Music programs teach people to appreciate music and understand its history. Students learn concepts such as melody, rhythm, and harmony. They study at least one instrument or learn to perform vocal music. They also learn to play solos and perform as part of a group.
The opening line of Shakespeare's play "Twelfth Night" goes: "If music be the food of love, play on." Shakespeare was not the only person to recognize the connection between music and love. Indeed, music often reflects the spectrum of emotions in human experience. That is one reason why so many people love music.
Every culture treasures its music. Music can express, celebrate, entertain, inspire, heal, and evoke enthusiasm or devotional feelings. As a major, its emphasis is on performance, analysis, and critical interpretation. These pursuits can build a strong foundation not just for advanced study in music, but also for careers in education, business, communications, and medicine.
In fact, the American Medical Association names music as one of the two undergraduate majors with the highest rate of acceptance into medical school. Of course this doesn't mean that you should put down your violin for a stethoscope. But it does suggest that musicians share with doctors the capacity for close attention to detail, patience, persistence, and stamina.
As a student in a general music program, you gain a broad understanding of the field. You might take survey courses in music history and theory to build a strong foundation. Afterwards, you could choose more specific courses based on your interests. You might, for example, take a course on the development of jazz in different countries. Or you could learn more about a specific composer.
At the same time, you typically take lessons in some sort of music performance, whether that be playing an instrument or singing. Your course work in history and theory helps give your playing (or singing) a context. You start to understand who your influences are, or to what type of music you're most attracted.
Majoring in music is a good way of identifying your specific interests in the field. You can pursue many different graduate level opportunities in related programs of study, including music teacher education, music composition and theory, and music history.
Most colleges and universities offer bachelor's degree programs in music which typically take about four years of full-time study after high school. Community colleges and independent schools of music also offer training programs that lead to two-year associate degrees. You may be able to transfer those credits to a bachelor's degree program.
When you major in music, you can sometimes focus on a particular performance track. A few examples of possible tracks include singing, violin, and the flute.