By Marty Wimmer, Program Host on Classical 94.5 WNED & Public School Music Teacher
I was a music major in college. My bachelor's degree is in Music Education with a piano concentration. Coming from a rural town and being first-generation college, I was woefully unprepared for music school. Fortunately, I was a hard worker, and with the help of some good professors, I was able to overcome my deficiencies and graduate successfully. Sadly, several of my cohorts weren't as lucky.
If you're a high school student planning to major in music in college, there are some things you can do now to help you succeed:
1. Academics: No matter what you major in, strong academic skills are helpful. Prospective music majors should try to do well in all subjects areas.
2. Music theory, Music History and Ear-Training: You should have a basic knowledge of music theory, music history, and ear-training upon arrival at college. If these aren't offered in your high school, find a tutor and a good textbook to study. There are also some great music theory websites out there that are both interactive and fun, such as www.musictheory.net. Also, make sure you know how to read in both treble and bass clefs, and how to play all the major and minor scales on your instrument.
3. Basic piano skills: Most music programs require every music major to pass a piano proficiency exam before they can graduate. Many students find this extremely difficult. However, piano skills help in every aspect of music school and life as a musician. If you aren't taking piano lessons, you should begin right away. It will save you lots of time and stress in college.
4. Major Instrument: Most music programs require you to major in one specific instrument, i.e. voice, clarinet, piano, trumpet, violin, etc. If you aren't currently taking private lessons from a reputable, qualified private teacher on your major instrument, you should do so. He or she can help hone your technique and prepare you for what lies ahead on your specific instrument.
5. Listen to good music: Listen to Classical 94.5 WNED as much as possible. We play great classical music 24/7. You'll hear how to pronounce the names of composers, performers and pieces of music - which will make you look pretty smart in front of your professors and fellow students. In fact, this was the ONLY area in which I felt prepared. I grew up listening to classical music on the radio and it turned out to be a tremendous help in ALL of my music classes. Good luck to you as you study music. My years in music school were some of the best years of my life!