Music-therapy major clears the air: music majors aren't all struggling artists

Dear Harlan:

I am a longtime reader of your column but have never felt the need to write in until I read the letter from “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” -- the student fighting his premed-focused parents in order to be a music major. As a Music Therapy major, one of my biggest pet peeves is encountering people who equate “music major” with “struggling musician driving a broken-down VW van whom no one wants to hire.” Nothing could be further from the truth. There are countless jobs that you can get with a music degree (some of them paying just as well as a doctor). To name a few: music therapy, music management, education, performance, design instruments, the list goes on. Going into the field of Music Therapy, I will have my pick of job locations; it’s one of the leading preventative and alternative medicines, and there are not enough of us to go around. I have many friends who are on the premed track, so I know what I’m talking about when I say that it is not for everyone. Being a doctor, much like being a musician, is something you have to be passionate about if you want to make it. I cannot imagine a worse fate than being stuck doing work that I hate every day for the rest of my life.

–Singing a Happy Tune

Dear Singing:

I think a lot of students get caught up in The Moving Walkway of Education. As if on a moving walkway in an airport concourse, some students just keep going in the direction their parents or friends happen to suggest. Then, one day, they look up and realize that their life has passed them by and they are in a place they never intended to go. There’s no moving walkway along the yellow-brick road.

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Tags: college, major, music, therapy, yellow-brick

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Comment by Alli Himber on September 2, 2013 at 4:17am

As soon as I saw this, I was hooked. I'm a Music major, and although I want to pursue singing as my career, people always equate me with being a struggling musician as well. They see it as a useless degree, and it makes me pretty offended- music is my life. I always say each and every time- "There are many career paths I can choose to take- A&R, management, therapy, engineer, songwriter, producer, or owner. I have years of experience in a lot of these fields, and my major is one of the toughest in the country. Thanks so much"

Thank you for setting the record straight! My parents always tell me they support me no matter what, and to do what I love. It's hard to break the mold at times, but it's important to do what you love and love what you do. 

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