Career Goals: More Than Meets the Eye
Angie Grau, School of Music Mentor
Music is a multi-faceted art. As we all know, there is so much more than the black dots we read on a page. Throughout your undergraduate career here at West Chester you will get exposure to many of those facets, and it may feel overwhelming. You may feel conflicted with where your true passions lie. That is alright! It is a good thing to have knowledge in many of the areas of music, and in the long run you can only benefit from this renaissance-type of education. But, where do I go from here? Here are some tips to help you along in your journey to finding our Career goals:
1. DO NOT LIMIT YOURSELF.
This is an obvious one, but many young students at WCU do it anyways. My high school choir director—who was fantastic!—was an OBOE major. Yes, oboe. Her dream was to teach high school band. But now she teaches choir and loves every moment of it. My first co-op is a similar story, except now she teaches elementary general music. You never know what types of careers may interest you, and so you should never say “no” simply because you have never tried it or because “I’m a choir person”.
2. GO TO CONFERENCES, COMPETITIONS, FESTIVALS, ETC.
As many as you can! PCMEA and ACDA hold conferences throughout the year, and our student chapters fundraise in order to lower the prices! Becoming a member of these organizations is very easy and inexpensive. Get your money’s worth out of these memberships! Also, inquire to your studio professor about any competitions or festivals that may be going on. NATS (the National Association for Teachers of Singing) holds conferences each year in which singers can compete for cash prizes! I attended the NATS Eastern Regional Conference last year and it changed my life. The panel discussions, master classes, and workshops the members held were fantastic, and the helped me shape my career goals. Not only is travelling fun and a great stress-relief from classes, but you may learn a thing or two about yourself along the way.
3. DON’T IGNORE THE OTHER FACETS OF MUSIC.
Your diploma will say one of four things: Music education, Music Performance, Music Theory and Composition, or Music Elective Studies. But, your qualifications extend beyond one simple phrase. The experiences you have here will show you that your career is not necessarily determined by your degree program. However, in order to obtain these degrees you must take additional classes, namely: Music History, Choral/Instrumental Conducting, and Instrument-specific Pedagogy. You can easily make careers out of any of these courses. Just look at our professors! Dr. DeVenney and Dr. Yozviak are conductors; Dr. Balthazar and Dr. Onderdonk are musicologists; Dr. Rozin and Dr. Maggio are composers! Each studio professor has a great deal of knowledge regarding “the science and art of teaching” their specific instruments. This leads me to number 4….
4. TALK TO YOUR PROFESSORS.
They are here to answer your questions, about anything and everything! If you want to be just like one of them, ask them how they got there. I assure they will gladly tell you’re their story, as well as some great advice as to how to get there yourself.
5. BE PATIENT.
This is the most important one. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO HAVE CAREER GOALS RIGHT AWAY. You are a freshman in college, for Pete’s sake! I know pre-college they rush you into making decisions about your major and school and all that. But now that you’re here, you’re allowed to slow down. You do not have to know exactly what you want yet, and I don’t believe that anybody truly knows until it lands in their lap.