August 2013

A Note About Double Majoring: Is It Worth It?

August 23, 2013 19:48

In response to my last post, "Decisions, Decisions: Should I Major in Music?", I had a reader contact me at Kennedy Violins interested in advice concerning the option to double major.

First, if you have interest in opportunities for dual degrees at specific schools such as Julliard, Eastman, Oberlin, or any other university of interest, I encourage you to speak with or e-mail directly a representative from the school such as an academic counselor.

From my personal experience though, I did try to double major and it didn't turn out to be an ideal experience. To finish both majors would have taken six years instead of four, so I ended up with my music degree and an English minor, finishing in five years instead.

In my opinion, double majoring is not ideal because you aren't able to fully immerse yourself in both studies. If you try, you'll likely be overwhelmed, over-committed, and stressed which may lead to an exhausting and negative academic experience. Not to mention that over-committing cuts into practice time and puts grades at risk. If a student does double major, sacrifices made in each area of focus can lead to incomplete focus in each major. Getting two degrees in one go can be done, but often with each major at the expense of the other.

Regardless of what you choose to study, be careful not to bite off more than you can chew!  (Photo by Ashnikov)
No matter what you decide, be careful not to bite off more than you can chew!
(Photo by Ashnikov)

A comment was made on this post reiterating the truth that just because you don't major in something (like theatre) doesn't mean you can't be involved in it or even go on to become a professional in that field. My sister is a great example--she studied photography and now works as a food photographer for a major network. But she's also very passionate about acting and musical theater. In addition to her day job as a staff photographer she has taken acting lessons and voice lessons from professional coaches, auditioned for musicals, and landed roles in off-Broadway productions--with pay. Way to be a pro in both fields!

So, in essence, my advice to those interested in double majoring would be to choose one thing to focus on for four (or however many) years and really, really get the most out of that focused education. Maybe minor in the other interest. But there is still plenty of time beyond that undergraduate education to pursue more education in other areas whether in a university setting or a private setting. I tried double majoring because I could, but it didn't add to my collegiate experience in the way I expected it would.

Good luck! I wish each of you great success in any and every endeavor you pursue!


Again, visit us at, e-mail us at, or call 1-800-779-0242 with any questions!

8 replies

Decisions, Decisions: Should I Major in Music?

August 20, 2013 04:39

Yay! It was so worth it!
If I could do it, you can too!

Working for Kennedy Violins, I am constantly immersed in music--and I like it that way. There was a time in my life, though, when I reached a crossroad that would determine exactly how music might, could, or would be a part of my future. It's a crossroad many young musicians face.

As high school wound down to an end, I had mixed ideas as far as my future plans were concerned. I went from feeling reluctant to go to college to eagerly applying with the hope of a scholarship. Then, during my senior year, I really started considering not just where I would gain my higher education, but in what emphasis of study I'd immerse myself. At the time, I was very dedicated to two creative pursuits: the visual arts (painting) and the performing arts (classical string bass).

To paint or to play? That was the question. Even though I majored in music, I still enjoy painting.

To paint or to play? That was the question. Even though I majored in music, I still enjoy painting.

When I approached my private bass teacher, the principal of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, with my decision, he surprised me with the question, "Are you sure you want to major in music?" At the time, the symphony was facing serious financial troubles with a lack of funding and drama within the board of directors. Sometimes, apparently, the music business can be no fun.

I went on to major in music--mostly because playing the bass was something I was good at, so why not keep going with it?--but looking back, I wish I had considered some of the following questions regarding my decision, my goals, and my future.

Now that ten years has passed since graduating high school, I am grateful for my music degree and to still be performing, teaching, and sharing a skill (not just a hobby) developed during my years of collegiate study.

So if you (or your child, friends, or associates) are facing the decision to study music, ask yourself the following questions to bring some light to the subject:

  1. What do you think about when you don't have to think? What occupies your thoughts (when you actually have a moment to think) is a good indicator of what's important to you and what really interests you. If you find yourself jotting down melodies, humming the theme from a favorite symphony, or mentally practicing a piece you've been working on, these are signs of your interest in or passion for music. Don't major in music if you're not seriously passionate about it.

  2. Do you plan to seek higher education? Really assess not just your desire for further education, but the path to get there. "Planning" to go to college includes actually having a concrete plan! Talk about it with your parents and guidance counselor. Access all the resources you can. Research scholarship opportunities and financial aid. Learn about different schools and the programs they offer. Put application deadlines on your calendar and schedule time to complete the mounds of paperwork and online forms. If you want to gain a higher education, do all you can to realize the opportunity!

  3. Do you like to practice? Does anyone really like to practice? Well, sure! Practice isn't drudgery when approached the right way and with a desire to improve. But SERIOUSLY, you need to have a high tolerance level for being in the practice room. If you major in music, you will practically live there. And if you dread stepping foot into the practice room, you're going to be a miserable music major. You have to be really dedicated to your craft to understand the value of diligent practice.

    My program required three hours of practice per day. Exhausting, but so important!

    My program required three hours of practice per day. Exhausting, but so worth it!

  4. Do you perceive music as a hobby or a potential profession? Maybe music something you simply do for fun or as a social outlet. But perhaps you're interested in applying your skills in a way that influences others on a greater scale. Consider whether music is something you simply do for yourself and your own enjoyment (and this is great!) or if you want to share your talent for music more broadly in your music community through performance and education. If you hope to share music effectively with others, majoring in music will provide you with effective means to do just that.

  5. What are your career goals? Do you want to be a dentist or a doctor? A journalist? An accountant? Your professional ambitions don't have to eliminate your musical involvement, but you will need to invest in an education that enables you to reach your professional goals. (Note: You can actually still minor or even major in music and still access those career paths through graduate and doctoral studies.)

  6. Which do you hope to do more: teach or perform? This question will help you decide whether to pursue a degree in music education, music performance, or general music. All music majors can teach privately, but if you plan to teach in a public school, you'll need a teaching certificate attained through a music education program.

  7. Are you hoping for a scholarship? Whether you major in music or another field of study, you might be eligible to receive a music scholarship! There are so many scholarships, grants, and awards available to musicians. Do some research to find these, and again, be sure not to miss any deadlines to apply or audition!

  8. Will you regret majoring or not majoring in music? This is a hard question to answer because you may not know until after the fact. Whatever you decide to do, I hope there will be no regrets as you look back on the decisions you've made and the doors of opportunity you've opened. I hope you'll find success and joy in your future pursuits no matter what they are.

And remember, even if you don't major in music, there will always be opportunities to study music and be active in the music community throughout your life. (If you are in the Vancouver, WA area, consider visiting to learn more about lessons offered in our private studio.) Whatever you decide, we hope music will continue to play an important and enriching role in your life as a music performer, teacher, or lover. Either way, it's totally worth it. Best of luck!


Looking for more advice? Feel free to contact us at or call 1-800-779-0242. As usual, we love hearing from you!

7 replies

More entries: June 2013

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Los Angeles Philharmonic
Los Angeles Philharmonic

International Violin Competition of Indianapolis
International Violin Competition of Indianapolis

Virtual Sejong Music Competition
Virtual Sejong Music Competition

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

Metzler Violin Shop

Bein & Company

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin

Annapolis Bows & Violins

Los Angeles Violin Shop

String Masters

Bobelock Cases

Things 4 Strings LLC



Sleepy Puppy Press

Jargar Strings

J.R. Judd Violins, LLC

Southwest Strings

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine