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A Girl’s Guide To Being a Music Major at FSU

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

Florida State University is known for its stellar academic programs, vibrant campus life, and strong alumni network. What you may not know is that it’s also home to one of the largest, most prestigious music schools in the United States.

Most people have walked by the College of Music buildings on their campus routes or cheered on the Marching Chiefs at a home football game, but today, I want to give you a taste of what it’s really like to be a music major at FSU.

The College of Music, or the CoM as we music majors like to call it, is located on Copeland Street right by Calvin’s Coffee House, the unofficial music major hang-out spot. The CoM houses many different music degrees. In addition to music education and music therapy degrees, which the college is most well-known for, it also offers degrees in music performance, music theory, music composition, commercial music, general music, minors in music composition, and numerous certificate programs. To pursue a degree in the College of Music, you have to audition and submit supplemental materials alongside the regular FSU application process.

As music students, we get to take classes related to our major starting our first semester on campus. We have our own set of music prerequisite classes, which include music theory and sight singing, as well as private lessons and ensembles for our primary instrument. That’s right: We audition with our main instrument, but many of us end up becoming proficient in other instruments like piano, too.

From the outside, the main buildings for the College of Music look similar to the rest of campus, but inside, the musician realm explodes. We have several performance venues called recital halls where students, faculty, and guest artists perform year-round. CoM students are responsible for attending 15 recitals each semester to expand their knowledge of different kinds of music and support peers and mentors.

Additionally, the College of Music has its own living-learning community in Cawthon Hall, where music majors can live, practice, and take classes together during their freshman and sophomore years. The CoM also houses its own library, which provides music scores, research essays, performance videos, instrument rentals, and much more. It’s also an awesome study spot.

Additionally, within the program, there are numerous student organizations that students can join, including social and service fraternities, cultural associations, and pre-employment clubs. Many students in the College of Music participate in non-music-related activities, too.

As music majors, getting to do what we love from the get-go is great, but it’s also a rigorous undertaking. Many of our classes are zero or one-credit hours, yet they require the same amount of time and work you’d put into a three- or four-credit class. “We take 15 credits, but that equals out to about 12 credit hours,” explained one music therapy major in the clarinet studio. “On top of homework, we have to practice for multiple hours every day.”

You may be curious about what some of our music classes entail. A lot of the work involves writing and analyzing music. As one choral music education major put it, “We literally write what we hear.” We also learn about music history and how to conduct. For music therapy and music education majors, our classes involve going out into the community and teaching or providing music services to different populations. Moreover, at the end of each semester, music majors do juries, which are graded performances in front of all the faculty affiliated with their specific instrument.

In addition to our classes, recital attendance, and private lessons, music majors participate in ensembles. The College of Music has multiple choirs, bands, and orchestras. Furthermore, there’s an array of world music ensembles you can participate in, which focus on performing pieces from diverse musical traditions around the world and different historical periods. Most of the ensembles in the College of Music are open to non-music students, too. With so many ensembles, music students at FSU get to participate in so many unique and amazing opportunities. Whether it’s shining onstage in Ruby Diamond or embarking on a regional or national music tour, getting to perform with these ensembles is a huge highlight of the music major experience. 

How do we music majors get through these hectic yet rewarding semesters, you may ask? The answer is self-care and time management skills. Prioritizing your physical and mental health is important regardless of what major you’re pursuing. As music majors, our bodies and minds are the catalysts for our music-making; therefore, we have to be on top of our health. When I asked music majors what items they couldn’t live without, many of the respondents explained that tea, coffee, stress balls, iPads, and digital calendars are crucial to staying on top of everything. They stressed the importance of finding a work-life balance and creating a strong sense of community within the College of Music, too.

Being a music major is a roller coaster, not a lazy river. Devoting time to self-care, finding your community, and enjoying music outside of your studies is vital to your success and well-being as a musician and person. One music education major advised incoming CoM students, “Buckle up, plan ahead, and don’t be afraid to ask those around you for help.” When life gets crazy and overwhelming, a music therapy major in the piano studio reminded students that “time management is key! Your passion will get you through it!”

Though our days are long and our sleep schedules are unpredictable, my peers and I agree that the FSU College of Music is truly a special and amazing place to spend your undergraduate years. As one music education major in the clarinet studio beautifully put it, “We’re not striving for perfection. We’re seeking meaning within ourselves.” 

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Hi, my name is Ally and I’m part of the Florida State University Class of 2027. I’ve been singing since I could talk and I’m so proud to be in the FSU College of Music. I’m majoring in Music Therapy, and that will allow me to use my love for music to help other people. When I’m not making music, you’ll find me visiting local cafés and ice cream shops, planning my bucket list Disney vacations, or binging the latest documentary series on Netflix. I’m beyond excited to be a part of the Her Campus community, and I cannot wait to pour my passions for creativity and advocacy in to my articles.