Inside look: CSU’s music major

Randi Mattox

Most majors at Colorado State University are pretty straightforward in terms of what classes are available and what careers students go into after graduation. But for students studying music, the educational experience is a bit different. Vocal performance student Justin Little gives us insight into the music major at CSU.

Little’s field of concentration is vocal performance, but he said that there are multiple fields of music to study at CSU.

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“There is music therapy, music composition, music education, and then there is a bachelor in music and a bachelor for the art of vocal performance,” said Little. “If you’re just getting your bachelors degree, that is just general music and you’ll probably do musical theatre. If you study vocal performance, you will shoot for big musical theatre stuff or you’re going to sing opera professionally.”

Little said the music major encompasses a lot of challenging courses. 

“There are a lot of things that you have to learn and master before you can sing proficiently and for a career,” said Little. “We take voice lessons, choir, and opera. We have to take German, French and Italian. And then we have to take a year of diction in all of those as well.”

Little recognizes that all majors have their own difficulties, but he describes the music major as especially challenging.

“For anyone who might not recognize music as a legitimate major, it is a lot of work,” said Little. “I am either in rehearsal or practicing for 40 hours a week. Music is so intense and so hard. In my opinion, it is one of the hardest and most time consuming majors.”

In place of a capstone project, the vocal performance students are tasked with performing an hour-long solo recital.

“I have to prepare around twenty pieces,” said Little. “I am responsible for preparing these pieces and then I come in and work on them with my vocal professor. I will memorize them, characterize them, and then I will perform that at my recital.”

Little will be performing opera at his recital, which he said requires more skill than a lot of people realize.

“Opera singers don’t use microphones,” said Little. “I think that gives a lot more credit to what we do. It’s us acting on stage, singing in a foreign language, while projecting over an entire orchestra and everybody else on stage.”

Although the music major is hard work, Little said the  faculty makes it possible for students to succeed. 

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“We have amazing faculty that help us where we need it,” said Little. “And not only do they give us the support, but also the knowledge that we need to be capable of the things that we do.”

Collegian Reporter Randi Mattox can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @randimattox.