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I'm an undecided freshman right now and have no idea what I want to study. Deep down I know I would love to do something with music but I don't feel I would be able to suceed in that field. I love everything about music but I never practiced much in highschool. I've been playing for 7 years but you probably couldn't tell. Should I audition for the school of music and risk embarrasing myself and failing or should I stay in LAS? Or, are there any careers that involve being around music but you don't have to excel? Music therapy is out because my college doesn't offer it and I don't want to transfer. I just don't know what to do! Any advice from college professors or anyone is greatly appreciated.
 

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What excites or inspires you most about music?

What excites or inspires you in the other areas of your life?

Without writing too much -- if you don't try, you'll never know. If you never audition you will always wonder about the possible outcome. If you're rejected, then hey - you gave it your best shot. However, if you aren't accustomed to practicing routinely, then music is a tough field to be in. That's why it's great that anybody can be a musician - it doesn't have to be your job.

Does your college have a Film, TV, and Media Studies type of degree? That career path has many cross-compatibilities with music (say production, recording, video and sound editing, etc).

Bottom line: Talk to the sax professor, perhaps get a few lessons from him/her or a graduate student to see if you could cut it. Work hard and do the audition if it seems feasible. But also consider other career options that would keep music in your life, but not necessarily stamped on your diploma.
 

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Tsaxlvr said:
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Should I audition for the school of music and risk embarrasing myself and failing or should I stay in LAS? Or, are there any careers that involve being around music but you don't have to excel? ........
With regards to embarrassing yourself, you'll soon find out that this is an inherent risk if you want to succeed (or even if you don't).
As thejoyofsax says you'll never know unless you try and when you try you always risk failure or embarrassment. When these moments happen just learn from them and move on. The next time may be more successful.
Not all careers in music involve excelling in music but there is a minimum level of skill that is required. And this is what you have to work your butt off to attain. Its the same as any other field.
You say you have been practicing for seven years? If you're not happy with yourself may be its about time you review how you practice.
Also, keep a positive attitude and you'll soon find what you want to be.
 

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My $0.02. Go to a school with a decent music program, but major in something else such as business or a technology degree. The odds are stacked against you in the music world... this may not be a popular opinion here, but the reality is that its incredibly hard to make a living as a musician. Just take a poll to see how many people here have day jobs.

Having a music degree on your resume can be good, but it can also be like a criminal record at times. ;-) No matter what you do, at a minimum make sure you develop sound computer skills. Learn how to use Word and Excel. Learn how to create a resume without using lots of spaces to line up the text on the page. Learn a little about the English language and grammar. Take a business communications course.

It's a tough world out there, getting a music degree won't really make it much easier on you. I saw lots of students who loved playing music become frustrated, depressed, angry, etc. as music majors. I also saw lots of people blossom and have a great time in college majoring in music. Checking in with these people twenty years later shows me that those who got "real" jobs are much happier and play music for the sheer joy of it. Most of those that majored in music and pursued music for a living are 'dark' in spirit, not so well off, and more often than not forced to play music they hate to make a living.

Ultimately it's your choice. Do what makes you happy, but keep an eye on the future. You don't want to be stuck playing a lounge gig at the local Holiday Inn just to pay your phone bill, right?
 

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cann0nba11 said:
My $0.02. Go to a school with a decent music program, but major in something else such as business or a technology degree.

Mine too. You can always work at or own a music store.
 

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I agree with these guys. I'd find a way to make lots of $ that requires as little time as possible and then serve music in the way that most inspires you. I know very talented musicians who make a living that way and they're not always doing what they want to do. Conversely, I play everyday and do exactly what I want to do. I went to school for music but got lucky in the I.T. field and now make decent $, can afford gear, have about a month off every 8 weeks or so... it kicks rump.
 

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Agreed... I went to school for engineering, and not even at a school with a very strong music program (no music major there). College, especially, an undergraduate experience should be more about preparing you to enter the "real world" by providing you with a breadth of opportunities for this type of development. I 100% agree with cann0nba11, and just want to extrapolate on that by saying: get well educated!

The director of the jazz band at my school (Eastman Grad) once told me that anyone of the players in our band has the potential to become a great musician if they put the time in and shed it out, cause he felt that was one of the biggest differences between the playing ability of a music major versus someone who just casually plays (unless absolutely gifted, a music major will spend hours a day practicing). To some extent I agree, and I think you might want to that fact over (regarding how much you practice, and how much you want to go into the music field).

Mattbutler brings up another superb point. He and I share the ticket where we don't actually have a job that directly involves music. This is a good thing. In my case I don't have to go out and play for money, I play for my enjoyment (as long as I break even for gas money etc). I practice a lot because I love to. I play in at least one ensemble once a week (and up to four groups in one week at times). Generally I have about 30 gigs a year (maybe more if I'm subbing a lot), and I DO NOT have a degree in Music. I think this is a completely fine outlet, and you should definitely take this into consideration.

All in all, remember it's college. Remember to broaden yourself for what's out there. I might be just a recent grad, but I've been through the gears already (and then back for a short stint), and what a machine it is!
 

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The doubt that you're feeling is proof that you shouldn't be a music major.

If you're going to major in music and want to have a career in music (ie: you pay the rent and bills with your horn) you have to be 100% certain that you are going to devote your LIFE to your craft. It is especially difficult for saxophonists because there aren't 4 to 7 saxophones in every symphony orchestra like violins, trumpets, cellos, etc. We don't have the luxury of knowing that if we hone our classical skills to a certain point that we stand a chance of winning a chair in a major symphony that pays well enough for us to live. Jazz is a completely different story, but making a career of it is equally daunting.

I've studied saxophone at some fantastic schools with some amazing teachers and I am no longer a music major. When I entered school I was positive that saxophone performance was what I wanted to do. Then, I started realizing (after talking to more and more saxophonists in NYC trying to eek out a living playing jazz) that the life of a jazz musician / saxophonist is not the life I want. I need a steady job, paycheck, and career and that is something that being a musician simply doesn't provide. I was terrified of graduating in 4 years with a degree in saxophone performance and a mountain of debt and my degree (which I spent all that money on) doesn't do anything to help make me money right away.

So what am I doing now? I switched majors to Secondary Education (English) and I'm continuing to practice hard and study with great teachers. Maybe I'll study saxophone a graduate level somewhere in Europe, I'm not sure yet, but at least I know I'll be graduating with a degree that will pay the bills.

Interestingly enough, I had to take a psychology course for one of my degree requirements. I had always been fascinated with the study of the human mind and of Freud, and now I have a psychology mentor at my university that is prepping for Med. School where I'll study psychiatry and psychoanalysis.

It seems like a million miles from I started, but it only took an introductory course in something like PSYC to discover a whole new passion that pays (VERY) well.

My advice is this: Don't declare yourself a music major. Take lessons with faculty on campus, play the jazz band, sit-in on harmony lectures, but don't limit yourself to a music degree. Stay "undecided" for a little while and take a bunch of different courses until you find one that really interests you.

The answers will come, just give it time. Good luck!
 

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Tsaxlvr said:
I love everything about music but I never practiced much in highschool. I've been playing for 7 years but you probably couldn't tell.
If you haven't bothered to study the horn yet, there's little reason to think that you'll be any more diligent because you change degree programs. That would be setting yourself up for failure.

I am among those that would suggest that you put music aside from your college program. Keep it recreational, keep music in your life, but don't try to put it into your academic schedule. You'll have enough challenges to get your work done without trying to cram music lessons, band, theory classes, etc. Notice also that music courses tend to demand a high number of hours for few credits.

After you get your degree and a job, you can look forward to a lifetime of music enjoyment. It's alright to play the saxophone without a music degree!

As to what you SHOULD declare as your major... Get over to the counseling center and ask to take the aptitude tests. It will help you learn your strengths and interests and lead you to consider what MAY be a good major for you.

Good luck!
 

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I've got friends that are doctors, engineers, programmers, etc. and they all make great money, have a great life, and play music purely for the joy of it.

When I was finishing up at North Texas lots of my friends were dead set on getting to New York. I talked to a few of them and they said, in a nutshell, "if you don't have the fire and desire to move to New York and try to make it as a musician, you should find something else to do." Succeeding in music takes much more than talent and practice. There's lots of luck, political correctness, timing and pure chance.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
oops

Thanks for all the advice. I re read my thread and I made it sound like I wanted to pursue performance. I was actually thinking Music ed...
 

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Aside from the paycheck (which of course can be notoriously low), I'll be the first to say that Ed is no easier world to be in much of the time. Forum members who are actual practicing teachers (yeah, yeah - I'm not yet) may agree or disagree with me, but although teaching is a rewarding career it can sometimes be about everything BUT teaching music.
 

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Tsaxlvr said:
I love everything about music but I never practiced much in highschool.
If you're not hitting music hard already in your spare time your heart is not in it. I'm sure you love listening to it and maybe dancing to it but who in this world doesn't?
Tsaxlvr said:
Or, are there any careers that involve being around music but you don't have to excel?
If not music I really hope you wish to excel in those "careers that involve being around music".
 

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Also don't go into teaching unless you really like kids. Try subbing for a while. Schools today are in desprate need of teachers who play their instrument every day and are on a path to get better and learn new things.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks for the advice. I've decided to try for it. After a lot of thinking, I've decided if I work hard enough I can do it. Now I just have to get into the school of music...
 
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