RIC Professor Pens Advice Book for Aspiring Music Majors

RIC Professor of Music Robert Franzblau.

RIC Professor of Music Robert Franzblau.


High school students who plan to be music majors in college aren’t always prepared for what awaits them, says Rhode Island College music professor Robert Franzblau.

Giving those students, and their influencers, advice on making the right decision was the idea behind Franzblau’s recently published book, “So You Want to be a Music Major: A Guide for High School Students, Their Parents, Guidance Counselors, and Music Teachers,” published by Meredith Music Publications in July.

The book, which will also be available in an electronic format, addresses a wide range of concerns college music instructors have about their incoming students including technical skills, having the right attitude toward their work, and having a misconception about what a collegiate music program entails.

“Sometimes students want to choose music because they think it will be fun,” Franzblau said. “It’s supposed to be hard work, and it is hard work, like anything else.”

Franzblau conceived of the book about three years ago, when a colleague suggested he put to paper what they had long discussed - that some music students come to college unprepared for playing, studying, practicing and competing beyond the high school level.

Taking curriculum centered on music theory, developing aural skills (ear training), piano playing and music writing often comes as a shock to some students, Franzblau said.

Students also often come to college with little exposure to classical music, which, Franzblau said, is the focus of RIC’s curriculum much like it is at most colleges and universities.

“College music study goes beyond the ability to play or sing,” Franzblau said. “Being a music major in college is more focused on the individual than the group. It’s about how you progress as a performer.”

Franzblau, who taught music at the elementary, middle and high school levels before coming to RIC 16 years ago, used a sabbatical in fall 2011 to conduct interviews and an online survey to determine the top concerns of college music instructors and potential music majors.

He turned that research into what he hopes is a guide for high school music students, their parents, high school guidance counselors and music teachers that will help them become more accurately attuned to the collegiate music world.

“It’s also time management and a lot of skill development,” Franzblau said. “You have to sit in a practice room for hours, something like 10,000 hours, until you’re an expert. There’s also odd hours involved.”

Franzblau includes in the book a list of online resources, including YouTube videos on aural skills, music theory, and great performances of standard classical music repertoire. He also has linked those resources on his RIC faculty page at http://www.ric.edu/faculty/rfranzblau/. A video detailing his book’s content can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uqI_r3vv3w.