• Question: Were you perhaps ever at a point where you may pursue either a route in music or science?

    Asked by Mod Em to Kim on 14 Jun 2020.
    • Photo: Kim Liu

      Kim Liu answered on 14 Jun 2020: last edited 14 Jun 2020 10:01 am

      Thanks for the question! I enjoyed music a lot at school, and basically spent all my free time at school playing music/messing around at our music centre from Yr 10-13 haha. I did consider briefly whether or not I wanted to do music, but was more sure I wanted to do science. I think for me, this boiled down me thinking I was better at science than music. I suspect I was biased by the fact that science looked like it had clearer answers and tests, so it was easier to see my progress! Also though, I thought I didn’t feel excited enough about music theory, history, artistry (i.e. anything that wasn’t actually playing instruments), and that worried me about studying it at university.
      I guess there was not that much visibility for music professionals either back then (a generally serious problem in arts subjects in general) – to me as a not-very-thoughtful teenager, musicians only could become exceptionally talented professional performers or teachers. To be clear, this is absolutely untrue, and I know many of my friends from school and university have very enjoyable careers as academic researchers, conductors, composers, concert management, choir directors etc. Overall – I do still think music is a slightly more challenging career, because 1) there is just less money being spent on it in the UK, so opportunities are fewer, and 2) because the career routes are not very well mapped out and don’t become clearer until later in life compared to science.
      If you feel like you are juggling the two at close to 50:50 – I would advise science for two reasons: many universities provide A LOT of opportunities to do literally world-class music, and you will find plenty of opportunities to continue your passion in music to a very high level. I know a very talented musician who studied natural sciences with this question, and now has decided to study at a music university in Germany. This leads to the second point – I suspect you can switch into music after studying science at university; certainly, science degrees are (almost unreasonably) becoming more and more translatable into other jobs. The reverse I suspect is not so easy, simply due to the well defined career paths that most scientists want to see and expect when employing for research/jobs.