10 pros and 10 cons of Majoring in Music in College.

Majoring in music, should you do it?  This is a tough one.  It think there are pros and cons to this and ultimately you have to make a decision that sits well with you.  I did major in Vocal Arts at USC and I have mixed feeling about that experience.  I loved being in a musical environment but I spent YEARS paying off the financial debt I accrued from it for the experience of it.  I loved doing the music, but considering how my life turned out, I may have been better off getting a degree in Entrepreneurial Business and studying voice privately.  On the other hand, what a great time in my life to have been able to absorb myself in one of the things I love most.

It is hard to see down the long road of life to make appropriate plans.  Guys who play guitar don’t always think that someday they will want to be a husband, father and home owner- so the hungry life of $200 gigs with the hopes of their band making it sound great at 20 but what about at age 40 do you need something to fall back on?

Here’s my down of Pros and Cons for Majoring in Music in College :

Pros of Majoring in Music in College

  1. You get to do what you love everyday- you may never have that opportunity again in life so you might want to lavish in it for your studying years.
  2. You get to be surrounded by people who are also doing what you love everyday
  3. You get to do performances
  4. You get to work daily with great teachers
  5. You are in a creatively inspirational environment and can collaborate with other musicians
  6. You get to immerse yourself in music without the distractions of real life
  7. You get Master Classes with great guest artists
  8. You have access to practice rooms, recording equipment, accompanists, and concert halls
  9. You have a built in audience for your performances
  10. You can use college contacts to help you get into your local symphonies, choirs, Opera houses, and recording studios.

Cons of Majoring in Music in College

  1. There is no guarantee of steady performing work in the real world when you are handed a degree unless you are going to go into teaching your talent (which is great if that is what you want).
  2. College is expensive.  – You will be paying to off for years… if you do not have financial help from your family or the school scholarships.  This in the end can force you to take steady paying job outside of music to pay off the debt which can hold you back from pursuing your music.
  3. You can train privately with a great voice or music teacher while pursuing your craft on your own or going to college and majoring in something else that has more security.
  4. Music College is a bubble that is very far from reality.  It is wonderful for musicians, but it is like camp.  It is very difficult to find something that pays you to live like that once you get out.
  5. You can be put together with a private teacher in College that you do not like.  This is scary, when it comes down to it your training is based on the excellence of your private teacher.  It is so important that you have someone assigned to you who understands you as a musician, sees what is great about you, and that you respect.  In college you can not always choose who your teacher will be and some people do not get the appropriate match.  OR your teacher may be fabulous but may have some political issues at the school.  You being their student may hurt your chances of exposure and opportunities (this totally happens- believe me).
  6. A music degree does not teach you how to make money.  You will concentrate your studies on performance skills and music education in college rather then be prepped as musicians to go out in the world and creatively use your skills to support yourself financially.  This you have to learn on your own. Please read a past blog of mine for some ideas for making money as a singer:      : http://voicelessonstogo.com/blog/category/making-money-with-your-voice
  7. Competition can be fierce.  There is a high level of competition in schools for the best teacher and best performance opportunities.  Not every soprano gets the lead role in the school Opera, or solo in the Jazz choir.  There is no guarantee of success in college even if you are paying for it.
  8. Unless you want to teach, you will not have the training in any other “fall back” career choice if you do not make it as a musician.  And most people DO NOT make it financially as musicians.  I can’t tell you how many “degreed” singers I know who work low paying 9-5 office jobs to support their singing pursuits.  This is a tough life after ten or more years.
  9. You will be stuck knowing the same people for 4 years that may or may not be able to connect you musically into the real world.  A guitarist for example may benefit being on the road making contacts gigging, rather than going to school.
  10. You are not getting stage experience.  While your college Music friends are studying for finals, you could be knocking at every audition door on the streets of Broadway.  Youth is important in Music the younger you start, the more time you have to “make it”.

Just some things to think about musicians!  No matter your choice the grass may always seem greener.  Try and make peace with whatever decision you make and pull all the experience and education you can out of it.

Your fellow musician!

Ariella Vacacrino

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written by Ariella Vaccarino creator of Voice Lessons To Go (singing lessons on CD) and author of Vocalize!

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2 Responses to “10 pros and 10 cons of Majoring in Music in College.”

  1. TosaJen Says:

    Another pro is that the designation “Music Major” is often considered a prerequisite for being taken seriously in classical music, even as an amateur.

  2. ariella Says:

    I totally agree, but so does a well built resume.

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