My name is Jeanie McCarthy and I’m a junior music education major at Nazareth College. If you currently go to Naz, you know at least a handful of music majors. At such a small school with such a wide array of majors, your circle of friends often includes people from all areas of study. Everyone knows we play music, but there’s so much more to our major than many people think.
1) We analyze any music we hear in the real world. All music majors take classes in which we have to analyze scores of music. By the middle of your freshman semester as a music major, analyzing music basically makes up at least half of your existence. We know how to decipher between melody & harmony, identify meter, recognize rhythms, identify musical techniques & stylistic features, and so on. Have you ever jammed out in a car with a music major before? Look at the motions they make with their hands… they’re probably trying to conduct along with a song playing on 98 PXY. Or, see if they’re drumming out underlining rhythms with their hands, or trying to sing along with the harmony.
2) Most of our learning is HANDS-ON. As a music major, you have to be an active learner. At least 75% of our classes require us to perform and collaborate with our peers routinely. Music majors meticulously prepare daily to present music or material for their upcoming classes. We have to perform on our primary instrument once a week in front of our professors and students of the same instrument. For our Aural Skills classes, we have to prepare sight-singing examples in which we are individually called on to sing in class. For our instrument method classes (mostly for Music Education majors), we must practice an instrument at a beginner level and be able to play it during class time. Some of our learning is outside our comfort zone. However, we become better musicians and learners by being able to physically show what we know daily.
3) Regardless of your specific music major (education, therapy, performance, etc.), ALL music majors take performance classes. We are ALL expected to succeed as a musician. Many people assume that music education majors and music therapy majors don’t focus too much on performing. However, this idea is far from reality. All music majors here at Nazareth have to be in at least one ensemble, participate in “chamber” ensembles, take weekly lessons, and participate in weekly performing studio classes. All music majors perform in a recital once a semester, and have a jury at the end of each semester. We also are required to perform in our own, solo Senior Recital before we graduate. On top of all our core classes and music classes, we are required to practice our primary instrument every day, in order to succeed as a musician.
4) Our schedules are filled from morning to night. The music majors at Nazareth College are hard-working and extremely dedicated students. We have our pre-requisite classes that we must take, core music classes, classes that pertain to our major, lessons, studio classes, ensembles, and field work. We also must participate in our ensemble concerts and studio recitals. On top of all this, music majors participate in extra-curricular activities and have jobs just like any other Nazareth student. There are also a few music majors that are student-athletes (like myself). Almost all of our undergrad music majors take at least 17 credits per semester. We may complain about our schedules regularly, but this is what we love to do.
5) All music majors have a special confidence that is seen in everything they do. Whether a music major is an introverted or extroverted individual, all music majors are confident about their musicianship and work. We have developed this confidence through our numerous performances. It takes an immense amount of confidence for a student to stand on a stage and present a piece of music that they’ve been diligently working on all semester. It also takes confidence for music education majors to observe and student teach in schools in our community as well as it does for music therapy majors to apply their knowledge in clinicals. Our confidence helps us to do well in other classes and other aspects of our lives.
6) We ALL have had a moment in our lives in which we knew we had to go into music as a career. Last year, I was in a music history class and my professor asked if we have ever had a special, emotional moment with music that has forever shaped our lives. As I began to raise my hand, I looked around the classroom and every single one of my classmates immediately raised their hand as well. We are all music majors for a reason. It’s not just a passion for us; it’s literally a significant part of our being.