What It's Like To Be A Musician But Not A Music Major

music notes


Since I was about 12 or 13, I always said I wanted to be a singer. I wanted to be famous. I wanted go out and be the next Adele or Demi Lovato or whoever was famous when I as young. I took countless piano and singing lessons throughout my middle and high school years and dealt with two teachers throughout my music career. I did chorus, band, and musicals in middle and high school. Gavin Degraw went to my high school and everyone thought I was going to make it as a musician and become a big star like him. Well…I’m not.
I didn’t want to make music as a career anymore. Having heard the stories about the “starving artists” who worked their butts off to try and make it in the industry and never do kind of scared me off. Sure, there were those that wanted try and put me on American Idol or The Voice, but I’m just going to get blown away by people who are way better than me.
When Disney World still had their American Idol thing three or four years ago or so, I went to audition. Basically, if you won the entire thing, show and all, you would win a pass to go to the front of any American Idol audition. After I auditioned, the lady who was my judge told me, “You sounded great. You did a great job. We would love to put you in the competition…if you auditioned earlier in the day.” Well, sh*t. It was about 3:00 p.m. when I auditioned, but I kind of knew I wasn’t going to make it past the audition stage regardless of whether I was “good” or not.
Maybe I have a fear of competition; the fear that there will always be someone out there better than me. Even now as a Broadcasting major, there will always be someone out there who has done so much more than me and is so much better than I am. There’s going to be the person who has the perfect demo reel, a top notch resume, and can say they’ve been a producer since their sophomore year or an anchor since their freshman year. It’s about the same as someone getting a solo in the chorus every year since freshman year and another person not getting a solo until their last concert their senior year.
Regardless of the competition I have to face, I love both broadcasting and music dearly. Broadcasting was my career path, but music had been my passion for so many years. Giving it up now would be a waste.
For a while, I thought strongly about minoring in music. After some time, I gave that up and never declared it. I took only one music class during my time in college and only got a B in it. Also, there’s so many concerts you have to attend and you can’t get private lessons unless you’re in one of the choruses. I was in the “community choir” for like one day and then dropped it because I just didn’t like the atmosphere – the songs were all crazy religious and the people in it were really weird. Also, the choir was once a week from 7-9 p.m. Do I really want to sing my heart out on a Monday night once a week? No.
The biggest problem with having the Music minor, however, was the balance. If I focused all of my time on my minor by doing these choruses and going to all these concerts, I wouldn’t have any time to focus on my major. I wouldn’t have time to learn more about what I want to do for a living. I would be stuck dwelling on dream that wouldn’t come true in a million years.
For now, I’m singing and playing piano just for fun. Once in a while I’ll go out to an open mic night and perform, but most of the time I would be singing for an audience of one: myself. I’ll find a piano that’s either hidden in my residence hall or in one of the academic buildings and just play. Music is not something I have to force myself to do. It’s a way for me to relax. It’s something to unwind and look forward to after a long night in the studio or a day full of classes and projects. What’s the point of relaxing if you’re so caught up on trying to make it perfect?
For someone who wants to pursue in career in music, it’s all a matter of luck. Even if you do try to put yourself out there, whether it’s performing at bars or putting videos of yourself up on YouTube, the chances of actually getting discovered and getting a record deal are one in a billion. If you are set on making a living in the music industry, that’s fine. Just know that even if you get a college degree in music, you still have just as slim of a chance to make it as someone without a degree.
If you don’t want to pursue the music dream, that’s fine too. You can always utilize your skills by playing your guitar out in the quad to attract a crowd or by taking up a music room by yourself to play your heart out to some sheet music you bought or an app on your phone. You can also see if you can participate in any music groups and organizations on your campus. If the group requires an audition to get in, give it a shot. If you get in, great. If you don’t, don’t be discouraged. There are probably other groups on campus that will take you in.
Regardless of what direction you take with music, don’t let it break you down and cause you to stress out. You wanted to be in involved with music in the first place because it was fun, right? So have fun with it.

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