Thinking About A Bachelor’s Degree In Music Performance?

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ViolinOne of the most asked questions about getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Performance is, “What can I do with a Music Performance Degree?”  Usually, this question is asked with the general knowledge that all performing jobs require an audition and the best-qualified (performing) musician will be awarded the position.  While this is true, the entire point of getting a formal education in “Music Performance” IS TO MOLD the aspiring musician INTO THE BEST musician for the job!

There are many reasons to consider a Music Performance Degree beyond a broader understanding and increased academic knowledge of music including: working with and developing a social relationship with a well-known and well-skilled music mentor/teacher, opportunities to compete and compare musical skills with other like-minded performers, instruction in self-confidence building, “on-stage” preparation, building social and professional networks, exploration into public relations and self-promotion, and a broader understanding of technology as it relates to the performance

If you decide to pursue a Music Performance Degree make sure that you give ample thought to the following considerations:

  • What is the reputation of the school offering the degree?
    ~There are many well-known colleges and universities that offer music performance degrees.
    ~If you are looking to be a top-notch performer then going to one that   is well-respected and produces graduates that are successful in obtaining performance-related jobs is a necessity.
  • Who will be your primary music instructor?
    ~Where have they/do they perform?
    ~What is their academic and professional backgrounds?
    ~Have you listened to any of their recordings or performances?
    ~Do you think that you can learn under them (have you visited and talked with them…)?
  • What are the non-performing requirements of the degree?
    ~Most colleges and universities offering a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Performance will require a number of non-music courses to be taken in addition to the multitude of music courses.  Schools that are considered to be Music Conservatories or adhere to the ideas of a
    “conservatory approach to music” will usually require less of the non-music courses (sometimes called “General Education Requirements or ‘Gen. Ed.’”) while those that are more aligned to a traditional “Liberal Arts approach” to education usually will require quite a bit more.  There is no “right” choice for everyone, only what is “right” for what you are trying to accomplish with the degree and your future.
  • What performing ensembles, groups, events, and opportunities are available for you as a student within the Music Department?
    ~Usually schools that offer a Music Performance degree program will have plenty of performance opportunities for students. Typically, larger music departments and colleges/universities will offer more performing opportunities –but some smaller Music Departments also offer a wide array of performing opportunities as well –it’s always best to check.
  • What performing opportunities are available outside the Music Department?
    ~Colleges and Universities situated in larger population centers will typically have more outside performing venues and opportunities than those based in smaller populated areas. Many colleges and universities will also have ties with local performing organizations and venues.

Finally, any successful Bachelor’s Degree graduate will be able to further their formal education by pursuing a Master’s Degree in a variety of related academic disciplines.


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Joseph M. Pisano, Ph.D. is an industry innovator, education clinician and lecturer, trumpeter and conductor, and the creator of many education websites. He is currently the Vice President of Innovation and Engagement at Keystone Ridge Designs, Inc. After twenty-three years as a professor and administrator at Grove City College, he made the move into industry in 2018.  As one of the youngest full professors in Grove City’s history, he served in various roles over his tenure including the Technical Director of the Pew Fine Arts Center, Assistant and Associate Chairs of Music and Music and Fine Arts, Director of Music and Fine Arts Technology, Director of Jazz Studies, Stage Manager, and he finished his tenure as the Director of Bands where he directed the college’s Symphonic Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, Marching Band, Pep Bands, and various small ensembles.

He been named a TI:ME Teacher of the Year, received the JEN Jazz Educator Award, the PA Citation of Excellence, and named a “member for life” of the PA Intercollegiate Bandmasters Association. He is a past Vice President of the Technology Institute for Music Educators, an associate member of the American Bandmasters Association,  a past President of the PA Intercollegiate Bandmasters Association, and a member of various education and music honoraries. He has written for numerous publications including DCI Magazine, Teaching Music Magazine, and was the Educational Editor for In-Tune Monthly Magazine for eight years; he has contributed hundreds of articles to various publications. He is an active conductor, trumpeter, clinician, and educator. Find out more at his website

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