the lid and then tie elastic through the hole so that the cymbals can be comfortable held for hours of play.

Musical education is important for the enrichment of any child, but it is even more fun when they learn how to make musical instruments on their own. These activities allow children to practice their fine motor skills while expressing themselves creatively. This is a great activity that any family can enjoy together.

How to Be a Music Teacher

The sphere of music is so widespread that something new keeps happening everyday. This is also one of the reasons why thousands of people opt for music as a subject of study. Interest-stirring and experience-enriching, the power of music can be spread only by people passionate about it. Do you happen to be one of them? Be it a university degree or online education, there are several ways in which you can pursue this career. The following guide will bring to light aspects you need to consider before taking up a career in music.

Nature of Work

A career in music opens up many avenues for people who are ready to leap in. If you decide to take up music professionally, you could do anything from giving private tuitions to training students to play for an orchestra or chorus. With the expectations of the job, the profile of a musician keeps changing. The single factor that keeps unchanged despite the change in profile is music appreciation, something that you need to steadily promote if you want to have a successful career in music.

Training and Education

Before you go through university education or an online degree to further your educational qualifications in the field of music, it is important that you answer certain questions for yourself. Are you ready to study a musical instrument to the core? Are you looking to be a part of a chorus or band? Are you ready to take up independent musical projects to learn hands on, while still in school? After you are sure about these factors, you are just a few steps away from being a music teacher. Advanced degrees and diplomas are the most common forms of music education. However, if you are planning to be a private tutor, no formal education is required.


The number of students enrolling to study music is on a constant increase all over the world. The role of the music teacher is getting modified everyday what with different kinds of advancements taking place. For example, contrary to the earlier notion that a school teacher needs to know only classical forms of music, the scenario now has completely changed. A school teacher is expected to know alternative forms of music as well as operating musical software.