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bassoon and clarinet

lisarx60lisarx60 Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
I have a junior in high school who is proficient in both clarinet and bassoon and can't decide which for college. Any thoughts? Is it really possible to pursue both?

Replies to: bassoon and clarinet

  • gibbygibby Registered User Posts: 10,500 Senior Member
    edited February 2017
    Welcome to College Confidential!

    You and your high school junior are doing things BACKWARDS. They should NEVER make a decision based upon what they think colleges will want or how it will look on their application. Instead they should make a decision based upon what instrument they like (and play) BEST. If s/he likes (and plays) both instruments equally, then they should say so in their college application. If they like (and play) one instrument better than the other, they should say that too.

    The reason: Students and parents cannot predict the institutional needs at Harvard (or an other college). For example, Admissions might need clarinet players the year your child applies to college -- good for your child! Or, Admissions may have admitted a large number of clarinet players the year before your child applies to college, and does NOT need any this year -- bad for your child! Ditto with going down the same road with the bassoon. It's all unpredictable, and you and your child need to embrace that unpredictability and stop trying to control an aspect of the application process that you have absolutely no control over.

    While your child might be able to pursue both instruments in college, s/he should NOT make that decision based upon how it looks at paper to colleges -- as most times that approach backfires.



  • JHSJHS Registered User Posts: 17,952 Senior Member
    If your child plans on being a professional musician, and perhaps enrolling in a conservatory program for college, I expect that he or she will have to make a decision on which instrument to focus and which should be set aside as an occasional hobby, at least for a while. If that's your child, you are asking this question in the wrong forum, because it is extremely unlikely that your child will be going to Harvard, or even applying there. Harvard does have a joint program with the New England Conservatory, but I think it is not frequently used, and if your child is of the caliber of the people in that program, (a) you already know it, (b) your child already knows which instrument, and (c) your child probably already has an agent.

    If, on the other hand, your child is the sort of person who does go to Harvard -- i.e., a great student who may also happen to be a good musician -- then there's really no need to choose one instrument or the other for college. All instruments are going to take a back seat to other pursuits. You can only play one at a time in any orchestra or chamber group, of course, but that will probably be dictated by the needs of the group and your child's interest in playing with the group. Someone can play one instrument with one group and another with another. Harvard doesn't have musical performance majors, so there won't be an issue there. I'm sure you can take lessons in more than one instrument, but if you want to take lessons in more than one instrument in the same semester you may run into practical time constraints. (My wife took lessons in three different instruments at a Harvard-like college, but not at the same time.)
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 9,774 Senior Member
    You can pursue both in a BA program, whether majoring in music or not. But in a BM program you need to choose. I suggest the music forum here on CC (under majors). And read the "Double Degree Dilemma" posted there, written by David Lane.

    A few perspectives from personal experience. One, the double degree program seems well used to me. Two, many conservatory-level musicians attend Harvard (and some transfer from places like Juilliard).

    Harvard increased focus on applied arts in recent years. Credit is available for lessons and for performance in certain ensembles, orchestra, glee club etc. Check the music department page. Many classes also have a performance component. I believe Harvard is considering a performance certificate, since their offerings match those of Princeton and other schools which do offer one.

    Harvard's music major means 50% of classes in music, which appeals to those who were also looking at conservatories because it is higher than the usual 25%-30% but with gen eds, that means fewer electives. It is good to look at these things.

    Some very talented musicians don't even major in music but go on to work or grad school (in music or not).

    It is fine to play both instruments and if at a high level will be very useful to the Harvard Community. If possible, participating in a conservatory prep program can be helpful.

    Again, look at the music forum which is a very supportive community here on College Confidential.
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