Applying to College as a Music Major



Students who want to major in music must approach admissions focused on their potential future career, meaning they will have to navigate admission requirements such as pre-screenings and auditions in addition to traditional applications and essays. It is important to stay organized and keep track of all necessary components in order to avoid becoming overwhelmed or submitting incomplete applications.

Most importantly, students need to find the right school for their talents. The expert advisors at International College Counselors have helped some of the top student-musicians in the U.S. and around the world with the college admissions process. Here are a few things to keep in mind when applying to college as a music major.

Music is about the teachers, not the name of the school.
While schools such as Juilliard elicit thoughts of elite musicians, students should seek out the top professors for their instrument, rather than just a top school. Whether your instrument is the violin, flute, or your own voice, it is important to find out which professors are top in that field and consider applying to study in their studio. Top programs can be found at The New England Conservatory of Music, The Curtis Institute, Oberlin, The Colburn School, Northwestern University, and more. The music world is small and your current music teachers and local professional musicians will be able to help point you in the right direction in your search.

Get an honest opinion on your talents.
Before students and their families spend time and money applying to college for performing arts, get an expert or two to critique the student’s talent. It may be better for a child’s future to pursue his or her musical passion as a minor, or as part of an ensemble at their college.

Consider taking a lesson with professors prior to applying.
It can be very beneficial for a music student to be in contact with professors for their instruments at schools to which they are interested in applying, and, if possible, schedule lessons with them. If a professor becomes interested in a young musician, he or she can sometimes have a great deal of leverage in the admissions process. Either way, building a relationship with a professor is a great way to get some good advice and feedback.

Know what you need for the audition and what the school requires for the admissions process.
The admission process for music programs varies depending on the type of program for which a student is applying. Music departments are looking for technical competence and performance achievement; however, each program is different. For students applying to a school such as Northwestern or University of Michigan, each of which has an outstanding music department, keep in mind that grades, test scores and essays play an important role in the application process, in addition to the audition. For conservatories, while students will have to submit grades and test scores, as well as write essays, the most important part of the admissions process is the audition. Additionally, some programs require a recorded pre-screening before a student is invited to audition in person, and students may be asked to include two or more pieces as evidence of the student’s skills and achievements. When planning for in-person auditions, students may need to find a local accompanist. Contact the admissions office for each school you are auditioning at to find out all requirements, as well as whether the school provides an accompanist, or if you need to find one on your own. Plan to dress professionally for your auditions.

Pay attention to financial aid.
Many conservatories are expensive. They also tend to offer less financial aid than traditional colleges that offer a wider range of majors. However, some conservatories such as The Curtis Institute, the Colburn School, and the Lynn University Conservatory are tuition free if a student is accepted. Additionally, students who are interested in the arts can successfully develop their passions at traditional schools, so don’t ignore them.

About International College Counselors
The expert college advisors at International College Counselors are dedicated to helping student-musicians and their families find, apply to, and gain acceptance into the college of their dreams.  If a student is a musician (or a non-musician) and would like to learn how to successfully navigate the admissions process, please contact our expert educational consultants at [email protected], call 1-954 414-9986, or visit http://www.internationalcollegecounselors.com.