What If You’re Not a Musical Prodigy?
Some students (and parents) assume that if you’re not a musical prodigy, you should major in something other than music. Nothing can be farther from the truth! In fact, there are actually benefits to not being a prodigy, so long as you’re someone who feels compelled to pursue music.
This post, from our friends at MajoringinMusic.com, explores this subject with three musicians, each of whom is working in a distinctly different field of music. Their insights are invaluable for students, parents, music teachers, college guidance counselors, and current music majors as well.
Michael Millar, executive director, Arts Council of Kern in California, is quick to describe himself as a “non prodigy.” He credits majoring in music with teaching him to be an achiever (he’s got a BM and an MA in Music Performance, and a DMA in Performance and Arts Administration). “In music school, we’re learning how to learn and how to adapt in the world,” he says. It’s an exceptional major.”
Millar started out in engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder. But it wasn’t his calling. He switched to CU’s College of Music when music proved to be the only major that brought together his passion and interests. He credits his undergraduate program, and not being surrounded by prodigies, with providing him the space “to grow and improve…to compete with myself…to become better tomorrow than today.”
Millar refers to music as a “tough business.” As a result, “Music students need to be relentless…it’s more important than anything else.” As a non-prodigy, he felt he had to work harder than if he had been labeled a prodigy. “If you don’t have huge success early on, you understand and learn how to get better. You have hills to climb and you learn to love taking one step at a time and the relentlessness of it all.” He likes to quote legendary tennis player, Arthur Ashe, who said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”