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B.A. in music vs. B.M.

plaestationplaestation Registered User Posts: 31 Junior Member
edited July 2008 in Music Major
I'm an incoming senior in high school, and I'm thinking to study music in college.
I've done quite a substantial amount in piano (studied for 10 years, gotten scholarships, performed with orchestras, etc. etc.) so I feel that I am qualified for a music degree in college.

However, I come from Whitney High School which is one of the top academic schools in the nation. Music isn't really a priority there and because of this, I feel like I haven't been able to put in as much time as some of the other students intending to major in music at college.
My unweighted GPA is around 3.7, I've taken a few AP's, 30 on the ACT...my academic record isn't impressive, but I don't think it's too bad.

My question is, for someone like me, do you think I would have a higher chance getting into, say USC, applying as a BA in music or a BM?
Do you know the difference in the admission process for a BA in music student vs. a BM?
Post edited by plaestation on

Replies to: B.A. in music vs. B.M.

  • violadadvioladad Registered User Posts: 6,645 Senior Member
    If you
    haven't done so already, read the post here. http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/music-major/258796-so-you-want-music-major-one-family-s-experience.html I've never seen a better overview. Anywhere. Period.

    For most institutions, except the strict conservatories, music performance majors are granted admittance based on the strength of the audition, and there is an additional instutional academic threshold that must be met. Some institutions bend the academic threshold for top auditioners, at others, it can be a line in the sand, and will not be crossed. In general, academics play a minimal role in conservatory programs.

    The basic difference between a BM and a BA in music is that a BM is akin to a BS, with more practical, hands on "technical" type courses that in effect have you put theory into practice (performing organizations, ensembles, probably another year of music history, and theory beyond the BA curriculum.
    The BA may be a bit lighter in overall credit requirements than a BM, and there will be less required music courses within the BA than the BM to fulfill degree requirements. In general, there may be more liberal arts/non-music electives within the BA as opposed to the BM.

    A BA in music may or may not have an audition requirement, a BM most surely will. Also, institution specific is the policy regards lesson times, faculty assignment, lesson cost. Most BM's will have an hour long private lesson weekly, normally with a faculty instructor plus a studio class, costs are normally part of the tuition; BA's may be relegated to a shorter lesson time, possibly be taught by a GA or TA, or have off-site lessons with non-faculty instructors. The program may cover the cost, subsidize, or be an additional fee beyond tuition. It's pretty school specific.

    What exactly do you want to do with music? Play professionally, on a high amateur level, teach publically or teach privately, or just continue to play in college? It's hard to offer suggestions without knowing a bit more about your proposed path and goals.
  • plaestationplaestation Registered User Posts: 31 Junior Member
    thanks for the reply :]

    well to be honest, I'm not exactly sure what I want to do for my career; all I know now is I enjoy music and want to get better at it. After all, it's not abnormal for people to switch majors in college right?

    Right now, my main goal is getting into a good college. And I'm not sure if a person like me is fit more for a BA or BM, in terms of the kind of person colleges are looking for.
  • BassDadBassDad Registered User Posts: 5,381 Senior Member
    Normally, a BM program is the way to go if it helps you meet some pretty specific goals. If you want to maintain flexibility for the next few years, the BA may be more advantageous. If you get started down the BM path and then want to switch majors to something other than music, you may well find that you need to stay in school an extra year or so in order to get the degree in the new field. If you are pursuing a BA, you may not even have to declare a major until well into your second year because you will be taking a lot of distribution requirements (i.e. required courses beyond the major area common to any BA degree) for the first two or three semesters.

    Another question that you should ask yourself is whether you need a degree in music at all to accomplish your goal. You may be able to do that with a private teacher while working on a degree in another specific area of interest. Or perhaps you would do well with a broad liberal arts curriculum as a way of having more to say with your music.

    If you are serious about an auditioned BM program, you have a lot to do in the next few months beyond the normal drill of applications, transcripts and letters of recommendation. Much of that is explained in detail in the thread that violadad pointed out. Best of luck to you whichever way you decide to go.
  • -Allmusic--Allmusic- Registered User Posts: 6,350 Senior Member
    It seems that the BA/BM decision is largely predicated by whether you want to spend at least 75% doing music-related coursework, or more like 25%. Do you want to live and breathe music in college, or have it more as an avocation?

    I don't think it is easier to get into programs for a BM, particularly at a school like USC, than a BA. Many kids who are Music majors in colleges or universities would not be accepted to conservatories. However, some of those conservatory applicants wouldn't have the grades/stats for some of the schools at which the music BA's are studying.

    So, it's a combination of drive/ambition/talent/future goals that might make your decision clearer.
  • plaestationplaestation Registered User Posts: 31 Junior Member
    Thanks so much for your replies!
    I'll definitely consider everything.
  • a2b2dga2b2dg Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    so it's about eight years later now. what did you end up doing?
  • choirsandstageschoirsandstages Registered User Posts: 695 Member
    edited April 2016
    @a2b2dg According to later posts, it appears that this person went to UCLA undeclared and abandoned the idea of doing a music degree. Doubt he/she will get the alert to come back here. Do you still check the same email that you were using eight years ago? (Ok I know you were probably too young for email then, but anyway... ;) )
This discussion has been closed.