Finding the Music School That’s Right For You

Whether you’re an aspiring jazz pianist or a classical cellist, there’s a school out there that can help you develop your skills and find your way in the world of music. Many schools offer both performance and non-performance degrees, allowing students to study everything from theory to composition to music education. But before you start searching for colleges, think about what you really want to do. Does the idea of playing your instrument or singing your songs every day make you happy? If the answer isn’t a solid “yes,” you might not be cut out to be a musician.

If the answer is “yes,” you’ll need to decide if you want to attend a music-only college or go to a regular university with a good music program. There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of schools. Music-only colleges tend to be smaller and can give you more focused instruction in a specific area of musical performance or scholarship. But they may not have as much in the way of general education and other major-related courses. You’ll also need to weigh the cost vs. potential earnings, as musicians and singers usually don’t make a lot of money.

Music schools usually offer both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science degree, although the degree requirements vary slightly between colleges. A B.A. program often requires fewer hours of music-related classes, while a B.S. degree typically requires more technical coursework.

In addition to privateĀ Music School lessons and ensembles, you’ll probably take some basic theory classes, such as music history, ear training, and composition. These lecture- or seminar-based courses are designed to help you understand the evolution of musical styles over time, and the role of cultural and social trends in shaping the way composers write and musicians perform their work.

You’ll also take a few hours of one- or two-hour private lessons each week. These instructors are like musical coaches; they’ll guide your practice to improve technique and help you reach the next level of musicianship. Lessons begin with warm-ups (think of them as vocal exercises, aimed at awakening your voice or tuning up the different registers of your instruments). Then you’ll practice specific pieces and work on developing the nuances of your musical style.

Composition Area faculty encourage the growth of each student as a composer by providing individual attention and a stimulating environment that fosters the development of creative and technical abilities in writing music. The area regularly presents four student composers concerts each year, and offers a number of other opportunities for interaction with local professionals.

Conducting Area faculty provide specialized training in the art and craft of conducting choral and instrumental ensembles at the professional level. The program emphasizes the development of a informed and unique musical voice through a rigorous program of private lessons, ensembles, music history and theory, and conducting studies.

The University of Utah’s theory area focuses on the integration of musical knowledge into all areas of musical study. In addition to traditional introductory and advanced courses, the area sponsors the Fridays w/Faculty lecture series, which invites academics from other universities to discuss their research on theory-related topics.