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Music Schools in Transition, Part IV

bookIn this post I want to begin to delve into the full educational program that music schools offer.  To do so requires some definition.

There are the degree programs with their requirements; various co-curricular programs, such as internships and courses offered for credit (but not required for the degree); and extra curricular learning opportunities.

I will concentrate in this post on degree programs, specifically the Bachelor of Music degree in Performance.  This particular degree of 120 required credits generally allows 8 liberal arts courses, one in each semester + one elective, usually taken in the senior year.   Some schools allow students to exceed 120 credits by allowing them to take additional courses, or adding a second major or elective; other schools discourage it because of cost.  I should note here that voice majors, because of their need to study languages and diction have truly no room for choice in their 120 credit load.

What appears to have begun happening in the 1990’s has continuously accelerated, that of students’ wanting to “double major,” or “double degree.”  There are even instances of students wanting to add a 3rd major or degree.  The reason is obvious.  Students, and their parents, want to get as much value out of the 4 years of study as they can.  The downside, of course, is that students who cram up to 25 or more credits a semester into their schedule have no time to do anything in depth, let alone practice their instrument.

And, of course, what’s missing in all of these situation is any semblance of choice.  The typical highly-skilled young performer has has h/her life dictated since h/she can remember, then goes to college and proceeds along the same path, being told to do every moment.  I once had a voice faculty member tell me, sarcastically, that “we even tie their shoes for them.”  So, should we be surprised that so many musicians on graduation of no clue as to how to move into professional life, let alone create new opportunities for classical music performance and engagement in their communities?

I’ve spoken on this conundrum for the undergraduate B.M. degree in performance program before, that of many entering students needing remedial work in basic music skills, while at the same time demanding career assurances on graduation.  The crunch makes effective comprehensive contemporary-focused education impossible.  The locked-in-place 120 credits just aren’t working.  The B.M in Performance needs a complete rethinking and revision.  Music school directors and their accrediting organization, NASM, need to make this task their #1 priority.





  1. […] 2015-02-20 Because She Can . . . Therefore She Is AJBlog: Straight|UpPublished 2015-02-20 Music Schools in Transition, Part IV AJBlog: State of the ArtPublished […]

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