Piano & college admissions

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MMLC3
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Piano & college admissions

Post by MMLC3 »

Anyone here, whose kid pursued Piano as an activity and it ended up helping them with College admissions?
If yes, how exactly does that come into play? Is it based on what levels you have graduated to? Or based on where you have performed?

Piano classes, at least here in CA are quite expensive for a private instructor. Would like to know, if other than being a lifetime skill and an art form to treasure, does it help at all with College admissions and if yes then in what perspective? My wife and I didn't have the opportunity growing up to learn a musical instrument, so we are glad our kid is getting the opportunity and he is picking it up quite well.

Would like to hear some first-hand examples. This question sort of extends to any extra curricular activity like an art form or sports. Does it only help with College admissions when you can demonstrate that you are absolutely exceptional at it?
seawolf21
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by seawolf21 »

A neighbor who had several kids in college last couple of years and a spouse who works in admissions mentioned musical instrument is dime a dozen (depends on which school and demographics of applicants) unless you are really really really good.

What does stand out in applicants are those with community service; you are actually giving back to the community (and actually improving someone’s life if only for a moment) vs. knowing how to play an instrument.

Having the teen enrich someone else’s life cost less than a piano teacher.
Last edited by seawolf21 on Sun Jan 05, 2020 3:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.
livesoft
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by livesoft »

Not me, but my spouse was a music major and got admitted to college based on her piano playing skills. But guess what? She transferred out of that university and got an engineering degree. :twisted:

My daughter played piano, but I don't think it mattered one bit to her getting admitted to college and graduating with an engineering degree. And my son didn't play piano and it did not hinder him from getting admitted to college and graduating.
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Jags4186
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by Jags4186 »

It will not affect anything unless the student is *really* good and going into a music program.

That said I did get a $2000 annual music scholarship from Franklin & Marshall when I was applying based on some recordings of myself sent in. I didn't go--so much for that *shrug*. To keep the scholarship I had to participate in a certain number of musical things (maybe play for the theatre or join a school-sponsored group?--I can't really remember the details TBH.). I was not going to be a music major.

At my best, around my junior and senior year of high school, I was "pretty good" (I played Henle level 8s) but never "great".
BarbBrooklyn
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by BarbBrooklyn »

Playing an instrument like the bassoon, oboe or French Horn can help with admissions...if that is what the orchestra needs the next year.

Your child should play an instrument because they enjoy it. It is an enriching experience!
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mindbet
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by mindbet »

There are very good college admissions discussions at:
https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/

There are a tremendous number of really talented kids in the admissions pool, so you need to be really good for music to be your "calling card."

We had piano lessons for our two children. The first studied music in college (clarinet) but is now out of music. The second studied science in college (no music) but recently bought a keyboard to play for fun.
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MaryO
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by MaryO »

MMLC3 wrote: Sun Jan 05, 2020 3:18 pm My wife and I didn't have the opportunity growing up to learn a musical instrument, so we are glad our kid is getting the opportunity and he is picking it up quite well.

That statement is why you should give your child the gift of music lessons.

It's impossible to say what the impact might be on college admissions. But his life will be enriched by music started in childhood in a way he'd never be able to replicate if starting as an adult.

Our kids are adults and looking back I can enthusiastically say that music lessons & instruments were the absolute best gifts we provided for them.
cshell2
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by cshell2 »

I think they'd have to be insanely good for it to affect a college admission decision, like playing a Carnegie Hall good, and even then it would just be part of the big picture at the most selective schools. Odds are most kids are not going to get to that level and there are better things to focus on to improve college admission chances.

I encourage you to keep up with the lessons anyhow. My high school senior has been playing trombone for 8 years. He plays in concert band, marching band, jazz band and does solo ensembles. He has had a blast, but I don't think he'll play in college at all.

My 9 year old has been taking piano lesson since he was 5 and really enjoys it. I was hoping he'd say he wants to take up trombone in school so I could save a crap ton of money there and give him his brother's, but he's thinking percussion. :?
ReadyOrNot
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by ReadyOrNot »

It's an activity which the applicant can say occupied a lot of time, and may have illustrated passion and excellence, diligence, or persistence. It is a fine activity. Much better than nothing. Other activities could be as good. If it is something the applicant can write about enthusiastically in an essay, it is good.
aristotelian
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by aristotelian »

Colleges like kids who are well rounded and good at things. Playing piano will not likely get your kid into college. What will make them successful is trying piano, baseball, coding, debate club, etc. loving to learn and getting really good at one or two of them.
livesoft
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by livesoft »

Another outstanding activity is getting a job and getting paid. Colleges love that, too.
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A440
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by A440 »

FWIW, I auditioned for a piano scholarship at an in-state college and received a half scholarship. However, I entered as a music major. It was my "in" for college, as my H.S. GPA was mediocre at best.
There are plenty of very talented musicians looking for college admissions, just like talented artists, athletes, etc. As with most admissions, it really depends on what box the college needs to check and what their needs may be. For example, do they need an out of state female engineering student from Ohio who plays the oboe as well? :happy

IMHO, taking music lessons with the hopes of getting admitted to college is akin to having a child play travel sports and join club teams with the hope of the same. Sports, robotics, music, art, theater and the like are all wonderful activities and experiences for children to enjoy, but I wouldn't place too high of expectations on any of them. Eventually most children will develop an interest, talent or skill which can be honed during their teen years.
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DarthSage
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by DarthSage »

My DD16 is a cellist. She's been playing strings since she was 6, and has the natural talent that she COULD have gone pro--but she chose not to go that route. She wasn't interested in the hours of daily practice that would have been required. So, she remains a talented amateur with the odd paid gig.

How do we expect this to help her for college? Well, she certainly can show that she's focused and sticks with something. She might be able to submit a recording of her playing as part of her admission package. Learning the skill of playing music helps to develop the brain in many ways. Although her lessons have been our largest per-hour expense of her childhood, we don't regret it in the least.

There's a very slight chance that a college MIGHT want her for a string quartet or similar group. It's highly likely that she would turn down such an offer--she doesn't want to feel "forced" to play. She wants to be a lawyer, possibly involved with psychology or criminal profiling.

Our goal as parents is to have cello be something that she enjoys, that brings her happiness, that provides a stress relief, gives her comfort. We hope she recognizes that working hard to get good at something is a reward unto itself.
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JupiterJones
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by JupiterJones »

seawolf21 wrote: Sun Jan 05, 2020 3:47 pm What does stand out in applicants are those with community service; you are actually giving back to the community (and actually improving someone’s life if only for a moment) vs. knowing how to play an instrument.
Maybe the OP's son could combine the two things? Volunteer teaching beginning piano. Or play at retirement homes. That sort of thing?
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RickBoglehead
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by RickBoglehead »

I'd recommend that the OP do some reading on sites that focus on getting into college to learn what does and what does not impact acceptance. Colleges are looking for outstanding qualities in students, not the fact that someone can play the piano. Turning that into the years and years of practice to achieve _____, maybe.

I'd also recommend that OP take a step back. If the child in question is say 5 years from college, then maybe it's time to understand the criteria colleges use, and do some focusing. However, if the child is younger, maybe it's time to take a step back and focus on letting the child develop as a child, and not be focused on things like college well before it's time to. I know of many children that got involved in activities they did not like for the wrong reason (college acceptance) and had years of misery. I also know of one student pushed by parents to be in a specific group, did the minimum required, achieved the level needed, and quit the next day. It was obvious to all it was a college-entrance-focused effort.

Years ago we visited a top public university, and the Director of Admissions gave the 15 minute intro talk for the tour. He was very outspoken, saying "we don't care" in answer to a question or two, then getting specific:

- "Marching Band" - we don't care.
- "State Marching Band" - we might care.
- "Boy / Girl Scouts" - we don't care.
- "Job" - we don't care.
- "National Honor Society" - we don't care.

And on and on it went. He summarized - we are looking for what you excel in that others do not. "Did you do something amazing, like leading an effort to get an entire community to better this world? And do it ongoing, not just for your college application?"

My son then raised his hand. "What about achieving Eagle Scout?" Answer "THAT we care about". He got into that school with his Eagle Scout (and awards beyond Eagle Scout), because he based an essay on the long years and perseverance required to achieve it. He also pointed out how he achieved a higher level than a famous graduate.
Last edited by RickBoglehead on Mon Jan 06, 2020 9:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by Dottie57 »

BarbBrooklyn wrote: Sun Jan 05, 2020 4:15 pm Playing an instrument like the bassoon, oboe or French Horn can help with admissions...if that is what the orchestra needs the next year.

Your child should play an instrument because they enjoy it. It is an enriching experience!
If used in social situations, that too is enriching. I was in band (marching and concert) and was a lot of fun in school. Wish I had continued musically after HS.
livesoft
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by livesoft »

My son was home for holiday break and we asked him about all his high school friends and what they were doing. One of his friends dropped out of high school ("Why waste my time?") and got a job writing software. The friend did get his GED, never went to college, and is now managing a software group in California making over $250K a year. Perhaps $250K is low pay -- I don't know, but note that I used the word "over", too.
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RickBoglehead
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by RickBoglehead »

livesoft wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 9:49 am My son was home for holiday break and we asked him about all his high school friends and what they were doing. One of his friends dropped out of high school ("Why waste my time?") and got a job writing software. The friend did get his GED, never went to college, and is now managing a software group in California making over $250K a year. Perhaps $250K is low pay -- I don't know, but note that I used the word "over", too.
Comes down to what we as a society view as "success". Money is not everything. I know some former college athletes that never graduated, went pro, made a lot of money, and then retired in their early 30s without a college degree. I know of one that went back, and he said it was the most important thing he'd done in his life.
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by willinghamt19 »

It matters if your child can contribute to the school ensembles and recitals. So many kids from affluent backgrounds learn to play a few things on piano during lessons and lose interest to some extent in high school, so it's not a particularly rare skill. But being able to improvise solos, accompany other jazz soloists, sight read sheet music very well, or perform difficult classical pieces at a concert level can help. Basically, music skills help only insofar as those skills improve the school's music department and ensembles.
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by cshell2 »

It also depends a lot on what school you're applying to. A lot of the big state schools care about nothing but GPA, test scores and academic HS rigor. They have extracurriculars as a "secondary" factor, but it's used more in situations where the student is borderline academically for them.
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by livesoft »

RickBoglehead wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 9:51 amI know of one that went back, and he said it was the most important thing he'd done in his life.
And maybe now he is managing a software group in California right now, too?
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climber2020
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by climber2020 »

I started off on the piano as a child before transitioning to percussion. I'm not sure how much it helped with my college application, but it definitely helped with medical school interviews because every single interviewer asked me about my music degree, and we spent most of the interview time talking about drums.
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by finite_difference »

I think it’s a skill that looks good as an extracurricular on your application.

But I think the goal should be playing for pleasure and relaxation. Don’t underestimate this point — life can be very stressful at times so outlets to relax can be worth more than gold.

I took a few years as a kid and I didn’t practice well but I learned the basics.

Recently, I find it can be more relaxing to try to play some music than a video game.

Man, I’m getting old.
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alfaspider
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by alfaspider »

As others have said, it's doubtful it would move the needle in college admissions unless the student was pro-level good. Unlike band/orchestra instruments, there's rarely a specific need for a pianist. Even esoteric orchestra instruments that are often lacking (viola, bassoon, etc.) likely only factor if the kid is really good and the school has a very serious program where they absolutely NEED that particular instrument. At the competitive liberal arts school I attended, the orchestra was mostly just an extra-curricular for students who enjoyed it, so it would have been highly unusual for the orchestra director to get involved in admissions decisions to demand a particular instrument. I played the cello, and enjoyed it, but don't think it had any impact on admissions. If we didn't have a bassoonist, we would just do without one. Perhaps different at a place like Oberlin with a strong music program. Plus, I'd wager a HUGE percentage of applicants at highly competitive colleges have at least some piano background. Just playing the piano, even at a fairly accomplished level, likely won't make an applicant stand out

I played the piano for a few years in elementary and middle school but was never any good (At my best, I could struggle through the first movement of the "Moonlight Sonata" but never got to serious level repertoire). It was a helpful foundation for the cello, which I did become reasonably good at (could play all but the most virtuosic pieces in the standard repertoire). The piano is a great first instrument because it helps teaches musical theory

There's great benefit to learning the instrument, but do it for the love of music and the intellectual development. It's a I'd say that with just about every extracurricular activity a high school student might do. Students should do it because they enjoy it and gain personal growth. I think most "box checking" exercises in this regard just make the student miserable and fail to impress admissions officers anyways.
Last edited by alfaspider on Mon Jan 06, 2020 10:55 am, edited 3 times in total.
Boglegrappler
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by Boglegrappler »

Would like to hear some first-hand examples. This question sort of extends to any extra curricular activity like an art form or sports. Does it only help with College admissions when you can demonstrate that you are absolutely exceptional at it?
Well, I don't have a firsthand example.

But the general rule is that extra curricular activities don't clear the materiality bar in admissions unless there is evidence that you can do them at the college level. For sports, the coaches are the determinants of this. For art and the performing arts many schools invite you to submit supplemental materials, or, I believe in certain situations, actually audition for the faculty.

These are rather high bars to clear. Of course, the height of the bar is different at Michigan than at Harvard than at Ohio U than at Ursinus.

Frankly, its always been my view that it's far easier to get high grades and score high on the admissions tests than it is to win state championships, or win high level music competitions. There is lifetime value in being musically literate, but how much it will help in any admission depends on one's level of accomplishment.
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by finite_difference »

livesoft wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 9:49 am My son was home for holiday break and we asked him about all his high school friends and what they were doing. One of his friends dropped out of high school ("Why waste my time?") and got a job writing software. The friend did get his GED, never went to college, and is now managing a software group in California making over $250K a year. Perhaps $250K is low pay -- I don't know, but note that I used the word "over", too.
Yeah it’s amazing how driven some individuals are — even from an early age — focused and ambitious, they have figured out exactly what they want to do. It’s like a force of nature.

I did not start college that way, but I came out of graduate school with a similar purpose. Everyone’s different.

An elder once told me, “If you can figure out what you really want to do by the time you’re 30, you’re way ahead of the game.”
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MaryO
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by MaryO »

Boglegrappler wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 10:49 am
Would like to hear some first-hand examples. This question sort of extends to any extra curricular activity like an art form or sports. Does it only help with College admissions when you can demonstrate that you are absolutely exceptional at it?
Well, I don't have a firsthand example.

But the general rule is that extra curricular activities don't clear the materiality bar in admissions unless there is evidence that you can do them at the college level. For sports, the coaches are the determinants of this. For art and the performing arts many schools invite you to submit supplemental materials, or, I believe in certain situations, actually audition for the faculty.

These are rather high bars to clear. Of course, the height of the bar is different at Michigan than at Harvard than at Ohio U than at Ursinus.

Frankly, its always been my view that it's far easier to get high grades and score high on the admissions tests than it is to win state championships, or win high level music competitions. There is lifetime value in being musically literate, but how much it will help in any admission depends on one's level of accomplishment.
Auditions are required for virtually every decent performing arts program. Every applicant is good enough to have won a spot in an All-State ensemble or earned a spot at a competitive acting camp. (In fact, All States is a pretty easy repertoire for top kids who have attended selective music programs, so many don't even bother trying out.) The audition sorts the kids into more refined talent levels. Portfolio submissions for visual arts are a must. Just as submitting film is standard to get a coach's attention. But you can't predict if any talented kid will want to pursue that path in their college major, so it's impossible to know if it will help with admissions anywhere. It can't hurt, as long as a kid involved with his music all thorough high school is doing it because he loves it, and not being forced and thus missing out on activities he'd like to explore.

Not only do parents have no idea what their young kids will want to pursue, they have no idea what each college and that college's specific program will care about. Juilliard, for example, doesn't even have a mechanism to accept SAT scores. They simply don't care. If you pass the competitive prescreen, you are invited to a highly competitive audition with callback rounds. A school like Carnegie Mellon is known as highly competitive and offers wonderful engineering and tech programs which require sky high stats. Yet their acting and musical theatre program is considered one of the three best in the county & they don't give a hoot about SAT scores. Admission is audition based. Michigan, another top 3 musical theatre school, has a lower SAT bar for their theatre & arts kids. The admissions rates for programs like these are around 2%. Which makes many Ivy admissions seem like a breeze in comparison. (The percentage of artsy kids who can make a living through their arts is probably also 2%, but that's a whole different discussion :P )

Aside from special programs, as has already been stated, most schools admit strictly on grades & test scores. More competitive schools do weigh more factors, and it's a given that tons of applicants will have played the piano. Lots of violins, as well. Just don't sweat it! Let him go as deep into music studies as he wants, but don't expect any kind of quantifiable college admissions result. Musical ability is its own reward.
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by hoffse »

Like others have said, just playing piano is not something that, in and of itself, will move the needle for college admissions. Your kid would need to major in music, and piano is a common instrument, relatively speaking, so the competition for it is higher. If you want your kid to get a music scholarship without being tremendously good, stick to the bassoon. It's a horrible instrument to listen to though, IMO.

But putting that aside for a moment, if your child is picking it up and enjoying it, I would encourage you to continue to give them lessons, despite the future outlook for college (or lack thereof).

My husband majored in music. He started as a clarinet performance major, and shifted to music composition partway through. He graduated with a music composition degree and eventually went to law school. But now he sits on the board of our state's symphony, and he still writes as a healthy way to release stress - hey, it's better than alcohol, which is what a lot of lawyers use! He wrote my wedding march for organ and has written some orchestral pieces that have been played by professional orchestras.

I did not major in music, but I was a state-level flute player and was actually ranked in high school and courted by a few music schools. I just didn't want to take all of the 0 credit classes music majors are required to take. But the music lessons my parents gave me provided a foundation for a lifetime love of music, and it's how I met my husband! Whereas his expression is in writing, mine has been in picking up instruments and playing.... I picked up classical violin, which morphed to fiddle in college and law school. After law school I bought a piano and have taught myself to play piano as an adult in 15-20 minute increments over the last few years. I credit music for teaching me discipline and perseverance, and it is also grounds me. I try to start my day with 15-20 minutes of piano before I leave for work, and I am much more productive on days when I can do that.

Be warned that if your child is young, s/he is likely to be pretty bad for a very long time. At a certain age, s/he will get frustrated with it. This is the perseverance part, and it's when a lot of kids quit. But if you encourage your kid to stick with it, somewhere around middle school all the lessons start to click, the neurons begin to fire, and suddenly it all comes together. Your kid could be playing very advanced stuff by high school, and even if s/he doesn't pursue it in college, that foundation will give your kid the ability to continue as an adult.
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by TSR »

I am only minimally involved with my old high school and their admissions department, but I think it goes like this:

1. Playing classical piano at a high level, doing recitals, but not wanting to major in it in college = not much added in the admissions process, but suggests a well-rounded kid.

2. Being passionate about music to the point where you're composing the scores for your friends' film projects, sending in a video of yourself performing songs you've written out at clubs/coffee-houses, or writing musicals that your high school theater friends performed = a big plus.

You don't say, but I'm guessing that your kid is still pretty young, so you don't know if any of the second category will apply. But I think you'll be happy with the continued "investment" in piano lessons if your child is, even if it doesn't help with college. Good luck!
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by MaryO »

hoffse wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 12:25 pm Like others have said, just playing piano is not something that, in and of itself, will move the needle for college admissions. Your kid would need to major in music, and piano is a common instrument, relatively speaking, so the competition for it is higher. If you want your kid to get a music scholarship without being tremendously good, stick to the bassoon. It's a horrible instrument to listen to though, IMO.

But putting that aside for a moment, if your child is picking it up and enjoying it, I would encourage you to continue to give them lessons, despite the future outlook for college (or lack thereof).

My husband majored in music. He started as a clarinet performance major, and shifted to music composition partway through. He graduated with a music composition degree and eventually went to law school. But now he sits on the board of our state's symphony, and he still writes as a healthy way to release stress - hey, it's better than alcohol, which is what a lot of lawyers use! He wrote my wedding march for organ and has written some orchestral pieces that have been played by professional orchestras.

I did not major in music, but I was a state-level flute player and was actually ranked in high school and courted by a few music schools. I just didn't want to take all of the 0 credit classes music majors are required to take. But the music lessons my parents gave me provided a foundation for a lifetime love of music, and it's how I met my husband! Whereas his expression is in writing, mine has been in picking up instruments and playing.... I picked up classical violin, which morphed to fiddle in college and law school. After law school I bought a piano and have taught myself to play piano as an adult in 15-20 minute increments over the last few years. I credit music for teaching me discipline and perseverance, and it is also grounds me. I try to start my day with 15-20 minutes of piano before I leave for work, and I am much more productive on days when I can do that.

Be warned that if your child is young, s/he is likely to be pretty bad for a very long time. At a certain age, s/he will get frustrated with it. This is the perseverance part, and it's when a lot of kids quit. But if you encourage your kid to stick with it, somewhere around middle school all the lessons start to click, the neurons begin to fire, and suddenly it all comes together. Your kid could be playing very advanced stuff by high school, and even if s/he doesn't pursue it in college, that foundation will give your kid the ability to continue as an adult.
This is awesome. I hope your story makes the OP more comfortable writing those music lesson checks. :)
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by hicabob »

Piano got my nephew into Julliard! He is obviously pretty good at it, not so recommended as a career path though if you have other abilities.
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by Broken Man 1999 »

DD rode her viola to 6 years tuition at a small private university.

After she earned her BA, the university told her that they didn't have a strong viola player coming in. She wanted earn a graduate degree, so they offered the tuition to keep her. She earned her MBA by continuing playing in the univesity orchestra.

Over all she had an excellent experience, she did the whole college experience, joining a sorority, living the sorority house, being RA for dorms. She and few other select students went to Europe with their music profs to play in various orchestras.

So, $20/week for lessons with The Florida Orchestra's first viola chair for maybe four years, plus a $4500 viola (1994 price) secured a nice education for her, at least for tuition expenses.

As someone already mentioned, certain instruments are not as popular with music students, but orchestras still need them.

She was offered scholarships to three universities, but there was no doubt where she was going, as one of the universities was her first choice.

Broken Man 1999
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getthatmarshmallow
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by getthatmarshmallow »

Twenty years ago it might have helped, to signal that one was "well-rounded." Now that elite colleges are basically an arms race in overprepping kids, being a pianist doesn't help one stand out. A more specialized instrument might (bassoon, oboe, viola), but the reason to learn music is to learn music, and perhaps for the ancillary mental benefits (work ethic, possibly some correlation with mathematics.)

My kid has been in piano for two years, and if it's nothing else, it's taught him that things that seem hard can be broken down into small steps and mastered, and that he can measure progress over time. He also played "concerts" for grandma and great-grandma at Christmas, which IMO was emotionally worth the cost of lessons.
ohai
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by ohai »

Of course piano will help somewhat. If you have 12 years of piano experience, that's obviously better than someone with no such experience.

However, it is probably the least efficient instrument in terms of college admissions value per time/effort/talent. So many kids play piano, and some are truly outstanding. A normal person has no chance to stand out based on piano skills alone.

If you want to learn an instrument for college admissions, then you should choose something obscure like bassoon, French horn, or similar. I know definitively that colleges actively need these people, since they are so rare. The same goes for male figure skaters.
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snackdog
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by snackdog »

Piano (or other music) lessons are not a financial investment. They should be viewed as a "tax" due on all parents. Non-negotiable.
JLG1111
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by JLG1111 »

JupiterJones wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 9:31 am
seawolf21 wrote: Sun Jan 05, 2020 3:47 pm What does stand out in applicants are those with community service; you are actually giving back to the community (and actually improving someone’s life if only for a moment) vs. knowing how to play an instrument.
Maybe the OP's son could combine the two things? Volunteer teaching beginning piano. Or play at retirement homes. That sort of thing?
My HS-aged daughter volunteers with an organization where she teaches beginner piano to a young student. The parents pay a small fee each week which then gets donated to help fund other schools that have underfunded music programs. She really enjoys it, the student has a lot of fun, the parents appreciate the cost-savings and the money goes to a great cause!
EnjoyIt
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by EnjoyIt »

I live in the south where high school sports are a very big deal. I see parents spending thousands of dollars on coaches and traveling teams in the hopes that maybe their child will make it. Maybe they will get a college scholarship and maybe they will get onto a professional team. Let us be honest, unless this child has innate talent all that money they spend is a complete waste. If you tally up all that cash and invest it, guess what, they could afford to pay for college on their own, without wasting the hours and hours forcing a child to do something they may not even enjoy all that much.

Moral of the story, unless your child has a real innate skill then you are wasting your money. If your child really enjoys something and it makes them happy, and you can afford it, then do it for that reason and that reason alone.
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by Starfish »

snackdog wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 1:53 pm Piano (or other music) lessons are not a financial investment. They should be viewed as a "tax" due on all parents. Non-negotiable.
Why "all parents"? I have no intention to pay for something like this if my kid does not show a desire. I don't personally believe in much educational value from playing an instrument (as in: if you don't have a passion for music, there are much better ways of spending the time).
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by livesoft »

EnjoyIt wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 2:11 pm I live in the south where high school sports are a very big deal. ...

Moral of the story, unless your child has a real innate skill then you are wasting your money. If your child really enjoys something and it makes them happy, and you can afford it, then do it for that reason and that reason alone.
My son will have a job for life doing something he loves because of the sports he played. The Sports-Industrial Complex is a big deal here in the US of A.
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EnjoyIt
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by EnjoyIt »

livesoft wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 2:31 pm
EnjoyIt wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 2:11 pm I live in the south where high school sports are a very big deal. ...

Moral of the story, unless your child has a real innate skill then you are wasting your money. If your child really enjoys something and it makes them happy, and you can afford it, then do it for that reason and that reason alone.
My son will have a job for life doing something he loves because of the sports he played. The Sports-Industrial Complex is a big deal here in the US of A.
Perfect reason to be heavily involved in sports, or music or anything else for that matter. He loves it and sounds like you were able to afford the expense. Wonderful.
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h82goslw
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by h82goslw »

Starfish wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 2:29 pm
snackdog wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 1:53 pm Piano (or other music) lessons are not a financial investment. They should be viewed as a "tax" due on all parents. Non-negotiable.
Why "all parents"? I have no intention to pay for something like this if my kid does not show a desire. I don't personally believe in much educational value from playing an instrument (as in: if you don't have a passion for music, there are much better ways of spending the time).
There’s a lot of educational value in learning music as it makes you a much better critical thinker. I know many science PHDs who play instruments for fun and have done so for years and credit much of their mathematical prowess to learning music.
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by randomguy »

MaryO wrote: Sun Jan 05, 2020 11:07 pm
MMLC3 wrote: Sun Jan 05, 2020 3:18 pm My wife and I didn't have the opportunity growing up to learn a musical instrument, so we are glad our kid is getting the opportunity and he is picking it up quite well.

That statement is why you should give your child the gift of music lessons.

It's impossible to say what the impact might be on college admissions. But his life will be enriched by music started in childhood in a way he'd never be able to replicate if starting as an adult.

Our kids are adults and looking back I can enthusiastically say that music lessons & instruments were the absolute best gifts we provided for them.
I bet if you talk to 90% of the kids that took music lessons, they would have roughly the same experience I had. It was something we were more or less forced to do by parents/school and it added little to our lives. Spending those hours doing something we had a passion for would have been a much better use of our time. It is really easy for someone who is passionate about something to mistake how important it is and to think everyone should be doing it. And no I am not picking on music in particular. It goes across all sorts of things. There were numerious kids playng hockey that were also living out their parents dream.

In a lot of things you need to be insanely good to move the bar for college admissions. There is no way putting in hundreds of hours of music practice is going to help your college admissions more than studying. You should do the activities because you enjoy them at the time you are doing them not because of some dream of future rewards.
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by randomguy »

hicabob wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 1:24 pm Piano got my nephew into Julliard! He is obviously pretty good at it, not so recommended as a career path though if you have other abilities.
I think pretty good is probably an understatement:) If you are really talented (i.e. top 1%. Maybe .1% depending on the field), you have a lot of interesting choices to make in trying to maximize your talents. Most of us aren't that group.
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by livesoft »

hicabob wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 1:24 pm Piano got my nephew into Julliard! He is obviously pretty good at it, not so recommended as a career path though if you have other abilities.
Very good, but I know a Julliard graduate and it is still a struggle after graduation.
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by Starfish »

h82goslw wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 4:23 pm
Starfish wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 2:29 pm
snackdog wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 1:53 pm Piano (or other music) lessons are not a financial investment. They should be viewed as a "tax" due on all parents. Non-negotiable.
Why "all parents"? I have no intention to pay for something like this if my kid does not show a desire. I don't personally believe in much educational value from playing an instrument (as in: if you don't have a passion for music, there are much better ways of spending the time).
There’s a lot of educational value in learning music as it makes you a much better critical thinker. I know many science PHDs who play instruments for fun and have done so for years and credit much of their mathematical prowess to learning music.
Yeah... citation needed.
I know plenty of PhD in STEM at top 10 universities and most of them don't play any instrument. Actually I am willing to bet they are the majority by far.
Last edited by Starfish on Mon Jan 06, 2020 5:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.
EnjoyIt
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by EnjoyIt »

livesoft wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 5:08 pm
hicabob wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 1:24 pm Piano got my nephew into Julliard! He is obviously pretty good at it, not so recommended as a career path though if you have other abilities.
Very good, but I know a Julliard graduate and it is still a struggle after graduation.
I know that guy.
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AD3
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by AD3 »

I think many people over emphasis the importance of extracurricular activities when applying to colleges, what students should be focusing on is one the academic work (primarily grades), second they should foucs on something that they have a passion for (ie. chess, sports, music, building robots, programming, etc...) When the student applies to the university that they want to attend they should have something to write about that in someway relates to the extracurricular activities
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by ohai »

AD3 wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 5:30 pm I think many people over emphasis the importance of extracurricular activities when applying to colleges, what students should be focusing on is one the academic work (primarily grades), second they should foucs on something that they have a passion for (ie. chess, sports, music, building robots, programming, etc...) When the student applies to the university that they want to attend they should have something to write about that in someway relates to the extracurricular activities
I'd say you can get into at least one top 7-10 type of university on the basis of strong academics alone. Sure, you will need some kind of activities, but from what I have seen, most people aren't really that great in clubs and stuff... they just write to make it sound like they did something.

Of course, a lot of people are not going to get 1600 SAT and be the high school valedictorian. Hence, the need to pad with extracurriculars.
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by fru-gal »

Starfish wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 5:11 pm
h82goslw wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 4:23 pm
Starfish wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 2:29 pm
snackdog wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 1:53 pm Piano (or other music) lessons are not a financial investment. They should be viewed as a "tax" due on all parents. Non-negotiable.
Why "all parents"? I have no intention to pay for something like this if my kid does not show a desire. I don't personally believe in much educational value from playing an instrument (as in: if you don't have a passion for music, there are much better ways of spending the time).
There’s a lot of educational value in learning music as it makes you a much better critical thinker. I know many science PHDs who play instruments for fun and have done so for years and credit much of their mathematical prowess to learning music.
Yeah... citation needed.
I know plenty of PhD in STEM at top 10 universities and most of them don't play any instrument. Actually I am willing to bet they are the majority by far.
I worked in a top level computer science research group. Most of the people played musical instruments.
livesoft
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Re: Piano & college admissions

Post by livesoft »

AD3 wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 5:30 pm ... When the student applies to the university that they want to attend they should have something to write about that in someway relates to the extracurricular activities
Actually, I assert that most universities don't care. That's because most universities accept almost everyone that applies. In Texas for instance, you get accepted to the University of Texas in Austin based on class rank and not much else and UT is arguably the best public university in Texas (with no apologies to Aggies). Yes, there are some selective colleges and universities, but their number of slots for freshman is not so large compared to the rest of possibilities.
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