When I applied to Lawrence as a dual degree student in voice performance and psychology, I thought that it would be the best of both worlds. Half of my time spent in the con and half in the college. When I got tired of theory and practicing I could just focus on my reading for a separate class. To me that made sense because doing so much theory all at once all the time sounded exhausting. But what I found was a schedule that put half of my years in the Conservatory and half of my years in the college, something that I was not expecting. And when I did try the all-theory-and-all-music combination I was right, it was downright exhausting. Not only that, but it also felt like it killed my love of music.
I think the most effective way to illustrate why I say that it was so exhausting is to tell you my actual schedule. I was in Music Theory Fundamentals which meant that every day of the week except Tuesdays at 8:30 I was in the Con for an hour. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I was in Waterman House doing aural skills for another hour and if it was Monday or Wednesday, I would arrive at 1:10 instead of 1:50 for Sight Singing before Aural Skills. Freshman Studies also took up an hour on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and Mondays I had Diction for an hour as well. On top of all that, I also had an hour of Basic Piano Skills for which I had to attend a one hour lab once a week as well as practice. But that was only my class schedule. I also had to add a voice lesson for an hour one day of the week, two hours of practice per day and one hour of choir on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Not to mention the time that I had to spend on homework for both Theory and Freshman Studies which could add three or more hours each day.
My point in writing all of this, is to say that I was taking on a load that was way too much for me to handle. After my first week I called my mom in tears, mentally and physically exhausted. I have since dropped my Bachelor of Music and am much happier, but my problem is not a new one. While I was recently speaking with a friend in the Con who was struggling with opera rehearsals and juggling the classes in her minor, it reminded me of my own desperation in trying to juggle my massive schedule. It got me thinking about how overworked my friends in the Con are and how they managed to make it through years of what I was unable handle in a week. And honestly, part of it is personal preference, as I dislike music theory, and another part is that they are very strong people, but I also think there is more to it than that. That freshman year schedule felt like an unedited one, like a brainstorm of what the teachers all wanted us to do before they simplified it. When I had gone through the wringer of that first week, I realized that doing that week after week would leave me with very little free time to do anything fun and music would become all that I ever did. It would have slowly made music into a chore, something that I did because I was crawling towards a degree.
Life needs a balance, and while there are definitely people who have gone through that schedule and were completely happy, I also think that people need and deserve a life outside of music. It would also help students in the Conservatory to better integrate into the college. There was no room in my schedule to feel up to socializing and mixing, especially not as an introvert. The process felt very lonely. At the end of the day, some people are cut out for that level of work and some are just not, but I also think that the level of commitment is detrimental to the people who go through it and it excludes people from the space. A compromise needs to happen for the health of the students because they deserve to be rested, even at the expense of some of the work.