So, what’s next? Many high school graduates ask themselves this question, as they prepare to head to college. For the music student who is starting life as a college major in a field outside music, it’s a reasonable question to ask: What’s next, after a childhood of music lessons?
For many students, "college" has been set up as the ultimate goal for their entire lives up until this point. They studied and worked hard to get excellent grades so that they could get into a good school. Alongside their academic work, their extracurricular activities - music, sports, clubs, even humanitarian volunteer work - were all part of creating a "package" to appeal to college admissions officers, no matter how genuine their interest in the activity.
So once they’ve secured that all-important college acceptance, what comes next? And, more specifically relevant to this discussion, what happens to years of dedication to music? As a violin teacher I encounter a lot of people who see musical studies as a binary choice after high school - either pursue music as a college major, or quit so you can dedicate your time to your college studies in a different field.
But for the student with an authentic and abiding love of music, I'm happy to report that there are more options, and it's possible to keep music and violin-playing in your life after high school - and well beyond.
This past year, three of my students graduated from high school, gave lovely final performances, and set off to study computer science, neuroscience, and astrophysics in college. Before they left, I asked them an important question: "What role do you want violin to play in your life now?" One of my proudest moments as a teacher was when one of my seniors emailed me the news that she was accepted into her first-choice school, then in the next paragraph said she was definitely taking her violin to college and wanted my advice on traveling with her instrument.
So how does a high school graduate go about keeping violin in his or her life? Here is one place to start: First, think about the parts of your musical studies you enjoyed the most over your pre-college years. Was it the one-on-one relationship with your teacher? The community of an orchestra? Playing duets with your friends? Figure out which part you love the most - and then seek out those kinds of opportunities within your college community or in the city/town where your college is located.
Before you leave for school, be sure to reach out to your high school private teacher and ask if they know anyone (or know anyone who knows anyone) at your college so that you have a connection, or to directly reach out to the college orchestra director or violin teacher.
In preparing to arrive at school, or when you get there, explore the opportunities that will keep you going on the violin or other instrument. Then start making those connections. Here are some specific ideas to consider, for the non-major who wishes to continue playing violin (or another instrument) during college:
What other ways can someone who’s played violin through childhood take music into their new adult lives? Let me know in the comments!
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