Q&A On Music And Psychology With Connor Weir

Story by Hallie Neller

Photo courtesy of Connor Weir

Connor Weir is a sophomore at Central Michigan University. He is a triple major, pursuing his Bachelor of Science in Music, Psychology, and Organizational Leadership and is a part of the Centralis Honors Program. Weir is a member of the Delta Iota chapter of Delta Omicron (a professional music fraternity) where he is a secretary. He is also a Resident Assistant (RA) in Robinson and Calkins Halls, a member of the Chippewa Marching band, a Campus Ambassador, a member of the Julie McMahon Chapter of the National Residence Hall Honorary and a Student Associate in the North Campus Success Center at CMU.

What inspired you to pursue music?

Music has been something that I have had around me my whole life; I started on piano, then percussion, then voice and I figured I should incorporate it into my professional life as well.

What inspired you to pursue psychology?

Psychology is one of those fields that permeate into so many other professions. I feel like you can do so many things with a psychology degree besides being a psychologist. I have always been interested in why we do what we do, and this is something I could use in any profession.

What inspired you to pursue organizational leadership?

I am going into higher level education administration and hearing that CMU was adding this major to their bulletin was a perfect match. This major is the basis of what I am going into and can give me experience in the field to succeed post-undergrad.

How did you decide to take on all three subjects as majors? What ties these together?

This was not a straight path by any means. I started university as a Music Education major with a percussion emphasis, then shifted to a double major with Music Ed. and Psych to do a music therapy path. Then sociology was thrown in. I changed different majors to minors and probably annoyed all of my advisors anytime they saw an email from me. In the end, it came down to what I could handle and what could make me desirable and prepared for the real world. It is not every day that you have someone going into higher education administration with a music degree, and that is the appeal I want. I want to have an out-of-the-box undergrad experience so I have options in the future and the ability to relate to a broader scope of students. Psychology and Organizational Leadership have a ton of overlap and I see it as Psychology teaching me why the skills are a things and Organizational Leadership teaches me how to implement them. Music is something that I was passionate for and had already completed most coursework for before deciding on this career path.

What is an organizational leadership major?

CMU describes the Organizational Leadership major as a “major is designed for students and professionals who seek to make a greater contribution in an organization. The major focuses on how individuals interact within organizations; assess the current challenges in leadership from a historical and current context; analyze and integrate theories of leadership within a personal and professional context; and evaluate behaviors in organizations to understand effective leadership, communication and ethical practices for decision-making” (CMU 2020-2021 Bulletin).

What can you do with an organizational leadership major?

I feel like this major can be adapted in most fields where you plan to be at a higher level of leadership. The courses focus on interpersonal relationships, leadership techniques, leadership acquisition, how to operate in various workforces, and how to evolve yourself into a successful leader.

What does music mean to you and how did you get into it? If you play instruments, what ones do you play?

Music is so much more than something that sounds good; it has so many underlying benefits and facets that the average person might not know. I got into music when I was about 8 with piano lessons and I have kept with it ever since. I play the piano, percussion, and my degree is in voice.

What are you specifically focused on with music?

My music major is interesting because it is not part of the Big 3. When people think of music majors, they think Education, Performance, or Composition . . . well I am none of those. I am pursuing my Bachelor of Science in Music which is not a super common degree path. I still have the common core requirements of the other majors, but I also have more flexibility to fulfill my degree requirements.

What area of psychology are you specifically focused on?

I am really focused on organizational psychology because it is what I am going to be using the most. I am less involved with developmental, abnormal, and medicinal psych because it is not as relevant to my career path. I am learning how to operate in higher education so learning the psychology of college-aged students and how to interact with academic professionals.

How do you balance your studies?

It is all about organization. I have a very detailed Google calendar that I update about every hour to keep track of everything and leave time to breathe and relax. I have found that scheduling time to study and work on homework works exquisitely for me and forces me to concentrate and work efficiently.

Do you ever feel as if you took too much on by deciding to declare three majors?

I do not regret signing three majors just because it is so easy to change your mind and do what suits you. Everyone makes such a big deal about signing your majors, but it does not set anything in stone, just makes an adjustable plan. I came in with enough credits and can handle a large workload so I knew what I was signing myself up for and had the resources to succeed.

Which major do you have stronger ties with?

100% Music. It was the first major I signed and the one I have the most friends in. I go into Psych classes or OrgLea classes and usually know maybe 25% of the class, but I go into any music class and know everyone. Music started as a hobby and has been such a big part of my life, I could never drop it or favor one of the others.

How do you currently use your majors in your everyday life?

I feel like my OrgLea courses have impacted how I act outside of the classroom the most. You learn about all these leadership skills and you want to try a few of them out and see what works for you. Psych just makes you notice things you never have before, how people act and what they do makes a lot more sense and has made me much more empathetic. Music is everywhere, my major has just emphasized my love for it and ability to have competent conversation about it.

How do you plan to use your majors after graduation?

I am going to grad school right after undergrad and I know I will be using the Psych and OrgLea skills directly every day because they are basically the undergrad version of my grad program, but I think I will use the lessons from my music degree to balance the unexpected parts of the process. Things like being a group player and time management have come from my Music degree and will help me tremendously.

How many credits a semester do you take? How long will it take to complete all three degrees?

I utilize summer credits as much as humanly possible and have created a system to succeed. Falls are dedicated to my music courses and gen-eds (general education), springs are for Psych and my Honors requirements, and summers are for my OrgLea courses. I take 36 credits a year and split it up various ways to have a balanced schedule. I will be graduating in the Spring of 2023, so the 4 years will get me all three majors. I am planning on continuing my education with grad school to get my Masters in Higher Education Administration.

How do you handle stress/anxiety? How do you destress from your classes?

I am a weirdo when it comes to stress relief, I go on drives and blast music and just sing my heart out (do not tell my voice professor because he would kill me) when I need that break from all the stress that college brings. I play Animal Crossing, just lay down, or maybe lip-sync a few songs in my dorm just to remind myself that life is good, this moment just sucks.

How has COVID-19 impacted your studies?

The only major that has been very affected has been my music major. OrgLea and Psych transferred easily to the online format, but Music just stopped. Lessons are not the same, performance groups are limited, concerts are cancelled… everything was put on hold. My music major is so interactive and group-oriented and COVID-19 really through a wrench into all of it, but we adapt and thrive.

What is the most important takeaway from your studies so far?

Change is good and encouraged. If you come in with a set idea of your life and never take the chance to pursue other routes, you are doing a severe disservice to yourself. Take a leap of faith and it might do you well.

What are the challenges of having three majors?

Telling people you have three majors without sounding stuck up. But on a serious note, it can be hard to fit into the individual majors. When you have 1 or 2, you have the chance to get to know everyone and be around them, but with 3, I feel like I do not fit into the box of any of the majors instead of feeling 100% involved in all three.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of declaring more than one major, perhaps three like you?

Do it, try it. What is the worst that can happen? You drop one and learned your limits, you drop it to a minor and still benefit . . . I see no issue with signing more than one major as long as you do it for the right reasons. Don’t just do it to sound smarter than someone or brag, do it for your acquisition of knowledge and ability to improve yourself.