1. What are the differences between small large college when it comes to majoring in music?
a) Smaller schools tend to have fewer students majoring in music than large school.
b) The amount of resources, such as facilities and equipment, may be less at schools that have less moneys available to afford these.
c) Smaller schools may have fewer ensembles to participate in.
d) In some cases a smaller schools that has fewer professors, may offer fewer types of music classes to select from through out your four years of study.
e) Compared to larger schools, smaller schools may have more opportunitites to play in a wide variety of ensemble since there are fewer students majoring in music to contend with.
f) Smaller schools tend to offer more individual attention from the professors.
g) Both small and large schools have professors of the highest calibur.
f) In smaller schools, because there are fewer students, there may be less competition; thus, there is a possibility of not being pushed as hard as if you were in a school with a lot students.
g) The larger schools tend to have more opportunities to attend more concerts simply because there are more ensembles. The exposure to these types of experiences, even though you do not perform in them, can be a significant experience when majoring in music.
2. What is the difference between a School of Music vs a Department of Music?
a) There are two divisions of schools to consider: a "school of music" and a "department of music". The big differences between the two is the curriculum. A school of music typically has mostly music classes in the requirements for the degree. Whereas a department of music, since it is under the auspices of a larger school (eg. the school of fine arts), all students are required to take classes in subjects outside of music. So if you want to explore other classes beyond music related ones, a department of music may provide more opportunities with in their requirements to do this. Schools of music have their curriculum filled with music courses. This leaves very little room outside of your music classes to take other interesting classes.
b) You may want to consider a school of music if you rather take primarily music courses throughout your college studies. There is also a type of school called a "conservatory of music". This type of program is typically only music based and frequently has a heavy emphasis on the performance aspect of music. Students majoring in music performance often consider these types of programs for this very reason. Additionally a liberal arts school makes every student take courses outside of their major field, in a conservatory of music students are only required to take music courses. Some people feel that a liberal arts school produces a more well rounded person because they are knowledgeable of subjects outside of their own field of study. The disadvantage is that it spreads your focuses to matters not dealing with music when time can be limiting for a music student in general (individual practicing and ensemble rehearsals which often can take up a lot of personal time). Both conservatories and liberal arts schools have numerous schools that are outstanding to study at and both should be considered.
c) Some smaller schools may have adjunct professors, meaning they are not full time professors, frequently having fewer degree qualifications (does not have a doctorate in music). Some of these professors may be professional musicians or public school music teachers. In some cases adjuncts can be of a very high caliber eg. someone who is presently performing on Broadway or a retired musician from the West Point Band. Know who you will be studying with.
3. What else should I consider when making my decision?
What is the importance of my future instrumental lesson professor?
The primary instrument professor tends to be one of the greatest influence on you as a musician. Start by viewing the school's website page that gives the professor's bio. This will tell you a lot about who you may end up spending the next four years with. Next contact that professor to start a dialogue. Ask them about their approach to lessons, expectations, and requirements over the four years as an undergraduate student. Ask them if they would be willing to give you a private lesson. This will allow both you and the professor to get to know each other. Be sure to ask what they charge for the lesson. Some professors will charge you for the lessons while others will do them gratis as a recruiting tool. In some cases this is the person who will decide on whether or not you will be accepted to their school's program. In the end if you don't like them then you may not want to attend that particular school. Keep in mind that larger schools may have multiple professors that teach your instrument. Find out how students are assigned to professors.
What is your final goal?
You want to study at a school that will best prepare you for your final goal once you graduate. For instance, if you are interested in majoring in music education you want to attend a school that has their students studying extensively on secondary instruments so you know how to teach them once you graduate.
What size of overall student enrollment do you want to study at?
A school with 3000 students may have a more comfortable life style for some students. For others a school with 30,000 students may have the big university life style that they may have seen in some movies. They are very different environments both (as stated above). They both have their advantages and disadvantages.
Where do you want to live post college?
You will develop professional connections in the state that you attend college.
What do I need to know about teaching certification if I am going to be a music education major?
Be sure that the school that you attend allows you to be certified yo teach in the state you want to eventually teach in. New York is reciprocal with many states throughout the USA which is not true for all states. By attending a school in the state you want to eventually live will often provide you with more connections when it comes time to apply for teaching jobs. Contact your perspective school for this type of teaching certification questions.
What other things should I be thinking about?
*money (note: music specific scholarships are limited)
*proximity to home (do you want to come home on the weekends or is it O.K. to stay in contact by phone and computer for greater lengths of time?)
*temperature (if you don't like the cold studying at a school in Buffalo, NY may not be what you are looking for.)
*life style (eg. a city college vs a college in the middle of nowhere)
4. Final thoughts:
1. Ask your past and present school music teachers (elementary, middle school, and high school) and private lesson teachertheir thoughts on music schools . They have all been through this. Each of them have their own perspective on which schools you should consider.
2. Start early : As soon as you know you want to consider majoring in music tell you music teacher. You want to make sure you are doing everything now that will both help you get into your choice school and help you to prepare for your first year in college.
3. Take private music lessons . A private lesson teacher will help you prepare for your college audition. Every music school will have you audition on your primary instrument (or voice for vocal majors).
4. Make sure you take the music theory course offered at our high school. This will prepare you for your college placement exams once you are excepted to a school. Some schools have prospective students take an entrance exam that is music theory based.
5. If it fits into your four year high school plan, instrumental students should try to take a year of singing in the chorus. Everyone who studies music in college is required to sing in at minimum their music theory/ear training classes. Singing in high school will help prepare you for this.
6. Take private piano lessonseven if it is for a short time. All colleges require that their students have experience playing piano before graduation. Some schools require that every student pass a piano proficiencies skills exam while others simply require a certain number of semesters of piano study.
7. Build your high school resume.The more music activities you are in the more well rounded you are. Colleges like to see that you have participated in NYSSMA solo festivals, All County Festivals, Area-All State Festivals, NYSBDA and All State Festivals, pep band, pit band, jazz band, you can play multiple instruments, you have taken private lessons, you have taken music theory, plus participation in groups outside of school eg. youth symphonies.