Changing my major
Hi,I am a second-semester freshman student. My major is Music Performance in violin and I am thinking of changing my major to economics.
I think I play relatively well but not good enough to survive in the music industry. Also, I don't like playing in an orchestra. I like classical music but it is not my thing. Since I have to practice to get good grades in the orchestra, chamber music or recital class I am not enjoying my daily violin practice and sometimes it becomes a torture. :/ Most of my violin studio mates are playing important violin concertos, and I am playing like easy stuff. Learning a piece or a scale takes me too much time and it is killing me.
Well... this semester I had to take a general course, so I decide taking economics and I fell in love with that course. Now I would like to take upper-level courses in economics.
On the other hand, I am not thinking of quit the violin, I would like keep playing it or take lessons with a private teacher, but no more as a music major. Now, I am worried that if I take that desicion maybe I am going to regret in the future.
Sounds a wise decision based on what you have written. What is it that you think you would regret? If you wanted to be soloist but can now see that that is not going to happen due to your level of playing, then it is not going to happen however you want it to happen. You would probably regret if you stopped playing alltogether, but since you are not doing that then there is really nothing to regret, right?
Given what you have said above, I doubt you will regret changing your major. What it sounds like to me, and you can tell me if I'm mistaken, is that you were probably one of the strongest players in your hometown and derived enjoyment from the sense of accomplishment that came with that. Now, however, in a more rigorous university environment, you're finding that there are players who have greater facility and/or can learn pieces faster, which are important skills for professional violin playing.
From what you write (which is all we know) it seem obvious you want to switch. You can always keep the violin as a wonderful hobby.
From what you have written, the only question in my mind is why you started out as a violin performance major in the first place. It does not seem to be a good fit. Follow your instincts and change your major.
To the above wise advice I would only add that there are probably things you have learned through the study of the violin -- how to break down complex problems into small pieces and build them back up, how to concentrate, how to stay with something every day over the course of years, how to accept a fair amount of tedious work and even some dark times so that you can enjoy deferred reward (even though that seems to have evaporated for you where the violin is concerned), how to measure your progress against general standards and against your peers, how to balance the creative against the mechanical, how to appreciate the differential contributions of colleagues, etc. These can all be tremendous assets in many other fields and you would do well to apply them going forward.
As a professor myself (not in music) it seems you have thought it out. NO reason you would need to stop playing (though you may be required to change teachers). In fact, you may enjoy it more with the pressure off.
I think, given what you've written, that it sounds like a switch in major would be a great idea. Keep in mind that even if you don't end up loving other upper-level economics courses, that you may find other courses in the business school that you do like.
This topic comes up frequently. A lot of music performance majors would be better off, financially, in the long run, majoring in something else and acquiring another job skill. What is really needed is a music minor that includes lessons and performance, instead of academics. None of the public universities in my state do this. A lot of intermediate level music students stop playing in college, and never return, even as amateurs.
What would you regret? Are you thinking you might change your mind and want to pursue a music career? Changing majors does not mean losing that opportunity. There are professional musicians all the way up to the highest levels whose undergraduate major was not music. The one I'm most aware of is San Francisco Symphony principal violist Jonathan Vinocour, who majored in chemistry and did not decide to pursue a career in music until he was 21.
I wonder if it is possible to do double majors in your school if you are not totally made up your mind, or worry that you are making a life time decision base on one semester of Economics.
Life as a classical musician nowadays can be pretty harsh.
Sivrit brought up double-majoring. Yes it's possible, but very hard. If you're double-majoring in chemistry and biochemistry, there is a great deal of overlap in the course work so it's not all that much more. But chemistry and music performance? Nearly impossible because of the time-consuming, schedule-wrecking nature of the lab courses. So if you're going to double-major in music performance and something, the something needs to be one of the less-demanding majors (in terms of time and scheduling). You don't necessarily need it to be a "jock major" but it won't be engineering, computers, or physical sciences either. Math, economics, and statistics come to mind.
Agree with most of the advice. OP might have the talent to do music professionally, but only if really motivated. The motivation might come back after a year or two, but no better idea than trying what might really float your boat in the meantime. At the very highest levels, talent seems to find a way to deal with a detour like this. Plenty of Harvard and Yale undergrads have gone on to have pretty good careers, and the Boston Symphony once had two principals who had earned science PhDs.
continued,- repeating myself from a similar thread:- Our colleagues over in the theater department have a good practice of requiring the acting students to also learn a related theatrical back-stage skill; set design, lighting, make-up, clothing,sound, carpentry, business management, etc. Their list is long. Those ancillary job skills frequently become the day job that pays the rent while they are doing the next audition. Without doing the formidable load of a double major, there is a shorter list of options within the typical music major; sound engineering, arts management, music education with the state certificate, arranging, composing for film, instrument repair technician...
I concur. A double major is very hard. I did it in Physics and Music Performance/Music Ed (so sort of a triple major). It was very hard. That was 40+ years ago. I would guess it's harder now.
Music Education and Music Performance is a very demanding double major indeed. I would take math as a double major over that.
True, but he says he's worried about possibly regretting the decision in the future. The reason I brought up the possibility of a music career was to assure him that switching to a non-music major does not mean permanently closing that door.
It's fine to be ambitious, but there are other problems with setting yourself extremely challenging academic goals in college. First, there's no margin for error. A two-week illness can wipe out an entire semester. Second, you miss out on a lot of the non-classroom opportunities that college offers, from intramural sports to poetry club to faculty-directed individual research to dating. Those things are important not only for your professional development but also for your overall sanity.
Paul is very correct.
Even though I'm not THAT old I'm going to play the role of "old man who yells at cloud".
George - oh wow, it's good to know I have company with regards to my 'followed a bunch of "bright shining objects" only to see them turn to dust' career "path". Thank goodness I, out of necessity, wound up in a stable "career" that pays the bills well enough to afford private lessons on a regular (albeit not as frequent as preferred) basis.
Ryan wrote, "What full time opportunities are really out there for a very good (or even excellent) violinist? Very few."
With all due respect - you can't seriously be comparing the marketability of a biology degree to that of a violin performance degree.
Life is actually pretty tough for bio majors. I would say that by and large a bio degree is like any non-CS STEM degree, in terms of the job opportunities. My friends who are working as lab technicians, in pharma support, etc. are making very little money and don't have much job stability. The ones who switched into the same career paths as the CS majors are doing fine.
I love biology, but there was a reason I stuck with engineering (which I hated) and didn't switch to biology - I didn't feel like putting in the time it would take to get my PhD. I don't know about the job prospects with a masters, but I agree with Lydia, except that engineering outside of CS has pretty good job prospects as well.
Unemployment rate for Biology majors in 2019 is 4.6%. Most of the unemployed are probably not employable, as is the case with most fields.
Not being unemployed is nowhere near the same as making a good living and being reasonably financially secure.
Well I DID study Biology - and had a marvelous career as a basic neuroscientist (just retired last year) with employment at Hopkins, NIH and U Toronto/UHN. And I loved almost all of it. With tenured or 5yr contract positions I also accumulated sufficient benefits to be reasonably comfortable in retirement - and to afford a decent violin.
Hard to say when there's so much variation in what an individual biology major or music performance major does in their studies and activities. If you major in biology or economics and you only do the bare minimum course requirements, that might not get you very far. Not when your competition is pursuing internships, taking classes in statistics or programming, running a campus organization, and/or writing a thesis.
I agree with Frieda--the major is no guarantee--at least for almost all the arts and (basic) sciences. You really need to demonstrate you have a skill or knowledge of an in-demand content area. A history major who writes clearly and succinctly AND has (relatively) deep knowledge of an area of the world where the US has security concerns may be useful in foreign policy work. Sociology majors who can run statistical packages (and understand statistics for surveys) are another example. But graduating with a history or sociology major isn't going to be enough. I advise new graduates to list out coursework completed that suggest they have particular skills on their resumes. I want to know that the public health major knows something about questionnaire design (for example) because that is a skill my company needs, but not all public health majors know anything about it. Economics is a major in which one can develop a number of applicable skills.
That's the trouble with these broad-brush statistics. They don't really convey a lot of meaning unless you drill down pretty far. I mean, if "unemployment" in the US is so low (below 5%), then how come people are complaining about the cost of health care or college tuition? Surely 95% of employable Americans should be able to afford those basic things ...
Maybe my concern is latent PTSD from graduating in 2009 in the recession, when I realized how I had not prepared myself to get a job in a bad economy, but even given low unemployment rates right now, I wouldn't trust our guy at the top to not have put a smoldering crater in our economy in (1 or 2) 4 or 5 years, when the OP would be graduating.
When I was touring colleges with my eldest, during a parent session for an honors program, the administrator running the show asked everyone there who was currently working in a field related to their college major to raise their hands. Mine was the only hand in the air, out of perhaps three dozen parents--and these were all parents of elite students, so I am sure there were a disproportionate number of professionals represented. For many jobs these days, the four-year degree is the ticket of admission, but beyond that the specific non-STEM major seems less important than being able to think coherently, write well, and convince an interviewer that you will be able to deliver what they need.
What Mary Ellen writes doesn't surprise me at all. One reason is because if you are talking about "parents of elite students" then often these are engineers (or something) who might have worked an entry-level job for a little while but pushed up into management in their 30s or 40s or seized some non-degree-related (but nevertheless lucrative) opportunity when that came along. And the folks in that room were the ones who *succeeded* in reinventing themselves, which involves risk and something called luck.