School of Music – An Art and a Profession?

If you are in the early stages of your studies into the fine arts or a career as a musician, there are some fundamental differences between the two that should be examined. The similarities, that believe are getting increasingly blurred, is: (2) an emphasis on the technical art versus liberal arts; (3) the level awarded; (4) the overall student experience; (5) and (6) how the classes will interact. Let’s examine these key areas in more detail…

School of Music | Ball State University

The most obvious difference between the two disciplines is that music is all about the talent, skill, ability and training of the musicians themselves. This is what we typically refer to as ‘talent’. On the other hand, the technical side of the industry is about equipment, methods and programming. This is what we typically refer to as ‘appreciation’.

In an introductory class in music theory, for example, students will be asked to write simple programs in C. They will also be given random musical examples to study and critique. It’s important to note here that these programs and examples can be performed and recorded. The goal is for them to be able to reproduce these ‘applications’ outside of the classroom. Learning to perform and recreate music within a rigorous and controlled environment is key to developing real-world music skills.

Similar considerations are true of performance. During performance analysis, both technical and creative (or theoretical) elements must be examined. These include but are not limited to sight reading, pitch and rhythm, sight interpreting, harmonic understanding and harmony, and ensemble composition. As mentioned above, these skills can be learned and/or practiced outside of the classroom.

There are multiple reasons why some people (like myself) may seek to pursue a degree in music. For me, there were particular reasons: to have a broader range of musical experiences, be exposed to more different types of artistic expression, find a way to express myself creatively, find a field I could make a living in and enjoy my work. For others, it’s because they love music and want to share it with others, or simply because they like to express themselves artistically. Whatever the reason, these reasons are valid and educational pursuits.

School of Music is an exciting and challenging profession. Just remember, no one should ever underestimate the importance of learning how to play an instrument. Playing music can enrich your life by giving you an outlet for your creativity and expression. And who knows, with the right training and connections, you could even pursue a career in teaching music as well!

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