MATRIX Center for Music, Youth & Community Events,
Melody4Charity & Craig LiaBraaten Present:
What is required of music majors in college? I'm considering a
music performance major as a career, but I'm not sure at this point.
Remember that we still learn to perform music the old-fashioned way.
One-on-one we sit with a great teacher and learn the craft. Find a
teacher who is qualified, not just convenient. Sometimes that means
traveling a good distance. Then soak it in like a sponge just like Luke
Skywalker did with YODA! Are you thirsty to learn?
I met a lot of frustrated musicians in music school. Most of them
weren't prepared to enter college in music. They didn't have a clue
what is required of a music major. So you are asking good questions,
Mikey. Keep asking those questions, and you'll make good decisions, and
you'll go far in whatever career you choose.
If you are considering becoming a music major, you need to know some
basic facts. The following five disciplines are required of every music
major (unless, of course, you attend Podunk U where there is no
commitment to quality in education). The five disciplines to get a grip
on now are:
- Music Theory:
required of all music majors. Minimum four years of theory are required
even for a Bachelor of Ed. in Music. If you haven't had much theory,
get ready for your fill of it. Theory is different from some aspects of
music (for example, style and interpretation) in that theory has black
or white answers with little gray areas for discussion. Theory is the
MATH of music, and it is either right or wrong. Many talented folks
flunk out of college because they can't or won't pass the theory
requirement. This is avoidable by enrolling in theory courses (like the
ones we offer at Living Water Music) while you are yet in high school,
or preferably, even younger. When I got to St. Olaf I tested out of
most of the theory requirements because I was prepared when I got
there. The results? I was TEACHING theory and keyboard at St. Olaf my
freshman year! You can too, if you prepare well beforehand.
required of all music majors. Surprise, Surprise! No, you won't have to
sing a recital (unless voice is your major or cognate field), but you
will have to be able to sing a melody at sight that you have never seen
before without touching an instrument. You'll have to do this in class
in front of your classmates, and in tests with your teacher or
assistant teacher. You will not NOT be graded on your tone production,
but you WILL be graded on singing the correct pitches, intervals,
rhythms, basic intonations and melodies ~ some of which are
surprisingly complex. Sight singing is a required part (lab) in every
quality music curriculum.
Important! All music majors, regardless of their major or their
principle instrument are required to pass what is called piano
proficiency, which is a certain level of competency on the keyboard.
Specific requirements vary from school to school, but take my word for
it, if you haven't had a piano lesson before you go to college, you
will be wasting hour after hour in the practice room learning keyboard
fundamentals, and you'll wish you had that time for other classwork,
extra curriculars, or free time for your own sanity. Why not get
prepared BEFORE you go? I have taught piano classes at St. Olaf
College, Indiana University, and Louisiana State University, so I do
know a bit about piano proficiency requirements. Drop a line if you
need help or want to register for a piano class if you live in Northern
Minnesota or Wisconsin.
I'll never forget at Indiana University when a doctoral student lost
her place in a major Bach work and tried repeatedly to jump start it.
She forgot to bring her music to the recital as a back-up, so she
couldn't even finish the piece. She stormed off the stage leaving her
audience in limbo, and I heard she never did graduate. Sad. I inherit
students from other teachers all the time, and I'm alarmed at how many
of these students have never memorized a piece of music. They are in
for a rude awakening in college, where memory is required in recitals,
especially for vocalists and pianists. Some teachers never have their
students play in public, and this is another requirement of any
performance major. The better schools usually require at least a half
recital by memory even if your major is not performance. So get busy
now performing in public by memory. The faculty and graduate students
at Indiana University were so impressed by my ability to memorize the
most complex (and extremely dissonant) 20th century music, that they
hired me to teach a course on memorization. Anyone can learn to
memorize with my five-point system. Interested? Write me at contact the
insider. You can have my memorization system for just $9.95 which
includes C.O.D. shipping and handling. Simply request "Music
Memorization in 5 Easy Steps", offer #300. C.O.D.'s only, please, or
order online from our catalog.
Concerning public performance, my students (I have 170 currently) are
all encouraged (not forced) to do so, and most think it is fun. My
students have appeared at virtually every festival and venue of stature
in Northern Minnesota ~ Including Hibbing's Jubilee, Virginia's Land of
the Loon, Ely's Blueberry Arts, Tower's Wild Rice Festival, Grand
Rapids Judy Garland, Ironworld U.S.A., area schools and colleges and
the DECC. By PARTICIPATING, students always learn more.
- Heavy Course Load:
To the uninitiated, it might seem like music curriculum could be a
cakewalk. Unfortunately, unless you attend a small community college
program where little is offered in the music department, you will find
the coursework to range from heavy to downright impossible. I roomed
with a pre-med student as an undergraduate at St. Olaf, and I know my
course-load was heavier than his, mainly because, in music, you put in
comparable hours to earn 3 credits in another major but it earns you
just a third or half of one credit in music. The labs are
time-consuming, tedious, and you can expect to receive little reward
for your intense labor, other than the pride in your work and
(hopefully) a nice GPA. It seems the music faculties do this on purpose
to weed out those less-industrious, less-disciplined characters from
the rank and file.
If you want to excel in music school, then expect to pay your dues big
time. Please don't take it as boasting, but just the facts ~ I had a
graduate school GPA of 3.98. That does not come about by sitting on the
sidelines and watching the world go by.
Trust me, there are a lot of hoops to jump through. But all through the
journey, and definitely after you're completed the journey, with all
the struggles and difficulties inherent in this field, it's all
worthwhile. You must first decide that you love music enough to do
whatever it takes to succeed. That's not lip service. Take it from one
who has been there, who has tread those long and lonely paths. Is it
possible to be successful in music? Without a doubt! But you need to be
prepared to work hard and never give up.
The author is pleased to relate that, having worked full-time in the
music field for over 26 years, he now DONATES more to worthwhile causes
each year than the average American MAKES in four years. If I can do
it, you can do it. So yes, you can be very successful in this field,
and you can use that success to help others, to influence this world in
a positive way, and really make a difference. If you're so inclined, I
could help you get there, too.
Visitors: to explore any of this information further, please utilize
the contact form, and I will reply to all legitimate queries. Thanks,
and best wishes!
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