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Music (Performance) and Neuroscience: Double Major

raneutralraneutral 0 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
Somehow during the past three years of high school, I developed a passion for learning and science. Neuroscience appeals to me greatest because it sort of encompasses a lot of subjects I already found most fascinating. The issue is not that I don't want to abandon music while I pursue a STEM major, but rather the opposite. I can't give up being a "scientist" while I go farther down my path as a musician. I thought my interest in the piano would decrease, but it only grew, and I can see myself as a performer.
Having a passion for both, I was hoping pursuing a double major would be a solution. (I refuse to be a music minor.)

Many universities with great music programs, also seem to be highly competitive academically (eg. John's Hopkins, Vanderbilt ), which makes this more difficult because my academics don't stand out that much. In the case that I go to an in-state school, I would want to transfer out to a better music school as soon as possible. To note, I'm most interested in the Jacobs School of Music.

Lastly, I am aware these are very rigorous subjects, and after I start, maybe I will want to drop one and focus on the other. I am also aware how EXPENSIVE this is, especially based on my academics, which is unrealistic without scholarships.
Right now my ACT is 30, and my unweighted GPA is 3.72 and weighted is 4.2. I'm kind of relying on my extracurriculars here.

Based on my situation, any input on how to go about this, and places or programs that may be good for be will be incredibly valuable.

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Replies to: Music (Performance) and Neuroscience: Double Major

  • compmomcompmom 10762 replies76 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    First, I suggest you read the essay entitled "Double Degree Dilemma" by David Lane, posted closer to the top of this forum. It is not just about double degrees but instead about all the different ways to study music. You might want to consider a 5 year double degree rather than a double major.

    Another option might be to study neuroscience for a BS and continue piano.music via lessons, extracurricular playing and electives. In that case, it might be better to find a school that does not have a BM music degree (there are exceptions, like Oberlin, but in some schools the BM students will get the better teachers and opportunities).

    You might want to look at Oberlin since they recently enhanced their BA/BS program.

    Chances are your state may have excellent neuroscience and music programs (depending on the state!).

    Most BM programs don't allow much room for study of another subject intensively, though there ARE people who have done double majors. It might be better, however, to think of a double degree with that extra year to fit it all in.

    Keep coming back- and read the essay :)
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  • akapiratequeenakapiratequeen 1015 replies34 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Eastman/U Rochester is a good one to consider if your music is at that level. I know of a couple of kids doing this exact thing.
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  • compmomcompmom 10762 replies76 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Here is Eastman's neurosicence http://www.sas.rochester.edu/bcs/neuro/

    Vanderbilt and Johns Hopkins have top neuroscience and musicas well. Some schools don't have undergrad neuroscience, btw. Or have it a a minor.

    Bard does not have neuroscience, but Oberlin does, and Oberlin would be a great choice for either a double degree or BS. https://www.oberlin.edu/arts-and-sciences/departments/neuroscience

    Check out Lawrence http://www.lawrence.edu/academics/study/neuroscience

    At Ithaca and Lewis and Clark, neuroscience is a minor: http://www.lawrence.edu/academics/study/neuroscience

    U of Hartford (Hartt Conservatory) has neuroscience for grad only.

    Check out UCLA. The music there is a BA but resembles a BM and they have neuroscience that is well-regarded.

    As you know Indiana has Jacobs and neuroscience https://neuroscience.indiana.edu/.

    There are all top schools. I think it is fine to apply to them but also apply to some less competitive programs that you would love to attend. And, again, many state schools will fit the bill.

    If you are an accomplished musician, the audition will help and your academics may very well meet baseline. If you apply to a BS program, make sure to submit a music supplement with recording, music resume and letters of recommendation.

    Good luck!
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  • SpiritManagerSpiritManager 2819 replies66 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Just a slight correction to @compmom's thorough post above - Bard does offer a neuroscience concentration which is quite interesting - Mind, Brain & Behavior: https://mbb.bard.edu/

    The Mind, Brain, and Behavior (MBB) concentration seeks to understand how humans, animals, and robots are able to acquire, represent, and use knowledge. The discipline combines the insights from several other fields, including neuroscience, computer science, psychology, linguistics, animal behavior, genetics, and philosophy, to work toward an understanding of the brain and the mind. The MBB concentration is a secondary field of study that requires a student to complete a major in a primary discipline.

    MBB is not merely the intersection of several disciplines; it is really a new paradigm based on the application of wide ranging methodologies to understand a core set of problems involving the mind and brain.

    So, I wouldn't rule out a double degree from Bard & the Conservatory - if the OP is of that level musically.
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  • jadedhavenjadedhaven 50 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I have Vandy music major son who wanted to double major. He dropped that ambition fast when he saw the schedule for music majors.

    There is no way possible during your fresh and soph year at Vanderbilt to double major. You may very well take 18 class credits per semester in addition to practice time, tutoring, quintet ensemble and performance schedule just to meet your music major requirements. My son had room on his non-music schedule for German. That was it.

    He knows several kids who are minoring in music at Vanderbilt, but none who are double majors. It just isn't feasible, unless you're willing to spend five or six years in college.
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  • compmomcompmom 10762 replies76 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 29
    Again, either double degree or study neuroscience and pursue lessons and extracurricular music :)

    If you look at schools with flexible curricula, with no or few gen ed requirements, it might be possible to do a double major within a BA or a minor in music.(Oberlin?)

    The BM curriculum is generally pretty intense, as are most sciences....
    edited September 29
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  • MusakParentMusakParent 1002 replies9 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I have a freshman who is pursuing double degree . Right now he is BS VP performing track/BS Comp Sci but it is early days on that. He applied for BM but once he dug into the schedule he switched to the BS (for VP where he is that's mostly dropping some language requirements). He applied to a variety of programs and found the ones that were both the most welcoming to this option and the most flexible were large universities that had a well developed grad music program as well.

    When you are looking at schools, ask hard questions of music faculty. My kid had schools that advertise double degree widely have music faculty tell him straight up that he couldn't or shouldn't double degree. A fair number of double degree students he talked to added them after the fact.

    My kid came into college with 32 credits. He was able to test out of all piano requirements for his music degree. That has definitely given him some flexibility in his schedule. His performance/ensemble obligations are pretty light this year at least but I'm sure that will develop.

    We also intentionally picked a school that if he went an extra semester or even year, it wouldn't break the bank. I think schools are getting stingier with wanting to give aid (financial or merit) for students that would attend for 5 years. Especially if they consider those music students less likely to complete their degree. So that is something else to consider if you get in somewhere with 4 years of merit but you add the double degree. I'd definitely look at performing opportunities in BA programs as well. My kid's university has a performing BA music program as well. Good luck!
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  • MusakParentMusakParent 1002 replies9 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited October 1
    I think Jacobs might be a great fit for this actually. Eastman and Oberlin less so. And that is very direct faculty vibe we got there, so ask the hard questions as you visit. Eastman may allow you to take lessons at the conservatory a bit easier than Oberlin has however as a non performance major.

    I will say the kids we know doing double degree are academic and intense. They are studying/practicing/in class just basically all the time. My kid has been studying through all his weekends so far. He had stats to apply anywhere. But we didn't have an open pocketbook so we found a nice compromise of affordable/decent music/good academics. And an excellent single faculty member who really wanted him. He's in a studio with 2/3 grad students which is an interesting opportunity too.
    edited October 1
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  • akapiratequeenakapiratequeen 1015 replies34 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I agree about Eastman in this case, although they do encourage double degrees and a fair number of the kids do it. It's very intense. The one place where I really think it works is in the BM Music Ed and a second major. This is a 4.5 year program and the student graduates with NY certification. Importantly, the last term is tuition free: https://www.esm.rochester.edu/programs/forte/

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  • MusakParentMusakParent 1002 replies9 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Well what we found is at some schools like Eastman, the university and the music department may advertise and be very enthusiastic about double degree students. But then an individual faculty member might give a very different answer and vibe when asked about it during a sample lesson. That might vary widely by instrument and exact faculty of course. I just think it is worth it to ask because I can't imagine it would be pleasant working with someone for 4 years who resented your 2nd degree.
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  • LendleesLendlees 215 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    My kid was told explicitly at JSOM from the percussion faculty that they discouraged dual degrees even though the school had it outlined in their marketing materials.
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  • bridgenailbridgenail 1034 replies5 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited October 1
    I think the above comments are very good and important by people closer to the process than me. Here are a few extra "observations" (right or wrong).

    Schools are "businesses". So the right hand may be trying to increase applications while the left side only has so many slots and becomes "picky". I would be aware of this dichotomy.

    IU Jacobs is good with some double "majors" but not often double degrees. IU has a BS(OF) in their conservatory that allows extra work in "some" interests (like theater, arts admin, languages). It feels more like a double major. But even while there is a track available, some teachers may not be supportive. Even my D's teacher made a derogatory comment about it once ( a comment like...you know I don't have to accept a BSOF, but I accepted you bc I liked you...it was a type of pep talk...lol). So it can be a case-by-case kind of deal.

    Music (performance) can take an "all or nothing" position on study bc it IS intense and time consuming. However there are teachers/institutions that are more flexible...and yes schools with grad programs may focus less on the UG giving them more flexibility (however my D did not find that she has less attn...she maybe had more than she wanted!). Or maybe an LAC would give that flexibility. To me, it often feels case-by-case...like hitting the right teacher at the right institution on the right day.

    I guess my advice is your BEST self is your TRUE self. We knew that if could be "unattractive" but my kid did it anyway. She also tried a few other performance degree types (MT and Acting) so she didn't look "ideal" in interviews but she still got offers from the right people.

    Addition: The only way to figure this out is to interact with schools and ask tons of questions...like you're doing. Just be careful with assumptions on double degrees that aren't fully vetted directly with the school/teacher.
    edited October 1
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  • compmomcompmom 10762 replies76 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Bard Conservatory actually requires music BM students to do a double degree. So there is support there.

    Oberlin has enhanced its BA in music https://www.oberlin.edu/arts-and-sciences/areas-of-study and has neuroscience as well https://www.oberlin.edu/arts-and-sciences/areas-of-study. From the students I know, double degrees are encouraged there between the Conservatory and college, but also students can double major in the college.
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  • MusakParentMusakParent 1002 replies9 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    compmom wrote: »
    Bard Conservatory actually requires music BM students to do a double degree. So there is support there.

    Oberlin has enhanced its BA in music https://www.oberlin.edu/arts-and-sciences/areas-of-study and has neuroscience as well https://www.oberlin.edu/arts-and-sciences/areas-of-study. From the students I know, double degrees are encouraged there between the Conservatory and college, but also students can double major in the college.

    Oberlin is one where a particular music faculty member said directly they didn't encourage double degree for incoming freshman. Again - might vary by instrument/exact faculty member. But if one of those teachers is weeding applicants on the front end, it's just good to know their attitudes. And this was after both admissions and music admissions were very gung ho about double degree options.

    I think I read somewhere Oberlin may be making some changes to open up options for students like this? My kid doesn't attend Oberlin so I'm not going to speculate!
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  • compmomcompmom 10762 replies76 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Oberlin has already made some changes to enhance programs for non BM students in Musical Studies in the College. They also made changes to the Con.
    https://oberlinreview.org/18596/news/aapr-recommends-structural-changes-to-con/
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