Music Majors Play with Pride: Take Note

Chris Young

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It’s nine o’clock on a Monday night and most students are trudging their way through a reading or socializing with hall mates. For most, the day is coming to a close. However, across Massachusetts Avenue, in Katzen Arts Center, students are still in the thick of things. Musicians have been practicing their four pieces in orchestra for about an hour, and that practice has been sprinkled with conductor’s direction, choruses of laughter and swells of symphonies.

“You spend a lot of your time in Katzen,” said Bridgette Pressley, a sophomore and the only clarinet major in her year. “I try to spend an hour or two every day practicing.”

American University could well be home to a future president or United Nations ambassador, but a discipline all too often forgotten about is music. The class structure for music majors is much different than that of a political science or an international relations major. Many music theory classes are mandatory, and as students progress through their degree, they are encouraged to take more one-credit lesson courses.

According to Parchment, a website that breaks down AU’s demographics, the top majors among students at American University include political science and government, international studies and business. With the majority of AU students taking classes and succeeding in these areas, any musical success stories coming from AU’s campus often get overlooked. Many artistic, musical alumni have attended AU including Cass Elliot, the lead singer of the Mamas and the Papas; Goldie Hawn, an American actress, director and producer; and Nancy Meyers, an accomplished film director.

Yubin Choi, a senior at AU and music major, says that originally, she was drawn to AU for its international studies program. Choi didn’t think of becoming a music major until she was encouraged by her cello instructor to pursue what she loved. 

“Music shouldn’t be about competing,” she said.

This isn’t an uncommon sentiment among music majors at AU. Jess Bauer, a junior majoring in psychology and music, started her freshman year undecided. 

“Music is a smaller major, so it’s easier to double major with stuff,” she said. “So, music and psychology, they’re both relatively small majors but it works when I double.”

Although AU has earned a reputation as a social sciences school, the music students and staff here prove that the school has even more to offer.  Of the tiny by engaging community, Bauer said, “It’s small, but those of us who are in it really love it.” 

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