Tuesday 26th June

Ask a Musician

"I'm finishing high school this year and I'm trying to decide what to study in university. I really like music and I'm am thinking about choosing it as my major. What are some of the things that I should consider before I decide?"

CSO Cellist Naomi Hnat: 

This is a great question and one that I'm sure the vast majority of Year 13 music students have to grapple with. There are quite a few things for you to think about before you enrol in a study programme at university. Here are the ones that I've found to be the most useful things to consider for my own tertiary education journey.
Firstly, have a think about where you see yourself (musically) in four years' time. What do you want your musical day, week, and year to look like? Do you see yourself practicing/composing/rehearsing/performing/researching music for most of the hours of each day, week in week out, or doing something else with your time and keeping music as a serious hobby? Also, think about your highest level musical dreams and ambitions that you might want to achieve over your lifetime. For example, do you want to be able to play in a regional orchestra or an international orchestra? Do you want to put on one or two lunchtime solo recitals in Christchurch each year, or do you want to be a touring soloist or chamber musician? Once you have some idea, ask yourself how intensive your music study programme needs to be in order for you to fulfill those dreams. If you are highly ambitious, then a focussed music pathway should be taken of course. But some people find that studying a really interesting other subject at uni while doing music on the side can be really rewarding. If you do take music at university, have a good think about which university to choose and why their programme is special to you. It will also pay to have a lesson or two with the relevant instrumental teacher there, as that can have a big influence on your uni experience.
It is also a great idea to find musicians who are doing something with their lives that you like the look of, and asking them how they got to where they are. Most people are more than happy to be approached by a student about these things, and you might be surprised by some people's answers! What I found useful was also to think about what I wanted my day-to-day uni life to be like. You can compare it to the subjects you currently take at school. Some people like to have a balance where they choose to take subjects that cover the arts, sciences, social studies, and languages, etc. But there are others who would prefer to take subjects from one or more narrow areas instead. What do you prefer? If there are other subjects offered at uni that you are curious about, look at their first-year papers and see what the compulsory textbooks are. Then go to the uni library and skim through those books to see what the subject is all about, or even sneak in and attend some lectures - you're allowed to for most courses.
Lastly, goals and aspirations change all the time, and you shouldn't worry about what would happen if you one day decided to change career paths. I personally can't think of any friends who decided what they wanted to study in Year 13, followed through with that exact degree throughout uni, got a job in that area, and are still working in that career without having changed their minds in some way! But you can't go too wrong if you follow your interests.