Music for Non-Majors: How to Get Involved in Music in College

Interested in music but not in majoring in it? There are a ton of opportunities to get involved musically on campus, from joining ensembles to taking gen ed classes.

Many students choose to participate in music during middle and high school and then tend to drop out during college, citing concerns such as “being too busy” or wanting to focus on their “real major.” However, this is often a poor decision, as music (and other extracurriculars!) can be a big part of your college experience.

It’s a common misconception that college is all about academics. That’s exactly what I thought when applying to schools, and when my parents asked me about what I wanted to get involved in on campus, I told them that I wanted to study, study, and study some more. But if you try to follow that lifestyle, you’ll quickly begin to burn out. College is the time for you to explore old and new interests outside the classroom—and music can be one of those interests! Here are a few ways you can get involved in music on campus without majoring in it.

Join a music class or ensemble

When you take a music class or join a group in college, you can often meet people you wouldn’t normally meet in your major-related classes. You might even meet people in the surrounding community, depending on what type of ensemble you are in. College music ensembles tend to understand that students have other classes and things to worry about, so there are normally only one to two rehearsals per week at night.

You might be thinking that you want to devote that time to doing homework and prepping for exams, but you need to allow yourself a break every once in a while! Music is a great way to let go of stress and explore your emotions with other people. You can ignore your other problems while you’re playing and practicing, which means music can serve as a relief from all your classwork.

Earn college credit

If you’re still convinced you need music to serve more of a “purpose” in your college career, not to fear! Music ensembles can often count as credit toward your degree. Some colleges will even count private lessons as credit, and if you participate in an ensemble, they may pay for your lessons. Of course, this all varies by school, but this is what I have widely seen during my college search.

There are also actual music classes that focus on subjects such as theory and aural skills, meaning you can learn about something interesting and satisfy some college requirements at the same time. My school requires humanity credits, and music counts toward that, so your school may have the same options!

Find a community group

Some schools like my own do not offer their own music programs. However, it’s normally easy to find a music program at a nearby college or in the surrounding community. With just a little digging online, you can find a group of people to play with. It’s also possible to find other students at your college who are interested in playing music. You can create your own band or chamber group to play just for fun. You may even be able to book a few gigs and make some extra spending money.

Even if you’ve never played a musical instrument before, college ensembles are often very welcoming. They want as many students as they can get to participate, as there are often not enough music players to form a complete ensemble. You don’t have to be perfect, so don’t stress about practicing for hours every day to prepare—just do your best and you will have a good time.

Related: 6 Steps for Joining a College A Capella Group (or, How to Become a Barden Bella IRL)

Bonus: get a boost for grad school

If you’re thinking of applying to graduate schools, you may also want to consider staying in music. Graduate schools, like undergraduate colleges, like to see that students do more than sit in the classroom all day. Graduate school admission officers also know that music students are dedicated and tend to perform better in many fields due to how music stimulates the brain. Therefore, music could provide an extra boost to your graduate school application.

All in all, I would highly recommend that you try to become involved in music during college. Or if you know for sure that music is just not your “thing,” there are other extracurriculars to try as well! Just make sure to enjoy your time there—it’s not all about studying!

Start searching for colleges here on CollegeXpress.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now


About Rebecca Blyn

My name is Rebecca Blyn, and I am currently a senior at a public high school in California. I am so excited to be a part of CollegeXPress! Currently, I am extensively involved in the music program at my school, participating in the marching band, wind ensemble, symphony orchestra, jazz band, and pit orchestra. In college, I am planning on a Chemistry major, with a Music and/or Political Science minor. Outside of classes, I would love to take part in the student newspaper as well as undergraduate research at whichever college I choose to attend!


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress


High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress is a multi-maneuver platform that has been helping students in their college applications and scholarship hunt process. For me, CollegeXpress has been a boon. I've been able to find my dream university via CX, and I've also been able to apply to thousands of scholarships through it. All the thanks to CollegeXpress for doing such a great job for free. I express my sincere gratitude to you for doing such a wonderful job. I recommend CollegeXpress without any reservations.

Maria  Fernanda

Maria Fernanda

High School Class of 2023

CollegeXpress is always telling you with time to spare when to apply for certain scholarships, what they require, and if you’re eligible or not. They also provide helpful tips for both incoming college students and current college students, such as what to absolutely have in your dorm.

Casey Kammeyer

Casey Kammeyer

$500 Refer-A-Friend Scholarship Winner

I love the site CollegeXpress; it has been very helpful finding colleges and getting them to send me information. It has also been very, very helpful with finding tons of scholarships. Also, I told many of my friends about it and they love it as well!

Sadie Hartmann

Sadie Hartmann

High School Class of 2021

I'm a senior in high school, and CollegeXpress has helped me in so many ways this year in trying to navigate the process of deciding and committing to a university. The COVID-19 Student Resource Center has helped me many times with the most up-to-date and accurate information, along with financial aid and student life [advice]. During these uncertain times, CollegeXpress has been a great recourse to relieve the stress as a senior. Along with the COVID-19 Student Resource Center, I'm constantly using the extremely helpful tools off the site to aid me during this stressful process. Tools like the lists and rankings of universities have been the most beneficial. I've also used the site to receive expert advice on topics like financial aid. Finally, CollegeXpress has helped me easily apply for several scholarships. I'm thankful to be given the chance to win a scholarship to lessen the burden of my college debt.

Priscilla Yeboah

Priscilla Yeboah

High School Student

I was afraid and timid throughout my search for colleges, but I finally found the college that was fit for me and luckily I got accepted. One of the most influential things that helped me was the articles and advice on CollegeXpress. They've helped me a lot and benefited me as a senior to make the right choices in life. Thank you!

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Miami University

Oxford, OH

University of Louisville

Louisville, KY

Thiel College

Greenville, PA

Asbury University

Wilmore, KY