The Life of a Music Major


Music is a fun subject. I’ve been involved with music since I was in 4th grade and I have always dreamed of being a music teacher. Now that I am a freshman at Sac State, I am beginning the first step in becoming a music educator…but I’m in for a lot more than I bargained for…

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I first came to school with enthusiasm! I had a lesson with my saxophone teacher during the summer and even though he said there are many things I needed to improve on, he said I had a good sound and had improved in the hour that we had together. Once my school year started, things began to change. My saxophone instructor became much more straight forward during our lessons and showed his disappointment when I made mistakes. He would say that I’m not making any progress and that I am behind. He would imply that I didn’t practice which would make me extremely upset because I put a LARGE amount of my time into practicing. Lessons became depressing and stressful very fast. Luckily it is not just me; all the other saxophone students have similar relationships with our instructor. Don’t get me wrong, he is an amazing player and teacher; I highly respect him. I was just not prepared for all of these critical and sometimes demeaning remarks. The one thing I can say is positive about his put-downs is that they definitely make you want to practice more to impress him next time!

Now, I not only have this teacher for my saxophone lessons, but I also have him for my Music Theory class. Unlike many other students in my class, I did not have any music theory classes offered to me at my high school so I am farther behind than most people in there. Again, it can be extremely stressful knowing you are farther behind than your class. I have been able to barely slide by with my current knowledge and I spend a lot of my time studying. Just like he is in my lessons, my instructor can be very straight forward in music theory class as well. He will tell you in front of the class that you are falling behind if you don’t understand something. At times, this can be embarrassing but everyone in the class has got over that by now. He is an extremely hard teacher to impress and sometimes he can make you feel worthless, but I can say without a doubt that he cares a lot more about his students than most teachers I have met. His way of teaching might not be the easiest to keep up with, but he treats you like an adult and pushes you to learn more and be the best you can be. That is something I admire and respect about him.

My piano class is my next hardest class after these two. The main reason why I find it difficult is that I never have time to practice piano. Any free time I have, I dedicate it to practicing saxophone so my next lesson goes better. This ends lowering my test scores in piano and that is no bueno. I try my best to find practice for piano but it is simply just too hard to do.

It is extremely hard to balance your classes as a music major because you have so many classes. You are expected to dedicate at least two hours for each of your music classes everyday for studying or practicing. Seeing how myself and many other music majors are crammed with classes, that is very near impossible to do. For example, I am maxed out at my 16 credit cap. While that might not seem too bad, you also have to understand that as a music major you have to take many classes so they make a lot of classes only worth a single credit. I might be taking 16 credits, but I am receiving credits from 8 separate classes officially. I say “officially” because  one of those classes is actually two classes that were pushed together to exploit a loop hole so we music students can actually take the classes we need. For that class, we meet everyday of the week. That is now technically 9 classes. On top of that, I have to take 2 more classes that I do not even receive credit for but I am required to take. That brings me to a total of 11 classes, “16” credits (haha yeah right), and 0 free time.

Overall, I expect my major to get even more difficult for me and I will most likely barely skim by. It is a hard  major that many students might assume otherwise without knowledge. I have met many people who think it must be an easy major but that could not be more wrong. Unless you are completely committed to music, willing to trade your free time for practice time, and prepared to keep yourself from falling into a fetal position and crying after lessons, this major will chew you up and spit you out; however, if you think you can handle all of these things, plus you are willing to put in this effort for a career that doesn’t pay very well when looking at the work output-to-income ratio (if you are even lucky enough to find a career in music after college) than this major is right for you!

After reading this, you might think what could possibly be the positives of a music major. Well there are actually many. If you aren’t a musician then you don’t know how close you become with the musicians around you. Being a part of music gives you a second family. You grow much closer to these people than you most likely would with other people. I have only been here for half a semester and I have already created strong bonds with people and have seen many bonds formed among other people in my class. There is an automatic trust system created between musicians. I have no problem leaving my backpack that contains my phone, laptop, and books that come out to well over a thousand dollars in the music lounge unattended. You might be reading this and thinking I am an idiot but if you are a musician, you will know exactly what I am talking about. It is that sense of trust that brings musicians together. Most importantly, the biggest positive about the music major that applies to me the most is the knowledge that after I am done, I will be able to teach children the wonders of music and continue the arts in our school system. That is the single most idea that keeps me going through all this stress: the idea that I will be living my dream.

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