#104 Navigating College Paths for Music and Performing Arts Majors with Dr. Christine Gangelhoff Transcript


Lisa Marker Robbins  00:59

Today, we’re diving into a melodious topic that resonates with many, the world of Music and Performing Arts in college, Dr. Christine Gangrel. Hof has an educational consulting practice that guides students and parents through the competitive landscape of Performing Arts college applications. Whether your Teen Dreams of Broadway or simply loves music. This episode has something for everyone, you’ll learn the difference between a BA and a BM degree and how performing art skills are transferable to other careers like medicine. Along the way, Christine, also bust some myths about performing arts careers. I’m Lisa Mark Robbins, and I want to welcome you to College and Career Clarity, a flourish coaching production. Let’s dive right in to a great conversation. Christine, welcome to the show.


Dr. Christine Gangelhoff  01:58

Thank you. It’s great to be here. I love your show.


Lisa Marker Robbins  02:01

Oh, thank you. Thank you for being a listener, I take that as a compliment when it’s a colleague in the space. I appreciate it. Yeah. So


Dr. Christine Gangelhoff  02:10

as you have interesting topics. Well,


Lisa Marker Robbins  02:13

the topic at hand today, I love because as we were saying, Before we hit record, we probably could fill maybe five different episodes. But for two that way, so we already know, we’re gonna have you back on. So we’ll let everybody know that. But you’ve got this special to be around performance majors. And I have a huge passion around college majors and careers, and helping students navigate that. So we’re just gonna talk all things, performance majors, and how that even like butts up into like other majors as well. So I just to start out, talk to us about how you support families and what your typical client looks like. Because I know, as you start working further with them, you discover other things as well. So who do you help? And how do you help them?


Dr. Christine Gangelhoff  03:06

Yeah, I have a wide range of families and students that I work with. And I do specialize in the performing arts, in music, particularly. So my background is in music. And I support them in many ways it a lot of families need help to the entire process. As you know, it’s very complicated. And if you think of just college applications in general, and the whole process of applying all of the challenges and all of the information you need, when you’re talking about students in the performing arts, it’s basically double the work because you have the whole application process, and then you have portfolios, pre screens, auditions, all of these extra parts that you have to manage. And so I help them with, with all of that whole process. So it’s, it’s, it’s challenging, but it’s very rewarding,


Lisa Marker Robbins  04:00

that I know that it’s a load of work, it’s a Mountain Dew, most families come in working with you and underestimate what it’s really going to be.


Dr. Christine Gangelhoff  04:10

It’s a mix, I think some people are pretty shocked, especially when you get I always try to work with the list and not let it get too big. And because in performing arts if once you go above even 12 schools that that essays because they’re the regular essays, the common app essays, but then there’s also usually an artistic statement and so many extra essays. And when they see that, that’s also they they’re usually that’s the thing that usually surprises them because they are expecting the portfolio audition, but all these extra essays and then sometimes there’s actually kind of hidden essays because they’re essays you don’t know until you have to submit your application. And then the the arts portfolio section opens for you, and then suddenly there’ll be another essay in there that you that you didn’t even know about. So that’s often a surprise. So they’re like,


Lisa Marker Robbins  05:06

surprise, we have a special treat for you now, if your clients are like,


Dr. Christine Gangelhoff  05:11

exactly, yeah, right when we thought we were done, right,


Lisa Marker Robbins  05:15

so for our listeners that have a student who right now is passionate about any kind of performing art. At what point do you start working with these students who in you probably I know, you help students figure out like, I have a passion with performing arts, but I don’t know if this is a career or not. So you help them get clarity on is my favorite thing, college major and career clarity? So are they going to turn this into a college major and career? Or is it a co major or things like that? So do you start pretty early working with the students then it’s


Dr. Christine Gangelhoff  05:53

kind of all across the board. So I don’t like to start start too early. If I start with, I have, for example, I have an eighth grade student right now. And I we just meet periodically, and I just he, the student wants to major in music, but he wants to pursue pre med and that’s actually surprising combination a lot of people don’t know about and but he’s, he’s been very strategic strategic about his application. And he’s, he’s a very talented pianist, and violinist, and, but at that age, I don’t like them too. So much could happen at that age, they can change their mind, they can go find different interests. And so I just meet, make sure that keep on track, give them ideas of how to stay active, and, of course, keep their grades up and working on their course selection and all of that. But typically, sophomore junior year is a great time to start. And if the student is kind of on the fence, like I’m really interested in this, but I don’t know. I know like you, I incorporate personality tests and have them start thinking that way. And I do a lot of real world activities with them too. And I’ll have them try out certain things and see, because many times students think they know what they want to do. And but they may not know all of the things that are required in that profession. And so for example, a lot of students are interested in production, in music production, and they see kind of the glamour around it. But they don’t really they’re not aware of like the grind, and the very long hours, the irregular hours. And so I like them to actually go sit in a studio and kind of get the vibe of what that experience is like. And then again, also with a personality test to kind of, it’s not an end all with, you know, what kind of what type they get. But it gets them thinking and it gets them kind of reflecting on what’s important to them. I love that


Lisa Marker Robbins  08:02

I mean when we’re working with students, so we use the Berkman personality assessment. And it literally can generate a job list that says, You look like an adult who’s happily working over here, and you look nothing like the adults that are happily working over here. So it helps us to start to filter it. But I’m with you like you can’t just take a test and think it’s going to give you the end all be all it is a process. I always say you need a coach. I mean, we can lean into the assessment, but you really need a coach and a process to get there. So what you’re doing with the whole go sit in a studio, if you think you’re interested in production, that’s what we do module force about curated experiences, because you can read everything online and watch YouTube videos, but seeing it you know, I think that’s one of the things when you talk about the timeline. I agree with you eighth grades a little early, but you know, occasional conversations is fine. But if you start too late, like the families who start working on sorting out, Should I do the performance major? Or should I you know, what is the career, I’m not just working with performance majors in my case, you don’t have time if you wait to summer going into senior year when oh, gosh, I have to write the why this major essay. And I don’t know what I’m going to say you’re limited on time to really curate those experiences. And I would guess that many of the performance majors fit into the majors like nursing and computer science and some engineering where if you don’t declare that major in 12th grade, that doors either closed or hardly open for you, is that right? Or?


Dr. Christine Gangelhoff  09:46

Yeah, for the most part if they want to go in as a major as a, for example, a performance major, that’s a really common one. They definitely need to know that before. Well before the senior year. You because you have to be developing your, your foundation. So you have to be able to really have that established because you’re going to have to learn some pretty challenging repertoire for your audition and your pre screens. And you don’t want to spend your that those years working on repertoire. I mean, you do want to learn repertoire, but you don’t want to, for example, look for years in advance and see what what is on an audition list and start working on that you should be working on other things at that time. But it’s all about pacing up to that that audition. And so that yeah, that timeline is really essential. So


Lisa Marker Robbins  10:40

in that case, is really about building the skills to be an outstanding applicant. From the college perspective, is there and I don’t know this about performing arts. Is there a space availability piece, you know, like, let’s go with something completely different. Johns Hopkins University, biomedical engineering, if you didn’t declare biomed engineering on your 12th grade college application, they take no transfers into that major. What because it’s an oversubscribed major there, right? It’s nursing at Creighton University is computer science at University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, it’s not uncommon. So it is, is it a space issue as well?


Dr. Christine Gangelhoff  11:26

Yes, the answer is yes, capital Y. So the especially in using performance, again, as an example, it’s so much down to actual the studio. So it’s not even the program, the bachelor music program, it’s how much space is in that, that professors studio, sometimes it can be one or two students. So it’s, it can be very, very selective, and also really hard to predict. But on the other hand, there are options such as a BA in music. And so for a student who wants a more well rounded education and has other interests, they can pursue a BA. And with that, oftentimes, there’s not even an audition, they just just apply for it. There are some VA programs that do have auditions. But that’s often a recommendation that I make, because it’s it’s a lot more flexible, less stressful application process. There, you can still submit a portfolio, in some cases, in most cases. And so it again, it depends on on what route they’re going. So is


Lisa Marker Robbins  12:38

the BA route, maybe a better fit for this eighth grader who says, you know, ultimately, I’m going to be a physician, let’s say he sticks with the path. Ultimately, I’m going to be a physician. I’ve got lots of lab sciences that I have to fit in. And I have to get really, really great grades to even, you know, be in the running for medical school? Is that be a path more because maybe this is a co major a dual major situation? Or they have a different career aspiration? Or do you just find some kids choose the BA option? Regardless?


Dr. Christine Gangelhoff  13:17

It’s kind of all of the above? Because


Lisa Marker Robbins  13:22

I figured it maybe wouldn’t be that case.


Dr. Christine Gangelhoff  13:24

Yes, you nailed every single scenario possible. So some students if they’re interested, so for earlier I mentioned the bachelor music with a pre med focus exists and also pre law. And those are, those programs can be either a BA or a BM bachelor music. And it depends on the, again, this the student, but the BA allows more flexibility. So for example, if they did want to do those labs and kind of focus on more of the science and biology courses, there’s more flexibility in that. However, the Bachelor of Music is actually a desirable degree because not only for music students, but those wanting to pursue graduate, Graduate Studies and other disciplines, because and medical schools and law schools got wise to this because they said, Hey, wait a minute, these music students are really disciplined and they’re used to working really hard. They have all these skills, they they have teamwork and collaboration, time management, that’s a like a superpower of every music, student communication skills, all of this. And so by doing and, of course, you can get that in the BA but I’m just emphasizing the rigor of the the BM is more focused on all of on that the artistic side. And so even though it may seem counterintuitive to say I want to take the BA because it’s safer route, I have more options. You still have if you’re really passionate about your instrument, you can pursue it. There are countless examples. My eye doctor, for example, is a very, very accomplished clarinetist. And he, he studied clarinet, he, he did do a degree in clarinet. He’s been at Interlochen summer camp many, many years, as you know, when he was in high school. And then he went on to become a physician. But he’s still an active musician, he plays in a couple ensembles. So that’s just one example of somebody who can take, you can transfer those skills. So those skills that you get really diving in to a music or poor performing arts degree, you can transfer to other disciplines.


Lisa Marker Robbins  15:51

I had Luis, I don’t know if you know, Louisa, reavie, she’s, she’s an IEC. She works with students, health sciences, but a lot of students that are going to med school and I do find, still, families are always shocked that you don’t have to be, quote, pre med or getting a biology degree, or something like that, to get into medical school. And I love how you set that up that is actually quite advantageous, because they know that you have the skills to if you’ve got the Bf, you’ve managed so much, you’ve got the skills and those those soft skills, the time management skills that are going to make you a great student that do talk about like, co majors. And do the students you’re working with? Or what advice do you give around dual majors, co majors?


Dr. Christine Gangelhoff  16:48

Yeah, that’s growing increasingly popular. And there are some pretty common ones music and business is a common one, sometimes music and education or you could do a bachelor music and performance and an education, a double major, and then the dual degrees, which can be in completely different disciplines. And that can be a really good option for students who and parents in some cases, who are just really anxious about having, they’re just not quite convinced that a music degree alone is going to cut it, they don’t want to be a starving artist. And there’s all of these myths around that. And so it can be a good option. But it’s also typically it’s going to be five years. So as long as students and their families are aware of that and are willing to make that commitment. It can be, it can be a great option. Because like I mentioned music, and business is a great one. I feel like also looking at the programs themselves that they’re equipping students with these real world skills that they need, because in my opinion, every music program, you should be required to take business at least one business class. But having a whole business degree is even better. So it’s going to really set you up with with skills for success. I


Lisa Marker Robbins  18:11

want to I want to go back to something that you just said, you said there’s a lot of myths around, you know, the starving artist ideal. And I’m going to say I’ve had nearly 4000 individuals take the Berkman with us. And when that so that by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, you know, they divide jobs into 23. Job families. There is a job family called Arts design, media, sports management, that type of stuff. But that’s the creative the entertainment, the creative bucket. And when that I’ve seen it, I see it go across a parent’s face frequently about like, oh, no, the degree I’m paying for a college degree and they might starve. So I want to hear a little bit more about what are some of the myths what would you say to a parent who has that? Literally, I’ve seen it on Zoom and in real time a visceral response to really what sphere because we I mean, nobody wants to know that their kid gets out into the world and they they can’t cut it in they’re not able to feed themselves or get their dreams done. So let’s talk about that a little bit. Because I I’m assuming that in your role supporting families, you’re saying what’s possible, not be


Dr. Christine Gangelhoff  19:34

scared. Of course, I don’t want them to be scared. So I’m glad that you brought up the Bureau of Labor and Statistics because that information is while it’s very helpful. It’s also I don’t want to say it’s inaccurate because you know, of course, statistics and but the interpretation of it can also it can it can I’m really scared people off because those salary ranges that they show in that category are definitely on the low side. But what they don’t show is that often people who go into the arts, they’re very creative people. And typically, it’s not all, they’re not always going to get end up in a nine to five job, they are going to, often by choice have multiple jobs, because this is the gig economy. And they’re, they’re going to have. So for example, if you see the, the salary range of a photographer, on that same bureau of labor that you mentioned, it’s going to, they’re just going to show what a photographer makes. But that same photographer may also have some graphic design background, or they may have some business background where they’ve launched their own practice. And they design their own, and they have side gigs, doing graphic design, also, they have all of these different skills, and their salary could be triple what you’re seeing on that site. And so don’t let families be discouraged by that. The other thing that I that I often point out is that a lot of students that want to pursue, they’re, they’re torn between STEM music, they have a creative side, but they, you know, they’re seeing their well being in the future. The students that are high achievers, I always tell the parents, they’re going to be fine, no matter what they do. These are, these are people that are, they are just, they’re motivated, they’re driven, they’re focused, that’s more important than what you major in, and you could major in music. And then it goes the other direction. Students who are kind of lost, they don’t really know what they want to do. Maybe they’re not that academically achieving that they that’s not their thing. Somebody like that. And that’s not to say, what major even there it’s with, it’s more of a personality, those are the students you may be more a little bit more concerned about. Because most of the students that I’m working with are these crazy overachievers, that I just have to tell their parents, they’re going to be fine. They have, they have the, they’re wired for success. So


Lisa Marker Robbins  22:26

I love that it’s, you know, I’m thinking about one of my team members that works for me, on our team, she was a, an art major studio art major. She’s not doing that in her day job. And when you look at her home, we’re on Zoom together, and she’s got beautiful artwork that she painted behind her on the wall and it and you know, and she performs at her church, she’s part of that team. And so there are ways that she’s feeding that part of herself. But she is like he can do solve it on it, figure it out, everything’s figure out double to her. She wants to She’s a hard worker. And so and she’s smart. You’re right. I mean, you know, you know, that, I would say as a parent, and all of our kids are in their 20s and 30s. Now, you know that about your kid? By the time they’re 16, or 17? Exactly.


Dr. Christine Gangelhoff  23:27

Yeah. So it’s it’s a lot of talking down. And but it’s also another question, I sometimes I can be very frank with parents and students, and say, if you have to consider your values, what is important to you. And if your main value is you want to graduate in four years, and get a high paying job, you want a guaranteed high paying job, then I would say, I probably wouldn’t major in music. And that’s not saying but but if your passion is if you’re super passionate about music, and you’re willing to because basically the statistics show that people in the arts when they graduate, their salary is lower than people in STEM and fields engineering that you can get out and immediately get a job. It takes time to establish yourself as an artist, but eventually those salary ranges get pretty close. And so it’s it’s more of like your dedication. And if you’re I also tell parents if if your student is really almost obsessed with this, and they’re they’re they’re kind of being pressured into going to this other field. They’re going to end up to be a kind of frustrated and unhappy person. And what’s you know what’s important, you you want to do high quality of living, and so you just have to it takes a lot of reflection, and, you know, looking at your values of what’s important to you. And so I have that conversation with parents as well. We


Lisa Marker Robbins  25:08

actually, we have a values game, that’s a drag and drop sorting board that we do inside our course. And I say to the families inside the court, I’m like, make as many copies of this board that this game that I’ve developed, where we’re dragging and dropping, and use it for different things, because we have life values. And we as parents, our values are not always, you know, it’s not our life to live for these kids, they get to make their own decisions. And we’ve sometimes just have like Project values. You know, if my husband and I were redesigning our kitchen, which we did a few years ago, like, what are two or three, I had a decision making coach on the podcast before Kiersten Parker, I think it was in like, August of 22, maybe. And I’ll link to it in the show notes. But she talked about how to adhere to two to three values on a particular project. And when it says a family unit, or it’s a couple, like diving into that, and getting alignment before you’re making those decisions. So Oh, I love that. Fantastic. And we’re absolutely going to do this again. Promise.


Dr. Christine Gangelhoff  26:22

Yes, I promise I would love to, we have so much to talk about. We have


Lisa Marker Robbins  26:26

a lot to talk about. So this is so helpful for families who want to get in touch with you, what is the best way for them to reach you and we’ll put it in the show notes. Sure, they can go


Dr. Christine Gangelhoff  26:37

to my sound path.com. And my email and contact is on there. And I can also give my email too, if that’s easier. Okay,


Lisa Marker Robbins  26:45

my sound path.com Great. Yes. And we’ll put it in the show notes. Thank you, Christine. Thank you I knew this was going to be one of those episodes where I learned a lot. A heartfelt thanks to Dr. Christine Gangloff for her invaluable insights. If you’re still with us, chances are you have a teen dreaming of a career in the performing arts. This week’s college bound Challenge is a great opportunity to take proactive steps. Pick one university your student is interested in and really explore their performing arts programs. Look into the application requirements be on the standard process. then dive into the details of Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees BA, B M, and understand the nuances of coal majors, double majors and minors. It’s a crucial step in making informed decisions for your teens future. If you found value in today’s discussion, please consider sharing it with a friend who might also benefit. Your support through sharing following rating and reviewing our podcast helps us reach and assist more families in navigating these important decisions. Thank you for joining us on the College and Career Clarity podcast, where we’re committed to transforming your family’s overwhelm and confusion into motivation, clarity and confidence about your teens journey ahead