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Preparing to be a College Music Major

Pursuing music in college is a significant commitment, requiring passion, preparation, and hard work. For aspiring music majors, however, the journey begins well before setting foot on campus. From understanding the academic rigor to mastering the audition, our tips can help you navigate the path from high school to music college.

The decision to major in music starts with a dream, often kindled during one's high school years. But preparing to be a college music major involves more than just dreaming; it requires actionable steps to ensure you are academically and musically ready. Begin by exploring various music programs and understand what each college offers in terms of faculty, facilities, and opportunities. Early preparation should also include participating in music-related activities in high school, from joining the band or choir to taking private lessons if possible.

The application process for music programs can be intense and multifaceted. Apart from the usual academic applications, students must often pass auditions that showcase their musical talent. Being accepted into a program means you have both met the academic requirements and demonstrated potential in your musical discipline. Therefore, start preparing for your auditions early, ask for feedback from music teachers, and perform in various settings to boost your confidence.

Crash Course

Music classroom with chairs arranged in a circle, a piano, a cello on a stand, and a colorful blue and yellow ceiling design.

The summer before going to college to study music is important. Consider it a crash course in preparing to be a music major. This is the time to immerse yourself in music beyond your instrument. For example, if you’re a vocalist, you might consider playing piano as well. Not only are piano skills essential for music majors, but they can enhance your singing. In addition, you can engage in activities that improve your understanding of music theory and your ability to read music.

Instruction during this period should be intense and focused. Take advantage of summer programs or workshops that allow you to play with other musicians. Playing with other people is not only fun but also immensely educational, as it exposes you to different styles and techniques. Moreover, dedicate time to listening to music, both within and outside your preferred genres. This will deepen your musical appreciation and help develop your ear.

Music College 101

Once you step into music college, the real work begins. Your curriculum will likely be rigorous, combining theory and practice. You will dive deep into both the basics and advanced techniques, and continually apply these through performances and recitals. Your approach to learning should be disciplined but flexible, allowing you to absorb new concepts and refine your technique.

There is a well established connection between music education and mental health. Not only does music improve mood, but it can enhance cognitive skills. That means, if you’re a music major, you get the best of both worlds.

Stress and anxiety are common among music students due to the pressure of performances and the competitive environment. Learning how to manage these, possibly through courses or workshops on mental health, is crucial. This holistic approach will not only make you a better musician but also a well-rounded individual, ready to tackle the challenges of a music career.

Additional Resources

Carriage House Violins

Located in Newton, Massachusetts, Carriage House Violins is the instrument sales division of Johnson String Instrument.

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Whether searching for a job, learning about the "Mozart Effect," looking for a summer music camp, or choosing the right instrument string, you need look no further.

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Johnson String Project

A charitable foundation whose goal is to provide high-quality instruments to children who live in under-served communities and who are participating in El-Sistema-inspired programs in Massachusetts.

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JSI Blog

Information and helpful articles about the music and instruments we love.

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Helpful "how to" videos and useful information about JSI and the products and services we offer.

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