Year One College Reboot – Part 1

Year one of my college reboot is over. While I don’t exactly regret not transferring the music credits I had from my first go round, I have found myself calculating how many more of them I need to fulfill that portion of my now double major. I’ve entered the honors program, which will in some ways fulfill most of the liberal arts requirements needed to graduate, but in other ways add a few more classes that I wouldn’t otherwise need.

I’ve also added an English major and writing minor which partially was already started with the credits I did transfer so I believe everything will be done on time. I did modify the music major to go from music education to just music since there were a number of required courses and observations and whatnot for teaching K-12 that I am not really interested in doing. I do want to teach, but my goal is to teach older adults and I felt that if I found myself teaching K-12 that I may never get out.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy teaching kids, but at this point in my life, I would rather not be starting at the bottom in music ed when so many programs are being cut. I am still going to take the various pedagogy classes to learn the various band instruments as well as the conducting classes since those will all come in handy teaching adults.

As much as I believe that everything happens for a reason, I have found myself wondering if I picked the right school for this adventure. My primary goal was to play my trumpet and finish my music degree so I could teach older adults and also to play a variety of styles on my trumpet. On the way, I found that I do enjoy writing and following the same pattern from 30 years ago, I found myself drawn to the English department. It also helped that I did transfer English credits.

However, as much as I’ve tried to keep an open mind about the inner workings of the music department, I have felt less than welcome by more than a few instructors in the department. There is one in particular that I feel should have been fired before he finished his first semester teaching there (which was my first semester there) and I refuse to participate in anything he teaches if I can get around it, but other than that I feel like I have to jump over or go around barriers that are only in place for certain students.

I concede that I am not the trumpet player I once was. 27 years off and a brand new configuration of teeth will tend to change the way anyone plays, but as far as I can see, each student pays in one way or another the same amount to get the same opportunities and the same education yet there are those within the department who believe otherwise.

For some of them, I believe my age is a factor, but for others, it seems they have their own ideas on which students are worthy of their attention. This has led me to seek other avenues, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when I start counting credits to see when I can spend more time in another department, then I have to ask if this was the best place for me to go to get a music degree.

I have had a number of positive experiences at this school and I wouldn’t have had them met the people I have met had I gone elsewhere and there are some of the faculty that have been very helpful for me in the music department, but it is those who have not been that have been cause for concern for me.

I had a great time at the ITG conference which I recently attended, though I found myself exhausted by the 18-22 year olds I traveled with. They are great kids, but I’m sure traveling with a 50 year old man wasn’t always fun for them either. I will say they went over and above to make me feel comfortable, though and I am more often than not happy to see their enthusiasm for things and I do try to feed off that energy.

I also enjoyed the many performances at the conference but had to keep myself from wondering what if? … My favorite performances came from those who are in my own age group. Would I have been at that level now had things been different back then? There is no use speculating, but given my experience in the music department now, I wonder if I’ll even get close to that level at all…

There is one more change that I am likely to make this fall when the English department’s new curriculum kicks in and that will be to modify the current English major/ writing minor to a Major in English with a concentration in Writing and have Music as a 2nd Major. This will trim 8 of the required credits off the music major while adding 4 to the English major.  A net savings of 4 and allow me to finish all of the music requirements but two 4 credit classes and my lessons by the end of year two.

College Reboot year two is two months away. That’s when band camp starts, if I choose to do marching band, which I am still on the fence about.  I feel if I want to have more opportunities at this school to play, I have a better chance if I am in the marching band. I don’t believe it should be that way, unfortunately, I believe it is the case.

I have a lot of positive experiences to write about from year one, so stay tuned….