Uni subject dilemma – music, engineering or something else!?
I’m 17 and hoping to apply to uni for 2013 entry. I am having a bit of a subject dilemma though! To cut a long story short, music is my favourite thing in the world, so it makes sense that I would want to study music. I have for a very long time, but I’ve never made up my mind for certain. I spend all my free time playing violin, viol (a renaissance instrument that hardly anyone plays) and piano (rather badly). I really love the idea of studying music, but I’m the sort of person who worries quite a bit and I’m literally terrified that I would come out of uni and have no job, which would drive me crazy! People keep telling me that I should maybe think about doing something else and keep it as a hobby. I’m not even sure what I would do with a music degree – joining a viol consort and travelling round the world sounds really fun and exciting, or there’s the classic teach/perform combo. If I wanted to stick with viol, I could go to a conservatoire as a postgrad student, most viol teachers I know seem to have gone to Trinity Laban. The early music world seems to be growing, which is an advantage, and there’s not many people around who have managed to start viol as early as I did (I’ve been playing treble 4 years, tenor 3 and bass 2 terms). I like orchestral playing but I’m not the best at super-fast passages or sight-reading, which would probably kill me. If that’s what I wanted to do I’d go to probably go to conservatoire, but I like the academic side to music too and dabble in composing, so this probably isn’t the best option. I suppose that if I really wanted a stable job, I could do a PGCE or whatever and go into secondary music teaching, but I’m not sure if I would cope, as I go to a grammar school where most people aren’t trouble makers so might get walked all over by badly behaved people, not really knowing how to deal with them.
There’s also the money side. I’m more of a saver than a spender, so not having a massive salary wouldn’t bother me as much as it would some people, but don’t want to be living wondering how I’m going to pay the rent for the month/ for my next meal! Also my parents have forbidden me to go anywhere in London because of living costs, which restricts my choices music-wise. It might sound a bit harsh but it’s fair enough really, I have 2 younger sisters who have their hearts set on being artists and the other a professional dog walker, so they can’t really afford to finance all the extras. If I were doing music, my dream place would be Oxford (Bate collection AND a viol consort in residence! *drools*), and I’m also looking at Bristol, Birmingham, York, Nottingham etc. But even if I got in to Oxford, I wouldn’t be sorted for life – it’s scary how low the employment ?s!
As some background, I have 11 A* GCSEs and am taking A level Music, Maths, Further Maths, Chemistry and Physics (probably won’t take physics to A2, me and Edexcel physics exams don’t get on). I’m predicted all As for this year, but have a feeling I mucked up C2 maths (felt like it went catastrophically and it might push my AS down to a B or even C which would be a real bummer as I got practically full marks in my mock, and resits/applying with a low AS grade look bad), and the 2nd physics paper mucked up the evil question, so who knows? The only work experience I have is a week with different peripatetic music teachers, and a week in a string shop, this year I’m on an orchestra course for work exp. week. However apart from this I’ve always treated life like I was going to go into both music and science, so I have bronze/silver/gold crest (won a prize at the national finals too!), and am on the Engineering Education Scheme and doing a really interesting perspectives in science EPQ on in vitro meat. Violin-wise I am leader of a county string group, sub leader of another orchestra, and I’m also in CBSO youth. Got my ABRSM grade 8 in 2010, but got a high merit and really cba to retake. Technically I’m not amazing (still trying to sort out that dratted technique) but I used to win lots of competitions and stuff because I’m quite good at interpretation.
I also have my grade 5 musicianship, but not theory – taking it wouldn’t be a problem but I’ve been advised it’s not worth the effort. Another reason I probably won’t be choosing conservatoire is that I know from experience that if I practice the same instrument for more than 2 hours a day, I tend to actually get worse! With viols we don’t have grades, but I’m in the local consort and ‘waits’ group, and have been on lots of trips and exciting things. This has given me a good knowledge of renaissance music, which I’m really thankful for. With piano I will never be good enough to perform properly (I’ve had irregular lessons since I was 12, and scales are my arch nemesis) but I am working towards my grade 8 this year. Ooh, and another point, my viols except my treble are on loan so buying a decent set would cost me a fortune.
So I thought I’d take inventory of my other options. There’s engineering, which I quite enjoy (it’s not the same as music though), but my Dad is an engineer, and it’s also what one of my really close friends is doing. I know they’re a bit of a rubbish reason not to do it, but no-one want to turn into their dad, right? I’m a girl so there’s the possibility of getting some nifty sponsorship deal. Also I don’t really know what type I like best : to me mechanical looks quite fun and civil and materials less so, and electrical NO WAY because electricity is my LEAST FAVOURITE TOPIC in the whole of physics. That just leaves general? But to do these I’m pretty sure most courses ask for physics, meh. I thought about pharmaceuticals or chemistry too as it used to be my favourite subject, but the Pharmaceutical industry is a bit evil, and I’m not enjoying chemistry any more nearly as much as I used to. Chemical engineering maybe? I like my maths but don’t think I could face a degree in it.
I like my numbers real. I’ve recently found a love of Statistics (which the rest of my class hate) but though I’m quite maths minded, last month I had a peek at a STEP paper, and couldn’t answer a single question, so that rules out the most competitive stats courses. Anything maths related is probably a bad idea though because I’m slow at grasping new maths concepts, but once I get the hang of them and do practice papers for literally hours, I can get good grades. This would mean having no life at all during uni, which wouldn’t be fun whilst being surrounded by maths geniuses. Physics has been ruled out for the same reason, especially with yucky electricity featuring in most courses. Plus I would hate never knowing if I got a job because I was good or because they needed a girl to fill quotas!
I really need to make up my mind for certain (I said I had decided on music for good 2 months ago, but it’s become a bit of a lie). At school we’re drafting personal statements, and I reall
Asked By: AnonWellyGirl - 6/24/2012