At least once per semester I plan out my entire undergraduate schedule. I make lists and charts that map out what classes I’m going to take from now until graduation. It’s really an exercise in futility, because it’s still too early in my college career to know what every semester up until my last is going to look like, but I do it anyway. Partially because I’m excited about what’s to come, partially because I want to make sure my academic plans are feasible, and partially because it allows me to tell myself I’m being productive when there’s really an essay to write or a reading to finish that should be of much more immediate concern.
A few days ago, I engaged in this semester’s obligatory bout of extensive planning. This time, it was far more about excitement than it was about self-deceiving procrastination. I had just decided on a whim that I would declare a second minor, one that I had previously seen as a fantastical gem of Tufts’ academics, one that was insanely cool but not accessible to me, and I was determined to figure out how to make it work.
I’m referring to the Music Engineering minor, a program in which you can actually focus on inventing musical instruments and forging new ways of making sound. I first heard about it from an engineer last year and assumed from the name that it was reserved for the kids in the engineering school. For a little while I was jealous of the engineers for having such an amazing opportunity available to them, but I got over it in a couple of days.
Then, last week, I was reminded of it in one of my classes. The class was Computer Tools for Musicians, in which you learn some of the infinite ways of making music in an age where many of the most popular performers wield a laptop rather than a guitar. I was originally taking it to fulfill part of my Communications and Media Studies (CMS) minor, but as the instructor pitched some of his other courses, he also made it clear that the Music Engineering minor is not, in fact, exclusively for engineers.
That information didn’t mean very much to me at first. I had already planned out my next few years to include an Anthropology major and a CMS minor, and that was enough. But as I began to think seriously about which courses I was going to take next semester and how those would affect the rest of my time at Tufts, I found it very difficult to turn down some of the following courses:
Music Recording & Production, in which you learn the theory and techniques behind making a great-sounding recording
Electronic Musical Instrument Design, which is a class focused on the invention of your own instrument, like the Laser Bass.
Guitar & Dulcimer Building (which I am most looking forward to), which teaches you how to work with wood and build these acoustic instruments from scratch. This isn’t actually even a Tufts class. It’s taught at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, an absolutely amazing museum that Tufts students are lucky enough to visit for free whenever they want and take classes at if they so choose.
And so all of my previous attempts at orchestrating my entire undergraduate career are now null and void. They all need to move over and be reshaped to make room for something that I hadn’t even considered a week ago. And even though I have every intention of keeping my current major and minors, there’s a good chance the actual courses I have laid out for each semester will change drastically several more times. But it’s worth the extra work and planning to take advantage of an opportunity I probably won’t ever have again.