We have developed a music admissions research site to help you research schools with music programs by several different parameters. Ex. you can search by faculty, double major, scholarship type, and specific majors all at the same time. Please visit the site. It is free to use and out there just to help you in your college search process.
It wasn’t so long ago that double majoring in, say, a science and music, wasn’t done. This is definitely possible, but you have to find the right teacher and the right school. Do your homework. Even if a school states that it offers such programs, sometimes they might actually be impossible or nearly impossible to complete in 4 to 5 years. Sometimes these programs are possible but won’t allow study abroad or do not coordinate well with all the other requirements and goals. Many universities have orchestra and labs offered at the same time, thus making science classes impossible in conjunction with a music program, for example. Don’t give up hope, though. There are plenty of programs that do allow for these majors to coincide. Just look carefully to the right program that suits your educational goals. If an institution doesn't offer a particular program in its directory, it never hurts to ask the advisors and counselors whether such a program could be designed individually.
As a rule, most liberal arts colleges make these kind of programs very possible. There are several conservatories that also make this possible though, so do your homework. The best people to ask are students at the school you are trying to attend who also currently double majors. These students will tell you how difficult it is at that school and what problems may have been encountered. The admissions offices at most schools can arrange for students to speak with you about these things.
Why have we developed this blog and why is it important?
For close to a decade, I have fielded daily questions from parents and students about college admissions. Many of these questions could and should be answered by the music teacher, but often aren't even asked, either out of misplaced embarrassment when it comes to inquiring about financial aid, or stemming from basic ignorance equally on the part of parent, teacher, and student of the whole daunting process.
In the beginning, I had considerable current information about the admissions path having experienced it first-hand recently myself through undergraduate and graduate school and having sheparded several students through the process. Now in the interests of being more effective I continuously research by reaching out to admissions officers, teachers, high school counselors, deans, and then of course innumerable books and websites to become fluent about the current music school admissions processes.
What has become apparent is that while there are many tools and resources regarding the admissions process, most of them are not relevant for music students, and some are even quite misleading. In the end, there hasn't been much progress for aspiring serious music students dating back to the college fairs and glossy brochures that summarized admissions offerings in past decades. Parents, teachers, and students are still as confused with by the lack of pertinent information, the flood of irrevelent and misleading college mail, and the steady stream of inaccurate information and meaningless school rankings from teachers, counselors, fellow students, and aggressive admissions officers about school offerings and opportunities. There is a great need for straightforward and truthful information minus the spin and anxiety factors.
Many music programs do offer merit/talent scholarships. These scholarships are given based on actual merit and documented accomplishment. Don’t assume that just because you are studying music, that you will win a scholarship. Schools give scholarships to recruit needed talent into their programs and/or award the best incoming students. Colleges may need, say, fifteen violinists, a harpist, five bass vocalists, and a bassoon player in a particular year. Those students meeting this criteria will get the first scholarships in order for the school to round out its program. Earning one of these scholarships also comes with the expectation that you will continue to perform to the highest standards, and that you will “work” for the University by performing in the ensembles, for events, and promote the school. Don’t think of the money as free money. This is your job at college. If you don’t foresee yourself practicing and improving the school’s music program, this is not the way to pay for college. The school and the school’s students are depending upon you if you take this money.
The questions listed in the previous post are unfortunately not the questions high school counselors are generally tasked with addressing, nor do most have the time to research the real scoop where it pertains to music students. The counselor's job is to help students to graduate from high school under the state guidelines. Certainly part of an effective guidance and/or college counselor's job is to help students with the college admissions process, but when it comes to music, it may be more helpful to ask music teachers, students who are currently enrolled in music school, or the music admissions departments themselves. To further complicate the problem, many high school counselors and private music teachers emanate from a pre-technology generation, and had earned success merely by following their teacher's prescribed traditional path via a common Alma Mater. That world has changed vastly, of course; you may well find that the right school or program for you didn't even exist until recently. Finding the program that is compatible with your talents and dreams requires as much patience, tenacity and creativity as in learning a piece of music well!
In addition, many of the programs now require a Preliminary Acceptance Process with a rigorous set of repertoire requirements that must be submitted just to win a live audition in addition to additional steps to admission that are sometimes but not always listed in clearly on school websites. Make sure you thoroughly explore each school's website and turn in your applications early. In addition, it is helpful for you (not your parents or teacher!) to call the music admissions office to make sure your entire file is complete. It only takes one missing document in your file to disqualify you from admittance.
Your teacher may feel obligated to answer your questions while being uncertain about answers. Advice from teachers can sometimes be based on vastly outdated information. Graciously accept the advice from teachers, but make sure to verify information with the school directly and explore as many other resources as you can to get as full a picture as possible. Remember, this is your future, not your teacher's that of your parents.
For the music student, the most important questions are: