HS Course Selection: Music Major

<p>Hi all,</p>

<p>Relatively new here and quite early in the process but thought maybe some of you could share your wisdom!</p>

<p>My daughter is only entering the 8th grade but has expressed great interest in either Oboe performance or music education as a career choice. I have expressed to her the intense competition for spots in orchestras and the difficulties inherent in making a living as a professional musician. I have a friend from HS that plays professionally in an orchestra in Minnesota (not oboe), and he has been helpful, although we don't see him that much as we are in upstate NY.</p>

<p>I know DD's choice of major could change many times in the years to come, but we've started thinking about it because her school is already talking about planning out HS course selections. Her school is very good in the music department, and she would be able to take, for credit, wind ensemble, orchestra, Music Theory I and II, Music Theory AP, and several
other courses she is interested in having to do with music. The thing is, were she to take all of these courses, the one year of French taken in JR High (counts as HS credit) would be the only language course that would fit into her entire 4 years of HS! I know colleges like language credits... But here in NY music can count as an Arts sequence that will substitute for the foreign language requirement for an advanced regents diploma... But what would colleges think?</p>

<p>DD has been studying Oboe privately since 5th grade and studies with a retired member of our nearest Symphony Orchestra. Awesome teacher! She played a NYSSMA level 5 in 7th grade and received a perfect score. She's been in many honors bands, etc. Has a wonderful school music program. She will be trying out for the local Jr. Symphony Orchestra in 9th grade, the earliest we can around here. (Kind of rural)!</p>

<p>So, all of you experts out there, what would you do differently/the same if you could go back to 8th grade in preparation for a possible music career and college admissions? Are there certain skills you wished you would have spent more time on to maximize your
college/conservatory chances? Did you think you practiced enough? ;) And specifically to you Oboists out there, until she can make her own reeds and stop begging for her teachers well- crafted ones, are there ANY decent commercial reeds we could use in a pinch? I played clarinet--don't know much about double reeds, but I'm learning!</p>

<p>Thanks so much for helping those of us musically challenged! I can advise on college admissions, but throw music in there and I'm in trouble!</p>

<p>I have an 8th grader-likely music bound and a 12thgrader music bound for sure. I would suggest take higher level courses and the languages for sure. She can do music theory with her oboe teacher. I would make sure she is taking piano lessons at this point. She can also do theory in piano. Some fine music schools want to see those higher level classes. Only a few do not care. In terms of the practicing you want her to take ownership of the idea and you want it to be her idea along with her teachers that she might practice more. Is there somewhere on Sat. she could do Sat. music classes? (Maybe that is when the orchestra is.) Send her to a great summer music camp. And while more practice is almost
always a great idea make sure her teacher is teaching her how to practice in a way that is efficient. While I would like both of my kids to practice more-and they already practice quite alot we also know a teenage girl who has tendonitis from over practice. She is only in high school so it is never too ealry to learn about how to properly take care of your body as a musician. At one of the music camps my older son went to this summer
repetitive injury prevention was a big topic. And take her to a lot of concerts.</p>

<p>Thanks. She has definitely learned to practice more efficiently, big difference from last year. She will definitely take advanced courses, I just wish she could fit the language in with all of the music classes they offer. She is lucky to be at a jr high that has band as a class offered 80 minutes every other day and that will continue in HS. She has her private lessons and school lessons once a week with a good woodwind teacher.</p>

<p>When she gets to high school I would try and get her into a language class for sure. Most of the music schools my older kid applied to wanted to see at least 3 years of a language.
Does your school not have a language requirement? We also are in NYS but I guess it is district by district. You child is lucky you are thinking about these things so early.</p>

<p>I meant to say “schools where my older child is applying.” He has not applied yet but will do so this year.</p>

<p>There is a language requirement of 3 years for an advanced regents diploma, but because they offer so many music and art classes, and the hand book says the state allows it, you can take the equivalent of 5 years of music courses (or art if your thing is art) and this sequence can substitute for the language requirement. She will have one year of French from Jr High.</p>

<p>I would re-examine the sequence to find a way to include the languages if possible, and balance the high level hs courses with equivalent opportunities. As suggested, she can take theory privately with piano, etc. Depending on the hs music program, she could be way ahead of most of her peers – and while that’s valuable to learn leadership, she will also want to surround herself with high level peers in music, which usually means extraneous ensembles as well.
So, for example, if she’s not particularly challenged by one of the hs music courses and can take French instead, then put the equivalent piece in outside the school or via dual enrollment with a college (down the road, eg gr 11) My son received more academic scholarship at a competitive school of music than he did talent, but the two together made his quest very financially attractive. His university “requires/prefers” four years of language study for admission (university of Michigan) even though there is no language requirement in his degree distribution. Degrees from the arts and science college at his school, however, require proficiency in a language to graduate – so getting a dual degree means the language requirement.</p>

<p>I believe most highly rigorous colleges require 4 hrs of language study, so I’d be inclined to ensure she receives it. In our case, we had similar scheduling problems, and resolved same by having him take college and university classes during hs in his areas of intended pursuit (eg music theory, music technology, keyboard/piano and music production.) to do this, in sophomore year, we wrote an education plan and has it approved by his hs counsellor, which then went to the board for approval. We also had to get special permission from the cc, which didn’t normally allow music courses to be taken by non-majors. It was worth the hassle in his case, and I just wanted you to know such options are possible further down the road.</p>

<p>Just an alternative view here. (And what a great school music program!)</p>

<p>First, does your daughter prefer taking music classes over language, herself? What does she want to do? Can you wait a year to think about this, when she is that much more mature and able to decide herself?</p>

<p>Overall, I would think she might benefit from starting with music theory (in 9th grade), in place of language. The theory will increase her understanding and enjoyment of music, and also help her guide future choices. She can pick up a language later, in high school or even college: this choice is not written in stone forever.</p>

<p>Early specialization can sometimes cause burnout, but I think that early exposure to music theory tends to increase enthusiasm for some, especially in high school.</p>

<p>If you have a conservatory preparatory school near you, that is another alternative. The classes there are often much more rigorous than the school courses. Private piano/theory classes might also work. </p>

<p>If the high school theory classes are not satisfying, she can move on to other options, but for 9th grade, the school’s introductory class will give a good basic foundation. Then, after 9th grade, and perhaps after each year, you can reevaluate about the language as well as the best way to learn more about music.</p>

<p>We sometimes used online courses (educere.cet includes Virtual High School and Aventa) for similar scheduling problems at our small high school.</p>

<p>Our musician daughter sacrificed a lot of progress in math to take music theory (dropped both a year and a level). The top colleges don’t care so much, if a personal “passion” was the reason for the choices made. Many top conservatories won’t care either - at least, in our experience. She did well with acceptances.</p>

<p>All of my kids have found the foreign language requirement fairly easy at their colleges, and even enjoyed the courses, which were run differently than high school classes, with more conversation. </p>

<p>So…the lack of language study would be a problem only for schools that are rigid with required HS classes. This tends to be state schools, and even they may have flexibilty. Privates often use discretion and are more “holistic” about admissions.</p>

<p>Once your daughter is quite a bit older, if she is truly intending to study music, or anything else that has intense requirements for practice and study, there will be sacrifices like this, because"'something has to give." My dancer daughter missed senior year of HS entirely.</p>

<p>I would advise keeping all academic options open for college by taking 4 years of a foreign language as well as 4 years of math, science and English and at least 3 years of social studies in high school. Basic music theory can be learned through private study / instrument lessons and can provide a background sufficient to take AP music theory (or another advanced theory course) later in high school without sacrificing the language courses in order to take more than one year of music theory in high school. Most colleges do require or at least prefer 4 years of a foreign language, even those that take a wholistic approach to admissions. Taking a full complement of academic courses in high school will give your child many more options when it comes time to apply to college. Just my opinion but I think it’s very important to keep the door open for academics no matter how talented and dedicated the musician. Not to mention the many benefits of a well-rounded education.</p>

<p>From my perspective comp mom may be correct that language may not be relatively that important (yes, it depends on the program), and also keep in mind that with a talented music student who has shown passion, I have every reason to believe that schools take into account that a student might have compromises in schedule, if they see that, for example, your D didn’t have 4 years of a foreign language but has also this intense music curricula, they may not be so rigid (one way to find out is to take a sample of music schools at a high level, places like conservatories (eastman, juilliard, NEC), music schools within universities (Rice, etc), and state schools with music programs (Indiana, Michigan, etc), and e-mail the admissions department and ask what they think, that if someone had to sacrifice foreign language study for musical opportunities, would that be taken into account? I suspect the answer will be they encourage students to take foreign language, but that their admissions criteria is not so rigid that they cannot be flexible…on the other hand, a student not doing music might be docked for not having 4 years of a foreign language… it all depends…</p>

<p>That said, you also have other alternatives. You may be able to get private music theory lessons from a local teacher or music school instead of them in school, often youth orchestra programs offer music theory like ABRSM or the like as part of their program. Likewise, more then a few high level music students skip their school music programs entirely because they have outside music programs at a high level, if your D can find something like that, with orchestra and/or chamber experience, it could free up school time for courses like foreign language (I am not saying this lightly, just that for someone who seems to be thinking about music, is playing pretty high level, they may not get much out of a school music program, and there are other negatives to school music programs as well when kids are serious, so why use that time when it could be used for other courses).</p>

<p>One thing that concerns me is if your D decides she doesn’t want to do music but wants to get into a place where they want foreign language for 3 or 4 years, it could be an issue…kind of hedging your bets. </p>

<p>Another reason to study foreign languages, even this early, is the international nature of music. While English is often used, simply because it is one of the more common languages as a first or second language, you could be playing in a summer program in france or germany…so having language fluency may be a help, not to mention learning several languages:) </p>

<p>I also recommend as others have checking into summer programs your D may do, there are a wide variety of programs that offer chamber, orchestra and/or individual lessons/performance. She may be a bit young in 8th grade, but some programs embrace a wider range of ages. These programs give valuable experience, plus they also can help a budding musician decide whether they want to go that way.</p>

<p>OK, here it is, direct from the “School of Hard Knocks”…</p>

<p>1) I would definitely take the language. You cannot ever go wrong with more academics. Have her take the most challenging academic program she can handle without sacrificing her practice time. Besides giving a much better shot at music schools at universities and more scholarship money, if she decides to do a dual degree later it will be very handy to start out having some college credit from AP’s. </p>

<p>2) I would favor, as has been said, taking music theory via piano lessons or outside of school if possible. They are going to make her take it over again in college/conservatory anyway. She just needs to be able to know enough to do well on a theory proficiency test when she goes for her auditions. Yes it will help her enjoy/understand her music but I don’t think it is worth it to spend that much time on it to sacrifice academics. (Assuming here she is not too interested in composition). AP Theory-equivalent should be fine.</p>

<p>3) Have her start doing SAT practice tests now, especially if she is not a good test taker.</p>

<p>4) Pick and choose carefully the school music activities she will be participating in. Unless it is at a very high level, she will not get much out of it musically and may waste time. </p>

<p>5) Definitely do summer music programs.</p>

<p>6) One last thing. Sounds like she has a really good oboe teacher. Make sure you have the best possible teacher you can find.</p>

<p>^ good post CLRN8.</p>

<p>just my two cents from observations from the past few years at our hs, which is consistently awarded top public in the country for music (6 Grammys so far).</p>

<p>Since opting out of curricular music is not an option given the strength of the program, the most successful grads (college admissions-wise) have really had to juggle their time/academics wisely. Maybe sacrifice extracurricular music (marching band senior year?) to fit in private lessons etc., theory can be learned outside of school. Summer school can help to get rid of required things (consumer ed.!) to make more schedule room but then that may interfere with summer music.</p>

<p>Seek admission to the highest level outside ensemble possible - in our case the CYSO (Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra), in order to be exposed to the best professors and students in your area. This also gives a real test of where you stand compared to the rest.</p>

<p>Take the most rigorous academic load manageable. While I understand audition trumps academics in the majority of cases, you will be competing for spots against amazingly talented/dedicated musicians who also happen to have top-level academic scores. All things being equal, especially at a top university non-conservatory (thinking Eastman, Northwestern, Rice) if the choice comes down between the student who brings it PLUS has a stellar rigorous academic load, guess who wins?
Our last four Eastman admits as well as our latest Julliard guy all had top 10% GPAs and 30+ ACTs.


<p>Mom of a freshman music ed/oboist here…(just moved her into her dorm yesterday)</p>

<p>Interesting that NY will allow arts instead of foreign language. Is the advanced regents diploma the same as a regular high school diploma? (It actually sounds better…) My daughter took American Sign Language as her foreign language and for a while I had a concern that it would be accepted as a foreign language at colleges, and what I finally figured out was that if the state that the HS is in accepts the course as a foreign language requirement, then the colleges will too. So my gut says it will not be an issue for your daughter not to take French, but a phone call to a college admissions office or two will answer that question for you.</p>

<p>So on to oboe - one of my favorite topics! (But forgive me I am not an oboist and not a musician…but I talk the talk okay.) It sounds like your daughter is getting wonderful instruction. Her ability to play well is most important (for admissions and scholarships), but once you get to a certain level (and I bet you know this) you really need to make your own reeds. (or keep bothering your teacher) There are people who make decent reeds online, but there are a few different methods of making reeds. So you can order a reed that was highly recommended by an oboist but it might not fit your particular oboe style/embouchure. My daughter liked playing Stuart Dunkle reeds so when she started making reeds she started making them like Stuart. The last time I ordered reeds from him I asked him to try to tweak them to her likings…he was very obliging and suggested that she start making her own reeds. (She had started making them at that point, but wanted a couple of his reeds to get her through a couple shows she was playing in.) So she makes reeds like Stuart does.</p>

<p>Like others have said, academics are very important too. My daughter got scholarship offers from all three schools that she applied to. They were all talent awards. She did not receive any academic awards because her SATs were average, and not high enough to qualify for academic scholarships. (Although her GPA and class rank were exceptional - I did not realize that the SAT scores would eliminate her from any academic scholarships. But I’m not complaining - she did very well.) So if your daughter is talented enough for a talent based scholarship, then it would be wise to focus on academics too.</p>

<p>I agree that piano is very important. All musicians should have some proficiency on the piano - and maybe especially those who are interested in music ed. (Guitar is also a great instrument for music ed.)</p>

<p>BTW my daughter also had music theory, AP theory, wind ensemble and actually SEVERAL other music classes (including choral classes) for credit. I don’t know whether any of that was a determining factor for admissions or scholarships, but I am positive that it has made her a more confident musician and more prepared for what she is doing today.</p>

<p>Don’t sacrifice foreign language study for music theory. I strongly agree with those who recommend that your D study foreign language, for all the reasons already stated. I advise that she study at least 4 years of the same language. If she ends up touring internationally as a professional musician, at the very least she’ll enjoy it a lot more with knowledge of at least one foreign language. After learning one, a second and third is much easier. I also believe that studying a foreign language helps you to better understand and use your own. </p>

<p>Most conservatories do not give credit for AP Music theory. They will give a theory test at the beginning of the school year to determine placement. Many students who have studied a great deal of theory do not place out of the first year of theory, but the background does help. Instead, I urge your daughter to start piano now (if she doesn’t already) with a good teacher who will teach her theory at the same time. All the conservatories require piano skills for everyone. Especially if she decides on music education, piano is very important. Your D can get an excellent education in music theory from her private teachers instead of at school. She could supplement that with on line study if she wants–she doesn’t need the credits.</p>

<p>Some of the summer programs do incorporate music theory into the curriculum–check into Interlochen. It’s expensive, but fantastic, and scholarships and financial aid are available. </p>

<p>Regardless of what she ends up doing with her life, an excellent, well-rounded education will prepare her well. Foreign language is a basic requirement for many universities with excellent music programs. In California, for example, 3 years of foreign language is required for every state university–applications without that minimum requirement are rejected without a second glance. (Only in America would this discussion even come up. In most European countries, the question would be whether or not to add the 4th language. The average shopkeeper in Brussels speaks 5-7 languages fluently.) Who knows what she’ll end up doing-- Condoleezza Rice began her studies as a piano major…</p>

<p>Enjoy these years. Yesterday my D just went back to her conservatory for her second year. Already we miss the sound of her music in the home!</p>

<p>Hi all,
To answer a few questions–
Mom2winds-- Here we have 3 types of diplomas, the basic High school diploma, a regents diploma, and the new advanced regents diploma, which is basically the state endorsed regents diploma with a few classes added on and almost no room for electives, which would include all of her music courses. If you average above a 90 on all your regents exams, you get an advanced regents diploma with honors. (FYI in NY you can also take Art as a 5-year sequence (includes Photography, Studio, Ceramics) or Technology (more than just “shop”, computer design, that sort of stuff) instead of the language for the advanced regents diploma, but even though the state says you can do it I don’t know if all schools do.) </p>

<p>To get the advanced regents diploma, you have to have 4 years of English, 4 of Social Studies, 3-4 (she’ll take 4) of Science and Math, etc-- in other words the rigor is built into the program and she would take these courses at the highest levels. The only “wiggle room” or time for music courses is to drop the language, which is why we are even considering it. To substitute for the language requirement, you can get a 5 year sequence in music, she is interested in taking wind ensemble, concert band, chorus, chamber singers, music theory I & II, and Music Theory AP. Her schools wind ensemble is pretty good, and is by audition only and they play NYSSMA level 5 and 6 (the highest we have in NY schools) music. Our band is generally more successful in competition than our sports programs!</p>

<p>She will be trying out for our local youth symphony orchestra at the end of this year, the earliest you can around here. Like I said her teacher private teacher is excellent, and her school teacher is very good as well. </p>

<p>We’ve thought of taking the language courses outside of school, but her time is just so
limited as it is! She will have one year of HS French at the end of this year (8th). Plus we should probably add Piano, she took guitar grades 2-4. </p>

<p>In regards to taking the language instead of the music because maybe the music theory and HS music courses would be to easy for her, I’m not sure about that. Plus, there is a great, fine group of music students that she enjoys playing with, is friends with, and they learn from each other. They enjoy playing together and going on trips and having the experiences they do. There are a few other really serious music students, some of them choosing language, some not – so that’s really no help!</p>

<p>Compmom-- I don’t know if I answered in my other post, but DD would definitely choose the music courses over the language, although she does very well in French, she just LOVES music! I think I agree with you that taking Theory in 9th may enhance her enjoyment and ability to excel in music-- or maybe convince her it’s really not her thing, which may be a good thing to know before you think you’ve decided your whole future in 8th grade!</p>

<p>Hi again mom2winds–</p>

<p>That’s interesting you mention Stuart Dunkle reeds. I was going to order some to try out for back ups! I feel guilty when her teacher makes her reeds-- I’m sure she has other things to do! Do you think a 13 year old could learn to make her one reeds?</p>

<p>Congratulations to your daughter! Was it tough dropping her off at school? I’m sure I’ll be crying as my dd shoves me out the door! When I went off to college I just never looked at it from my parents point of view! </p>

<p>Do you mind if I ask where she went to school? I see she took a lot of music courses in HS and got some scholarship money, that’s great! What in your mind stands out as really important that she did in the last few years to get her into college with an oboe major and scholarship?</p>

<p>Hi again, redeye. Have you had the opportunity to discuss the language issue with the school’s guidance counselor? He or she should have direct familiarity with the many colleges that have the language requirement and should be able to give you admit statistics of those who applied to music programs and were admitted via naviance. That might help you evaluate both the strength of the actual music program as well in terms of college outcomes. By way of example, there could be significant economic factors should your daughter decide to double major or study music education in that scheduling becomes even more complex at colleges, and entering a rigorous college with a mere year of language could easily translate into a fifth year of study, at possibly $58k (or much more in five years) to catch up. At umich, many students with four years of language only place out of one or two classes. Someone with fewer might not place out at all. Music schedules are particularly difficult to work around to begin with. Then of course,
there is the admission angle, whereby admit points for meeting curricular prereqs would be deducted, if not rejected outright. On the other hand, I would suspect your hs has had to address this issue, or should have, so perhaps they can give you the straight good if you say you absolutely need your d to be eligible for admission to any out of state private or public degree programs. Counselors sometimes forget that music students particularly need to apply to a very wide range of schools to find the right music program. So while language exemption might be acceptable in NYC, that may not be the case elsewhere.</p>

<p>The question that jumps out at me is, what if your daughter decides not to apply to music schools? Then the lack of language classes in HS could put her at a real disadvantage for “regular” college admissions. After all, she is only in 8th grade, a lot could change in the next 4 years. Would it be possible to fit in the language course if she cuts out just one if the music classes, like theory (which she could learn outside) or choir?</p>

<p>My DD is at University of New Hampshire now. It really was not that bad dropping her off. She has been to UNH several times before for day trips with school and their SYMS (Summer Youth Music School). So we know the campus and we know a fair amount about the music program. Of course right now she is in the dorm waiting for the storm to hit. They have shut the campus except for the dorms and the dinning halls and classes are already canceled for Monday. But she seems happy…so I’m not having any problems!</p>

<p>To answer your question about making reeds, my daughter started about a year after she started playing the oboe - she played other instruments first. That would have been when she was 15. So in my non-musical opinion you need three things to make your own reeds 1) the physical dexterity to work with the knife - it is very precise and 2) the ear to hear what you are ultimately after, and 3) the ability to understand and remember the exact measurements required. </p>

<p>Does your D oboe teacher charge you for her reeds? We used to buy them from the teacher (and Stuart) before she started making her own. But I would not worry too much about bothering the teacher for them - multiple oboe reeds are a fact of life for oboist and oboe teachers - it comes with the territory. </p>

<p>I will send you a private message.</p>