August 14, 2012

How to Apply for Music Studies in College

So you want to study music in college and you need to know how to get in? Here are a few suggestions.

You have the desire to study music. Great. You will need much of it to sustain you through lonely hours in a practice room. Unless you enjoy being alone in small spaces. Aside from application requirements, it would also be helpful to have a few things. 

Before You Go To College

First, build up and perfect your repertoire. Learn to play some of the standard pieces for your instrument or voice. Take lessons and work with someone who can help you improve. College is typically not the place for beginner musicians. If you don’t already know some piano, learn it now. Don’t waste your time and precious tuition dollars for remedial group piano class. Then, when you get to college, don’t be surprised if your professor(s) make you feel like a beginner. I don’t know how many of my classmates complained  “My teacher says my embouchure is all wrong,” and the like.

Composing Before College

If you would like to study music composition in college, start composing before college. Yes, it’s a little cruel to demand works from you when you’ve not studied composition formally. But like playing a horn, you can get composition lessons before college, too. (You can also read about composing music here, on this blog, not to put too fine a point on it). Read on for more about what this portfolio should look like.

College Music School Application Requirements

Application requirements vary depending on the school. But for undergraduate admissions you can typically expect to complete four steps.

The first step is to complete the application. Some schools require you to complete two applications, one for the university and another for the school of music. Others colleges require only one application that will serve for both. Still other universities prohibit applicants from applying to both the college of arts and sciences and the school of music or conservatory. This is important to consider, because some schools in this last category will make it difficult for you to switch majors should you decide to repent of your musical ambitions after matriculating.

You will also have to send in supporting materials, including but not limited to, transcripts of your high school academic records, standardized test scores from the SAT or ACT (which may have been delivered automatically). And if you plan on studying music composition, you’ll want to send in a portfolio of your works.

What Should My Composition Portfolio Look Like?

Karlheinz Stockhausen. Just kidding. It is good to send in a variety of works. Even if piano is your primary instrument, don’t send three pieces for piano. You might not know how to write well for... any instrument, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying. Your portfolio is likely to be pretty typical. And tonal. Do what you can to show that you are creative and have an interest in becoming more so. If you can, engrave your music using computer software. Hand written scores tend to be sloppy (“Hey, I’m a creative-type, I can get away with sloppy.” Right.). Recordings are also usually encouraged, but most people hate listening to a MIDI recording. Having your high school band, orchestra, or choir teacher proof read your music may also be helpful.

Paperwork and More Paperwork

You will also be required to have your teachers send letters of recommendation. You will be given or will print off a recommendation form to give to your teacher(s) with stamped and addressed envelopes. It is a good idea to have all of your recommendation letters for multiple schools together before you give them to your teachers, as a courtesy. After all, they’re doing you a favor. Make it easy for them to recommend you highly.

Judgment Day, Conservatory Style

Finally, you will probably have an interview and/or audition. Yes, these can be intimidating. Just remember that if it’s the good Lord’s will, it will be so. Then, do your best to prepare well with the confidence that the Lord is good, whatever happens. 

Was this post helpful? Have a question to ask? Leave your comments and questions below.

No comments:

Post a Comment