Music isn’t just for music majors

By Jordan Radloff

Music is something that can remain a part of students’ lives even after choosing not to participate in college. While it may seem like having a music degree is required in order to continue in music, there are still chances for non-music majors to perform in a musical ensemble.

It is important for college students to be aware of the opportunities available to them after high school and the importance of continuing their involvement in music.

“There are many advantages that come with being involved with a music ensemble,” Thomas Bough, director of athletic bands and wind symphony conductor, said.“It’s a chance to engage with other people on a whole new level, and a way to engage with your own soul that very few other things provide.” 

There are many options for college graduates to consider when looking for a music ensemble to become involved in, such as community orchestras and choirs. Many of these ensembles do not have demanding rehearsal hours, which allows musicians with other careers the opportunity to participate.

The Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra is an ensemble located in DeKalb County, and rehearses at the NIU Music Building, according to the orchestra’s website. The rehearsal schedule for the symphony orchestra lists 28 rehearsals in their concert season between Sept. 9 and May 1, and they meet from 7:30 to 10 p.m. New members are able to join at the beginning of each concert rehearsal cycle.

The DeKalb Festival Chorus is a group that rehearses on campus, and includes singers from DeKalb, Boone, Kane, Rock and Ogle counties, according to their website. Similarly, the chorus rehearses on Monday nights from 7:15 to 10 p.m. from August to November for their fall semester. Members can audition to join in August and January.

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The rehearsal hours for these ensembles make it easier for those with a day job to attend. Musicians of any age can join, according to their websites, which allows performers of varying skills level to interact and learn from each other.

“I conduct the Fox Valley Brass Band, which largely consists of people who are professionals in other fields who played in high school and wanted to keep playing,” Bough said. “Some members are in their late 20’s and 30’s, and some are in their 60’s and even 70’s. It’s absolutely possible to stay involved in music for your entire life.”

Another option, for those who are more serious about their musical performance endeavors, is joining a military music ensemble. The U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-America performed a concert Oct. 7 at the Boutell Memorial Concert Hall. The requirements to join a military ensemble such as this are to have at least a high school diploma and pass a live audition, according to the Air Force Bands website. There are 137 different instrumental ensembles for all of the branches of the military according to the Goal Achievement Objective of the U.S. Military.

“Given that I recently switched my major to music performance, I’ve been looking for ways I can put my degree to use after college,” David Weaver, junior trumpet performance major, said. “Joining a military band such as the Air Force Band will ensure that I’m surrounded by extremely talented musicians who are among the top musicians in any branch of the military.”

Even though Weaver is an example of a student who is pursuing a music degree in order to join a military band, this is still a viable option for graduates without a degree. 

Joining a music ensemble after college offers students community involvement and engagement with like-minded performers who have a similar reverence for music. It is important for students, who may be afraid of losing their opportunity to continue their interests in music, to consider all of the musical opportunities that are available to them later in their lives.