Students in Service and Leadership at Harvard

Story of Us - Student Musicians at Harvard

Musical Talent at Harvard

Every year, Harvard welcomes countless gifted student musicians from all over the nation, even from different countries around the world. There is incredible diversity of musical talent across genres, cultures, different levels and types of musical experience, etc. Particularly, Harvard is famous for the abundance of elite musicians that enter college from top music programs across the country; many of these musicians have studied under world renowned musicians, and are winners of numerous national and international competitions and festivals. Many if not most of these musicians, as well as students who engage in music more recreationally and less competitively, hope to continue their musical endeavors in college. 

Due to the high extent of interest and demand each year, there are naturally many opportunities to play music at a high level in the Harvard community. Many of these musical organizations are faculty-run, some are student-led, and some are a mix of both forms of leadership. There is a culture of support for musical performances, as Harvard students are eager to attend concerts and shows to encourage their friends and fellow peers. Joining and participating in a musical organization is a great way for students to find community and sense of belonging at Harvard, while continuing their passion for music. 

Deprioritizing Music in College

There is a strong culture of music-making at Harvard that brings students together, and encourages students to stay involved in music ensembles, particularly student music groups that are performance-based. Performance is valued in the Harvard community, and many student music organizations that are oriented around the goal of monthly/semesterly performances seem to thrive. However, as students immerse themselves into their college experience, student musicians are pulled in different directions. Some student musicians will focus their attention and time more so on their academic interests, thereby becoming more heavily involved in pre- professional, academic student organizations, and deprioritizing their participation in student music organizations. Many student musicians hope to explore and delve deeper into their non-musical extracurricular interests, and find it difficult to manage their time and balance both. There are also increasing numbers of student musicians who experience burnout from the competitive and intense environment that often characterizes these performance-based music organizations; some of these student musicians ultimately decide to step back from music-making overall, in an effort to distance themselves and stray away from cutthroat performance-oriented music groups.


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