College Major Advice

Edited: June 17, 2020, 6:18 PM · Hi, I am a long time lurker here, and have learned so much from the members here, and I have a bit of a “crisis” which perhaps some of you could guide me through.
A bit about me: I am 16 years old, just finishing up my junior year of high school. While I am defiantly not a prodigy, I have been told I am “advanced” I have been playing violin literally longer than I can remember. I started informally, as I come from a family of mariachi musicians and literally everyone sings, plays guitar and at least one other instrument. We emigrated to US from Mexico when I was 10 years old, and despite really not being able to afford it, my parents got me formal lessons with a good Suzuki teacher violin teacher and also a piano teacher. In 8th grade I won a full scholarship to study with a professional symphony player who graduated from a conservatory and has taught and at some well-known colleges. I’ve played in All State Orchestra, the local youth symphony, with my school orchestra and chamber groups. I also do mariachi with a pro group. I still study piano/music theory, sing and play guitar in pop/rock group. I’ve done concerto completions for the last three years and have never won, but got 2nd and 3rd places. I’ve done some summer music festivals every year of high school – this year it’s Interlochen and VIA Academy (both on-line this year)
I have been set and training to be a violin performance major for the last few years now, and last fall had trial lesson at colleges throughout my home state of Texas, and also did some trial lesson in NYC at some well-known conservatories. All the violin teachers were actually very encouraging, and indicated that I had what takes to be a violin performance major. They said my technique is on track, I’m getting good instruction, and my repertoire is at the appropriate level. Even some of the smaller state colleges said I could probably get a scholarship and have leadership roles.
So, everything sounds pretty good right? But ever since I’ve been stuck at home due the Covid 19 shut down, I have slowly stated questioning if violin performance is right for me. Up until I was about 13 I never got nervous at all performing. But now I suffer from performance anxiety and I really hate this feeling! I thought about changing my major but I have no other talents outside of music.
I’ve talked to my school counselor and he told me I should consider music education, but I can’t picture working a big group of kids. He then recommend a BA in Music, which he explained was more general, more academic classes (which I don’t mind) . He said with my knowledge of music I could possibly test out of the first year of music theory and piano. He said I could still do violin lessons and play in ensembles (which I like) but not have to do major solo recitals (which I don’t like) He said I could minor or do a double major in a subject from the liberal arts, which would help in many different careers. He said if I decided to study something outside of music altogether, I would have less scholarship opportunities.
So here I am, about to be a senior in high school, with just about 5 weeks until I start applying to colleges and I am not sure what to do with my life. I guess I could see myself teaching violin privately, gigging and holding some sort of office or retail job. I am bilingual and have been told that’s a plus. Do you think a BA in Music makes sense for someone like me?

Replies (75)

June 17, 2020, 6:26 PM · "I come from a family of mariachi musicians and literally everyone sings, plays guitar and at least one other instrument."

I'm not sure if you're using "literally" correctly, although I can guess what you meant if not. If you did mean "literally", then I think that word would have been superfluous there.

I believe that exposure is an important though not singular means of overcoming fear. In other words, you might consider not attempting to simply avoid the circumstances that cause fear to arise and especially not making lifelong choices on the basis of that fear, as it might be something that can be addressed through a combination of means that would have to include exposure.

Music performance, especially classical, is generally a terrible career choice in terms of direct job opportunities, so I would suggest further that when you consider education opportunities, you consider them in view of what they could do for or to you - to help you grow further to be the person you want to be, and to teach you what you'd love to know - instead of seeing that strictly in terms of a single type of job you would hope to get.

June 17, 2020, 6:43 PM · J Ray really was able to burrow to the heart of the matter - You literally may or may not have used "literally" to J Ray's liking.

I'm not sure if your school counselor has a musical background, but it kind of sounds like you are not that interested in the things your counselor is suggesting. In normal times, you can probably find programs where you can study something in science, liberal arts or engineering, while getting a performance certificate. I'm sure there are people here that know more about that, but here is a link to Princeton's program.

I think it's important to answer a few questions:

-Regardless of your major, what place would you like violin/music to have in your life as an adult?
-Are there other subjects in liberal arts, science or engineering that you are really interested in?

It sounds like music is an important part of your life. If you enroll in some kind of program that allows you to keep taking lessons and learning at a high level, you can get better, work on your performance anxiety, and even go back specifically for violin performance later, as a master's program.

Higher education in general is in a lot of turmoil - I'm sure Paul Deck can tell you. There are kids that are taking gap years now, and honestly, it doesn't sound like a crazy idea to me - Although in that case, it makes sense if you have a good plan in mind for that year, because you don't want to do something like that without knowing why. If I could have gone back and taken a gap year, it would have been a great choice for me, but that isn't something I would have known at the time. Good luck!

Edited: June 17, 2020, 6:47 PM · Thank you Mr. Ray for the English lesson. I get that a lot since English is not first language. I meant to say"everybody" or everyone in the family from my grandparents to the grand- kids, including the generations before me. Both your points are well taken. Thank you.
June 17, 2020, 7:21 PM · You need to ask yourself: "can I see myself doing anything else besides going to music school?" If you have any doubts there, the reality is that you can still pursue a lifetime of music-making without having to make it your college major and only vocation.
Edited: June 17, 2020, 7:37 PM · Hi Marie,

I was an International Baccalaureate teacher for many years. I've worked with dozens of students in your situation, so I might know a thing or two to help you.

First of all, know this - what you are going through is perfectly normal. Being indecisive and wondering what is next has nothing to do with Covid-19. It's just part of the ride. So, take a deep breath and relax - you're going to be fine.

I'd do this. Apply to at least five schools. One, apply to your "dream" school. Harvard, Yale, Juilliard, whoever. Then apply to three good basic, state or private schools. Finally, apply to a community school that you know you'll get into no matter what. Accept this fact - you are going to college no matter what.

Now do this.

Go for broke. Give everything you've got to what your dream is, and see what happens.

It may not work out. Indeed, chances are that it won't, but so what? What is most important, indeed what is vital, is that you try to push the envelope. That's most important.


Because this is the moment. If you don't push yourself, if you don't go for this dream, you'll always wonder, "what if?" Well, my friend, "what if" is the stuff of bad dreams, therapy (rather expensive), and unanswered questions.

So, go for it.

What happens if you don't make it? Well, nothing really, You'll feel bad for a while, but as the wonderful British actor, John Gielgud said, "A bad review will ruin your breakfast, but not your lunch."

Get those applications in and see what happens. Get them in early (schools don't wait for deadlines, early is best.)

Best wishes, and be strong!

Best wishes, and if you have questions, just email me,

June 17, 2020, 7:54 PM · Hello Mr. Lesniak,

My school counselor is not a musician but my high school has a conservatory and many students have gone on to Juliard and other big name colleges and conservatories, so he knows about the process, and he also thinks I have what it takes to get into college as a violin performance major. I totally open to his advice about doing a BA in Music rather than a performance degree as it sounds more 'well rounded" Being an immigrant, classicfied as "Limited English Profient" I still feel like I lack a good English academic vocabulary so maybe a performance degree could limit me in certain ways?

I thought maybe I should study outside of music and keep on taking lessons and playing in ensembles, but my counselor tells it would hard for me to get a scholarship based solely on my academics and SAT scores.

I had never really heard on the BA in Music option, and sounds interesting. I was hoping someone here may know more about it. Thank you for your reply.

June 17, 2020, 8:07 PM · Hello Gene,

I have asked myself if I could see myself doing anything besides music and I guess I could, I just have NO IDEA as to what. I'm pretty advanced both on violin, piano, guitar, voice, music theory, can play by ear, improvise read music. Like I said, everyone in the family is a musician, and plays professionally, but most do other types of jobs to. I figured if a career in music doesn't work I could transition to other fields or combine gigging, teaching, and working a day job. I don;t need to make a lot of money, but stability sounds good to me.

A gap year sounds good for my upper middle class friends, some are going off to Europe and studying with famous teachers for a year. If I did a gap year I have to stay at home with my parents, playing every mariachi gig that came our way, and mow lawns with my uncle. Not sure I'd grow much doing that!

June 17, 2020, 8:26 PM · Thank you Micheal Kennedy for your thoughtful reply, which made me feel better :)

It just so weird, I was so sure I wanted to study violin performance and got lots of support from my violin teacher and affirmation from college violin teachers at these trial lessons, and now I'm not even sure.

My counselor and orchestra teacher also told me to apply to my "dream school" and a few schools that I am sure can get into. I guess I'm not to worried about getting into a college. I think I'm pretty good shape musically and my academics aren't too bad especially for an immigrant.

I guess I'm just trying to figure out if I should do the BA in Music ,stick with my original goal of violin performance, or just try something outside of music. I'm very interested now in the BA in Music with maybe a minor or double major. Maybe it would be a good way to expose me to other things outside of music, and as my counselor says, give a better shot at a scholarship. I'm sure I'd become a better violinist if I was a violin performance major, but I not sure I'd develop in other areas as much.

Edited: June 17, 2020, 8:35 PM · While things may have changed over the years, my understanding was that two types of people did a BA: those who were not quite advanced enough to qualify for a performance degree, and those who had academic music aspirations and were planning on going on for graduate work (ie musicology, theory).

It doesn't seem like either one of those describes you. I personally can't see any possible advantage of getting a BA over a BM just because you are uncertain.

What I would recommend to you is to pick a school that is not just a conservatory, as this will give you options if you later change your mind and decide not to do music at all. If you have strong academics, the usual top choices are Rice, University of Michigan, or Northwestern. But there are many other great schools that have music schools within a university to consider.

Finally, my son is a few years younger (he is just finishing up his freshman year) but has experienced a lot of challenges during the pandemic, because he can't perform in the usual way, and practicing is really challenging without all the other motivating stuff (pre-college program, chamber music, orchestra, etc.). I wouldn't let your experiences during this undeniably weird time entirely shape your career path.

June 17, 2020, 8:38 PM · I don't think it's as simple as Michael Kennedy makes it out to be. Before you pick your schools, you do want to have some idea what you want your life to look like; if you are undecided, you will want to choose schools that leave you significant flexibility to choose during your undergrad years.

Can you trace your performance anxiety to a specific event that was the first time you became nervous, or to a performance mishap that's changed your perspective? Does it occur in all circumstances, or is it selective? Is it specific to your classical music, or does it occur when you're playing with your band, too? Is it solo-specific or does it also occur in chamber situations? What about when you're buried fairly anonymously within an orchestra section? Even when you're nervous, do you ultimately enjoy performing, or does any amount of anxiety ruin it for you?

How good of a student are you? Are you taking AP classes or other advanced coursework? If you've taken the SAT or ACT, are your scores quite competitive (top quartile, top 10%, top 5%)?

June 17, 2020, 9:03 PM · J Ray is being a jerk. Not sure why he feels that's necessary.

Performance anxiety is pretty normal - most musicians experience it under one circumstance or another. I doubt anyone except the full-time soloists plays recitals without getting nervous! Are there aspects of performing that you do enjoy, or is it really not your thing?

The job market for full-time performance jobs (orchestra, quartet, soloist) is pretty terrible. It is most likely going to be especially terrible for the next few years - I don't have a crystal ball but many smaller orchestras are probably not going to make it through covid-19. A BA in music is not really a good option if you want to, say, win orchestra auditions or play chamber music professionally, but what it does is give you a solid rounded education, similar to if you did a BA in history or in literature or whatever. You could definitely cobble together a life of teaching and gigging and a day job with a BA in music, and it would let you explore what other talents you have - you'd probably end up making an easier / better living in a different career than you would at any but the top orchestras.
If, however, you decide you want to shoot for one of those top orchestras, you can't be happy unless you're in a professional quartet, whatever, go with the BM. I'm assuming you're latinx, you probably know about the Sphinx foundation already but if you don't keep them in mind as a source of financial aid. I'd say don't do music ed unless you really want to teach in a public school.

Whatever you decide to do, keep your mariachi chops up - you'll be able to get more gigs that way than your classmates who only play classical.

June 17, 2020, 9:16 PM · I agree with Susan. I actually think that the BA in Music is a terrible idea, as it both essentially ensures that you will be unprepared for a performance career, and that you won't really have great employment prospects in general. If you can't make up your mind, do the BM, but combine the performance degree with coursework in other things that are useful -- marketing, communications, etc. (An increasing number of programs offer business-oriented coursework to BM candidates.)

Or you could do a BM in Performing Arts Management. The business coursework you'll do for that should make you entirely employable by any organization that hires students who got a general business degree.

June 17, 2020, 9:30 PM ·
Thank you Ms. Allegra,

I think my councilor suggested a BA in Music because apparently because
a student in that degree path has to study many other subjects outside of music, requires a minor outside of music. In words I'd get a broader education, and since I'm sure in what field I want to work in, it might give me more options plus there wouldn't all this performance pressure.. If I were a performance major I'd practicing all day long with no time to explore anything else. If performing solo recitals didn't make me so nervous, I'd for sure go for it. The lousy job prospects in classical don't scare me. I'm a hard worker, a quick and bilingual. I'm sure I could make living between music, teaching privately and some kind of day job.

And yes I feel your sons pain and I have been totally unmotivated since March. I had such big plans, won a full scholarship to a chamber camp in New Hampshire , and Interlochen. On line just isn't the same : (

June 17, 2020, 9:52 PM · Lydia I think the idea to combine music with something complementary is good way to deal with how difficult it will be to get a job performing. As an example, a kid my daughter knows just started dual degrees in performance and music production at Thornton; one of the symphony cellists we know fairly well probably spends at least as much time working in production as he does playing. I am encouraging both of my high school age kids to develop specialized expertise in multiple, complementary fields like this.
June 17, 2020, 10:04 PM · Hello Ms. Leong,

As far performance anxiety. I only get it playing difficult classical music in a solo situation were there knowledgeable people listening. Classical music experts make me nervous, and are so critical! It funny on my very first post here someone criticizes my English. I'll try give him the benefit of the doubt that he was trying to help me....

I feel totally fine playing in a mariachi, pop band, or orchestra and even a chamber group.

As far as my academics, yes I do all AP as it is the only option at my school. I'm now at 3.8 hopefully senior year it will get up to 4.o.

The SAT wasn't that great at 1140. I taking it again, and I'm studying for it too. I do have some upper class friends that have taken really expensive prep classes since they were in 7th grade. It's hard to compete against that! It's hard competing against them on violin too, but somehow I've been able to keep up and surpass some of them too.

I also do see why you think a BA in Music is a "terrible idea" but the job prospects are pretty terrible too.

I thought about doing a performance degree and a double major or minor outside of music, but that seems like it would take just as much time away from the violin. I actually meet a harp player that plays with a major US symphony who majored in a non music field. She said she just practiced a lot and played in every ensemble, and gigged as much as she could in college. Not a bad idea either.

June 17, 2020, 10:19 PM · .

Hello Ms. Chen,

Yes I do like to perform, just not solo especially for competitions and and in fornt of classical music experts.

Honestly, I don't really have my heart set on playing in a major orchestra or a full time professional chamber group. I'd happy teaching privately, doing local gigs in a variety of styles. I'll always have my mariachi chops, it's in the blood!

Public school teaching doesn't interest me at all. I'm not good with big groups of poorly behaved children. I'd seriously rather join my uncles landscaping crew working in the Texas heat than work with kids!

Yes, I am Latina. I'll look into the organization you mentioned. Thanks!

June 17, 2020, 10:25 PM · From the perspective of a non-music job, you are no better off with a BA Music than you are with a BM. You are pretty much, with either, equally qualified to work a job at Starbucks or a low-level admin (clerical) job. And with the BA Music you are much less qualified to work in the music field than someone who has a BM.

Your high school counselor, while well-intentioned, probably realistically knows next to nothing about the music industry. As someone getting a BA Music, at most schools, you will not have access to the same quality of teachers as a BM Performance candidate. You may not have the same access to orchestral or chamber music opportunities. You will basically be a fourth-class citizen, after the BM Performance, the BM Music Ed, and the BM other-specialties students. At many universities, the BA Music is like any other humanities degree within the college of liberal arts, distinct from the conservatory / School of Music which grants the BM. As a student getting a BA Music, the conservatory may treat you no differently than someone getting, say, a BA in English.

Also, you are not going to get scholarships as a violin-playing student for doing a BA Music unless you go to a school that has a fifth-rate music program, no conservatory, and needs some violinists to fill out an orchestra. But you don't want to do that if you're serious about possibly pursuing a performing career.

I agree with Steve about considering doing an adjacent discipline that would still result in a BM (and the scholarship and playing opportunities that would come from being able to use your music skills). I suggested the BM in arts management, but you could also consider a BM in sound engineering, recording arts, arts production, or similar degrees.

Very few professional violinists end up playing solo, so if you don't want to play solo for a living, great, you don't ever have to. Then the question is if you can make it through giving a senior (and possibly a junior-year) recital, and playing one or two juries a year. I'm guessing that you can, since right now you play competitions and auditions, so even if you don't love the experience, they aren't so awful that you cannot bear doing so. It doesn't seem like a good reason to give up doing a BM degree.

If you get a BA Music, it's normally an academically oriented degree. You won't be taking performance courses, in all likelihood, or maybe just one unit so you can get private lessons; you'd instead be doing a lot of music history and theory. You might not end up doing any more playing than if you'd chosen to do a BA in English or History or the like, which might not serve your future ambitions.

Also, if you aren't sold on being a classical musician, why not consider Berklee or a similar school that concentrates on nonclassical styles?

I know people who did not get music degrees who have won symphony jobs, and followed the "keep playing, do gigs" formula in college, but they were essentially already playing at an internationally competitive level before they finished high school. It doesn't sound like that's the case for you.

June 17, 2020, 10:25 PM ·

Thank you Stan Yates for your reply. That sounds like a good idea to combine performance with a complementary field like p[production. I notice that musicians often do several things inside the music filed, like perform, teach,production, bookings.

June 17, 2020, 10:28 PM · So far it seems like only Irene Chen thinks a BA in Music is a good idea.

I think my head is spinning faster than it was before I posted here. Good night everyone! I'll check tomorrow. Thanks for your advice!

Edited: June 17, 2020, 10:45 PM · Lydia, it is incredibly difficult to do a BM at a school/level that will prepare you to be competitive and take any substantial number of classes in any other field. While it sounds like Marie's APs might get her out of gen eds, freeing up some credits, you're still looking at a limit of probably one academic class a semester, and scheduling for orchestra / chamber music / studio class is going to majorly limit what's possible. It really isn't as easy as "take coursework in other things." Doing a performance degree AND another concentration for most people is a great way to not get much out of either.
June 17, 2020, 10:55 PM · Irene, I was thinking of programs that are designed to allow a BM Performance student to pick up some reasonable career basics. As far as I know, more BM programs are recognizing the need for students to have the skills they need to deal with the fact they are a small business of one person.

I suspect for most people, their only realistic shot at BM-equivalent years of performance training is immediately after high school. There are plenty of people who get a BM, decide that they want to pursue another career field while doing music on the side, and then get a master's in some other field.

If the OP wants to get a day job as an admin assistant, say, post-college, while they teach and gig, they can do that as easily with the BM as they can with a BA. And if they want to go to grad school in another field, they can do that with the BM, too.

But "be immersed in a music setting while not simply practicing all the time" is a good reason to get a BM in an adjacent field like recording arts, rather than the BM performance.

June 17, 2020, 10:59 PM · Marie D.--
Mariachi is not a bad choice. I know, I did that. They make more money, get more work, than the equivalent classical musicians. You are a good violinist, have strong Spanish skills, and sing. That checks all three boxes. The male-only barrier was broken about 50 years ago by Rebeca Gonzales. Now, good Mariachis like to have one solo female singer; it adds vocal variety to the group and allows a number of classic songs that, because of the text, should be done by a woman. 16 years old is not too late to start serious vocal training. Singers develop later than instrumentalists. That is, unless you are a high soprano. All the classic women singers were low- to mid-range. For double-majors, or double specialties within a music major, consider doing both violin and voice, or Spanish+ music, even International business/Spanish. Except for the top three Mariachis, USA is even better than Mexico(!). As you probably already know, it can be a hard life. My schedule with one group was; 6 nights per week, every week 7:30--1:30 am, standing, under the lights, under a microphone. I didn't know what part I was playing, first,second, third, (memorized or course) until I arrived each night, and the keys would change depending on who was singing the solo. The level of musicianship is very high. The best places would be Los Angeles, Texas, also perhaps Arizona, Albuquerque, Las Vegas. And-- there is zero performance anxiety.
--Joel Quivey, (ex.-Mariachi Los Camperos, M. Uclatlan, M. Sol de Mexico, BA,-ethnomusicology, UCLA)
Edited: June 18, 2020, 1:41 AM · How advanced are you? Just curious.

Edit: To clarify, what repertoire?

Edited: June 17, 2020, 11:18 PM · " J Ray is being a jerk. Not sure why he feels that's necessary."

Sure, take it the wrong way and start name-calling if that makes things better.

June 18, 2020, 12:42 AM · I usually find, in online forums, that grammar correction is unnecessary, unhelpful, and off-topic. Spelling, ditto. If the statement is not comprehensible, a paraphrase without condescension is adequate. Not everyone is a native English speaker or has autocorrect on their phone. Sure, lots of people use an unnecessary "literally". It's a quirk of American speech.
Edited: June 18, 2020, 2:11 AM · Are you intending to go to college for the educational advancement or for vocational advancement?

(I should have read the thread thoroughly, as I see you have answered the following questions to some degree.) Do you have a more specific idea of where you expect to work as a violinist after you graduate from college? Were you intending to work in an orchestra? Do you want to teach private lessons?

Many positions have blind auditions. You may not even need a degree. In this respect, I think there is limited vocational advancement for performance positions in college. By attending a college your playing will improve. But it will not necessarily provide any special vocational benefit.

In contrast to the limited vocational benefit of a music degree from a college, other degrees have substantial vocational benefit.

Teaching music privately is something that is done during “off hours” many people do it as a second job. If you see yourself teaching you may want to prepare for other work as well, as you will have time for it in your schedule.

I hope that this is helpful.

Edited: June 18, 2020, 7:13 AM · Marie Diaz! What an amazingly bright, cheerful, forthright, intelligent, hard-working, warm, articulate, and talented young person you are!

I have to caution you that what Michael Kennedy proposes, while well-meaning and having some truth to it, is somewhat easier to do if one is in a strong position financially. Going to college and majoring in whatever you want, knowing that you can change your major in your third year and your parents will cheerfully pay for an extra semester or two so that you can finish, is the hallmark of an upper-middle-class existence.

On the other hand, my suspicion is that you could do the performance degree and pick up a minor or even a double major in the business school (or something like psychology) and with your intelligence and your bilingual skills you could be very employable. A music degree is just as good as a bachelor's degree in political science or English. Double majoring is very tricky because you have to schedule your courses around your music ensemble requirements. That makes a double major in a STEM field (with labs) nearly impossible. (I teach university chemistry, and I've seen what happens.)

You said that you wouldn't gain much from a gap year playing mariachi gigs and mowing lawns. But could you also raise your game on the violin by working with a great teacher? Maybe you could gain entrance to a more prestigious university (such as those Lydia mentioned), or maybe your chance of winning a scholarship would improve.

By the way, normally I pester my co-conspirators on this site about starting their sentences with "So." But you did it totally correctly! Your use of "literally" was also perfectly idiomatic -- which means you used it the way all your native-English-speaking friends are. I knew exactly what you meant. The first purpose of language is communication, and your post was much clearer than most of the ones I read here. I'm guessing, because of your name and the word "mariachi" in your post, that your native language is Spanish. I can only speak one language, so you're way ahead of me. Your English is better than my second language would ever be if I tried to learn one now.

Whichever way you decide to go, I hope you will not do what I did when I went to college: I put my violin into a closet and it didn't come out again for 25 years. Do NOT do this. Continue to work on violin -- hard -- and become the best player you can within the context of your other choices. Good luck!

Edited: June 18, 2020, 7:36 AM · For you it might be beneficial to attend a large state university that has a breadth of programs. You never know what you might be interested in until you get some exposure to the subject matter itself. You could end up studying Food Science or Psychology, You never know.

I think a BA in Music makes sense. A Bachelors degree is the minimum credential in landing an office job; it's what a high school degree used to be. I don't think it matters too much if you major in Music, History, or Physics. Do something piques your interest and you'll do well. You can always supplement your major with more vocationally oriented course work.

June 18, 2020, 7:52 AM · Hi Marie, If you are thinking about having a day job, why not get training that would make a day job more rewarding? For example, you don't need to be a chartered accountant to find accounting work - basically every business needs someone with accounting skills, so it is always possible to find work. Also, accounting is something that usually doesn't require shift work, so it could combine well with being a professional musician. Would it be possible to find a university program where you could study violin or music with a scholarship, while also taking business and accounting courses?
Edited: June 18, 2020, 8:24 AM · "I usually find, in online forums, that grammar correction is unnecessary, unhelpful, and off-topic. Spelling, ditto. If the statement is not comprehensible, a paraphrase without condescension is adequate. Not everyone is a native English speaker or has autocorrect on their phone. Sure, lots of people use an unnecessary "literally". It's a quirk of American speech."

I agree with this statement for the most part. However, words generally matter in a conversation, and if someone asks for clarification or suggests a correction, I think that might be reasonable and should not necessarily be taken as an act of hostility or responded to as such.

In my experience, "literally" is sometimes used to mean the opposite of what it means in a formal sense. I was wrong to appear to take an issue with it being redundant - that would not be a problem, and would actually be correct usage used to emphasise the point. So I think now that Marie was using it correctly, so the mistake was mine in thinking that it was incorrectly used. But without asking, I could not have been sure.

A reference to misuse of literally

Further, I have no general issues with Marie's English, and think that a "second language" excuse is unnecessary here. Marie has been articulate, clear, polite, and responsive, which has become clearer as she's said more, and certainly meets the needs for an informal forum, and is likely to be sufficient for further exercise in higher education.

Edited: June 18, 2020, 9:02 AM · I am guessing that you may have been involved with the young strings program in Dallas.

I have just retired from Baylor University and would highly recommend that you consider applying there. There are a number of degree possibilities there, BA, BME, BM performance, or Music as a secondary major. You should talk with one of the violin teachers there Eka Gogichashvili and Patricia Shiu.

It is quite common for advanced string players to be given lots of scholarship assistance to bring them to a full tuition and fees level, and for some, even some room and board assistance.

To judge the level see this performance of Bartok 2 concerto by Ricardo Gomez with the Baylor Symphony by one of my students a few years back.

Good luck with your college quest, and it is good that you are starting so early in the process.

Dr. Bruce Berg
Emeritus Professor of Violin
Baylor University

Edited: June 18, 2020, 9:10 AM · I'm not knowledgeable enough to advice you on the differences between a BA or BM, but I think it would be a shame if you dropped your mariachi gigging, since you like doing it and have the connections to build on.

Whatever you get out of college, make sure you come away with some skills, rather than merely knowledge of content. Violin-playing is a skill, writing computer software, statistical analysis, analytic writing--they are skills also. For example, if you major in psychology, make sure you can demonstrate you understand the scientific method and can do statistics, not simply that you can describe three clusters of personality disorders. However, if you end up attending an elite university (which you should consider because of your grades and coursework), it doesn't matter all that much whether you major in Art History or Business, you'd be competitive for a job at elite consulting firms if you're quick and hard-working enough. I wish it weren't true, but there is that elitism. It is something to consider.

Edited: June 18, 2020, 9:52 AM · Hi, Marie, I'm also in Texas (San Antonio) and want to congratulate you on your All-State placement. That's a real accomplishment in Texas, far more so than in many other states. I'm wondering if you're at HSPVA since you describe your high school as having a conservatory--you don't need to answer that though!

I was just coming here to mention Baylor, where they have a program which would allow you to major in an academic subject while doing a performance-oriented music minor (most music minors focus more on academic subjects).

My daughter just finished her freshman year as a performance major (not violin) at the Jacobs School at IU so I have recently been through the decision making process as a parent, as well as having decades of experience as a teacher and of course my own long-ago experience as a student. Please feel free to contact me privately if you want to discuss offline--you can use the message option through v dot com.

June 18, 2020, 10:10 AM · Prof. Berg has given you a great gift here. It's called an "ice-breaker."

What you can (and should) do now is email one of the two Baylor violin teachers that he mentioned. You can start your email with, "Hi, my name is Marie and I'm thinking about studying the violin in college. I have one year of high school left. Prof. Bruce Berg suggested that I contact you. Through an online violin forum, San Antonio violinist Mary Ellen Goree also told me there are good opportunities at Baylor, and I'd like to learn more." (Then you can describe your interests briefly and ask for their advice or suggestion in applying to Baylor.) A few sentences should be fine.

And the great thing is that both "name-dropping" statements would be entirely truthful. The win-win circles back because both Bruce and Mary Ellen will earn collegiality points for referring you, not that they need more than they already have. :)

June 18, 2020, 11:41 AM · Bruce and Mary's suggestion of Baylor's program with a performance minor is a great one. As far as I know, the Baylor program is fairly unique, as most music minors are normally designed for music as a liberal art, and may have a minimal or zero performance component.

Doing a performance minor would allow you to keep up with lessons and ensembles for free (and for credit) without the weight of the practice obligations of a full major.

Also note that just because you love playing doesn't mean you would love the hours of classroom work, essay-writing and composition involved in all of the history and theory courses you'd have to take for a BA in Music!

That does beg the question of what your primary degree should be in, though. I recommend finding something that pays well and that offers reasonably flexible hours, and that would allow you to live in a major city where there's plenty of classical music in the community and mariachi gigs to play.

I recommend choosing a job that doesn't tend to bug you after-hours, so you can reliably do gigs. Companies generally do not have, say, late-night patent-law emergencies, or accounting crises. I have enjoyed my career in computer science and mid-career it's turned out to be very flexibly accommodating of my music, but when I was young, I was getting paged more often than my physician stand partners.

Edited: June 18, 2020, 12:08 PM · Good morning everyone, I very much appreciate everyone's advice and I am reading each post over and over again taking notes. I hope to answer each post personally but I'm pretty busy with helping my uncle with his landscaping business and have some gigs this weekend. Next week I'll be doing a course through the New World Symphony and after that I'll doing the Interlochen on-line course. Both programs offer private lessons so I'll try to speak to the teachers about post high school options as well. Thank you again for your advice, you all have given me so much to think about.
June 18, 2020, 1:23 PM · Hello Joel,

Your right, a violinist can earn some money playing mariachi but it requires a different skill set than classical playing for sure. I can transpose,play by ear, and sing harmonies. I haven't done much lead vocals but I will be singing in my school's pop/rock/soul band, and the guitar teacher at my school invited me to sing and play in a country band that he's forming with students. Our school has a mariachi band too, but this I wanted to try the schools Latin jazz band. I've done an All State mariachi group with students from all over Texas, and did a mariachi camp at UNT a few years ago. I like playing mariachi but for college I'd like to focus on classical and really polish my technique.

June 18, 2020, 1:33 PM · Hello Xuanyuan Liu,

You asked about what pieces I play. Over the last two years I've learned and performed Mozart Violin Concerto in G major, Baber , Mendelson in E Minor, Saint Saens, Bruch, Lalo, and a bunch of Bach solos. I'm not an international prodigy or anything like that. I just try to work hard at my music and school work. I have done trial lessons with several college and conservatory teachers, they thought I could probably get into there studios, no guarantee of course, and the colleges have to accept me on my academic achievements which are "good" and my SAT which "average". Of course I need to find a school that will not put my family in dept.... Thank you for asking.

June 18, 2020, 1:46 PM ·

Hello Micheal Berger,

Yes, I'd like to teach private lesson and work in an orchestra. Orchestra work seems so hard to get ,and though I feel a am advanced (for a student ) I will be competing against prodigies (which I am not) So a major orchestra job would be my dream job, but I am trying to form a "Plan B" which at this point would be teaching, doing gigs in different styles and some kind of "day job" maybe not even related to music. I have some cousins that are also musicians, they teach privately, do rock gigs which pay little to nothing, and have office jobs in the insurance industry. They didn't even go to college, but they are smart and bilingual which I think set them apart. Hopefully I can do something like that, but with better paying gigs!

Edited: June 18, 2020, 2:28 PM ·
Hello Paul Deck,

Thank you for the warm welcome!

You make many excellent points which I will for sure consider.

As far as the gap year , I guess in theory I could grow by taking lessons and getting job, I had to live with my parents and I want to get out of the house so bad! My parents are good people. but I am dying to have a little more freedom and more than anything, more space. The only way they'd let me leave the house is if I am pursuing a degree.

June 18, 2020, 3:01 PM · Thanks for your reply Marie, I am a sophomore in high school and am curious about what other people around the same age are playing.
June 18, 2020, 4:11 PM · Marie,

Congratulations on coming so far with your music.

Unlike a lot of the people here, I'm a very late starter who doesn't have a degree in music nor had a career in music. When I was your age I wanted to be a professional cook and I did that for about six years before realizing that I did not want to do that forever. Eventually, after going to college and working I wound up in Supply-Chain-Management and had a great career. I was an amateur violinist with community a orchestra and by accident wound up teaching young people from families who cannot afford private lessons.

You talk a lot about music but, from my experience I would guess you have a good academic record as well. What other subjects do you both like and do well at?

Because I have volunteered with a number of orchestras due to my interest in music I have come to know a lot of professional and semi-professional musicians. I have been told that the life of a professional musician is anything but easy. Rewarding to be sure but the top of the pyramid is very small.

You can combine majors and careers. For example: Laurie (the person who owns this site) is a violinist and a journalist. There are some engineers, scientists, doctors, college professors here on the forum and they don't make their living playing music.

By all means continue to study music and the violin but sample the courses in other fields before making a life commitment.

What I have learned in my over 70 years is that life is going to put opportunities in front of you constantly. A good friend was a concert pianist in his High School days then his father arranged a summer of being an assistant and student for a famous Pianist. At the end of the summer he went to college, majored in chemistry and was eventually CEO of a pharmaceutical company here in NJ. He played piano all of his life but never made a penny from playing the piano. He mentored a lot of people and funded the arts.

Life is an adventure - drink deep of the potential and be ready for a wild ride.

Edited: June 18, 2020, 4:46 PM · "Majored in chemistry!" Music to my ears. :) But, it's not for everyone. Had I majored in violin performance, however, I'd probably be in prison by now, for crimes against art.
June 18, 2020, 4:58 PM · Marie -- don't sell yourself short. You are through all the standard rep pieces now and ready for some of the bigger pieces. Yes, there are kids who are further along, but not by that much for the most part -- just a couple of years or so. And the prodigies don't always continue to do well. Many run in to roadblocks when they get to college. They burn out; they hit musical walls. If you play the pieces you listed well, you are well on the way to where you need to be.

@Xuanyuan -- my son just finished his freshman year, so around the same age as you are. He is currently playing Shostakovich concerto (3rd-4th mvmts) and Bach Sonata 2 Grave and Fugue, plus some ongoing Paganini (currently #18), and some ongoing Sonata projects.

Edited: June 18, 2020, 5:04 PM ·

Hello Raymond Concannon,

I am definitely checking out "state schools". My parents are really pushing to find something "affordable" . It makes sense what you say about choosing a school that has many programs. You're one of the few here that seems to feel a BA in music makes sense. I guess a fear of mine is getting half through a performance degree and what if I'm not successful, or simply don't like the constant pressure of performing very difficult music? At least with a BA in Music, I think it would be easier to change or double major because the required courses such as math, science, and English could count towards other degrees. But some here are telling a BA in Music is designed for those who lack the skills to be a performance major. I believe I have the skills, but performance anxiety is an issue and also simply wanting a broader course of studies, especially since I don;t exactly what I want to do for a "day job" since gigs and private teaching seems so unstable.

June 18, 2020, 5:12 PM · Hello Marry Graham,

My grandfather has made the same suggestion, as he was account and a very successful mariachi band leader in Mexico. He always said" in good times and bad times someone always has to take care of the money." I have an aunt here in the state that does peoples taxes and seems to do really well. It seems really boring to me now,but of course it's a very practical skill which could probably serve me well. Thank you for the suggestion.

Edited: June 18, 2020, 5:25 PM ·
Hello Dr. Bruce Berg,

Since you're fairly close to Dallas and familiar with the string program I'm in, you probably know of my teachers, but I don't want to mention their names on a public forum. Anyways, one of my teachers did highly recommend Baylor, and I had hoped to do a trial lesson on campus but this whole Covid 19 criss messed everything up. I'll apply for sure and hope to do a trial lesson with your colleagues this fall. Thank you so much for the contact information.

Edited: June 18, 2020, 5:42 PM ·
Hello Jocelyn Marrow,

I think I'll always have some connection to mariachi music especially if I stay in Texas or go back to Mexico, which is something I've considered, but I'll leave that for another post.

Yes, having some real skills would be great. Besides playing instruments I am learning to sew, can make jewelry,and my uncle is teaching me about the landscaping business. I'm not sure those particular skills could lead me to the 'American Dream" but I guess it's something.

Good point about the 'elite schools" So many of my classmates have gone on to those types of schools in mostly in music but also other areas. I'm sure the mere name of a school could possibly open some doors. I'm a good student, but my SAT scores are average. But just today I got an email from Rice saying they are no longer requiring the SAT and my violin teacher tells they have "middle class" scholarship and some of their music majors pay comparable rates to those of state schools. Anyways thanks for the suggestions.

June 18, 2020, 6:03 PM · Rice is very, very, very hard to get into as an undergraduate performance major. Like, Juilliard hard. I know someone who got into the top studio on her instrument at Jacobs whose prescreen did not even pass at Rice. There’s nothing wrong with applying to it as your reach school but you should definitely have backup plans in that case.
Edited: June 18, 2020, 6:52 PM ·

Hello Marry Ellen Gorre,

I'm so glad you replied as I have always admired the thoughtful advice you give to the members here.

May I ask, if you feel that a BA in Music is such a "terrible idea" as some here have indicated? I'd like to teach privately, do various gigs, and keep some sort of decent day job. I think I do have the skills to get into most state schools, maybe some of the private ones, and even some conservatories as a performance major. Just the idea of performing in such a highly critical environment sounds like to stressful thing to do for at least 4 years. I want to go college and discover new passions and find myself. I figure if I really like performing, I can do so as a masters level, or maybe that would be too late?

That's awesome that your daughter got into the Jacobs school. I wanted to there to go there, but I'm not sure how I'd do at such a huge school. Best wishes to you both!

I just saw your comment about Rice. Yeah, I would definitely have a back up plan!

June 18, 2020, 7:02 PM · I'm curious if you find your current performing-arts high school environment to be unpleasantly stressful, or if you're feeling like you're handling it just fine. There's a good chance you're overestimating how much more stressful the conservatory environment would be. I'd guess that in some ways that a good conservatory environment would be more collegial and supportive. Violinist at the high school level, especially, can be pretty nasty to one another, but that fades off as people mature.
Edited: June 18, 2020, 7:31 PM · I think in general there are better options than a BA in music. If what you envision is some sort of day career that allows you time and space in the evenings and on weekends to continue playing mariachi and maybe doing some teaching, then a major that could lead to such a career is a better choice, with as many performance-oriented electives as you can fit in. This is what brought Baylor to mind. I have a former student who is finishing an engineering degree at Baylor with a music performance minor, and he is doing very well.

If you are really interested in pursuing a career in performance, then a BM in performance from a credible school is a better choice.

A BA in music is more or less equivalent to a BA in art history, or English, or's a four year degree (and plenty of jobs require just a "four year degree") but it's kind of the worst of both worlds for a musician--not enough to prepare you for performance, but takes up time you could conceivably be using to take other, more future-oriented classes.

Editing to add that a private school will sometimes offer enough scholarships to make the total cost less than an in-state public school, especially for someone from a compelling background.

June 18, 2020, 7:37 PM · Good question Lydia Leong,

I guess I feel OK at school, we have to play in front of the class all the time. My study hall teacher who is the guitar teacher knows I was auditioning for the pop group as a vocalist, he also knows I am very shy, so he encouraged me to sing in front of the study hall, at lunch, in the principles office, in the hallways while he accompanied me on his guitar. It was kind of embarrassing but I got through it and the vocal teacher liked my audition and gave me a spot as vocalist for the group.

So you're right I could be overestimating what college could be like. Maybe this sounds like a bad excuse, and I hate to say it, but sometimes I feel like such outsider or like I don't belong, being that I'm from Mexico, may accent is funny, I say things sometimes that people don't understand. I don't look like the majority of students at the colleges I have visited. I feel like the other students at a college just might think all I can do is play mariachi since I am Mexican. I don't have the early foundation and advantages that so many kids that are born here have. I have been trying so hard to catch up in my academics, English, and of course violin. Plenty of people believe in me, but I feel overwhelmed especially now thinking about college. Like I said , I did trial lessons at quite a few colleges and the violin professors told me they thought I could get in as a performance major, so it doesn't make sense, my fears.

Edited: June 18, 2020, 8:07 PM · Marie, you seem to have a great work ethic and a realistic sense of who you are, and those are two significant advantages over many of the students who may seem to you to be more privileged.

One thing to keep in mind is that when choosing a college, you aren't making a decision for the next four years of your life. You're making a decision for the next one year. Transferring from one school to another is always an option.

BTW there is a word, and it is not a nice one, for anyone who assumes that because you are Mexican, you can only play mariachi. And I'm not going to tell you you won't run into racism at music school, because you will, but your playing will speak for itself. And the better people, the people who matter, will relate to you as a musician and a human being.

June 18, 2020, 9:02 PM · I would add that I would certainly take into account the demographic make-up of whatever school you are considering. You may feel more comfortable at a school that has a greater amount of diversity, especially if there are numerous international students for whom English is also a second language.

I would also look at the culture of the conservatory. It sounds like you would be happier someplace where the culture is supportive rather than cut-throat. I think sometimes that's more easily found among people who are doing the BME (who typically are getting that degree because they love kids, love teaching, and love music, but aren't likely to feel particularly competitive about it), vs though that are doing the BM performance, who may be more likely to view their classmates as future rivals in a very competitive job market (although some studio cultures may be very supportive nevertheless).

Mary Ellen perfectly captured why I think the BA Music is a bad idea.

It looks like your family is full of great examples of people who have meaningful daytime careers, while pursuing professional music on the side. If you like the landscaping business, there are all kinds of related fields you could pursue -- you could study to be a landscape architect, an arborist, a horticulturist, environmental scientist...

Edited: June 18, 2020, 9:10 PM · You've had a lot of good advice so far, without anything jumping out as the perfect solution. It seems that the major theme in the discussion is that you will probably be finding ways to combine music and non-music disciplines first in your academic life, and then when you hit the bricks afterwards.

So, one way to think of that is to start with your current choices, finding ways to keep useful options open. Will a BA in music help you much? Perhaps, since you'll have plenty of space in your schedule for other coursework. But there will be more theory and history than performance in your actual major. That isn't a bad thing-- one guy I know a little did conservatory (or was it a composition major at a university) and then went to law school. Others go into investments, or some seemingly unrelated field. If you are really good at counterpoint and analysis, that level of smarts translates well to all kinds of other careers with a bit of hard work.

Still, some of the biggest successes at keeping liberal arts going with performance didn't do a whole lot of music as such in college. Yo-Yo Ma and James Buswell went to Harvard, but found other things to major in since they were already well launched in their careers from Juilliard. Even if you aren't at their level, you might find that an interesting major with a sprinkling of practical electives, coupled with summer study might make it for you. My stand partner in college was pre-med, and I think a chem major. She went to Interlochen and Aspen in the summers, then did a master's in performance at Michigan. She is now in the Detroit Symphony. She was good, but not an international star by any means in her freshman year.

Another option would be a 3-2 program, where performance is carved out of the rest of your curriculum. Mary Ellen did that at Oberlin, and for all I know Baylor might have a similar deal. If you get generous financial support, that could be an interesting path.

The other way to decide would be to think forward and reason backward. Do you have a perfect job in mind (that would lead you to an equally good job if it vaporized)? What training will that need? How much of that would you need to get at a college/university, how much on the side or in the summers? Or in a professional program afterwards? I don't just mean music, BTW. There are many who would say that you're better off learning accounting after college because by the time you're 22 and well-educated, you can go much farther faster than if you were doing it as an undergrad. Same with business administration. If you aren't especially academic, an undergraduate degree in that might help some. But you're usually better off studying something more rigorous first and then getting an MBA.

Anyway, best of luck. You have some unconventional options open to you, and you seem to have a fair bit on the ball.

Edited: June 18, 2020, 10:54 PM · Baylor, Rice, and the University of Southern California are about 15% Hispanic/Latino enrollment. University of Texas is about 23%. At Virginia Tech, where I teach, and at University of Michigan, it's about 5-6%. (data is from -- hopefully that is a reputable site). The diversity of your peers in college also depends on your major.
June 18, 2020, 10:57 PM · Marie, et al, -
You belong. The Texas declaration of independence was a bilingual document. Tejanos fought at the Alamo, were in the government of the first Texas Republic. The treaty of Guadalupe, which we Anglos did not observe, was supposed to guaranty the rights, language, property, religion of those living in Texas, New Mexico, California.
The leaders of the best Mariachis, like Ruben Fuentes, Nati Cano, Jose Hernandez, have been fighting the public's low opinion of the their social status for their entire careers. As a consequence, they have been pushing the performance quality, technical skills, and sophisticated arrangements to levels unimagined when I started.
How good can it be?
When you have time:

It is perfectly normal to be shy about solo singing. It can be more stressful than a violin solo. You feel naked, you can't hide your self behind the instrument.
I also never considered myself to be a solo singer, did not think it possible, and then I started private singing lessons much too late.

June 18, 2020, 11:34 PM · "I hate to say it, but sometimes I feel like such outsider or like I don't belong, being that I'm from Mexico, may accent is funny, I say things sometimes that people don't understand. I don't look like the majority of students at the colleges I have visited. I feel like the other students at a college just might think all I can do is play mariachi since I am Mexican. I don't have the early foundation and advantages that so many kids that are born here have."

It's OK to be different. And in the end we are, anyways, each our own person and not just a stamp of some stereotype one might make of us as an egoistic limited mental conception. But such stereotypes can be insidious, and we have to make efforts to not fall for them ourselves, in our regard of others, and also not limiting the view we have of ourselves to be through such a perspective, curtailing our opportunities.

June 19, 2020, 3:54 AM · Doubt, and performance anxiety, as you expressed in your first post, are very common. Feeling like you do not belong is also very common. It is all part of being human, but it does not make it any easier. Know that you are not alone in how you feel.

If you approach a bm in violin performance from the perspective of doing it to become a better violinist as opposed to doing it to further a potential career in music, then I think it is a great decision. You will become a better violinist in such a program and thus it will be a success.

Careers in music are difficult to come by. Sometimes it happens, and sometimes it does not. Sometimes it is within your control, and other times it is not. I do not mean to be discouraging. I think you have a good shot based on what I know about your skills. But it is not like going into other fields where there are more jobs.

This being said, there are also many careers in music that you may not be aware of, such as music therapy.

If you do not know what else to do besides music, you could pursue the bm, you could take a gap year, or you could start college and try to find a major you like.

Taking a ‘gap’ year and playing mariachi may not be a gap at all. It could be a career. I am not connected in that aspect of the industry, but I would advise you to be in an area in which it is active. Other people may know the locations, such as LA, or Nashville.

June 19, 2020, 6:50 AM · I "slept" on this and finally what Lydia Loeng and Mary Ellene Goree are saying about the BA in Music is making sense. I'm still not sure which way to go, and my mom and dad told I'm stressing out way too much, and which ever direction I go, I could always change or find a way to make which ever direction I work for me.

Stephen Symchych- Thank you for the advice. That's very interesting that Yo-Yo-Ma didn't do a music major. I had know idea!

Joel and Ray- thanks for affirmation. I have been told that my feelings of not belonging have a lot to do with my age. That's a normal phase. Hopefully I grow out all these securities sometime soon!

Micheal Berger- thank you again for your thoughtful advice. I wouldn't get much support for a gap year here at home. Some of my cousins did that and some are 30 and over with no college degree. They seem to be doing OK, but my parents see that as a failure.

June 19, 2020, 7:06 AM · 16 is pretty much the definition of the "age of uncertainty." Yes the decisions before you will be hard. Agonizing. But you have what it takes. You're going to do well. So if you get a couple of years in and you find you want to be on a different path, that's going to be possible -- for you -- because you have a strong personal foundation. Sounds to me like your family did very well bringing you up. I know you are grateful to them, looking backward. But you also shouldn't underestimate the value of that upbringing going forward either. All the things you have been doing -- including landscaping, by the way -- will be wellsprings of strength and versatility.
June 19, 2020, 8:56 AM · I think the advice Paul Deck gives in the previous post is the clearest and the best of anything I've seen in this thread. He cuts through a lot of confusing details and lays it out clearly with one sentence, "You're going to do well." That's it in a nutshell. Take a deep breath, do the best you can, have a sense of humor about all of this, and enjoy the ride.
June 19, 2020, 9:49 AM · I agree with Mary Ellen and Lydia. The BA will not be a good choice for you since you wish to up your performance skills. Every BA string player I heard at Baylor suffered from a lack of practice time. You will have the same problem, if not worse if you double major, unless you are academically super superior.

By the way, the key to success in the performance area is to work consistently, meaning 50 weeks a year. I have had some enormously talented students who did not, and they didn't have a hope in the long run for a performance career.

June 19, 2020, 9:59 AM · I am not a violinist, but chose a life as self employed visual artist.
I just wanted to say not to base your decisions on fear.
Insecurities and difficulty handling critiques are universal.
Like everything if you put yourself in the situations that bother you, over time in general, the discomfort recedes.
You seem like the kind of person who will do well whatever you decide.
Go for the most ideal options, then see what the financial picture is.
Avoiding debt does allow one freedom.
But you have many skills and supportive parents, that’s huge.
Edited: June 19, 2020, 11:34 AM · continued--
A major center for Mariachi in the USA is near you: San Antonio. Mariachi as an music ed. option in the public schools started there in the early 1960's (Not in Mexico!)

I would agree with the others about the BA in music being less useful than the BM. The same is true for all the BA in the humanities, arts and social science departments. In the USA those majors are so heavily loaded with general ed. and "breadth" requirements that to get a marketable job skill in their specialty, students feel obligated to add on the master's degree. That is less of a problem with the B.Science or B. engineering degrees. And I have heard that the equivalent British and European degrees don't do that. At my school so few students voluntarily chose to major in those newly invented politicized sociology and interdepartmental majors, that to keep those faculty employed, they added on a required upper-division package of those courses.

Edited: June 19, 2020, 1:01 PM · >He said if I decided to study something outside of music altogether, I would have less scholarship opportunities.

You don’t need to play the violin to get a good financial aid package. A number of universities now have financial aid calculators online that estimate how much you could get in grants, based on your family’s situation. It can be a substantial discount on tuition, room, and board.

I agree with others that a BA in music may not be a good fit for you, unless you have a specific passion for music theory or music history, and you love writing about them.

Also keep in mind that it’s often harder to switch into a BM than a BA. If you do a BA (whether in music, biology, or economics), it’s very hard to keep up your chops unless you’re enrolled in a performance program or minor that provides some structure for practicing.

College classes and activities are more time-consuming than high school. I have friends who entered college as pretty serious violinists (enough to also consider conservatory) and decided to major in something else while hoping to keep up music on their own. Many of them stopped practicing, even those who took lessons. They sounded better as high school seniors than they did as college sophomores.

Edited: June 19, 2020, 12:49 PM · Joel wrote:
> I would agree with the others about the BA in music being less useful than the BM. The same is true for all the BA in the humanities, arts and social science departments.

It is not true that a BA in other majors is less useful than the BM, unless you're talking about someone whose only goal is to perform and teach music full-time. I think Marie is seeking to explore other fields for a day job.

Jocelyn Marrow's post about developing your skills within your major is worth reading. It's not necessarily what you major in, but what you make of your major. Choose your coursework and summer internships strategically and you can become employable in a job with a good salary and health insurance. A BA (in a field that you are interested in) usually provides more flexibility in doing this than a BM.

June 19, 2020, 12:49 PM · Depending on the school, you might be eligible for a music scholarship even without being a music major. A former student of mine--a solid player but not at the Texas All-State level--got a music scholarship from the University of Alabama, and in return for that he was obligated to play in their orchestra and (I think) take private lessons. This is only likely to be an option at schools with an overall weak music program.

I just realized that you are a rising senior. You should know that many of the best schools and programs you might be considering have a pre-screen video audition requirement which is typically due in November or December. You need to be looking at the specific audition requirements for any schools that interest you right now, and working on your audition program.

Edited: June 19, 2020, 1:30 PM · This is such a beautiful threat. It has been forming the beginning of a "bio-movie" in my mind, but one that will not be ready to write for years to come. It demonstrates participation of our "regulars) at its very highest standard. I hope that Marie continues to visit here from time to time so we can follow her progress.

I have hesitated to add anything because I could not think of what I might say that had not already been said and that might be helpful. But then I realized that I just might:

My grandson (a life-long musician: keyboards, "plucking"and voice) graduated from high school in 2011 and matriculated at University of California Santa Cruz that fall with a major in Environmental Science. Start of his 2nd semester he had switched to a music major. But music and people he met sort of waylaid him into forming a band that started out performing locally "for hamburgers" (as their publicity stated) and when the violinist in the band graduated (violin performance) 4 of them went on the road as a band ("Steep Ravine"). My grandson continued to pick up college credits when and where he could (especially at The JAZZ SCHOOL INSTITUTE in Berkeley, CA and some colleges in San Francisco) until he took a serious look at the hard life he was living (4 guys (some with bad habits) in a $500 van, sleeping together in a cheap motel room, or sharing a house when off the road) AND he realized that if he could pack all his college credits together and worked really hard he could get his degree in one more year. So he found a school that would accept all his credits and in autumn 2018 he entered THE NEW SCHOOL a university in downtown New York City. And, so just one year ago, at age 26, he finally got his BA with courses in exactly what he had grown to want during the 8 years since he graduated from high school.

THE NEW SCHOOL was founded at the end of World War One (1919). It has evolved into an amalgam of 5 or 6 colleges and universities. Unfortunately it is very expensive, but it does offer financial aid. It has dormitories for its students. Part of its music department is MANNES SCHOOL OF MUSIC, a top conservatory (one of three I know of in NYC, possibly behind Julliard and Manhattan School of Music (where I had my last 2 years of violin lessons and music theory)).

June 19, 2020, 2:47 PM · Mary Ellen's comment about the typical (almost universal?) and impending pre-screening audition deadlines -- yes, that's really what motivated me to suggest a gap year. And if Marie is not already preparing these audition materials, that causes me to ask whether her current teacher is the right person to help her through this.
Edited: June 19, 2020, 4:51 PM · I wish I had time to comment to everyone that has responded today, but yes I am working on audition material now as we speak : )
June 19, 2020, 7:05 PM · *phew* that's a relief. And you don't need to feel compelled to respond to everyone individually. Sometimes a general response to the broader themes of the discussion is useful to know that the individual who made the original post has not entirely disappeared, but you've already gone way beyond that.
Edited: June 20, 2020, 6:27 PM · Thanks again everyone for the very thoughtful advice. I still don't really know which direction to go (BA/BM performance or another major/minor) I got a little time to think about, but meanwhile I'll be working on preparing the best audition I can, bring up SAT scores, applying to colleges and doing the best in my academic when school starts. I will be doing some violin camps (virtually) next week through August, so I maybe a bit busy to come back and reply for quite awhile. I just wanted everyone here to know that this is a fantastic community and thank you for welcoming me.
Edited: June 22, 2020, 9:58 PM · Dear Marie
I totally see your love for music and your economical situation.

Let me tell you my story very concisely.
Not good enough to go to Julliard.
Didn’t have money.
Go to small college. The music Dep. was surprised to see me and gave me scholarship.
( other kids sent in supplemental application to music dep to get in but as a new immigrant, I didn’t even speak English well)
Didn’t know of such thing as supplemental application.
I just went to school that gave me more financial aid. But it changed to higher dollar amount Scholarship once music dep discovered me which was a better deal.

Continue to study piano and violin with scholarship.
But ended up majoring in Science.

Now very comfortable life.
And support local youth orchestras where my kids play.
Go to concerts.

When my professionals get together most of us are trained in Classical music or our children play classical music so we have a nice home concerts.

What I would like to convey is that, music career is tough, unless you are at international level already, try to have a back up.

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