Want to save yourself time, money and aggravation before visiting music schools?
Here are 10 great tips to investigate before ever heading out the door.
• Does each music school offer what you want to study?
• What classes, ensembles and other musical groups are required in order to graduate?
• Are there foreign language requirements?
• What are the options for elective classes?
• If you have taken AP or IB exams, can you get credit for any of them?
• Are there any basic classes you can test out of?
• If you want to explore other areas, is a double or dual degree an option? Or can you take a minor? Will this require additional time to graduate?
• What classes or programs in addition to your major area of interest appeal to you?
• How flexible is the curriculum? What support is there for pursuing independent projects?
• Are there study abroad opportunities for music majors? Will it take you more than four years to complete your degree if you do study abroad?
• Are there faculty you’d like to study with?
• How accessible are they for lessons, meetings, etc. ?
• Will they give you a sample lesson when you visit?
• What facilities are available for what you want to study? How up-to-date are they?
• What kind of equipment and unique resources are available –– and can you use them as an undergraduate?
• Are there enough conveniently located and readily available practice rooms? Can you use them 24/7? What are the pianos like in the practice rooms?
• Is there instrument storage in a safe, climate-controlled area on campus? Where is it, in relation to practice rooms and classrooms?
4. The Music Environment/Your Fellow Students
• What is the playing level of other students and where will you fit in (top, bottom, middle)?
• Are there students you will be able to learn from?
• How competitive are students with one another?
• How many undergraduate music majors are there and how many are in your area of study?
• Is there a graduate music program in the area(s) you’re interested in?
• What is the student/teacher ratio?
• What is the average class size?
• Does the school sponsor musicians/groups in residence?
• What master classes have been offered within the past year?
• Is the school religiously affiliated? If so, will that affiliation be comfortable for you? Will you be accepted for who you are?
• If the music school is part of a larger university, do you need to apply separately to both?
• Do you need to submit SAT or ACT scores? If so, what were the average scores for students admitted to last year’s freshman class?
• Will you meet the academic requirements?
• What was the average high school GPA for students admitted to last year’s freshman class?
• Are transcripts and letter of recommendation required?
• Are pre-screens required? If so, when are they due?
• When and where are auditions held?
• Do you need to bring an accompanist?
• If recorded auditions are acceptable, are they as competitive as live auditions?
(See Applying and Auditioning for more information.)
7. Career Opportunities
• What career services are offered?
• What support is available for performing outside of classes?
• Is there a gig office?
• Is there support for students teaching private lessons? Is there space at the music school where you can teach? Does the school help promote this?
• What support is there for performing in music festivals and competitions?
• Are entrepreneurship classes or programs offered?
• Are there opportunities for students doing their own projects?
• Are internship opportunities available through the school during the school year and in the summer?
• For alumni: what services are offered and how long after graduation are these available?
8. Paying for School
• What is the total cost of attending? Include tuition, room, board, books, travel (going home for vacation, required travel to competitions and festivals), school fees, property insurance, and health center fees (and health insurance if you won’t be staying on your family’s plan).
• Are lessons included in the tuition or do they cost extra?
• Are academic and performance scholarships available? Do they continue for all four years? Are they adjusted for cost of living increases?
• What financial aid opportunities are available for music students?
• What percentage of students receive financial aid?
Bear in mind that the bottom line may be lower than what is stated on school websites, once scholarships (academic, performance, etc.) as well as financial aid are taken into consideration.
(See “Paying for School” for more information.)
• Where do freshmen live? Sophomores? Juniors? Seniors?
• How is housing assigned?
• What kind of support will the school offer in finding housing?
• Does the location of the school appeal to you and if so, why? Or –– why not?
• What are the features of the campus and areas surrounding the school?
• What transportation options are there for leaving campus?
• Is having a car important? If so, where can you park it and how much does parking cost?
• What transportation options are there for getting home or to anywhere else that’s important to you?
• Do you have family members or friends who live in the area?
I am currently looking to pursue a music degree (Bachelor’s) in order to become the music and band director of my elementary school. This will be a new program in the 100 years that my school has been in existence; so to be the first person to establish this program is (to put it lightly) a huge deal! I have to know what I’m doing to pilot this program.
I must express how this site and explanations given by you and your team have helped me tremendously. Because of this site, I am prepared to attend open houses for prospective music schools (colleges), asks the right questions and know exactly the courses that I need to take in order to achieve my goal. This makes day 2 that I am reading the tips and clicking more and more links through the site. There’s information that I didn’t even phantom to think of. Brilliantly done! You are surely an expert! And FYI, I am planning on contacting my former piano teacher for private lessons in music theory. He has a master’s in music so I am certain he’s the right man for the job! Thanks again for the tips! Thanks for your sharing your knowledge. I will pass this site on as a reference to organizations that I know of that have teachers who are interested in making music a career.
Thank you so much for taking the time to send us your feedback about MajoringInMusic.com. It’s truly music to our ears! What you say matches our intentions for the site to a “T.”
We wish you well in your pursuits and hope you’ll keep us posted about the journey to reach your goal. If you haven’t yet seen the articles on music education on MajoringInMusic.com, written especially for those already in music school and pursuing a music ed major, please check them out.