Tough question

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by bigaggietrumpet, May 2, 2004.

  1. bigaggietrumpet

    bigaggietrumpet Mezzo Forte User

    Jan 23, 2004
    Nazareth, PA
    Ok, here's one for you music majors and such out there...

    Currently, I am a mechanical engineering major. But the problem is that I'm also currently hating it. My senior year in HS, when I had to decide what my major was, it was a very close race between mechanical engineering and majoring in music. Being the stupid highschooler I was, I figured that I didn't want to be a high school band director and wanted to make a decent living, so I went with engineering. However, I've recently done some soul-searching, and realized that maybe a music major might be a good idea. Does anyone have any advice, suggestions, helpful stories, etc? I could really use some help.
  2. uatrmpt

    uatrmpt Piano User

    Nov 29, 2003
    First, it might be helpful to outline my major history:
    Fall 2001: entered college as a history major
    Sp. 2002: became a music ed major
    Fall 2002: was still a music ed major
    Sp. 2003: became a history major again
    Fall 2003: changed schools and became a music ed major again
    Sp. 2004: was still a music ed major
    Fall 2004: will continue to be a music ed major

    You can see my road to where I am now has been long and circuitous -- sometimes you have to wander a bit before you settle on the right path. Being a music major will be very tiring, frusterating, exciting and disappointing all at once....especially the first two. You really have to love what you're doing. You have to be thinking about music 24 hours a day to do it. You'll have to put up with a lot of stuff you don't want to do in order to do what you want to. There's a lot of back biting and such among music majors, but there's a bond in the school of music like there is with no other major. Can you see yourself in your current field in 30 years? Is being happy in your job more important than your salary? Do you want to do the same thing every day, or something new all the time?

    Lots of things to think about.

    PS: If you're going to change, do it yesterday! The longer you wait, the longer it take you to graduate (since that one class you need to graduate is offered only in the spring of odd numbered years and the only professor that teaches it will be on sabbatical in this sequence so you'll have to wait until the next sequence to take it!). Trust me, it sucks being a junior in freshman classes.

    MUSICandCHARACTER Forte User

    Jan 31, 2004
    Newburgh, Indiana
    One of the main components of being a Licensed Mental Health Counselor is that we have to be well trained in "Career Counseling." So realize I have my "therapist" hat on while answering this question.

    First, you spend a great deal of time at your job. Most people work 40 hours and week and 50 weeks a year. That is a lot of time if you do not like your work.

    Of course the opposing view is that you must make enough money to be comfortable -- and relatively happy. I can tell you that people who make big bucks are often miserable. They get into the "got to work" so I "can spend more money" so "I will be happy" trap. It doesn't work.

    One of my favorite career counseling books is titled, "Do what you Love, and the Money will Follow." The title kind of says it all. The point is if you love your work, you will have a tendency to work harder at it, and therefore get better and eventually make the money necessary.

    Write the advantages of the BEST job you could get with an engineering degree vs. the BEST job you could get as a music major and then compare them. Then write the disadvantages of worst job you could get with an engineering degree vs. the worst job as a music major. Now compare them.

    I have found that money is necessary for comfort in life -- but not fulfillment. Also look around at jobs you may not have considered before. At Texas A&M, you might have already looked at being a military musician or a military engineer -- but these are examples some people overlook.

    Lastly, look at a compromise. Something like majoring in music and minoring in math, computer science, physics, etc. Or minoring in music as an engineering major (harder to do probably).

    What would your really like to do? Be a college professor in music -- you will have to consider graduate school. Factor in post-graduate education.

    But in the end, if realistic, people get the most from life when they work following their hearts. I knew a very well reviewed sculpture. He worked hard and made great works. They never sold -- why? He was not realistic. He thought his works commanded top dollar -- and maybe they would have. But he never thought he might have to start lower and work up! He never let "lessor" galleries show his stuff and sell them for less and was depressed because major galleries wouldn't take his stuff. Unrealistic. Didn't Maynard play with Stan Kenton?

    I also know a marvelous engineer in our church who designed a new bridge that crosses the Ohio from Indiana to Kentucky. One of those modern cable jobs that looks like a sailing ship. Amazing. Everyday he is reminded that HE designed that bridge.

    Make those lists, and carefully weigh things out. Ask friends and family what they think. Discount opinions of people who are money hungry -- they are driven by only one motive.

    Then make your decision and do not announce it right away. Pretend to ask yourself the questions others will ask. "Why did you change your major?" "How come you didn't pursue music? -- you were so talented". If you can answer the questions that come your way satisfactorily, you will be confident you made the right decision.

    Normally about now I ask for $120. :shock: This one is on me :D

    Therapist by day
    Musician by night .....
  4. kdawg

    kdawg New Friend

    Nov 19, 2003
    i've been closely associated with college my whole life (my mom's a college prof.). Most students go in undecided, and those who go in decided, end up changing majors at least once. Changing your major should be as easy as telling your advisor, in fact, you probably should have done that right away. If you're already registered for next year, things can be changed. The only drawback is that you might end up adding a year to college because your switch will be to music. Most music programs i've seen (especially ed) tend to go on the 4.5 to 5 year length. Some colleges also require 4 years of lessons and being in band. Changing majors is a very easy thing to do, especially if you don't like your current major. who wants to spend the rest of their life doing something they don't love to do?
  5. interfx

    interfx New Friend

    Jan 18, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    I too had the same decision you're now challenged with... I was a Mech. Engineering major - but also carried 6-8 music credits per semester all through college (even including while I was co-oping. Made my semesters carry 20-24 credits - but was well worth it. I used to joke that music was what I did in college, engineering was something I just sat through the classes...

    Now fast forward 21 years, I made the right decision for myself. Stayed with engineering, and have lived in 4 states, and found a really interesting thing... Every place I have moved, I end up finding a local community band, and before you know it I'm playing in local jazz groups, local bands, lots of weddings, etc. Turns out my "day" job pays for me to move to new places, allowing me to play my "night" job of what I enjoy. I now have kids in elementary school, and usually hook up with the elemntary school teacher, who is always interested in someone to come in every few months. I bring my trumpets, and the kids have lots of fun, listening, talking about trumpets...

    This is just my experience, but ou might find the same thing listening to other's experiences... Also turns out I find lots of trumpet players, who had to make that same tough decision...

    Good luck...


    Also, BTW Engineering will also pay you enough to buy some of those great new trumpets (Taylor, Eclipse, ...) out there...
  6. djm6701

    djm6701 Pianissimo User

    Hmm... tough question. Although I like what I am doing now, I find that many of my colleagues at work (in a non-music field) love it way more than I do (note the like/love difference). I have a stable job with a good salary that allows me to do music on the side at the moment. If I had the chops to do music full-time then maybe I would go for it.

    By the way, Jim Fox - Kenton's band was hardly a 'lesser gallery' :D
  7. stewmuse

    stewmuse Pianissimo User

    Apr 28, 2004
    NW Chicago
    Another question to consider is WHY is your current major making you unhappy? Is it becuase it's hard? Boring? Too competetive?

    Music is too... if you're actually doing what you should be doing. A LOT of music majors I came across (back in the day, 1983 - 1995, no those aren't typos) :D , were folks who really didn't belong. They were in music because "it's fun." Yes, for them, probably so. But most of them were terrible players or terrible in the classroom. Not all, certainly, but LOTS.

    Music is HARD, primarily because of the hours involved between classes, lessons, and ensembles (and a job if you have to go that way). Plus, you can never really say that "I've done enough" because there's ALWAYS more to work on.

    Yes, it can be very enjoyable and rewarding, but don't go into it because it's "better" than another field.
  8. dcstep

    dcstep Mezzo Piano User

    Nov 27, 2003
    I highly recommend a double major. Depending on the two majors, it'll take from one semester to two additional to fit everything in. Select one major with your heart and the other with you mind. Later in life, if you're lucky, they'll cross-polinate and you'll be doing something you wouldn't have dreamed of as a high school senior.

    Don't anyone tell me this is too hard. College is hard work, no matter you major. It's all about treating it as a job and scheduling time to do everything required. Realizing that you'll take a little more time to get through will take some of the pressure off.

    The major that you pick with your mind must still be something of interest. You can't force yourself to work hard at something you don't like. Realize that you're actually creating your own major by combining two. Don't worry that you may not have practical application for both immediately upon graduation, but something will develop over time.

  9. FreshBrewed

    FreshBrewed Mezzo Piano User

    Nov 11, 2003
    Houston, TX
    Here is a suggestion. Go and find a middle school band program that runs for part of the summer. Talk to the director about helping out with the trumpet students(some directors love this because they are understaffed). At the end of the summer you will probably know 1) If you have the patience for school kids and 2) Whether or not you really enjoy teaching as much as you do playing. I did this exact same thing and stand by my decision to not be a teacher. I DO NOT have the patience to deal with parents who think the horn makes the player and think their child should be first chair because they own a BACH. Just my $.02.
  10. trumpetpimp

    trumpetpimp Piano User

    Dec 6, 2003
    A friend of mine started taking engineering at McMaster University and last year switched to come study music with me at University of Toronto. She hated her program and loved music but made her choices for the same reason you did. Money and stability. She also has it harder because she plays euphonium. There aren't a whole lot of euph jobs in this part of the world. The UK is a different story but here in the Great White North.... :-) She switched to do what she loved because she had to.

    I'm in a similar situation. I love classical and jazz and auditioned for both at university. Here's my timeline.

    Spring 2002: Auditioned for jazz performance and classical performance. Leaning towards jazz at the time but still loved classical. Got into classical "common year"(that means they expect you to go into education or history in second year). Spent first year doing all the same courses as the performance guys.

    Spring 2003: Re-auditioned for classical program. Played great but didn't get in. Not too sure why.

    Fall 2003-Spring 2004: Spent another year doing all the courses with the performance guys when I should have been taking courses towards a music history or music education degree. I considered applying to composition but decided against it, not because I didn't feel I was competant but because what interests me compositionally is not what interests the university.

    Spring 2004: Decided to follow what I should have been doing all along and re-auditioned for jazz. The audition went well but I won't know for a few weeks if I got in or not.

    It's been a tough 2 years of switching programs and not knowing if I was a good enough player or if I should quit music or what. Now I know I need to do jazz. I still love classical but I know it's not my calling. Even if I don't get in at U of T, I know what I want to do and I can apply somewhere else.

    It's a journey and sometimes it's a real bitch getting there. Surround yourself with friends, do your best, and let us know how it turns out. :wink:

Share This Page