Advice for New Music Majors

The CSUSB Department of Music provides students with a rigorous musical education as a foundation for a lifelong understanding and love of music, as well as preparation for a wide variety of careers in music. We accomplish this through an emphasis on undergraduate education, small class size, and close interactions between faculty and students, all with a continual focus on artistic expression. Consistent with the university’s mission, the department is also committed to serving the campus and Inland Empire communities through on-going performance and educational initiatives.
 
As is the case at any university, majoring in music is a time intensive endeavor.  It requires many more hours of rehearsal, practice, and study per unit of credit than do most other majors. In addition, music degrees typically require more total units than average, and at CSUSB, majoring in music usually requires a five- and sometimes six-days-per-week commitment.  That includes occasional commitments at night and on weekends.   In short, successfully completing a music degree requires a large commitment of time and energy!

CSUSB offers two degrees, a Bachelor of Arts in Music and a Bachelor of Music in Performance, the latter still under review for approval by the CSU system. The BM degree will hopefully be available for enrollment in Fall 2016. Of particular importance, students must audition for acceptance into the BM degree program. More information about Bachelor of Music audition requirements is available in the department’s online handbook. Students must complete a placement audition for applied lessons in the Bachelor of Arts degree, but no audition is required for acceptance into the BA program. Student should contact MusicAdmissions@csusb.edu for more information about applied placement auditions.  The department also offers minors in music technology, commercial music, and jazz studies that can fulfill elective requirements for the BA in Music.  More detailed information about the degrees, as well as the department’s minors, is available in the  “Curriculum” section of the Music Department’s handbook, and prospective music majors are encouraged to contact the department with questions at MusicAdmissions@csusb.edu.

Preparing to major in music

An expectation common to almost all music degrees, including those at CSUSB, is mastery of performance on an instrument or as a singer.  The more advanced a student’s performing or “applied” abilities are, the more successful he/she will be in pursuing a music major.   High school students planning a music major should pursue development of applied skills and knowledge through private lessons, “coaching” from their school’s music teachers, and/or other informal help from professionals in their particular area of performance. Transfer students should complete applied lesson courses at their community colleges.

Similarly, prospective music majors should develop their knowledge of music theory, an important subject typically studied in great detail by music majors.  Students can gain theory knowledge as part of applied lessons, in community college classes, in AP Music Theory, and through individual study.  Students interested in self-directed music theory study should speak to their current music teachers or email CSUSB’s Music Department at MusicAdmissions@csusb.edu for suggested materials. CSUSB offers diagnostic testing in music theory that can help students achieve an appropriate placement in the department’s music theory and musicianship sequence.

Prospective transfer music majors in California community colleges should consider completing an Associates Degree for Transfer in Music.  An ADT in Music is a program specially designed to prepare California community college graduates for transferring as music majors to a university in the CSU system.  Community college counselors and music faculty can provide prospective transfers will more detailed information about ADT music courses.   Even if a community college doesn’t have an ADT in Music, students planning to major in music should complete courses in music theory, applied lessons, class piano, and large performing ensembles.   To find out if a course at your community college will transfer to CSUSB, visit Assist.org.   Note, however, that students who complete an ADT in Music must still audition for acceptance into the Bachelor of Music in Performance degree. Also, students with prior piano experience may perform a piano placement audition for advanced placement in CSUSB’s class piano course sequence. It’s possible for students to test completely out the department’s piano proficiency requirements.

Important deadlines

CSUSB currently uses the CSU system's priority application deadline of November 30 for admission in the following fall term.   If prospective students do not apply to CSUSB by that deadline, admission for the following year’s fall term is almost impossible to achieve. Students file applications online at Cal State Apply, and they can find answers to admission, financial aid, and similar questions at CSUSB’s Office of Admissions.

CSUSB’s Music Department offers approximately $15,000 in music scholarships every year to music majors.  Student apply through CSUSB’s online scholarship application system, and the deadline for applying is always in early March.  More information about music scholarships is available online.   To apply for a scholarship, students must file an application by the priority application deadline.  As part of a music scholarship application, students must submit links to recorded audition materials. Students should consult with their school’s music teacher or contact CSUSB’s Music Department at MusicAdmissions@csusb.edu if they need help in preparing audition materials.  Audition preparation should ideally start before a student is informed of admission to CSUSB, which typically occurs in late January or early February.   

Usually at the same time as scholarship applications are due, students must submit applications for other financial aid.   More about information financial aid applications and deadlines is available from CSUSB’s Office of Admissions.

May 1 is the usual deadline for paying a deposit and confirming with CSUSB’s Office of Admissions the intent to attend CSUSB in the following year.  Before that date, prospective music majors are strongly encouraged to visit CSUSB and the Music Department to attend classes and rehearsals, tour music facilities, and meet music students and faculty.  Contact CSUSB’s Music Department at MusicAdmissions@csusb.edu to arrange a visit.  During the summer before first enrolling in CSUSB classes, all new students attend a session of SOAR, which includes an advising session with a music faculty member.  Finally, shortly before the beginning of fall classes in September, new music students will be contacted by their applied lessons teachers to set up an applied lesson time for the term.  More information about that and other courses in the music curriculum will be available at the SOAR advising session. Also in preparation for their first term at CSUSB, new music majors should review the full Music Department handbook for important information about degrees, classes, academic policies, and music facilities.