When registering for classes last summer, I didn’t know what to expect. I had hoped that I wouldn’t have to take more than 15 credit hours, and that I wouldn’t have too many 8 a.m. classes. To my dismay, neither of these aspirations came true. This is because there is little flexibility in course registration at Blair. This is due to the music core. The music core is a two year music intensive program which Blair students must complete in order to receive their degree. It consists of an applied study in each student’s instrument, voice or composition, as well as multiple semesters of music theory, musicianship, keyboard harmony and musicology. Students must also take one semester of technology for musicians, conducting and pedagogy, in addition to being involved in ensembles, attending recitals and their regular performance/studio classes.
Blair tries to build students’ musical abilities as quickly as possible, so the majority of core music classes must be completed within the first two years. Then, in students’ junior and senior year, schedules are more free to pursue a second major. However, the music intensity of the first two years at Blair hinders some music students from being able to make strong connections with people outside of Blair. All classes are within Blair for the first two years, aside from one non-Blair class each semester. While A & S students typically have classes with completely different people, Blair students have classes with mostly the same. Of course, the benefit to this, as I explained in my previous column, is that we form incredibly close bonds with each other extremely quickly. The downside is that we also lose the variety that many other students experience in meeting new people.
This leads me to another aspect of being in Blair. There is no AXLE. Blair students have a reduced number of liberal arts requirements (hence why we only really take one class outside Blair each semester our first and second years), and many of these requirements are already built into our degree program. For example, my first-year writing seminar class is fulfilled by a musicology class within the music core. This is because Blair students take roughly 13 classes each semester, leaving very little room in their schedule for liberal arts classes outside of Blair. Furthermore, in order to not exceed the maximum credit allotment, some of our performance classes are 0 credits, but we still receive a grade for the class which counts towards our GPA.
Having just started the music core, I am anxious for what’s ahead. First semester is mostly spent going over the basics, so I have been fine so far. However, upperclassmen warn me about sophomore year. I’ve heard it becomes much more difficult, as the classes move into more advanced territory. While I am apprehensive, I’m looking forward to the day when I can recognize all of the progress that I’ve made as a musician and will be able to explore more classes outside of Blair as I enter my junior year.