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Very unhappy in music performance.

bigdreamer95bigdreamer95 6 replies3 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 9 New Member
Note: I am keeping my information as vague as possible to avoid identifying myself. It is also very late at night here,Mao I apologize for poor organization!

The end of my second year at a very good music school is coming to a close. It was my dream to come here, as music was my life in high school. Performing made me feel special, and I was great at it! Looking back, every competition was filled with crippling nerves, but the constant affirmation made up for it. I've struggled in music school so far. I failed a core class my first semester, and barely passed piano. I also struggled with suicidal thoughts throughout my freshman year and finally sought counseling near the end. While I struggled in core music classes, might I add, I finished all of my general education courses with high grades.

Performing is not fun for me anymore. I dread practicing, my lessons, and performing. I try to perform as little as possible. I try to tell myself that if I practice more often and more effectively, I'll enjoy myself more, but it doesn't seem worth it. Music does not feel important to me anymore. I am perfectly happy with not practicing for weeks over breaks. I always have to force myself to practice. I do not care very much about a lot of important details. I do not think I love it as much as my classmates or as much as I used to. I get very annoyed listening to people talk about music. Overall, my quality of life is awfully low. I am pretty sure that I do not want to live the life of a performer, and have been reassuring myself all year that I only have two more years before I can quit music forever.

I have been talking about my feelings with my parents since last year, but until recently, they'd been pretty set on the idea that I would get out of my "funk" and that I am definitely meant to do music. Mind you, performing was my dream, and I spent years of high school getting them on board. While I had considered transferring schools before, I had brushed off the idea because I knew that most of my music credits would not transfer, and I really wanted to graduate in four years. I am now unsure whether this is a good reason to stick with music. If I am truly unhappy, why should I continue to waste my time and my parent's money? I do not have a large scholarship, and the money that I do get is not based on musical merit.

I stopped seeing my therapist because I was not making very good progress, and actually felt fine for a while, but I am noticing depressive habits creeping back. I go days without showering or cleaning, and I have been sleeping long hours but still struggling to get out of bed. Part of me is considering taking a semester to a year off to get myself together emotionally and to decide what I want to do. Part of me is thinking that I shouldn't give up on what had always been. Y dream too soon, and another part of me is thinking that maybe switching majors out of performance will help me feel better without taking time off.

If I do decide to change my major, I have to decide if I want to stay where I am, or if I want to go to school in my home state. Going to school at home would probs ly be cheaper, but I hunk that I would have to take even more classes/ time to graduate, whereas I could probably finish a BA in another field in 2-3 years of I stay here and do summer semesters. I really dislike the city and the few friends I have here, but the idea of starting over completely and losing even more credits than I will already is sickening.

I am so sorry for this long rant. I think I am looking for input. Do you think I should stick it out with performance, or should I leave if I think that I am unhappy? If I change majors, should I go back home? Should I take a year off or try to finish a new major in two years? (I have AP credits and general education classes done).
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Replies to: Very unhappy in music performance.

  • bigdreamer95bigdreamer95 6 replies3 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 9 New Member
    Also note that I typed this on my iPad, and am noticing some pretty gnarly typos! I promise I know how to spell!
    --> I might also note that I don't feel that I am growing very much intellectually as a performance major. I find myself wanting to read, write papers, and engage in intellectual conversation. I also want to have a stable career in which I can make a name for myself, and fear that by staying in music I will be behind all of the people that are already working towards success in the field that I may ultimately want to end up in.
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  • woodwindswoodwinds 584 replies17 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 601 Member
    A performance degree in music is a real specialty, one that only those who are absolutely sure they want the life of a performer should get. And it is not necessary to study peformance, or even music, to become a music performer.

    Can you get a BA at your current school? Usually an English degree does not require many credits. Music majors (education or performance) normally require far more credits for the BA or undergraduate degree.
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  • compmomcompmom 10579 replies76 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 10,655 Senior Member
    Are you being treated for depression with medication? It is possible (from your description) that your loss of motivation in music is rooted in depression. If the depression is treated and/or lifts, then you would be able to assess whether you want to continue in music with more clarity.

    That said, it is fine to switch majors, switch schools, whatever you end up wanting to do. Again, I think depression makes these decisions difficult. It sounds logical to stay where you are if you can finish more quickly in whatever major, but if there are compelling reasons, financial or emotional, to be closer to home, then an extra semester or two is worth it.

    Many musicians who did not even major in music manage to continue to grad school, or to perform, and there are many ways to have music in your life throughout your life. Perhaps you are just growing up in a way that makes you question former assumptions, and it is good for you to know that life is flexible :)
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  • cellomom6cellomom6 544 replies29 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 573 Member
    I agree with compmom. Have you seen a psychiatrist? Or any doctor to see if you need medication. And have you looked at other ways to use music for a degree that isn't performance such as education or music therapy or you could drop performance and do an academic music degree.
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  • lcoulter32724lcoulter32724 140 replies3 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 143 Junior Member
    edited April 2015
    I hope you are getting good treatment for depression. This is such a major issue for college students today especially. I'm not sure why but it seems the number of students I hear of who are having mental health issues is higher than ever. I am glad you are getting therapy, please stick with it!
    That said, changing majors in college, even when you are so sure you know what you want going in, is so common. I wish more students realized this fact. Its probably much less common not to change majors. I speak as someone whose oldest D switched from music performance at an LAC with a music school which functions much like a conservatory. And it took her dad and I very much by surprise and took some adjustment in our own thinking / perspectives. Wasn't this the girl who traveled to Europe to sing in an opera program? Hadn't she been talking for years about performance? But it wasn't right for her anymore, she didn't want to perform or to teach music.
    Finding the right major took some experimentation on her part, and we have been helped in that by good financial aid so her extra year in school won't be the financial hardship it might be for others. Unfortunately that's not always the case, but one good thing to recognize is that many ( perhaps most) career paths don't care about what the degree is in, just that you do have a college degree.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is, trust yourself, trust your instincts, and try to be gentle with yourself as you continue in the process of discovering what you truly want out of life. We all are on that journey, and the right answers often change over time.
    edited April 2015
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  • glassharmonicaglassharmonica 3298 replies53 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,351 Senior Member
    edited April 2015
    I agree with everything above. 1) you need to be in good treatment for your depression, which is absolutely not your fault, and which is something that you are better not handling on your own. 2) your unhappiness with music performance might be exacerbated by the depression. It's a classic symptom of depression that you would stop enjoying the things that make you happy. 3) but your depression my be exacerbated by your position, being stuck in a program that isn't making you happy. It's like snake swallowing its tail.

    With regards to switching your major: as mentioned above, many many many people change their focus in their late teens and early 20s. Some do it many times. In an academic LAC or university it would not raise any eyebrows if you switched majors from English to bio to psychology to legal studies and back.

    A performance degree is more of a pigeonhole-- you put so much work into getting where you are, so it seems like a betrayal of yourself not to continue. But, in reality, it's no betrayal to allow yourself to explore the wide world of options. Even if you don't go on in performance, all the work you've done and all the learning you've achieved will undoubtedly inform and strengthen your future career, whatever it is.

    One of my daughters studied music very seriously but changed her focus due to an injury. It was very difficult to let go, but she could not be happier with her new focus--and she often cites the habits and knowledge gained through her music education as being the foundation of her current career.
    edited April 2015
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  • momsingsmomsings 804 replies3 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 807 Member
    It is possible that your feeling so stuck is causing the depression and not the other way around, but I don't know. Either way, getting help from a professional that you like and who works well with you is essential. Also, really and truly, it is more than OK to change your path.
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  • musicamusicamusicamusica 6388 replies80 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 6,468 Senior Member
    edited April 2015
    "Be kind to yourself, and patient." THIS

    Just know that plenty, if not most, people do not pursue the path that they imagined themselves on in HS. You are learning and growing. Maybe you have learned that music performance is not what you imagined it to be. That's OK. Keep talking to your parents. And get some third party help in the form of a counselor or therapist. Transitions are tough for everyone involved. (ESPECIALLY tough for parents :-SS )
    edited April 2015
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  • bigdreamer95bigdreamer95 6 replies3 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 9 New Member
    I opted not to go on medication after meeting with the psychiatrist at my school. I feally didn't like the counseling department at all and so I quit going altogether. I think that I will return, however.

    I think that my feelings about performance are justified and not clouded by my mental state. I know that I want stability, that I want a family, and that I am a nervous wreck befor performance and feel empty afterwards. When I imagine getting out of performance, I imagine a weight being lifted off of my shoulders. At this point, I'm not sure if I want a career in music at all. I'd love to live in a major city and be able to buy season tickets for the opera, but I don't think I want to live the lifestyle of being onstage. I'm over 90 percent on that. I will drive myself crazy. I am not interested in teaching music, and I perform much better in non-music academic courses (theory and ear training are my worst classes by far).

    I'm glad that my parents have come around, but now I'm on more of a time crunch as the semester is ending, and a lot of classes I might need for a new major will be filled. Then what if I decide I do want to be in music after all? It is a really difficult decision when you've worked so hard, and you're in one of the best places you can be for what you want to do, but you are so unhappy.


    Thanks so much for he great advice and kind words. It helps so much.
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  • cellomom6cellomom6 544 replies29 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 573 Member
    Why did you decide not to do medication? Was that your doctor's opinion or yours?
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  • musicamusicamusicamusica 6388 replies80 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 6,468 Senior Member
    Ask your psychiatrist to recommend a therapist as well. They can give you some strategies for working through this transition. Good luck.
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  • bigdreamer95bigdreamer95 6 replies3 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 9 New Member
    After much discussion with my parents, we determined that I would go home instead of continuing in summer school here for the summer, and that I would try to apply for transfer for fall of 2016. (So essentially I'm taking a year off to get myself together and to take some more academic classes before trying to transfer as a junior). I am nervous because I do not know if I will graduate in 2018 or 2019. I have to remind myself that this isn't a race.

    However, with the decision made, I am awfully nervous. While staying here and switching majors saves time, my parents are pretty against it from a financial standpoint. I do not care too much for this city, but as I look at recent graduation photos from some of my friends, I get sad about the idea that I won't be sharing that experience with my class. I know that that's a silly reason to stay somewhere, but it makes me scared.

    Also this might be TMI but I just started my period for this month and am now wondering if this is just a major life decision that I've been allowed to make while PMSing. Granted, I've called my parents crying and telling them I wanted to come home almost every week for the past year and a half, and I've been looking forward to quitting and fanatisizing about getting injured in such a way that I cannot perform anymore. I'm just nervous as I've decided to walk away from everything I know. I'm excited and nervous about moving back home. I think I might need it, but what if I decide it was a mistake later?
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  • compmomcompmom 10579 replies76 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 10,655 Senior Member
    Some of us have kids who have done this, and believe me, it really can work out so that you are on a better path. It isn't easy, necessarily, but in the end this kind of change can be worth it. Congratulations on your resolve and bravery!
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