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In December, the number of junior music majors doubled. There are now two of us.

More than 30 percent of stu­dents par­tic­ipate in music lessons or ensembles, but many of them never take a single music class. Even those who com­plete the minor never take many of the courses which would truly help them under­stand music.

While other classes have more music majors — the senior class boasts a star­tling five — the lack of interest is still alarming. Stu­dents who dip their toes into ensembles or take the few require­ments for the minor are not fully embracing music, and the ben­efits of studying it are therefore dimin­ished.

Rather than write a senior thesis or take com­pre­hensive exams, stu­dents majoring in music perform an hour-long senior recital com­plete with appe­tizers and an audience of family and friends. Music majors also fre­quently have schol­ar­ships ranging from $1,000 to full tuition.

Almost everyone will say they love music, but music majors can speak with authority on why some notes sound good together, how that fact was dis­covered, and how they should be per­formed. Music minors do not take the second or third semesters of music theory classes and get only a small taste of the under­standing that majors enjoy.

Stu­dents should find the music major appealing simply based on its require­ments. Apart from one-credit intro­ductory courses, ensembles, and private lessons, the major requires only three semesters of music theory, three semesters of history, and five credits of elec­tives. While it is not easy, the com­plete major totals 40 credit hours and leaves plenty of time for a second major or minor.

The $85 addi­tional fee per semester for private lessons is already a steal, but the music major and minor waive this fee — even when the credits exceed the 17-credit maximum. I have taken 25 credits in a single semester without paying an extra dime in tuition, and gotten little grade boosts for each private lesson. Others could the­o­ret­i­cally take an unlimited amount of credits at the same tuition rate.

I am able to ratio­nalize learning new instru­ments through my major. A potential side career teaching music is an appro­priate jus­ti­fi­cation to begin lessons in voice, jazz, guitar, violin, and hope­fully cello and flute in the future.

According to Aris­totle, music is one of four cus­tomary sub­jects of edu­cation. The other three are reading and writing, gym­nastics, and drawing. Hillsdale’s core includes plenty within the realm of reading and writing, but the single fine arts requirement can be ful­filled by one course in music, art, or theater.

Aris­totle wrote that music is suited for leisure as a pastime proper for free men. He says this is because it teaches how to respond properly to emo­tions. While Aris­totle agreed with Plato’s sug­gestion that music might bring out evil emo­tions such as anger, Aris­totle dis­agreed with Plato in stating that this was bad.

“Since it is the case that music is one of the things that give pleasure, and that virtue has to do with feeling delight and love and hatred rightly, there is obvi­ously nothing that is more needful to learn and become habit­uated to than to judge cor­rectly and to delight in vir­tuous ethoses and noble actions,” Aris­totle said.

Rhythms and melodies may rep­resent anger, mildness, courage, and tem­perance, Aris­totle says, and these qual­ities cor­re­spond to the human ethos or char­acter. Humans, then, know the correct rep­re­sen­tation of their emo­tions because of music.

Music is more than a low-paying job, as some stu­dents claim it is, and more than a plea­surable pastime. It’s a passage to the soul. Stu­dents at a college which aims to develop their souls should con­sider studying it.

“It is plain that music has the power of pro­ducing a certain effect on the ethos of the soul, and if it has the power to do this, it is clear that the young must be directed to music and must be edu­cated in it,” Aris­totle said.

I venture to say Aris­totle would not approve of only two music majors in the junior class. Hillsdale’s music program has a lot to offer. Stu­dents need to take advantage of this vital aspect of the liberal arts.