What Makes a Good Music Student?

If you’re thinking about attending music school, you should be aware that the study of music is a highly competitive field. Before you invest your time and money in a music education, it is a good idea to think about whether you have what it takes to be successful in this area.

Basic Skills for Music School

Music classes at the college level move rapidly. It is assumed that the entering student has a solid grasp of the fundamentals of music, so introductory material is covered quickly. Some of the basic information a music student is expected to know includes:

  • Key signatures
  • Key relationships
  • Elementary principles of form
  • Written intervals and triads
  • Technique
  • Articulation
  • Long tone
  • Rhythmic values
  • Treble and bass clefs
  • Major and minor scales

All music students, regardless of their primary performance medium, are expected to possess vocal and keyboard skills. Singing and playing intermediate-level keyboard music is often part of the audition process for attending music school.

Students studying music at the college level have typically already spent years singing or playing an instrument. Most have taken private lessons, since it is very difficult to get the experience required to pursue a career in music simply through participating in band and choir programs offered by a high school.

Personality of a Successful Music Student

While it is important to have the basic skills needed to be successful in the study of music, you must also possess the right personality type.

  • Creativity: A music major must be extremely creative. Students are often expected to write their own music for performances or to provide their own unique interpretation of a classical piece. Many students also work with people who are studying drama or dance as part of their training.
  • Persistence: Being a successful musician requires many hours of practice, which often comes at the expense of other hobbies and interests. Music students have very little time for socializing, since they spend most of their free hours practicing for their next performance. If you’re not willing to commit to this schedule, music school will be very difficult.
  • Dedication: A musician always wants to improve his skills. He is constantly seeking ways to further his mastery of the craft and understands that criticism of his performance is simply part of what it takes to refine his natural gifts. He is not deterred by friends, family members, or acquaintances who say it is too difficult to make build a career in the music industry.
  • Patience: Studying music is a process; you can’t expect to play an instrument or sing at a professional level overnight. If you get frustrated easily, music school might not be the right option for you. A musician can’t give up whenever he is rejected for a gig or struggling to master a new piece of music.
  • Passion for Music: Obviously, a passion for music is a necessity for anyone who is interested attending music school. Having a true love for what are you doing will give you the strength to overcome any obstacles that you might face along the path to graduation.

Making the Right Decision

If you’re not sure whether music school is the right choice for you, consider speaking with some students at the school you wish to attend. Ask them what classes they took to prepare for music school, what they are enjoying the most about their education, what challenges they’ve faced, and what they hope to accomplish when they graduate. Although you can find a lot of information about a school online, student input often gives you a more realistic view of what life is like when you’re enrolled in a particular program.

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