Surprisingly, music is one of the most rigorous majors on campus

Pursuing a degree in music at the University of Rhode Island is seen to be one of the most intensive majors offered, which according to music students, focuses on spending every waking moment practicing with little free time.

Senior Collin Tyrrell, a music major with a concentration in trombone orchestral performance, spends the majority of his day in classes, practicing, being a mentor for the music URI 101 class and working the departmental convocation every Thursday.

“I spend about 26 hours a week in class and ensembles, five hours for my off-campus rehearsal with the Fall River Symphony and about 20 hours a week practicing my instrument,” Tyrrell said. “What time I have left is for eating, sleeping, homework and personal development.”

Senior Jacob Brunelle is a double major in music education and jazz performance. Brunelle begins his day at 9 a.m. with only a few breaks until he is able to return home to sleep and eat around 10:30 p.m. each night. 

“Hopefully I’ll have a lunch break somewhere where I can sit down and do some work, practice for the remaining time I have, go to another lesson, take time to do more homework while I wait, do another ensemble and then work security later at night,” said Brunelle. 

Sophomore Abby Mills is pursuing music education with a concentration in piano and voice. Every day of the week, Mills has five to six classes that begin early in the morning and go until late at night. When she’s not in class, Mills said that she’s usually practicing her repertoire, using the time for her private lessons and rehearsing for ensembles.  

“The running joke in the music department is if you have a break, are you going to practice, eat or relax and you never choose relax you always choose practice or eat,” Mills said. “We know we should practice but the breaks are so rare that we usually just eat, it’s pretty crazy.”

Brunelle said the more efficient he is with time management throughout the day, the more time he has to relax, sit down and cook for the next day. 

 “A lot of our free time is spent doing rehearsals and also spent practicing so we don’t get a lot of time to ourselves to sit and mellow out and mull the day out,” Brunelle said. “By the time you sit and mull things out you’re in bed about to cry yourself to sleep because of how much you’re doing throughout the day.”

Tyrrell said that he still works on finding a balance between academics, work and his social life. 

“After I sprained my wrists last year from over practicing, I had a bit of a wake up call,” Tyrrell said. “I think the most important concept we as musicians struggle with is that the best and worst part of being a musician is being human.”

Brunelle stated that while many people view music as a fun and enjoyable pastime, which it is, it’s also a lot of work. 

“The way I like to put it is that musicians are artists and they all focus on what they’re doing wrong and try to better themselves in that regard to better the flaws, and that weighs down on you after a while,” Brunelle said.

Tyrrell said that sometimes it is easy to get wrapped up in practicing their music, which can lead to forgetting the bigger picture. 

“Our humanity is what allows us to make beautiful music and move hearts and minds but I think we also get so wrapped up in the technical and physical aspect of getting everything perfect that we forget that we need rest,” Tyrrell said.