Practice makes music

Practice makes music

Ingrid Chang

Carnegie Mellon, college, and nine-hour-classes-a-day take place all in six weeks for senior Shreepal Shah as well as an experience he can take away forever.


Instead of going the beach, slumbering until noon-time, or catching up on summer reading, senior Shreepal Shah has taken the summer of 2009 to a whole different meaning. It started with a single brochure for a Pre-College Music Program at Carnegie Mellon. 

"I wasn’t sure what I was going to do [over summer]. Before, I applied to Stanford to take classes," Shah said. "But then I realized I’d rather do music."

From June 27 to August 7, Shah was able to experience college life as a music percussion major at Carnegie Mellon. In the music program, students could choose between 22 majors from bagpipe to voice. Other than music, Carnegie Mellon also offered Architecture, AP classes, and many other summer programs for students. The music program was relatively competitive to get into, only accepting 31 students out of 94 in 2007, and accepting 35 students this year. But there’s a reason for the competitiveness. 

Classes went from nine to around six each day in the music department building. It was nine full hours of dedication for all music majors. For Shah, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays consisted of mandatory classes such as music theory, sight-singing and different ensembles. Then on Tuesdays and Thursdays, there was choir in the morning followed by music history, music technology and aCarnegie Mellon, college, and nine-hour-classes-a-day take place all in six weeks for senior Shreepal Shah as well as an experience he can take away forever. n improvisation ensemble. 

Shah was able to take classes with other music majors and meet people from all over the United States including senior Elise Manning from Pennsylvania, a voice major. As a voice major, Manning was required to take acting and dance as well, and had an equally rigorous schedule. 

"You get your work ethics back up to par," Manning said. "Being there I was practicing at least two hours a day." 

Being a music major is tiresome and besides the nine hours of classes each day, students also had to find time to practice outside of class. But that was exactly what Pre-College was for—to give students the experience of life as a music major.

"It changed my idea of what music would be in college. I realized that you had to practice a lot more," Shah said. "I was thinking of doing a duo major but I realized how time consuming it could be, especially percussion because everything is really different. It’s like learning 3 different instruments."

At the end of five weeks, all students performed in concerts and watched the ones they weren’t in. Shah was in the jazz ensemble, choir, percussion ensemble, orchestra and the improvisation ensemble. 

The six weeks of music intensive studying was a new experience for Shah. Not only the music but the whole thing. The program stays as an inspiration for him to continue music as a minor in college and now Shah definitely knows his music better. In those six weeks, practice made music.