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5 things to know: About earning a music degree

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Eastern New Mexico University

Rafael Marin, a Clovis High graduate, is set for his senior recital 3 p.m. Saturday at Buchanan Hall at Eastern New Mexico University.

By Kevin Wilson


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Rafael Marin, a Clovis native, is getting ready to make some of his final notes at Eastern New Mexico University.

The tuba player has his senior recital 3 p.m. Saturday at ENMU’s Buchanan Hall.

Here are five things to know about going for a music degree:

ONE LONG SONG: Some majors have classes that go from about 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., though early morning and night classes vary. Music majors make longer commitments.

“An average day for me would start really early,” Marin said. “I’ll go to my class at 8 a.m., go through until 5 o’clock. I’ll go to practice, ensemble rehearsals, anything that needs to be done is done during that time. Usually, around midnight, I’ll get home.

“I have had days where I practice one or two hours, up to five at most.”

NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND: Marin graduated from Clovis High in 2011, and will graduate from ENMU in 2015. The four-year plan is a rarity, as music majors sometimes need to do a five-year plan, or even six at times.

“We are required to take many classes,” Marin said. “Not just core classes, but music classes that go in depth. Usually it’s about performing, and there are classes about teaching. There’s a lot to do.”

HOW INSTRUMENTS ARE PICKED: “What I was taught at Eastern is when a child begins we give them an option,” Marin said. “We give them a mouthpiece or a reed and ask what they’re compatible with. We also ask them what they’re comfortable with.”

When he first came to Clovis as a seventh-grader, Marin picked the trombone because it was an available instrument. It wasn’t too long before an instructor suggested the tuba.

“Usually, that’s how they end up with their instrument. They pick it and they’re capable, or they pick one and they aren’t capable and a director suggests something different.”

Bassoon is about the only thing Marin hasn’t played. He enjoys the tuba because it’s more of a challenge on technical pieces.

LIFE AFTER COLLEGE: When he graduates, Marin would like to be a conductor or a professional tuba player.

“Besides music director, you could go into the teaching field,” he said. “You could go to a college and teach theory or something specific. You could perform in a professional orchestra. You could also get a job conducting, which is difficult.”

Recitals matter: “As a performance major, we have to hold two recitals. The first one is the junior. They’re both pretty important, and you need to pass both of them. The junior recital has a minimum of 30 minutes, and the senior has a minimum of 50. It’s a lot more complicated; it can’t be easier than the first recital.

“It’s usually standards, but sometimes we like to perform new stuff. Of the four pieces I’m doing, only one of them is for tuba. That makes them a little bit more difficult.”