So it’s the second day of my fourth semester of being a music major. There is seriously nothing I love more, even though it’s crazy and hectic and usually stressful. I don’t know if my practice rooms have seen more sweat or tears (or possibly water bottle spills). What does it take to be a music major? Actually, the really question is: what does it take to stay a music major? How do you succeed at being a music major?
You need to work hard. There’s no denying it, being a music major will push your physical and mental limits. There are days, sometimes weeks, where you want to give up. But you just keep having to plug away.
You have to be dedicated and self-motivated. Nobody will be holding your hand to make you practice or finish your theory homework earlier than an hour before it’s due. You can make progress charts (like my sticker chart) but that has to be done on your own time, by you.
Learn to embrace early mornings and late nights. I get to campus at 7 in the morning to both secure a parking space and practice for an hour before classes start. Last semester, my last class was done after 7 at night, so I spent at least 12 hours a day on campus. You have to learn if you’re more productive in the mornings (me!) or the evenings, and then you need to figure out when everyone else practices. If there’s not a practice room to be found, you’re out of luck. Unless you’re one of the assholes who practices in the stairwell all semester (don’t be that asshole).
Be open to new (and weird) people. There’s a high likelihood you might have come from a place where you were the only one who cared about music (to a degree). Music majors are not after the money or the fame or the job security; they’re after the love of the art. It may be overwhelming at first, but those weird people will become your closest friends and best venting outlets. They understand what you’re going through and they can help you through the toughest times.
Be a team player. No matter if you’re an instrumentalist or a vocalist, you’ll have to be in ensembles at some point or another. Sorry, but no reclusive Romantic composers allowed. You have to be willing to listen and accept what you’re told by a director, and then be flexible to make the changes.
Be open to new ideas and experiences. College is a great time in most people’s lives. College for a music major may be the first (and last) time you’re surrounded by people who love music as deeply as you do. Take advantage of that. Go abroad with performing groups. Take a leadership position in the music educators’ club. Perform as often as you can. Make new ensembles with friends. Compose. Become the best musician you can be.
There will be anger. There will be grumpy-pants people. There will be tears. There will be laughter. There will be joy. There will be happiness.