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Undergraduate Information

We have three undergraduate programs at Peabody. Each leads to a bachelor of music degree. The performance standards for entering or graduating from any of these programs is the same.

  • Music Performance
  • Music Education
        Admissions info | Department homepage

    This program is built on the music performance program, and includes special courses which lead to certification for teaching public school music in the United States. As such, it is not well suited for international students who will be returning home after graduating. In most majors, this program also includes a certificate indicating that the graduate has completed all the performance requirements of a performance degree. Thus, the proficiency level in the major instrument (or voice) necessary for entrance is the same as it is for performance majors. More applicants are rejected because of low performance scores than for any other reason, so see the section about your performance major to get an idea of the entrance standards. Once accepted in your performance major, the odds of being accepted in the music education program are high.

  • Recording Arts and Sciences
        Admissions info | Department homepage

    This program is a Peabody dual degree program. Applicants need apply only to Peabody. The Recording Arts and Sciences program includes a performance degree, so the performance level necessary for entrance is the same as for a performance major. More applicants are rejected because of low performance scores than for any other reason. In this program, math and science courses are taken at the Homewood Campus of The Johns Hopkins University. To be comfortable in that environment, we look for students with math SAT scores of at least 650. The acceptance rate is about fifty percent. Be advised that applicants for this program do not need to apply separately to any other division of The Johns Hopkins University. Voice majors typically need some summer study to complete the program in five years. The situation for Jazz majors is similar, depending on the individual instrument. In either case (voice or jazz) applicants should discuss the possibilities with the department chair before beginning.

Students entering Peabody in any of the above three programs must audition, and be accepted in one of the following performance majors.

  • Composition
        Admissions info | Department homepage

    The composition faculty wants to evaluate examples of music you have written. The portfolio you submit with your application should contain compositions written for a variety of media. Some applicants ask if they should send recordings of their compositions. Since recordings are not part of the application requirements, it is not necessary, and it shouldn't affect the admission decision. However, if you want a recording in your application folder, you may upload one to Decision Desk. Although the composition program includes study on an applied minor instrument, it is not necessary to pass an instrumental audition in order to be accepted.

    A typical composition applicant might submit an art song, some instrumental chamber music, and possibly a larger piece. Typically, a successful applicant will have taken a theory course or two. Private lessons, or at least coaching with a teacher, is also typical. Compositional style can favor any form of art music, including film scoring, electronic, or computer music. If your interest is primarily in jazz or popular forms of music there are other schools that will better serve your needs.

  • Computer Music (Emphasis on Performance or Composition)
        Department homepage
  • Early Music Instruments (Baroque flute, Lute, Viola da Gamba, Harpsichord, Baroque violin, Baroque cello, Recorder, Theorbo, and Baroque oboe)
        Department homepage
  • Guitar
        Admissions info | Department homepage

    Many students begin playing guitar because of an interest in popular music or jazz, so the number of years of private classical study is not always indicative of a successful applicant. The two things all of our entering students have in common is a love for classical guitar performance, and the ability to read music. These students have been highly focused towards classical music for several years, and have usually been taking private lessons for that length of time. Audition requirements are pretty flexible, but do include several styles of classical guitar music.

  • Jazz
        Admissions info | Department homepage

    The jazz performance program is designed for two types of students. One type started with classical study, and blossomed into a primary interest in jazz. This type of student will be attracted to the Peabody program because of the opportunities to excel in jazz without being completely divorced from more traditional forms of "art music." The second type of student is entirely focused on jazz—a "purist" if you will. This type of student will be attracted to Peabody because of a wish to study with our jazz-specific faculty. They are the core of the program. Students applying for the jazz program will audition only for the jazz faculty—either in person or via CD recording.

    Recently we have had to reject an unusually large number of Jazz applicants, so I asked the faculty what was going on. The faculty emphasized that they were very serious about scales—major, and all three types of minors. You will be required to play them at the audition. The second element has to do with repertoire performed. Jazz standards are required. If the term "jazz standard" is not familiar to you, check with your teacher for guidance. You will find more details on the repertoire page.

    Jazz auditions are not held at regional sites. Jazz applicants are not required to perform a "classical" audition. The best source of detailed information about jazz at Peabody is Ian Sims, Jazz Studies Academic Coordinator. He invites you to email him with your questions. The address is: ian.sims@jhu.edu.

    Special note about combining Jazz and Recording Arts: Jazz and technology seem a natural combination, and indeed a number of our first jazz students are also Recording Arts majors. However, as they have been progressing through the program we are finding the combination to be especially challenging. At issue is the exceptional amount of "playing" that is a hallmark of our Jazz program. The Jazz faculty does not want to prohibit a Jazz/Recording Arts combination, but those interested should understand the special issues involved, and should check with the jazz department for advice if considering this combination.

  • Keyboard Instruments
        Piano Admissions info | Department homepage
        Organ Department homepage

    Most successful piano applicants have been taking private lessons for seven to ten years, and are currently practicing for several hours a day. Applicants who have been splitting their practice time between two or more instruments are less likely to be successful. Successful applicants can perform a Chopin Ballade and/or Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody with flair and artistry. Typically, they have a complete (all movements) Beethoven Sonata and a Bach Prelude and Fugue ready for public performance from memory with only a little brush-up practice. Audition requirements are taken seriously. A memorized audition is mandatory.

    All piano applicants are pre-screened via CD recording. Successful applicants at the pre-screening stage must audition in person at Peabody.

  • Orchestral Instruments
        Admissions info | Flute admissions info
        Department homepages: Brass | Harp | Percussion | Strings | Woodwinds

    If you have been taking private lessons for several years; if you play a leading part in your school's ensembles; and if you are comfortable enough with the audition repertoire to produce an expressive audition, it is reasonable for you to audition at Peabody. If you play a leading part in a selective all-state or regional ensemble, the chance of acceptance is improved.

    Acceptance rates vary widely from instrument to instrument and from year to year. Keep in mind that Peabody has two orchestras and typically half of our students are in two-year graduate programs. Thus there are usually enough openings for us to accept students at an appropriate level of development without concern for overpopulating the ensembles.

    Less recognized as an element in the acceptance process is available space in the rosters of our major teachers. The teachers tend to tighten up the acceptance level in years when there are fewer openings. You already know if you play a relatively rare instrument like double bass, or a more popular one like flute. It might surprise you to know that in some years we have needed as many as nine flutes at Peabody.

    In the context of a group of music schools, you will probably not know which ones have a high need for your instrument and which ones are overloaded in a given year. Thus the wisdom of applying to schools of various sizes. In the process you will visit different campuses, and will get a better sense of how the individual schools feel.

    The number of flutists applying to major music schools is very large, so all applicants are pre-screened by CD recording. Successful applicants tend to focus on the instrument's solo capabilities as well as serious band and/or orchestral playing. Typical successful applicants have had private lessons for at least five years, and have been praised for their musicality in the public performance of difficult music. If your teacher thinks you are one of the best players in your state or region, it is reasonable to apply.

  • Voice
        Admissions info | Department homepage

    Given the number of schools to which the average undergrad is applying, and given the time and expense of traveling to each school for an audition, it would be in everyone's interest if we could give you some hints about the kind of students who are typically accepted to Peabody. I would like to approach this first from the point of view of the school, and then from the applicant's point of view. I hope you have a few minutes to spend with me here. This is not a simple subject.

    Music schools (and singers who have performed in choruses) know that establishing a balance between male and female voices can be tricky. There are fewer male applicants to most music schools, but for some reason they "self select" well. In other words, most of the male applicants we hear at Peabody come to us with considerable experience and dedication. In a typical year, we audition roughly 60 males, and we accept over 60%.

    Our applicant pool of females is about three times larger than for males, and the females tend to come to us with a wider range of training and experience. While all are earnest in their desire to pursue a musical career, we can only accept the most advanced. Thus, our acceptance rate for female voices is usually below 30%. We love to have lots of people visiting the school during auditions, but by the same token we hate to send rejection letters to so many of the female singers we meet—especially knowing how much time and money has gone into the audition trip. In an effort to streamline the process the voice faculty now pre-screens all applications.

    To help guide you, we asked the voice faculty to tell us what they look for at the auditions. They sent us a list.

    Number one on their list was simply being able to read musical notation. This will sound silly to most of you, but there are actually people applying to major music schools who have learned all their repertoire by repetition. In musical terms, this is the equivalent of enrolling in algebra without first understanding basic math. It's hard to get along at an advanced school of music without music-reading skills, so such students are always rejected. Note that we are not referring to sight-reading here (although we sometimes ask for it at auditions), just a solid understanding of musical notation.

    The next thing the faculty mentioned was tone quality and projection. Often we observe bad habits which cannot be corrected over the duration of a typical undergraduate program, so we must reject. We realize that voices at the undergraduate level are not yet mature, but we are looking for people who are clearly headed in the right direction at the time of their auditions. If you find you have to use a microphone to fill a small room, or if your voice tends to be lost when you sing with others, you would want to work on this element before auditioning at any major music school.

    The program at Peabody is based on opera and art song, so successful applicants typically have several years of private lessons in their background, including exposure to the special challenges of singing in European languages (French, German, and Italian). Singers with a primary interest in musical theater or popular music will find programs at other schools that better fit their needs. You should have good singing facility in at least one of those three languages for your audition.

    The next item on the list is accuracy in pitch and rhythm. It makes sense that these relate to note reading (for rhythm) and tone production (for pitch). Most singers deal with these issues on occasion, but remember you are competing with a large number of applicants, so the faculty is likely to reject those who have anything but the most minor and rare pitch issues.

    Since the audition itself is a performance, the faculty looks for a certain level of preparedness and polish. Applicants who are ready for conservatory entrance tend to have a repertoire of memorized works ready to perform on short notice, so singing from music is a no-no (unless you are attempting an oratorio or some insanely difficult 20th century work). Although I hate to say it, please avoid non-traditional audition repertoire. Hymns, songs from the school musical, or your own compositions make for an interesting audition, but if you have a suitable background for admission, there will be no need for it.

    We expect to hear repertoire appropriate to your age and voice type—musically interpreted and communicative to the auditioning panel. There is no need to risk hitting a note which may not yet be reliably in your range. You must be comfortable with your repertoire so that your entire focus is on creating a musical experience for your audience. It also helps to look the part. The trick is to present yourself as a confident, focused performer. Dress with the hope that when you leave the room the faculty will want to talk about your performance—not your clothes. When in doubt, favor the formal side.

    On behalf of the voice faculty, I hope these guidelines give you a "feel" for what we are looking for. If you can't clearly see yourself within the descriptions above, the odds of acceptance at Peabody are questionable. You can still apply if you wish, relying on the pre-screening process to give you a preliminary indication of where you stand. Finally, remember that those admitted to Peabody will be only a percentage of those who are comfortably within all the parameters I have shared with you. Thus, it is a good idea to apply to a variety of colleges and universities with varying levels of vocal development required for entrance. The good news is that a large percentage of the applicants we cannot accommodate at Peabody find excellent situations at other schools.

Peabody does not offer undergraduate programs or majors in:

  • Accompanying
  • Church Music
  • Conducting (We have classes, but no major at the undergrad level)
  • Dance (Lots of dance classes in the Prep for those who are interested)
  • Early Music (We do not have a program that leads to a degree in Early Music, but you can major in an early music instrument within our other programs)
  • Ethnomusicology
  • Music industry programs (like Arts Administration)
  • Musical Theater
  • Music Therapy
  • Pedagogy (Although we have no major in pedagogy on the undergraduate level, our piano and guitar programs have pedagogy requirements)

 

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