Category

Music Theory

Building Blocks

By | Music, Music Education, Music Theory | No Comments

Sweat was gathering on my brow. I was sitting in musicianship class, trying not to look directly at our professor, who had just given me a pitch from a pitch pipe and was waiting for me to begin. All I had to do was sing this sight-singing exercise, but the heat of the moment made it seem so much more difficult. If only I had practiced more last night!

I decided the only thing to do was to give it my best shot, and that’s what I did. It wasn’t stellar, but it wasn’t terrible either. And it was better than last time, which was the important thing. Something I was doing in practice was paying off, even if only a little. Somewhere in those late night sessions of trying to figure out what was going on in this harmonic dictation, or which prepared sight-singing exercises I was going to neglect preparing, or why we had to go this in-depth with musicianship anyway, I was actually learning something.

That something was musicianship skills, and they have showed up in my study of music ever since. As hard as it would have been for me to believe at the time, everything I was doing mattered. Learning to read simple lines with solfege would give me a leg up on learning tough pieces in choir. Reading multiple cleffs and trying to understand harmonic dictations made me more prepared to play hymns in class piano. And learning to practice even when I didn’t want to has made me a more competent musician in every way.

It wasn’t just musicianship, though. My experience in Music Theory classes has helped me, too. Whether analyzing a piece in Music History, or harmonizing a melody, or writing an aural analysis of a piece performed in a recital, a deeper understanding of the basic workings of music has given me the ability to succeed at every point along the way.

While it wasn’t easy, it was worth it. I’m glad I worked through the tough classes in the first two years of my music major. Not only has it given me valuable music skills, it has given me the motivation to work hard in the rest of the hard classes I have yet to take.

~Steve

Counting the Hours

By | Higher Education, Music, Music Education, Music Theory | No Comments

“So, how many hours are you taking this semester?”

This question is always really hard for me to answer. I know that what the other person really means is, “How busy are you this semester?” For me, those two questions aren’t the same. Being a Music Major comes with some strange and unique difficulties that make small talk like this difficult.

The hardest thing to explain about being a Music Major is that credit hours don’t always equal workload. While most of my friends are taking from five to seven classes, I’m usually enrolled in 10 or 11 class sections every semester. However, only four of them count for the standard three credit hours. The rest are classes like orchestra and choir and voice lessons that count for one hour of credit but require a lot of practice time outside of class. On top of that, there are always plenty of extra performance opportunities like musicals and plays and the small a cappella group that’s getting ready for the talent show, or the string quartet that’s playing for a wedding. As a result, a semester with 18 hours of credit can be lighter than one with 16. It all depends. It’s confusing, I know.

At the end of the day, it all boils down to having a lot to do. Sometimes when I get back to my room after a long day of classes and rehearsals and more rehearsals, I realize that I haven’t even started on my homework or practiced for my voice lesson the next day. I find myself wondering if I should have chosen a degree program that is less time-intensive.

But I stop myself there.

Somebody wise once said, “Nothing that’s easy is worth having.”

Someone else wise once said, “You should do what you love.”

Despite the quirks and challenges of studying music, I wouldn’t trade it for anything, because I love it. I love learning more about the things I’m passionate about. I love the fact that the JBU Department of Music and Theatre feels like a family. Believe it or not, I even appreciate the hard work that stretches me intellectually. And at the end of the day, I look forward to waking up the next morning and doing it all over again.

So, yes, friends, it is a little bit crazy. But I know I’m where I’m supposed to be.

~Steven

Steven is a Junior, majoring in Music Education. He is one of two student conductors for the JBU Cathedral Choir, the Concertmaster for the JBU Chamber Orchestra, and a talented actor in many JBU stage productions.