Thinking about Majoring in Music?

MajoringInMusic.com recently hosted it’s latest Thinking about Majoring in Music? panel discussion. College-level music faculty, staff, students, and alumni from Colorado College; Colorado State University Department of Music, Theatre and Dance; University of Colorado Boulder College of Music; and University of Denver Lamont School of Music provided a wealth of insights for students, parents, and teachers in the Denver metropolitan area.

Among the many valuable tips offered:

Why major in music?

Majoring in music is a commitment of passion. It’s extremely hard work on a non-linear path. It’s for anyone who can’t imagine doing anything else. Only then will the extraordinary effort it takes to be a music major and a professional musician make sense. If there’s anything else you are interested in, or your passion for music wavers, seriously consider majoring in another field. You can always find other ways to keep music in your life.

Where to apply?

1. Your private teacher will be one of the most important people over the next 4 years of your life. Schedule a lesson with faculty at the schools you’re serious about attending to see who you click with. What’s the vibe like between you and them?

2. Only apply where you want to go!

3. Find a school where you will feel at home.

4. If you’re not sure what you want to focus on but know that you’re passionate about music, consider a liberal arts school where you can explore a number of different areas.

What about applications & auditions?

1. Keep track of auditions and applications – make yourself a spreadsheet or see “Tracking Your Music School Applications and Auditions” and click on “Music School Application Table.”

2. Take the ACT and/or SAT early in case you need to retake for an improved score.

3. Think of the people who conduct your auditions as being on your side! They are looking to see how hard-working you are, what your current level of talent is, how well you listen, and whether their school can take you beyond where you are with your music as well as teach you what you want to learn.

4. Remember that the audition is a two-way street: you are also in a position to audition the schools you’re looking at, to see if they offer what you want.

Other tips:

1. Maintain a professional attitude every step of the way.

This includes everything leading up to music school, including interactions at performing arts fairs and with recruiters who visit your school; communication with schools you’re interested in; visits to schools; auditions; etc. Remember to use an online spell checker for any written communication.

2. BA vs BM?

Generally speaking, the BM is more performance-based while the BA music degree has less requirements, thereby giving you more time to explore other areas and take more electives. Every school is different, so look closely at what you would study as a BA vs BM vs BS vs BFA major. For more on this, see “Music Degrees – Reviewing the Options.”

3. If you don’t get into the music conservatory/college/school/department you hoped to attend, but want to reapply the following semester or year, take private lessons along with music theory before reapplying. If you take a gap year, don’t let your music get far from you — be sure to keep practicing and taking lessons.

4. Consider a community college to save money, bring your GPA up, or learn the ropes of college before applying to a more competitive 4-year music school. If you go this route, make sure you’ll get credit for the courses you take. For more on taking a community college route to music, see “Community College for Music Students: Guidelines for Making it Work.”

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