Like all university degrees, there are going to be some disadvantages to taking Music. As I described in my last article, 5 Reasons that Taking a Music Degree Rocks, I learned a lot during my music degree. However, there were some unexpected drawbacks.
I’m going to share five of these with you. Some may seem obvious – they certainly feel that way to me now that I have graduated! But they are definitely aspects to consider carefully before choosing your degree. So here are five surprising drawbacks universities don’t tell you about being a Music major.
1. Every university has a completely different music course
This was probably the most eye-opening drawback. It just so happened I was very lucky that I got into a university that suited me down to the ground. However, if I was a jazz musician I would not have enjoyed it so much. This epiphany also saved me from taking a music degree at Cambridge, which is what I had previously strived for. If I had I would barely have done any performance, which is my specialisation.
My advice to you is: take a very good look at what your favourite universities actually offer on their music courses before you make a final decision. There is not much point going to a university with very little recording equipment if you wish to be a sound engineer or they don’t teach any relevant modules!
2. Each university caters to certain types of musicians
Leading on from the previous drawback, you will learn very quickly that different types of musicians succeed at different universities. This is not simply in terms of what instrument you play either. Some universities encourage all-roundness in a student while others cater to a high-intensity environment where practising an instrument for six hours a day is imperative. Have a read of testimonials from students on university websites, and make a note as to what kind of music student they are, and whether you think you will fit in.
3. Music degrees can actually restrict you
They say you find yourself at university, but if you are not careful, you can head out the other side of a music degree doing exactly the same thing as before you started. While it is important to improve on your current knowledge and abilities, universities will not teach you new things unless you choose to look for them. It is completely down to you in the end. I knew lots of people who never stepped out of their comfort zone in my music department.
4. Universities vary hugely on how submissions are assessed
While this may be true in other subjects, Music is one of the most subjective degrees you can take. Most of my submissions at university were based on recitals and performance, and my marks were not rigid in terms of assessment. There were several examiners marking at once, however some were not experts in the repertoire I was performing. This happens across the board in Music degrees, which can be quite an uncomfortable experience, and is one of the main flaws of majoring in Music.
5. Your degree does not guarantee you a job in music
While this may seem obvious to some, I was quite oblivious to this drawback to begin with. There is a lot of responsibility on those who take a Music degree, in terms of what happens after you graduate. I would not say it is a gamble being a Music major, but you must be aware that only you can get yourself a job after taking it. Moreover, you are likely to get a job in a different field. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is definitely something to bear in mind.
So those are the 5 most prominent drawbacks I noticed about graduating with a Music degree.
There are always going to be drawbacks to majoring in any subject – some people would even argue there are drawbacks to going to university full-stop! These drawbacks to getting a Music degree unfortunately are not going to disappear any time soon. Learn from them and do your homework before choosing your university.
While you are doing your degree, learn and take part in as much as you can. Once you have finished your degree, your path could go in any direction. It is not a lost cause like the media tend to portray! I currently have a very stable job teaching music after less than a year of searching. While Music degrees are definitely not a guaranteed route to a steady job, it is certainly not impossible for a Music graduate to find one either.
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