So You Want to Major in Music?

So You Want to Major in Music?
Many Whitney Point students who have gone onto careers in music. In an effort to make sure that our students leave WPHS with the necessary set of skills to not only survive, but excel in the field of music, this page has been developed to provide them with information on what they need to be doing!
  • Practice! Being the best on your instrument is really important. You might be one of the best here, but it is a whole different environment when you get to the collegiate level. You will be competing with others who were the best at their schools, too!
  • Embrace fundamentals! Play long tones, lip slurs, tonguing exercises, overtones, rudiments (percussionists), scales, etc. and practice them daily. It will help get you into honor bands...and the college that you want to attend!
  • Take private lessons on your primary instrument. You get a good foundation in ensembles and lesson here at WPHS, but it is no substitute for studying with a specialist on YOUR instrument.
  • Audition for Honor Bands. While we have a wonderful high school music program, it is integral to your success to perform in as many higher level ensembles as possible.
  • Perform! Play in as many ensembles as you can. You never know what experiences you may need.
  • Learn to play the piano. The earlier you learn to play piano, the easier it is.
  • Sing! Sing in chorus, sight sing, take vocal lessons, sing solfege. You will use it in college and beyond.
  • Take music theory classes. You need a strong background in written and aural theory.
  • Learn music technology. Learn as many music programs as you can. 
  • Listen to professionals perform. Listen to recordings, go to performances. Take master classes at BCC, Binghamton University, Mansfield or Ithaca College. 
  • Record yourself and then listen to yourself. It will sound different! Have teachers and non-musicians critique your playing. Don't be afraid to hear criticism...embrace it because it will make you a better musician.
  • Learn the standard repertoire for your instrument. You will be able to use it for your auditions.
  • Get a step-up (intermediate level) instrument. If you can't afford a step-up instrument, at least get a better mouthpiece. It will make you sound better. Once you get to college, your teacher will guide you toward the professional model instrument that is right for you.
  • Do practice auditions with as many people as you can. It will help you conquer audition jitters.
  • Mentor a TRA band member. It is amazing how much you learn when you are on the other side of the instrument!
  • When getting ready for your college audition, be prepared to play at least two pieces (sometimes three) of contrasting styles, sight read a piece, and play scales. Percussionists should be ready to demonstrate skill on timpani, mallet instruments, rudimental percussion and auxiliary percussion instruments. Be ready to sight sing and play piano as well. You may also be tested on your music theory background. You may also be asked what your career goals are to see if you fit into the program's philosophy. Some colleges recruit students into their program in small ensembles like brass quintets, woodwind quintets, etc. so experience in those types of ensembles is very important.
  • You may be thinking of going into music because you had the time of your life in band.  You made life-long memories going to competition or participating in All-County Band.  But when you major in music it is a full time job that extends way beyond playing in band. If you don't have the desire to practice for hours a day, wake up for 8am theory classes, do extensive research, work on piano, and singing while all your dorm mates are hanging out, then this is probably not for you.
    Be very sure that you are willing to do all of these things!
  • Here are links to some colleges with great music programs that aren't too far away:
SUNY Fredonia (Mrs. Williamson went here!)
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