Double Major?

January 31, 2009 at 01:16 AM ·

I am a student majoring in music , but after seeing the economic situation of today , and seeing that on the list the Arts are usually the firsts to go, in such a crisis , I have concerns about my financial future. Thus , I am thinking more and more that it would not be a bad idea to do a double major. I would like , though to do something that I still like - even if it is not a burning passion like music.


The other subjects that I really enjoy are :history   , astronomy ,  , literature, psychology, foreign languages. I was among the first in highschool  , and now I have a GPA of 3.92, and I made it to the Dean's and President's list for every semester of the academic year I have since starting college.


I know some people here said that the kind of proffession that would allow you to do music in the same time and make some good money would be medicine , or dentristry . But I have no interest in these. And I would also be pretty mizerable  doing something like accounting. (No!!Not  Accounting!!!.... )


From the list I have ,I am thinking the most of Astronomy. Does it seem like a wise decision to major both in Astronomy and Music?  Sciences and maths have never been quite a  passion for me , but I do have maths skills , and with the right preparation , I can be pretty good at maths. Also, I was always fascinated with the sky above , with the planets , the stars..

Financially speaking , how rewarding is a proffession in this field? Also , time wise , would a proffession in this field allow me to continue to pursue the most intense of my passions , which is music ?

I am a bit worried about the future , and I would like to take the best decision..

Thank you,


Replies (29)

January 31, 2009 at 01:28 AM ·

can we get a finder's fee if you really take the advice and become a wild success? :)

"history   , astronomy ,  , literature, psychology, foreign languages."  hmmm,  how about CIA?

do consider nursing, a prof that does not take that much time in training and job availability is not an issue for a long time to come.  my wife's friend's daughter did just that.  she works 3 long shift days per week and makes about 70k.  at the same time, the employer pays her to attend night classes to get another degree, which will translate into more money.  hey,  you may even hit that magic number of 100k:)  michael, pay attention!

3 days a week, no plumbing experiences necessary,,,what do you say?

January 31, 2009 at 01:39 AM ·

It's obviously that you want to do Astronomy. You flat out state it.
If it was me, I would do literature and music... But you have to go with that perfect combination of where heart meets practicality.

I would imagine that you have quite good skill with foriegn language... I think you've told me before that you speak mulitple. I would think you'd need to know at least three to major in foriegn language and be a quick study.

But with astronomy, it'scombining science and math in a way.

My advice, follow your heart and what you're comfortable with. In the end, I think you'll have no regret because every experience you have builds a stronger you.

January 31, 2009 at 02:44 AM ·

Well, to be honest , I would really like astronomy. DOES involve an awfull lot of high maths and physics.It seems that astronomy is even considered by some a subfield of physics, because basically you use physics and maths to study the celestial objects. That is what still makes me to think twice before taking the decision be honest ,what I would want most would be to just do music , and not worry about other things , but in the mean time I think I still want a good financial future , and it appears that only music may not provied me that.

The very next thing in my choices would have been history , which really passionates me , but again...after doing research on payscales , the question is if I want to invest all that time and money , and than settle for a full time schedule and a not too great pay.


I like foreign languages , they are another one of my passions.I speak Romanian , English , French , Spanish , and  I am studying Japanese , and the  next language I want to study is German.But  what could I become after finishing a major in foreign languages ? (What am I saying , i didn't even know I could major in foreign languages ).


Somebody adviced me to go to law school.


So , at this point it is as confusing as it could be. One thing is for sure :my greatest passion is music, and whatever I would choose it is crucial that it would give me time for my music...


Is anybody else going through the same thing as I am?It is so tough to have to choose this way.

January 31, 2009 at 04:08 AM ·

"I like foreign languages , they are another one of my passions.I speak Romanian , English , French , Spanish , and  I am studying Japanese , and the  next language I want to study is German.But  what could I become after finishing a major in foreign languages ?"

Buna Ziua,

As a native Romanian speaker you will be able to pick up Italian very easily and since you say you are interested in studying German, with that combination you already have the two most important languages for reading historic documents on classical music, thus making it a very good complement to music. Of course, French will also be of some interest in this regard.

That leaves the question, what could you do with languages professionally, well, there are three general directions: teacher, interpreter or translator. The latter could be of interest to you because you could combine it with music if you specialise in the translation of music related texts, such as books on music, music related articles, CD booklets, program notes etc etc.

In fact if you add some music history studies to that mix, you would have a serious edge over just about anybody else. You would likely get work not only for translations but also for authoring such articles. And neither of these skills will waste your time from the viewpoint of performing, you would be able to gain insights into works you perform which few other performers have and that would if not improve your ability to perform the work, it should at the very least add to your enjoyment of performing the work.

Another aspect to consider is that foreign audiences will be enabled to connect with you on a more personal level if you can address them in their own languages, local newspapers will be far more interested to ask for an interview also in the local language, etc etc. In other words, the ability to speak the local language may be that little thing that it takes to stick out of the crowd and get gigs overseas that might otherwise go to a more well known performer.

To me it would look as if the combination with languages is the best amongst your interests. And translators usually have more work than they can handle, pay is not too bad either, so from an economic security point of view this works as well.


January 31, 2009 at 04:36 AM ·

It seems to me that your interests would be perfect for a career as a multi-disciplined teacher at the high-school level or above.  My best advice I can give is to seek a career guidance councelor at your university.  As a college student, this is available to you free of charge.  The councelors are skilled at matching up interests with career paths. 

January 31, 2009 at 09:27 AM ·

Double majoring in music and something else is quite difficult.  I don't think I knew a single person during my years at college who actually did it.  Challenging material aside, music is a very demanding major time wise.  Keep in mind that you will have to be doing orchestra and stuff in the evening which cuts into homework time.

My advice to you:  do what you love.  Getting into a career for possible financial benefits later on is really not a good way to go.  I mean, what IF you can't get a job in that field?  These are always things to consider.  If you like astronomy, maybe think about a way you could combine your passions.  Study astronomy for undergrand and then get a masters in music.  Maybe do research on the harmonic vibrations produced by stellar bodies.  I have no idea lol.  The Ancient Greeks loved talking about things like that.

January 31, 2009 at 03:36 PM ·

It's not unheard of to do a double major. I'm declared Music performance and Chemistry/pre-med. I recently saw a concert where one of the performers doubled in performance and biology, graduating from oberlin college and conservatory. I don't know a whole lot about the biology side of his major, but he has performed with some big name groups (Josh Groban, Trans Siberian Orchestra, etc.). It all comes down to how motivated you are (which it sounds like you are) and how much you want to do both sides of the spectrum. Also, don't shy away from something you love simply because some of the upper level coursework is hard. You'll find that in any major, eventually the courses will get hard.

January 31, 2009 at 08:01 PM ·

"You'll find that in any major, eventually the courses will get hard."


January 31, 2009 at 10:13 PM ·

Juat want to warn that sciences is tough even with efforts! So, it will take many of your time. Doing the two perfectly, is it possible?  I don't know but since double major exists, probably. Just really inform yourself about if it is possible to really do the two well because I can tell that sciences and maths is really difficult when it gets harder. If you feel you are a scientist, go for it though!


February 1, 2009 at 12:51 AM ·

Yeah, double majoring is time consuming, but I'm taking organic chemistry side by side with music theory. Both take up time, but it's not impossible.

February 1, 2009 at 03:49 AM ·

Double majoring for financial reasons may seem practical, but in my opinion it's one of the worst mistakes a student can make.

With your command of language, perhaps you can get into international business or intelligence?

February 1, 2009 at 06:05 PM ·

How so? If you can handle the work load, it gives you a very big advantage over your competition. Not only is it impressive enough to people that you pulled off a double major with good grades, but you also get a much broader area of expertise than a single major... which offers you more career possibilities. I think a double major is the best thing a student can do if they can do it well.

February 1, 2009 at 06:19 PM ·

There is nothing wrong with double majoring.  You should choose something you really like.  Astronomy would be fine in theory but you might find the math and physics to be too demanding.   I would look for something else. 

February 1, 2009 at 08:00 PM ·

Response to Andrew:

Those who try to double major usually find that they are just studying 24/7.  This quickly becomes exhusting and you really don't get to enjoy any of the other aspects of college.  College (as with any other schooling level) has social aspects about it that are just as important as studying.  The average college student is learning to be independant and self sufficent.  You mature a lot over those four years and start to develop your first adult friendships.  In the end, this is the stuff that will have the lasting impact; not all the test material which one crammed into one's head.

February 1, 2009 at 08:03 PM ·

I didn't say double majoring for any reason -- specifically for financial reasons.  The problem is, the true workload tends not to rear its ugly head until about halfway through.  Some people can manage, yes.  I wouldn't recommend it to any sort of majority. 

February 1, 2009 at 08:08 PM ·

Sorry, double post.


February 1, 2009 at 10:07 PM ·

From what I saw in the advertisments for double majoring here, they show the persons who have succeded very well in one of the two fields but not in the two at the same time. For example, they can name a girl who did the double majoring program and say that she won x competitions in violin and that she is now a member of a famous symphony (but nothing about her accomplishments in sciences, probably because she has give her all in music to get there and was very ordinairy in sciences.  They can also name another student and say he succeded in doing a huge scientific project etc (but nothing about his musical performances)

If you look fast you say, wow some people in this succeded really well in the two fields but when you look at each single person they present, you only read about their accomplishments in one of the two fields but not in the two at the same time!

I often wonder if it is just false advertisments. How can you be very very good in the two. What is the sense of going in this if you will be ordinairy in the two?  If this fact doesn't bother the person, then find. I think it depends on what you want and what you are ready to accept.  But expecting to be a star in the two is maybe dreaming of something quite impossible for many of us. (I said many but I am sure there is exceptions who are able)

I just wanted to share what I think when I see the advertisments of double majoring programs...


February 1, 2009 at 11:51 PM ·

may be it is easier to complete 2 majors that are both so called academic and are on some level related, such as english and history majors, etc.  concur it will take someone who is quite driven and talented.  to a few in this world, double the work load may not mean that much because if they take just one major, their intensity probably propel them to pursue it twice as hard anyway.  there is a lot of free time, if not wasted, if used efficiently.   (don't do what i do,,,watching the superbowl:)

may be i am just being too practical and misunderstand the gist of this thread.  to me, this is not really a thread where there are really  2 competing interests and the person has a hard time deciding which one to concentrate, or both.

to me, this reads like, i love music so much but i am afraid i do not have enough resources to pursue this passion.  what are some easier ways to make money by way of a second major?

as some of you have related, it is not easy at all to double major for most folks.  or the entire university will be double majoring to stay competitive.

my opinion is that if the true passion is music, find something that is practical to support a decent living, not something that you have to labor too hard, not a degree that does not pay,  which may defeat the whole purpose anyway:  end up being so so in both and jobless.

unfortunately, when one grows up enough and been around the world enough, one will realize that many many people do very meaningful work not because it is their childhood dream, but something they grow to love.  one perspective is not to fall in love too deep too hard, or form an opinion too early too firm. 

for my education, what kind of jobs are there for an astronomy major? thank you.


February 2, 2009 at 01:40 AM ·

Al, I really know what you mean when you said that many people don't work in what they are passionate.  I was so revolted to realize this because I was really stuburn and mad at all those who told me this before 18 lol!  I finally admitted they were right and did all the science courses I did not do at highschool because I wanted to do more violin....  in order to allow me to enter the college program I am doing now.  What can I tell about this?  It's too personal; some are willing to try a riskier path, others try to do the two, others completely change directions for survival only.  One thing I can tell for sure, as difficult it can be, it's really important to think seriously about this as early as possible and discuss that with your children for those who have some about all possibilities.   It is a really good idea to talk with the persons who do the job you want and ask them questions. They are the only ones who can give you a good idea!  


February 2, 2009 at 01:54 AM ·

Have you looked at the job market for astronomers? 

You did say that you were considering a double major for economic reasons.  If I were you, I'd check.


February 2, 2009 at 04:03 AM ·


`we are all of us lying in the gutter,  but some of us are looking at the stars.` ?????




February 2, 2009 at 06:23 AM ·

If someone puts their mind to something, it really doesn't matter what the work load is. They'll find a way to do it. Last semester I had a 20 credit hour work load which included an organic chemistry class side by side with music theory, as well as playing in an orchestra, a piano quintet, and learning a concerto which I performed in a competition. I got a 4.0 last semester. I also had a pretty good social life, so I wasn't busy 24/7. I'm not saying all this to put myself on a pedestal, it's actually quite the opposite. I don't believe I'm some sort of anomaly. I'm just a regular guy... the only thing that sets me apart from others is that I don't tell myself that something's impossible unless I try it first (and even then it's after I give it my all). If more people have this mentality, the limits they set for themselves will be substantially pushed back. People don't usually give themselves enough credit.


And yes, maybe double majors aren't professionals in both of their fields, but does it matter? I love music, but I consider it my secondary major to chemistry/pre-med. I'm doing music too because the school I'm at doesn't offer minors and I want SOMETHING to keep me into it. I don't want to let myself fall into the excuse that "school got too busy, so I didn't have time to practice." I may not use my degree to the fullest potential, but I'll at least stick with it. My long term goal with it is to ultimately play in a semi-professional symphony when I establish my primary career. Sure, you don't need a music degree to do that, but it certainly helps. I also find the classes of both sides to be very enjoyable.

February 2, 2009 at 07:24 AM ·

"I'm not saying all this to put myself on a pedestal, it's actually quite the opposite. I don't believe I'm some sort of anomaly. I'm just a regular guy... the only thing that sets me apart from others is that I don't tell myself that something's impossible unless I try it first (and even then it's after I give it my all). If more people have this mentality, the limits they set for themselves will be substantially pushed back. People don't usually give themselves enough credit."

I like the way you think. I have often found myself telling people the same thing but quite often they are prisoners of their own mindset which is dominated by doubt. Negative thinking is often our worst enemy, while positive thinking is the key to success.

"And yes, maybe double majors aren't professionals in both of their fields, but does it matter? I love music, but I consider it my secondary major to chemistry/pre-med. I'm doing music too because the school I'm at doesn't offer minors and I want SOMETHING to keep me into it."

I think the criticism is focused on the opposite scenario, where somebody wants the music to be their number one field and the other field the secondary one. In that scenario, the critics believe that you can't be as good in music as you could be because you were distracted by the workload for the other field, that you could well afford to be just average at any other field but you could not afford to be anything but above average in music, thereby falling short of the higher threshold that music requires.

To me this seems to be yet another form of negative thinking. Who can say that a truly gifted musician who will rise above the crowd would not also rise above the crowd if they also study another field in addition to music? And who can say that the average musician would have risen above the crowd if he had been more narrow minded in his studies? When we look at the real great musicians in history, we find that even when making music or composing music was strongly discouraged by their environment, they would still rise above the crowd. One may therefore as well conclude that if you have what it takes to become an extraordinary musician, then you will get there, whether you have distraction or not will not matter.

Also, I doubt that you cannot truly become proficient in two different fields at the same time. I have been working with patents and patent attorneys in the past and many of them have degrees in physics, chemistry or engineering, as well as law degrees. Of course there is specialisation going on to combine the two fields for the purpose of their work (filing patents, defending patents, challenging patents) but at the end of the day, you could take them out of their law practise and put them into a laboratory and after some warm up period they would be able to work as a scientist or engineer. After all, what you learn (or at least what you should learn) at university is how to recognise and obtain knowledge you require to do a job.

Therefore, if you study both music and some science field as a backup, you may not be a top notch scientist while you pursue your musical career, but if the situation is such that you need to use your science education to earn a living because the music doesn't, then you will have the education that allows you to start as a perhaps mediocre scientist but become a good scientist on the job. Without the second education on the other hand you could not have hoped to switch that fast, if at all.

There is also the aspect of cross pollination when learning. The more things you have learned in other fields the more you will find that the knowledge can be applied to new fields of study even if at first sight they seem totally unrelated to each other. Our brain is not like some CD-ROM that becomes full and leaves no space for additional information. Our brain is a learning machine that gets better at learning the more things it learns, not only that, but also the greater the variety of the learning the more the learning capability improves.

Last but not least, there is some very serious hypocrisy going on when on the one hand musicians or aspiring musicians argue all the time how music enriches our lives and how it would make a non-musician a more rounded human being if they learned a musical instrument and made music, but at the very same time those same people then argue that a musician should only do music and not waste their time with anything else. If a non-musician becomes a more rounded human being by adding music to the mix of their skills then the same holds true for musicians, that adding something outside of music to their mix of skills will make them more rounded human beings. And being a more rounded human being often goes hand in hand with being able to do one's job better than otherwise, musicians included.

February 2, 2009 at 08:45 AM ·

What year in college are you, Andrew?

February 2, 2009 at 02:03 PM ·

By the number of semesters, a 2nd semester sophomore... however I'll have 94 credits after this semester, so that's slightly over a 2nd semester junior. My pace has been very rapid so far, so naturally I anticipate that I won't be able to take 18-20 credits every semester until I graduate. I also already realize that I won't finish in the standard 4 years even though I appear to be so far ahead for where I actually am. Believe me, I'm not clueless as to what I'm getting into, but I'm not exactly rushing to get through college either. 

February 2, 2009 at 02:21 PM ·

andrew,  very happy to hear you enjoy what you are doing and are doing well.

in organic chemistry, is something with one carbon and 2 hydrogen the same as another with 2 carbon and 4 hydrogen?  :)

February 2, 2009 at 04:07 PM ·

Well, the first probably won't exist by itself unless under some pretty ridiculous conditions. It'd leave the carbon with a +2 charge, and that's extremely unstable. CH2 usually exists in the middle of an alkane (or some other carbon chain) where it's bonded to two other carbons. A C2H4, however, is just an ethyne (a carbon triple bonded to another and each of the carbons have a hydrogen).


Proportionality and organic chemistry aren't friends I guess... :(

February 2, 2009 at 05:50 PM ·

I`ve known quite a few people in the creative fields, music,writing,acting etc. who have had jobs as sub teachers and instructors on the high school and JC College level. It`s provided an income while they pursue their passion. Some of these people have eventually given up trying to be a full time prof. in a creative field and become full time teachers and professors. As to majors,I would get the input of advisors and students at your college in the majors you have in mind.

February 7, 2009 at 01:29 AM ·

    Thank you everybody for your answers , and sorry for not answering faster -school load has increased recently:D. I found many inspiring and wise answers here. I understand the fact that double majoring is hard to many , and sometimes not a practical idea , but I think the situation is different from case to case. In my case, I don't think I would be affraid of double majoring , on the countrary i feel excited at the thought of it. I have always enjoyed accumulating knowledge , and I have been the type of person that would always ask questions , and than , after getting an answer, will seek even more probabilities to that answer , and eventually more questions. I think there is so much to know out there , and I feel a bit frustrated for knowing so little . To me , double majoring would mean an opportunity to accumulate more knowledge. I am used to hard work and hard studying .  In  my first semester I worked full time, went to school full time , practiced the violin at least 3 hours /day , and I finished that semester with all A's and 1 B. I really like going to school , because it is the place one's mind may absorbe knowledge like a spounge , so it doesn't bother me that it may take  longer to finish.


It is still hard to decide. I've seen here the question -" well , how is the job market for astronomers?" I did research on this , and a degree in astronomy involves a huge amount of physics (and maths). In the end not everybody  gets to work for NASA, I guess, but a person with a strong physics background has a wide range of  job oportunities , and good chances to a nice pay (not as much as a dentist or a lawyer, perhaps, but still nice). I think the most important qualities of a scientist should be: an investigative mind, a deep curiosity , a good logique , and a sence of objectivity , and I do find these in me . It is true that high physics is really hard , so I think the best thing for me and for anybody who is thinking of doing it is to take at least a class of university physics before taking the decision - at least that is what I will do.


I had more people advising me to ge to nursing school...but I still feel I'd rather not.

I feel encouraged by Andrew  , who is double-majoring and so far is doing  a lot more than just surviving through it(my respects here). By the way , I just heared the story of an incredible guy , who successfully did  not two , but three majors, was the inventor of an air-plane model , had a great head for business and got himself to be "boss" over 8000 restaurants later, and now is a milionaire. Probably not anybody is going to have the same luck, but it is still great to know that somebody could do all of this . It makes me think that....if one is capable of so much , why would others not dare to do a little less ?


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