Big or Small Music Program?

Lots of musical teens get this advice from well-meaning guidance professionals: if you would like to play music in college while majoring in something else, go to a university with a high-end music degree program.

That will give you access to world-class professors and high-end ensembles.


Kinda. . .

Schools with famous music departments often do allow non-majors to audition for their ensembles. However, the students majoring in music are so focused on developing their musicianship, it is nearly impossible for a non-major to compete. So, even students who plan to minor in music are usually not competitive enough to win a chair in the high-end ensembles.

Such schools often do offer other music ensembles for non-majors, but the level is typically much lower than what you and your guidance counselor had dreamed of when you decided to apply.

Also, taking private lessons at a big-name music school usually means studying with a grad student. That can be an amazing opportunity, but not what you pictured when you learned about the famous private instructor.

Every student I have worked with who did not major in music but attended a college or university with a big-name music department chose to stop playing music after (or during) their freshman year.

If you would like to pursue a major outside of music, and participate in music while in college, consider a college with a small (or no) degree program.

Such schools have amazing professors who love working with diverse levels of students. All of their ensembles must be filled with experienced musicians, so there is often scholarship money available to high-end students. And, all private lessons are taught by an expert instructor.

Non-music-majors I have worked with who have attended colleges with small music departments have gone on concert tours in Europe and Japan, have performed in masterclasses with famous musicians, have been involved in exciting recording projects, have had opportunities to be on stage for premier performances of new pieces of music, and have won sizable scholarships to play music in college.

All while majoring in business, chemistry, engineering, psychology, and other non-musical fields.

What an amazing addition to their college – and life – experience. And, what incredible opportunities that would not have been likely for them at a big-name music school.

Need help brainstorming some unique options? Shoot me a message. I will be happy to help!

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