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Composition vs Performance

rerionrerion Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
edited April 2008 in Music Major
Our daughter is a Sophomore currently in a composition curriculum. She is at the point where she will need to declare a major and has been considering switching to cello performance. She is an excellent cellist and is attending on a talent scholarship so she is capable of either major.
We are looking for any input regarding pros and cons of the two majors.
Areas of concern are graduate work possibilities (she is considering graduate work in conducting), future employment, graduate scholarships, and anything else we may not have thought of.

Post edited by rerion on

Replies to: Composition vs Performance

  • binxbinx Registered User Posts: 4,318 Senior Member
    My S was in a similar situation in HS. He ended up choosing to apply as a performer, reasoning that it would be easier to switch to composition later, than go the reverse. He also considered majoring in horn, then going on to grad school for composition.

    However, he has found some time to study composition in school as a non-major, and that has been enough for him. (He is performing his own composition this weekend at a public concert.) He will continue his instrument in grad school. He actually found that he thinks he likes the teacher who teaches comp. for non-majors better than the ones for the majors. He gets more freedom, because there is less of an agenda.

    His primary goal is to become an orchestra member or soloist. By majoring in an instrument, he will get the degree orchestras are looking for. He will always be able to continue composing.

    If your D has access to private teachers for cello, and is happy with her progress in both fields, then she may not need to do anything different. If she thinks she may want an instrumental career, switching majors might allow her to get deeper on the cello. (At some schools, majors get better teachers, or longer lessons, and are held to higher standards).
  • violadadvioladad Registered User Posts: 6,645 Senior Member
    My son is versed in composition, but has no desire to compose. His Muse is performance, and he will continue to pursue performance as a grad student.

    However, he devours full orchestral scores. He reads them like novels, but studies them like texts; if he chose to change his focus to conducting at some point down the road, it would not come as a surprise.

    binx's closing paragraph sums it up. Unless she has a burning desire to go one way or the other, she may be fine as is as long as she continues to progress and develops as a performer.

    I would also have her seek the opions of her advisor, professors. They may have valid input and observations regarding her potential in either discipline.
  • cartera45cartera45 Registered User Posts: 12,442 Senior Member
    It's kids like yours that will be scaring mine in theory class! I hope they like to tutor.
  • operahornoperahorn Registered User Posts: 104 Junior Member
    One thing I'd like to add: as a performer, I think it can make a difference in a composer's ability to write playable music if he/she has real experience as a performer.
  • rerionrerion Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    Thanks everyone for your feedback, we found your stories and experiences very helpful in discussing the options with her. In the meantime, she had the opportunity to speak with several people on the "inside" of some of the selection processes that go on in a professional orchestra and a couple of things came out repeatedly. One is that, for conducting, a strings performance background is the preferred choice. That is to say a performance degree would generally be preferred over a comp degree and a strings performance degree in particular. Also, when it comes to choosing candidates for auditions, performance majors will get the audition before comp majors. So it sounds like a performance degree would not hinder composing opportunities as much as a comp degree could hinder performance and conducting opportunities. Anyway, the final (for now) decision is to switch to a performance major. And possibly more important than any of this, she likes performing better than composing. Thanks again for your thoughts on the subject.
This discussion has been closed.