Math and science in high school for music-major bound students?

<p>I'm a junior and I'll be auditioning for BM voice next fall. I'm thinking about my school schedule for senior year. How have music families handled math and science in the past? I feel like they aren't crucial really, but maybe I should take them just because. They are my worst subjects, and will probably bring down my GPA. Senior year I will have to take AP Calculus and Physics, or I can opt for AP Statistics or Math analysis online or at another school. I understand the importance of math, and will certainly take it, I just don't know which course yet. My main concern is physics. What have your children done regarding math and science? I will have two years of lab science - biology and chemistry, for sure. What are the benefits for musicians, and should I take them? I will probably take 2 to 3 AP classes senior year regardless. I just don't want to be stressed and overworked, especially with subjects that I hate. If I have 4 years of math, could that make up for 2 of science at any schools that might care? My list is conservatory heavy with schools like Rice, Northwestern, and University of Michigan as the main academic concerns.</p>

<p>My D did not take math at all her senior year, she just went through Pre-calc her junior year. She did take physics senior year, because she was really interested in it, and she did really well. She is studying voice at a conservatory, and it didn’t make any difference there. A private U that she turned down gave her their biggest academic scholarship, so I guess they didn’t care. My opinion is that you should focus on your music senior year while still taking other academics that challenge and interest you–neither math nor physics. But first check the admission requirements at the universities where you plan to apply. Your audition will be the most important factor in admissions for vocal performance.</p>

<p>My daughter did not apply to Rice, Northwestern, or UMich, but rather schools with a conservatory focus. Her high school required four years of math, even though she had gone through precalc. Math was a subject she found difficult and time-consuming (although she had maintained good grades in it.) Her adviser recommended a consumer math course that was not normally taken by kids in the same academic track (she took the course online, so there was no classroom atmosphere.) It turned out to be one of the most useful, in a practical way, courses she took in high school. She learned about personal finances in a way that I only wish I had at her age. The course was not as difficult as calc, but she was very glad to have taken it, and it fulfilled her school’s graduation requirement.</p>

<p>My D is in 10th grade and plans to attend a conservatory. She will not take any more math or science than is required, so neither in senior year. We are going to try and get the school to approve her taking an online Consumer Math course next year instead of one of the regular math courses.</p>

<p>D3 took AP Stat (which turned out to be more difficult than Calc would have been), and that has gotten her excused from her university’s math requirement, giving her more practice time in college.</p>

<p>She didn’t take science senior year, however, and chose not to take some of the more time consuming AP classes along the way, just doing the honors ones instead.</p>

<p>My D is a hs senior this year. She turned down AP Calc BC, Physics and AP Government, and is only taking AP Lit this year in order to spend more time preparing for auditions. She didn’t want to give up math, so she’s taking semester courses of discrete math and statistics. For science, she is taking Environmental (non-AP), which she loves and finds more interesting than Physics. </p>

<p>As a junior, she had 4 AP classes and was regularly up until 3 AM with homework and practicing. She didn’t want to go through that this year.</p>

<p>All of the schools we visited said that AP Calc AB was far beyond what they required. You might call a couple of admissions offices and ask for their advice.</p>

<p>If you were going to be heading into an academic discipline taking the advanced math and science courses would probably be wise. In a conservatory, those high level courses won’t buy you much if anything, since the audition is everything. For music schools within universities like Rice, Bard, etc, if you are applying as a music student my take is you don’t have to take all the AP’s and such because the school will take into account the fact that the person is a serious music student and that to be able to get admitted in the music school requires a huge committment. </p>

<p>I suspect they are well aware of the conflict between music and academics, that taking X AP’s and advanced courses sounds great, until you realize that serious music students are practicing many hours a day, plus ensembles and so forth (I only wish someone would enlighten school administrators and guidance counselors about that fact). From a personal perspective I have seen a lot of really talented high school music students, and inevitably most of the ones who chose to take the uber high level courses, cram AP after AP into their schedule, ended up falling off musically because there just wasn’t enough time and energy to do both and they ended up chosing the academic track. </p>

<p>In any event, that is how my S is approaching it.</p>

<p>My D is currently a VP major at a conservatory. Knowing her goal, she adjusted her senior year in HS schedule accordingly by taking a dual credit (HS/College) Accounting course (she had finished with Pre-Calc Honors in her junior year) and also took Honors Physics. The number of AP courses she had in her prior years fulfilled all of her gen ed courses when she began college.
I will say that it took some discussion with the staff at her prep school who were dismayed to see her not taking AP Calc or AP Chem. She, on the other hand, was not upset at all!</p>

<p>High school level conservatory-style school students often do not have math or science for all 4 years.</p>

<p>Many freestanding conservatories have no math or science at all, and would not care. I don’t know about music schools within universities.</p>

<p>If you do take math or science, it does not have to be certain courses. You can do statistics versus calculus, if you like, and step it down from AP or even honors. (Or not take it at all.)</p>

<p>Even Ivy League schools sometimes give students a pass in this area, since music takes so much time and dedication. Private colleges and other schools that have more “holistic” admissions do not stick with rigid course requirements for admission, in cases like this. Taking math through algebra 2 is a good idea for everyone, but beyond that…</p>

<p>You could always ask your guidance counselor to write something to explain, in his/her recommendation letter.</p>

<p>The main thing is, what is your high school’s requirement for graduation…</p>

<p>For reassurance, you could call admissions at the schools you are interested in, to double check. We did that and felt much better.</p>

<p>I think contacting the schools and asking them is excellent advice, given your list of strong academic schools. I know someone who applied as a VP major to Oberlin, and was told they prefer to see 4 years of math. She was applying to both the Conservatory and the College.</p>

<p>When son was a sophomore and knew he would be applying to Rice, his counselor called and asked about this very subject. They said that his current pre-calc class was fine and he didn’t need to take any more math beyond that. They also said that his current 2 lab sciences would suffice. (He had bio and chem.) He did end up taking physics junior year and a semester long adv. physics class senior year, but only because he was interested in them. His math and science classes were not a factor in admission decisions.</p>

<p>Oh wow, thanks for all the very helpful responses! I’ve been thinking that contacting each school would be the best idea. How should this be approached? Through email, calling, or my counselor? </p>

<p>I certainly plan on taking 4 years of math. It is required in my state to take math or a math based science senior year. I’m a decent math student, and I actually find it interesting; I just wasn’t sure if the AP calculus route was necessary. My greater concern is with science, because for some reason it’s always been my weakest subject, and I’m not interested in spending time on physics if I don’t have to. For graduation, I only need two years, but schools such as U of M say they like to see 3 years of math and 3 years of science. (This is actually the norm based on what I’ve seen online, but I know that sometimes for music students, it is different) I was wondering if taking 4 years of math and 2 years of science would be fine. I’m sure that this is something that would be important to ask specific schools.</p>

<p>Contact them yourself, whether by phone or email. Personally, I prefer phone for this kind of interaction because you can ask followup questions right away based on what they tell you, while with email you may need to go back and forth a few times to get all your questions answered. Some people work better with email, however.</p>

<p>Doing it yourself rather than having a counselor do it for you puts you on their radar and is the first step in getting to know the school first hand.</p>

<p>As others have said, the process is a little different at each school. Sometimes a lot different. In general, stand-alone music schools will not care that you have not had a lot of math and science. Music schools that are part of a larger institution may or may not. In some places, you need to be admitted separately by both the school and the music department (or by the university and the music school). In some of those cases, it may be important to have taken certain classes. Sometimes a strong academic record can result in more merit aid, too. The down side happens when you have to put so much effort into the academic class that you have less time to practice than you would like. It can become quite a balancing act to satisfy the requirements of all the schools to which you apply.</p>

<p>If you want to get into a good academic school such as the ones you first listed, you should err on the side of taking the more rigorous schedule and not put yourself in the position of feeling you have to explain why you did not do so. There are many music students/BMus candidates who DO take quite rigorous work loads all through high school and you will be compared to them.</p>

<p>I’m a senior applying as a music ed major, and I’ve done 4 years of math (including AP calc AB and AP stats), and 3 years or science (no physics, but AP chem this year instead). I was unable to take a science course last year (my school does block scheduling, and 3-quarter classes are basically impossible to fit into a schedule that involves band). I stress about what schools will think about my lack of physics, even thought I took AP music theory instead, which was another very challenging AP.
I’d say its probably a better idea to take as many years as you can of everything. Obviously music ability is a huge part of whether or not you get in, but schools are still going to look at your academic record. If you’re concerned about doing well, don’t take the class as an AP, but an honors or general version, or do business math. It’s probably beneficial to be over-prepared for your majors college courseload than to make the admissions committee wonder if you’re prepared enough.</p>

<p>While I agree with Showsgirlsmama that erring on the side of caution is not a bad thing, I also would be very, very cautious with loading up on heavy academics of multiple AP’s, etc. There are a lot of depends there and like any topic involving music/music schools there is no one size fits all. For example, with music schools within universities, I know of a couple of such schools where they do want their music students to have gone the typical high achievement track, getting through AP Calc, etc, you name it…and quite frankly, at said music program, the level of playing is not as high as other top end schools by reputation. I also know of top rated academic schools with music programs, from talking to their admissions people, who realize what it takes to be a high end music student these days, and they realize the two are not necessarily comparable…and it also depends on what you are auditioning in, some areas may be less competitive then others (try competing on violin or piano, for example, when you are auditioning against kids, especially from Asian countries, who have literally focused on their instrument alone for many, many years). </p>

<p>It also depends on where the kid is, there are kids who achieve a high level relatively early, so when in HS can take AP’s, etc, and basically maintain where they are in terms of playing, and get into relatively high level music programs, whereas if a kid really needs to build in high school to get to audition ready level, that may not be possible. A student in the same violin studio kind of fits the former, she didn’t really do all that much her last two years of high school musically because she was totally loaded down with the monster academics, she didn’t practice much, and yet she was still able to get into several high level music schools as well as ivy league level academic programs, but that is because she was basically ready two years before. And I can tell you that whether stand alone music school, or music school within an LAC, you can have a 4.0 unweighted, 2200+ SAT’s, etc, etc, and if you don’t do well on the audition, that isn’t going to mean much (will prob get you into the academic portion of the school, though). </p>

<p>My advice is to take as much math and science as you can, but the first priority needs to be on practicing and working on the music (if they plan on majoring in music). From everything I have heard so far from people in music schools, and from admissions people,the programs pretty much all seem to understand how hard music is these days to get into music schools and they understand it can take away from academics. Better off to limit the high level courses and achieve musical proficiency, rather then take them and find yourself not doing well academically in the high level courses because the music takes too much time, or grindign through the academics and finding the music suffers. I personally would be specially concerned with senior year, when a music student is doing pre screen dvd’s, and then auditions all over the country at music schools, and practicing like mad to get themselves ready, how they could take a ton of high level courses and do well at both…</p>

<p>DD was accepted everywhere she applied for VP, including Rice, where she attended. She was in an IB program but never took a high level math class and only 1 high level science. It made no difference. They look to see if you can generally be successful at the school. Her grades were good, she had taken some IB classes, and ACTs were good. Not near the level of academic students at Rice, but not a slouch. She got her merit award for talent, not scholastics. But at other schools she also received academic merit offers. </p>

<p>Do not take so much that you cannot practice and take time off for auditions. Auditions take a tremendous amount of time senior year. But don’t go so light that you limit your options. It is a balance only you will know. Don’t worry so much about AP but make sure you have good distribution of classes.</p>

I think you summed up my position beautifully, that is pretty much the tack we are taking with our S. If in fact music schools within LAC’s required the same academic load that they do of students entering into academics, I am talking all the AP’s, high level science and math course, etc, I would be really suspect of them as music programs because other then a few outlier, I quite honestly couldn’t see how a student who has taken that kind of load could have concentrated on music at a high level and done that, it would also to me indicate that the school administration might be living in the world of 30 years ago, where students could ‘get serious’ about music in college, focus on academics in high school then ‘do music’ in college…and that is long gone, at least for top level music programs. On the other hand, with music schools within universities, the student still needs to achieve academically to get into the school, but I am pretty sure, based on what I have seen, that they do treat music students differently, they don’t compare someone applying to do a BM on Violin to the math/science geek with the 2200 SAT’s and so forth.</p>

<p>Just a note about your senior GPA - </p>

<p>Most of the time it won’t matter for college applications. The applications are generally due before the second semester ends, and sometimes before the second semester has been computed.</p>

<p>A BIG mistake that a lot of students make is to think that they can pull up their gpa during their senior year. In most cases, it’s really too late unless they are planning a gap year. School guidance councelors should really explain this in the 9th or 10th grade, but they either don’t, or the students forget.</p>

<p>It’s great to have the application show that you will be taking serious classes your senior year, and you definately don’t want to blow your gpa as some colleges will give you a “conditional” acceptance that is conditional upon you making satisfactory grades your senior year, but the acceptance will likely be based on grades up to (not including) the 12th grade. Also, some states have state academic scholarships that are dependant upon all your grades including your senior year. In my son’s case, he was awarded a state academic scholarship after his final transcript was sent to the college.</p>