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Categorized | Commentary

Is a music major more difficult than biology?

Posted on 25 January 2012 by Matthew Fahey

I have heard it said on campus, and other places, that music majors and art majors have it easy; that they can just relax and breeze through while the hard science majors have it so much harder.

I find that interesting to hear, since I am friends with a great deal of music majors and science majors. As Kimber Stevenson, a junior music education major, put it, “Where as science and math have strict rules–one plus one always equals two–music isn’t always so easy to predict. There are your basic things like a bigger instrument will produce a lower sound, but past that there is no one set of rules that apply to all music everywhere.”

Another thing that many people do not account for is the course load; a freshmen music education major can expect to take about 18 credit hours. That sounds pretty reasonable for any major, but what that number does not tell you is this: those 18 credit hours consist of the following: Theory 1, Basic Music Skills 1, Music Notation Lab, Vocal Techniques, Piano, Fall Band, Euphonium (which is a lesson that all majors must take) and their major instrument. Those are just the classes for the major in addition to general education requirements that all freshmen end up taking. Those classes alone count for eight credit hours but time in class would make them worth fourteen. This means that they have ten additional hours in class on top of the fourteen they are already in for their major, and then there are practices they have to go to that are outside of class.

Just because the classes are undervalued in credit hours does not mean they do not give homework like other classes. A biology major I spoke to and who gave me her schedule stated that her first semester was 21.5 credit hours, and that she spent about that many hours in the classroom.

I am not trying to argue that music majors have it harder; I am really just trying to help people understand that just because it is not a hard science does not mean it is not a hard major. What I want people to consider is that just because we live in a society where we have to one-up each other on how bad we have it does not mean that we have to try to portray one major as harder than another. I for one am a political science major and think my major is difficult to handle, but in plain honesty to myself I am glad I am not a music education major or biology major. Everyone has trials and triumphs; from now on, let’s all try to walk in another person’s shoes before we judge the value of their major.

1 Comments For This Post

  1. woodbuaa Says:

    I actually find this article to be highly offensive. I have all the respect in the world for music majors; I just wish you’d show some respect to the biology majors. You went through and listed the individual classes and extra work that is expected of a music major and then made it appear as though a biology major only spends time in the classroom. We biology majors spend more time out of class than in class. For example, my required chemistry class is a four credit hour course; three hours of class and three hours of lab every week. Now don’t forget that every other week there is an 8-10 page lab report due and a 3-4 page lab report due in between those week. Also, you might forget about the exams that sometimes take 14-20 hours to study for! Now let’s add in my anatomy and physiology class. That’s also a four credit hour course, three hours of class and three hours of lab. Now every couple of weeks there is not only a lecture exam, but a lab practical. Each of these can take up to another 20 hours !

    I’m not saying that it’s harder than another major, but I will NOT stand by and allow you to undermine my major. Your article is very one sided and comes off quite bias until the very end. So next time, be sure to tell BOTH sides of the story and keep your readers informed of the entire topic, not just the parts that YOU find important.

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