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Music Application Essay

BuranriBuranri 121 replies36 threads Junior Member
edited October 2012 in Music Major
Hey all,
Sorry for the stream of threads :p I'm aiming to get all my applications done this weekend, so that's a lot of questions.

Anyways I'm working on my essay for the music application at CU-Boulder, and I was hoping I could get a better response here than in the essay section.

Here's the prompt:

Part II: Essay
In an original essay (1 page, double-spaced) tell us why you would like to be a music major, describe your most powerful musical experience, and list your future goals as a musician. Comment on your musical background and share anything else you would like us to know. You may substitute an essay written for application to CU-Boulder if you wish. You may use the space below or attach the essay with Part I of the application.

And here's what I've written so far:

In June, 2011, I left home and flew to Spokane, Washington to begin a month that would change my life forever. In that one month with the Spokane Thunder Drum and Bugle corps, I learned more, saw more, and experienced more than I had throughout the first sixteen years of my life. I learned how to endure heat, lack of sleep, and uncomfortable gym floors. I learned how to push myself to perfect every detail I could perfect.
That summer was what truly transformed me into a different than I was my first two years of high school. Until my sophomore year, I had never been in band. I had never performed musically, never competed. I wasn't particularly athletic, and I wasn't heavily involved in any clubs. Music gave me a direction for my energy, and corps gave me the mindset. It is a mindset of perfection, and of giving 100% to everything you do, not just music. That is why I want to be a music major - to continue that pursuit of perfection in what I love to do. I want to be a music major to perform, and to expand even farther into different realms of percussion. I want to teach high school lines, to try to introduce them to what changed my life.

And... that's it. I feel like the transition is really awkward, but I'm not sure where else to go. It needs to be a page, so there's more to come.

Basically, what I'm asking here is - will this work? Should I build off this, or go for something new? Thanks! (This is my last thread! Maybe. Probably not.)
edited October 2012
19 replies
Post edited by Buranri on
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Replies to: Music Application Essay

  • stradmomstradmom 5076 replies51 threads Senior Member
    In paragraph 2, I think you accidentally deleted "person" after "into a different"

    My best advice is always to be more specific - give specific examples of how this experience changed you. I think you've got the bones of a good essay, and you just need to fill it out.
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  • spunk61spunk61 48 replies0 threads Junior Member
    I think where you're going with your essay is good but maybe briefly talk about what happened musically before June 2011. I would also show it to your English teacher before you send it off. Good luck!
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  • Singersmom07Singersmom07 4214 replies82 threads Senior Member
    Agree you have the bare bones of a good essay. Are you applying for Music Ed or performance? The teaching angle just sort of dangles there. There is a big difference between performing and teaching for applications. If you are applying for music ed you need expand the discussion of how the teacher touched you and what you have done already to work with students to pass on on your passion. If you are applying for performance, it is superfluous.

    Be more specific on what touched you to change you. Music is more than performing. The music itself should move you. When you get to be a music major, performance is only a small percentage of what you will do. Studying music, its structure, history, nuances and practices consume the majority of your time. You need to convey that all of that consumes you too.

    Good luck and best wishes.
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  • BuranriBuranri 121 replies36 threads Junior Member
    I'm applying for performance.
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  • compmomcompmom 11031 replies78 threads Senior Member
    I sometimes tutor students, and often tell them that some college application essays are not creative writing exercises. The schools really want to know the answers to these questions. I think you need to write more straightforwardly. Pretend you are talking with a friend or friend's parent who is asking you some questions, and write down what you would say in that conversation:

    1) So, Bunrani, why do you want to major in music? ("I am hoping to major in music because....")
    2) Did you have any really powerful musical experience(s) that inspired this path?
    3) What do you want to do in the future, after getting a degree in performance?
    4) Can you tell me what you have done as a child and teenager in terms of musical background? (Include all musical activities and studies?; you can also write about musicians who have influenced you etc.)

    Then conclude with "I really hope to attend xxxxxxx music school in order to realize my goals of xxxxxxxx.

    As they say, "just the facts, maam."


    p.s. I followed the questions: In an original essay (1 page, double-spaced) tell us why you would like to be a music major, describe your most powerful musical experience, and list your future goals as a musician. Comment on your musical background.....
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  • spunk61spunk61 48 replies0 threads Junior Member
    I just printed out your response for my daughter compmom, thanks!
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  • VMTVMT 1195 replies16 threads Senior Member
    Under the category of why you want to be a music major, perhaps it would be good to think about where you want to be in 10 years, what are the different things you can see yourself doing and being happy with, that would tie back to the music degree. I know that seems like a dry way to answer the question, but thinking about that might give you something else to write about it. Also, you mentioned teaching in 1 sentence. I think it does beg the question, why aren't you looking at music ed. Maybe you don't want to throw that line out there without thinking about that first.

    These prompt are difficult because most people don't like writing about themselves as much as they enjoy writing about someone or something else. My son (freshman composition student) was this way. He could easily put together an essay discussing some aspect of music, but struggled to talk about himself. With this type of essay, he tended to talk about what motivates/inspires him as a composer.
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  • BartokrulesBartokrules 214 replies5 threads Junior Member
    Your essay spends too much time discussing atmospherics as your motivation rather than performing music. Stick with what Compmom outlined for this prompt.
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  • cookerdeecookerdee 25 replies3 threads New Member
    Great responses! I am so glad this is behind us (at least for now), but I agree that compmom's outline is brilliant, use it.
    But all last year I wondered about these essays. How much difference do they make? If you have given the school a musical resume, they know your background. Without trying to open a huge can of worms, I guess my question is, how much time should an applicant spend on the music essays (or the common app essay if the school uses that)? Some kids (my D might be in this group), worry an inordinate amount over the essays...hours and hours spent trying to make it perfect...time that probably should be spent on perfecting the audition repertoire instead. If (as I came to believe) the 15 minutes auditioning is perhaps the most important (some have said the only) part of the application that matters, what weight does the essay have, and how much time should one spend on it?
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  • BartokrulesBartokrules 214 replies5 threads Junior Member
    I can only speak from the composition standpoint. Oberlin Conservatory did not use the Common Application. Instead it used an online application used by several conservatories. There was a generic music focused question about what would you do in life if for some reason you could not do music. My son spent quite a bit of time on this essay. The essay question on which he spent the most time was the composition focused question regarding his own compositional voice and his influences and discuss all of this in relation to his compositional influences with reference to specific pieces. Since he submitted pieces, a letter from his private composition teacher, and had an interview without an instrumental audition, I think the composition focused essay was very important in the process.
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  • VMTVMT 1195 replies16 threads Senior Member
    I think it depends on the school and the essay question. I agree with Bartokrules in that the essays that were music specific (beyond "why do you want to be a musician") probably do matter to a point. Two of the stand alone conservatories my son applied to asked what I would consider to be more interesting questions. He was interviewed at one of these and was specifically asked about what he wrote in his essay. I believe his composition portfolio mattered most and the words enhanced his story.

    Other schools asked the more typical questions (pretty much what compmom outlined). My sense is it is not necessary to present some very unique story. I would say there are 3 purposes to the essay:

    1. They want know who you are beyond what they see in the music resume.
    2. They want to know you have some sense of what the school is about and how your specific goals tie into the school.
    3. They want to make sure you can communicate effectively.

    I don't want to downplay the importance of the essay. But, I think a school has a lot of information beyond the essay that probably trumps it.
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  • BartokrulesBartokrules 214 replies5 threads Junior Member
    A great essay will most likely not rescue a so so audition or portfolio. A poor essay might put a bit of tarnish on a great audition or portfolio. Enough to change some minds on admission? That would depend how close to the admit/deny line the person is.
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  • stradmomstradmom 5076 replies51 threads Senior Member
    I agree with Bartokrules. My impression has always been that the essay is there for the nonmusicians on the admissions committee, so they have something tangible they can evaluate.
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  • BuranriBuranri 121 replies36 threads Junior Member
    Eugh... It's difficult to answer, considering I don't plan on a career in music. Should I focus more on why I want to study it in college, rather than what I want to do after college?
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  • compmomcompmom 11031 replies78 threads Senior Member
    Buranri, Yes you can write about why you want to study it in college and focus less on music career goals. And remember that goals in music do not have to be vocational. You can also write about how you might want to continue playing after you graduate, and that music enriches your life etc.

    I looked at the BA in music program at UC-Boulder (assuming that is where you are applying) and they have an intro that emphasizes that the BA allows students to major in a second subject and clearly they know that a student in their program may have other career goals. It is fine to write about that, too. But focus on music and don't expand too much on the other paths.

    So you can change my outline. As they put it in the question, write about your FUTURE GOALS AS A MUSICIAN , in the context of uncertainty about whether you will make a career out of it. You can indicate that you would love to work in music but if that does not work out, you want to do music outside of work, or something like that.

    Here is some text you wrote previously, in this forum, that actually answers the question more than your first essay attempt does, and I am editing a little here. This would not be a finished essay of course, but gives you more material and substance, especially about the activities you have already been involved with, and things you want to learn. I think this text demonstrates that when you are actually "talking" with someone, whether online or in person, you generate good stuff, but you are freezing up because it is an "essay." So write the essay as if you are in a conversation with someone. Imagine yourself talking to that person and answering the questions.

    Here is what you have written on the forum before:


    I'd really like to continue playing a lot of music for at least a few more years (maybe change this to "many years"). After I graduate, I'd very much like to continue playing music. However, I don't really see myself in a music career, 100% due to financial reasons. I grew up with my dad working for the government and Boeing as a programmer, so pretty comfortably. While obviously there are exceptions, I don't think I could find a job that would give the same benefits as another field might.

    My plan is to start off as a music major, and ( explore other areas as well). The ideal situation would be I find something that sparks my interest, and I end up double majoring in that. In a perfect world, it would be a career that I could work music into, but I'm not sure how many of those there are.

    (I might also be interested in a double major, which may be) challenging, but also doable.

    I like to play a wide variety of percussion, so I'd like to do as much of that as possible. I mean currently I'm involved in corps, marching band, indoor percussion, wind ensemble, jazz band, and learning some solos, plus doing a percussion ensemble (concert percussion) in the winter. I also want to learn more theory and composition, as I love writing in spite of having no training in it. I think a music major would let me do as many different types of music as I can, more so than just lessons. (THIS LAST PARAGRAPH IS GREAT)
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  • BuranriBuranri 121 replies36 threads Junior Member
    Updated this a bit. I still need some more material to make it a page, but thoughts?
    I currently play a wide variety of percussion, and I want to do as much of that as possible in college. Currently, I'm involved in corps, marching band, indoor percussion, wind ensemble, jazz band, and learning solos, plus arranging a percussion ensemble piece for a winter concert. I want to learn more theory and composition, as I love writing in spite of having no training in it. I think a music major would let me do as many different types of music as I can, more so than just lessons. The most powerful experience I've had was marching with a drum and bugle corps in the summers of 2011 and 2012. Before I joined drum and bugle corps I was not an extremely intense musician. I had joined percussion ensemble that school year, and only played drum set for an extra year before that. I had dabbled in guitar for a few years, but was never serious about any instrument. After I spent my first summer with Spokane Thunder, I knew that I wanted to study music. I spent that month on the road, living in buses and sleeping on gym floors, with no responsibilities except to rehearse and perform, and when I got home I only wanted to go back and do it again. I want to be a music major to do exactly what I do every summer. I want to rehearse, perform, and expand the range and ability of my percussion knowledge. While I don't know if my career after college will involve music, I do know that music will be part of my life for a long time.













    In an original essay (1 page, double-spaced) tell us why you would like to be a music major, describe your most powerful musical experience, and list your future goals as a musician. Comment on your musical background and share anything else you would like us to know. You may substitute an essay written for application to CU-Boulder if you wish. You may use the space below or attach the essay with Part I of the application.
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  • compmomcompmom 11031 replies78 threads Senior Member
    This is excellent!

    Is this one page, double spaced?
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  • BartokrulesBartokrules 214 replies5 threads Junior Member
    Your life will always involve music, just maybe not as a profession. This is much better.
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  • BuranriBuranri 121 replies36 threads Junior Member
    It's probably about 3/4 of a page, unfortunately.
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