An Open Letter to People Who Think Being a Music Major is Easy
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Politics and Activism

An Open Letter to People Who Think Being a Music Major is Easy

Long story short, music majors are busy.

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An Open Letter to People Who Think Being a Music Major is Easy
Amy Vanderheyden

Let me start this off by saying that I've changed my major quite a few different times and have taken a wide range of classes in my short college career. My freshman year I took two different English classes, two different psychology classes, two different math classes, a special education course, and a few gen-eds here and there. I was accepted into my university as a theatre major, but changed to psychology before classes began, and changed to Early Childhood Education right before fall semester finals. I enrolled in choir for second semester and after my first time in a choir room since I graduated from high school, I made the decision to audition for the school of music to become a music education major.

Absolutely nothing could have completely prepared me for what I had gotten myself into.

First of all, lets take a look at my schedule.

That right there my friends, 17 credits. 11 classes, one of them being online and a private lesson that isn't listed. This doesn't even include my work hours, sorority commitments, other student org meetings, late nights of practicing, even later nights of studying, the hours I have to keep blocked off so I can attend required recitals and seminars, etc. Long story short, music majors are busy.

Going off of being busy, included in these classes are private lessons. I personally take private lessons for my primary instrument (voice) AND my non-primary instrument (piano). Now, that's not always the case, lots of people take a regular class for their non-primary instrument, but it still requires a ridiculous amount of practicing. Though, there is one catch to taking private lessons.....Juries. Juries are these magical things that are a final for your private lessons. They happen during finals week and you have to have 3-4 pieces prepared, basically to perfection, some of them memorized. You go in and there is a panel of judges (typically the people who specialize in that instrument) that judge you on how much you've improved and how much work you've gotten done, and from that, they determine whether you get to stay in your major or not. Did I mention we get to take finals for the rest of our classes (music related and not) on top of that? Talk about stress.

In the midsts of classes, private lessons, hours of practice, work, and other activities, we have recital attendance. A zero credit class that you can fail and can't graduate without (It's just as crazy as it sounds). As a music major, we have to squeeze in attendance at 14 different recitals throughout the semester. And if you put it off like I did this semester, you'll be attending 5 different events in one week. Hint: don't be me. Not only do you have to attend these recitals, you also have to block off noon to 1 every Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays for seminars for your instruments. Basically, music majors are secretly superheroes.

The number one reason why people drop their music major/minor is because of their lack of background with music theory and aural skills. Some people know more than others, but there's a point in the curriculum where everyone is going to be clueless. In my case, I had very little theory knowledge and sight singing is something I feared (and still do). I've had nights where stayed up until 1 am doing theory homework that I didn't understand, days where I sat in a practice room and cried over how poorly I did on a sight singing exam, plus I've spent endless hours in my professor's offices, with a tutor, and on Facetime with my theory master of a boyfriend trying to understand the material in class.

Alright, I bet you're wondering, so if being a music major is this much work and it is so stressful and busy, why do you keep doing it?

For every moment that I don't understand something, there is a moment where something clicks.

For every moment that I feel like I have no talent and I don't know what I'm doing, there is a moment where my private instructors can't stop telling me how proud they am for how much progress I've made with my instruments.

For every moment when everything feels impossible, there is a moment where you feel invincible.

For every moment when you feel stuck in your busy routine and crazy schedule, there is a moment where you see how many friends you've made going through the same things and they're there for you.

And for every moment that I want to give up, there is a moment where I remember why I'm doing this.

And somehow, that makes all of this worth it.

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