Why would anyone study music?

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” ~ John Keating, Dead Poets Society

A freshman business major once asked me why anyone would study music at Fredonia. The job prospects are uncertain, the pay uncertain, and the craft frivolous, she said. I was quick to point out how upset she gets when she forgets to bring her aux cord on car rides to listen to her music.

Two months ago a professor told me a story about a conversation he had with a dean. With projected starting salaries so low for particular art majors, the dean thought it was a crime for colleges to be charging money for an education in art. Perhaps it would be better if colleges didn’t offer these majors in the first place.

The problem of student debt is significant, just as the unemployment rate is an important metric. But are we really alive just so we can get well-paying jobs?

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