somewhatsociable said to howtomusicmajor: I want to have a career in music, but I’m not sure in what way? How can I narrow down what part of the industry to go for?
That’s a good question! This is something a LOT of musicians struggle with. I’ll be honest, performance-based careers are not lucrative. It can be hard to mesh a desire for stability with the equally strong desire for a music career. It’s not impossible, though! Here are some tips for handling that balancing act.
Outline your other skills and hobbies.
The first step to choosing a potential career is trying to specify what, exactly, you wanna do with music. Write down your hobbies and your talents. No need to be humble - this is the time to brag. Anything you enjoy doing or that you’re good at should go on the list.
Now look at it. If things like “teaching” are on there, consider education. If you like computers, consider music technology. Writing? Give me some competition, build a blog! However, things less obvious can help you choose, too. I know someone who’s a performance major and loves reading, and plans to attend the same grad school as me for a Music Library master’s degree.
Describe the life you want to be living at age 25, 45, and 65.
Again, be honest here. Write down the lifestyle you want at 25, 45, and 65. Hint: if you want a stable, low-stress life in your mid-20s, attending a high-pressure conservatory known for pumping out world-class performers maaaaaay not be for you. Music business may be a better bet - small labels and publishers would be glad to have you. If you’re okay with a world-traveling(or at least state-traveling) career, then straight performance may be for you.
Music is such a broad and independent field that even the most thorough single major may not be broad enough to prepare you for what you end up doing. Consider getting another! If you love performing, but want a fallback plan, consider business or Communications. Don’t ever, EVER use Music Ed. as a fallback if you wouldn’t be happy spending your life with kids. That’s unfair to you and your potential students. Having a fallback plan isn’t a sign that you don’t think you’ll succeed - it’s just a smart move.
Follow your passion.
What do you love about music? The performing? Analyzing it? Do you think you’d love conducting or teaching it? The most important part of a music major is that you truly, absolutely love what you do. It’s too high-stress and -effort if you aren’t motivated by passion.
Finally, choosing your major will need to happen by the end of your freshman year in college. Until then, usually, you can be undecided. Take the core music classes, figure out what lights you up. If you don’t know now, you’ll have a better idea of what your options are and where to look then. You got this!