Big Decisions – Part 3

Part 3: My advice

Should you major in music at a conservatory?

If you are certain that all you want to do with your life is music, if you have an abundance of raw talent and potential, and if you understand the challenges that come with a music career, then going to a conservatory as an undergraduate might work well for you.  It is inspiring and motivating to be surrounded by talented musicians and instructors.  However, the more competitive the school, the fewer performance opportunities the undergraduate students get, and it’s easy to end up blending in with the scenery.  For some students it might be better to major in music at a university with a strong music program, and then go to a conservatory for your master’s degree.

If you’re not sure, and if music is not the only thing you can imagine doing with your life, don’t limit yourself.  There are plenty of universities that have great academics as well as wonderful music programs.  If you do decide on a music career, where you earned your Master’s Degree is more important than your Bachelor’s.   (More info here:  What does an Operatic career look like?)

You’ll have plenty of time to focus solely on music in graduate school, if you decide that’s the path you want to take.  Especially for opera singers, there is no need to rush!!  Your voice won’t even be mature until your mid- to late-twenties, so there is plenty of time to get a solid education before focusing on music.  Trying to do too much before you are ready will only lead to frustration and rejection.

Finally, understand that a career as a musician takes a while to establish, and you’re probably going to need some kind of day job to get you there.  While you are in college, try to get some work experience that will be helpful.  A part-time office job on campus is a great place to start.  Try to work your way toward a steady day job that will pay enough to support your budding music career.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that going to a conservatory as an undergraduate is a bad idea.  For a lot of young musicians, it’s the right choice.  It’s just not the best idea for everyone.   Consider all of your options and choose what feels right for you.

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