Why I’m doing a music degree as a non-musician and the 10 things it has taught me?

Like most students in their final year of school I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I was raking in above average grades and didn’t really mind going to classes but as far as ideas for my future, I was fairly lost. I’d always assumed that I’d do an arts degree but didn’t really have any idea where I wanted to go with it. One day however, amidst the brochures, open days and careers counselor visits I stumbled upon a course that I had no idea existed. I had always had a very keen interest in music, but despite a short-lived keyboard career at age 11 I didn’t, (and still don’t really have) have any musical talent. Throughout my final years of high school I played around with the idea of whether doing the music industry course was the right idea and it wasn’t until the day before our final university preferences were due, that I finally resolved on the fact that this is, in fact the course that I wanted to accrue a fairly large student debt over and spend the next 3 years of my life doing.

Without a doubt the first question I always receive when I tell people that I’m undertaking a music industry course at university is ‘Oh, what instrument do you play?’ to which I answer ‘None’. This is then usually countered by ‘So you must sing then?’, to which I again answer ‘No, I don’t sing either’. It’s at this moment that the look of doubt creeps into their face and I can see them trying to figure out how and more importantly why I’m doing a music industry degree if I don’t play an instrument and can’t sing. It is a question I battled with a lot at the beginning of this year and still sometimes debate today. Nevertheless, with the end of my first-year drawing to a close I have realised that I really have learnt a lot, mostly academic but also a selection of gems that have started to develop who I am as a musical professional. Without further ado, these are the top 10 things that I’ve taken away from my first year as a music industry student.

  1. The music industry is such an involved industry with so many diverse career avenues.
  2. There is so much more music out there than I ever could’ve imagined.
  3. The importance and reward of listening to music that people suggest to you — it may not be something you enjoy but it could also be your new favourite tune and that’s just a risk you have to take.
  4. What the hell a DAW actually is?
  5. Go to more gigs, particularly free gigs — you could be pleasantly surprised and ultimately, what do you have to lose?
  6. Why it’s important to listen to an album from start to finish — it’s the way the artist intended it and there’s something magical about listening to a fantastic album in it’s entirety.
  7. That working in a studio is tedious work but the end result, if you put the time in, is worth it.
  8. Writing a well-structured, concise essay on Kanye West (or any other artist you admire) is a lot harder than it seems.
  9. Tactile music should never die.
  10. And last but not least, it is possible and can be highly rewarding to do a music degree as a non-musician!
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