Things I Learned from Joining a Music Group in College

I, like most other public school kids, took the obligatory general music education classes in elementary school. Despite the trauma that I still feel today from those experiences, I found myself intrigued enough by music in general to join orchestra in junior high and choir in high school when I tired of lugging an instrument to school every day. Although I’d had extensive musical experience between school and private lessons by the time I graduated high school, I never really saw myself as the type of person who would pursue music in college or as a career. Upon transferring to HPU, I discovered a unique and exciting opportunity in that HPU allows students to perform in audition groups and receive music-related scholarships without committing to music as a major or focus of study. Tl;dr, I could sing for a scholarship while studying something completely different.

That said, what started out as a way to help pay for college turned into an invaluable opportunity that provided me with a strong work ethic, teamwork, leadership experience, and lifelong friends. Here are some of the things that joining HPU’s International Vocal Ensemble taught me that are completely independent of my now enhanced skills as a musician.

It's not about how talented you are, it's about how hard you try.

Although I have been studying instrumental music since I was around 5 years old, I am still a relative novice to singing in that I only started in high school and have never taken private lessons. Many of my peers have been singing for over a decade longer than me, and some are talented enough to eventually turn their skills into a career. Initially, I was intimidated by this - it seemed as though I would never be as good or sound as “Aguilerian” as my friends. However, I found that, no matter how good you are, it matters more the amount of effort you put in. While I may not be the best singer, I can certainly control how prepared I am and how much I practice - my peers often turn to me because they know that I have practiced the rhythm and notes and am typically well versed in our singing material.

Not everyone has the same passions as you.

Over the course of my three years in this ensemble, it has developed into what I consider the most important thing to me and is always my top priority over other extracurricular activities. I have taken leadership roles and consider myself a resource for my peers when they have questions about activities, performances, or anything else related to the ensemble. I consider it unacceptable to be tardy to or disruptive during our rehearsals, and found myself frustrated that not everyone in the group felt the same way. However, I came to the realization that, while this was the most important thing to me, it may not be the most important thing to everyone. Many of my fellow singers are working on difficult degree plans like nursing or science, and I realized that maybe THAT is their passion - that maybe they place the same degree of importance in those areas of their lives that I do in this one; and that’s okay! Once I came to this realization it was easier for me to have standard expectations of my peers, but to realize that they may not go above and beyond and that I shouldn’t try to force them to be passionate with me.

Not everyone is your friend, but it's still important to maintain positive relationships.

In a group of 20-30 people, the odds that you will be compatible with every single person are slim. Some people may become lifelong friends, and others you may simple clash with - but that’s totally fine. The truth is, group settings breed drama; it is always your choice however, as to whether or not you participate or add to the flame. The important thing is to recognize that in any given group setting, you may have to interact with and even collaborate with those people for an extended period of time, and it’s important to determine how you can act kindly and civilly towards them even if you’d never otherwise want to be their friend. Aggression and anger certainly affect the quality of music we produce in our ensemble, just like in school or at work where a hostile relationship may affect your ability to collaborate and produce good work. In short, just like they taught us in kindergarten - treat others the way you’d want to be treated!


Overall, joining choir has been one of the best decisions of my life. Life lessons aside - this group is responsible for giving me some of my closest friends, at least 70% of my social activities outside of school, and my overall happiness and de-stressing over the course of my college experience. I highly recommend joining groups like this that will be your family away from home - find your niche and you're sure to find some friends within!