Choosing a Major

For me, choosing a major was both an easy and a difficult decision. I had been playing the cello since I was ten years old, and music was my favorite thing. I played in school orchestra, I started several bands throughout middle school and high school, and music was generally a big part of my life. I also had a lot of other things going on. I had an after school job at a floral shop, that I loved. I was into visual art – painting, drawing, ceramics, and photography, as well as literature and poetry.
During my junior year of high school, I had to decide whether I would audition for college music schools. The audition process happens senior year of high school, for admission to music programs. I remember it being a difficult decision – I knew I loved music, but I also had other interests. I knew that if I decided to pursue music school, I would have to really focus on that goal, meaning increasing my practice time, and having less time for other things. I decided to go for it, because I had a deep love for music, and was intrigued by the idea of entering a college program that would allow me to pursue that love in a very focused way.
I got a new (and more serious) cello teacher. She was a substitute cellist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and she helped me prepare for college auditions. With my parents’ support, I quit my job at the floral shop, and I focused my efforts on preparing for college auditions. Until this point, I had never practiced so many hours, or so intensely, and as a result I ended up getting tendonitis, and having to wear a wrist brace for much of my senior year. All of this – the long hours, the intensity, the injury concerns – was, as it turned out, a glimpse into what life in music school, and ultimately, life as a freelance musician, would be.
I ended up being accepted to the DePaul University School of Music in Chicago, as a cello performance major. I was also accepted to University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, but I chose DePaul because I really wanted to live in a city. The program was “conservatory style,” meaning my schedule was heavy on music classes and light on liberal arts classes. I sometimes wonder if I might have made a different decision if I had been able to choose a major after starting college, rather than before. But these decisions are never easy, no matter when we make them.
How are you going about choosing your major?
by Ellen
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