Southeast Asian woman joyfully playing violin for an audition in black blazer

6 Quick Expert Tips to Remember for Music School Admission

If you want to apply to a music college, consider these six tips to make admission as easy as possible from an expert who understands the whole process.

Many teens don't know where to start when they decide they want to major in music. Many parents don’t know how to respond when their teen says, “I want to major in Music!” When this happens, the most common questions I get from either are: Where do I start finding out about music colleges? Can people actually make a living off music? Do they need a backup plan or a double major? First, don't panic. Music can be viable with some intentional planning. Here are some tips for any student or parent no matter where they are in the college search and admission process.

1. Expand your knowledge of music-related majors

Majoring in Music can lead to many careers. My absolute favorite thing to tell students and parents is to use the word “music” as an adjective in front of different career paths. There are suddenly hundreds of options: music education, music performance, music business, music law, music medicine, music therapy—and on and on. Majoring in Music is the best way to enter a variety of fields, which really means the student's pursuit of a career is more likely to be successful.

2. Attend summer music festivals and camps

One of the best ways to confirm that music is the path for you is to participate in a summer festival or camp. Music festivals and camps take place all over the world. They’re intensive programs that may last anywhere from a few days to 10 weeks. Students play in ensembles, take lessons, and are surrounded by young people with the same passion. GRAMMY Camp is a great seven-day intensive program for students interested in the fields of audio engineering, electronic music production, songwriting, music journalism, music business, etc. And there are tons of music festivals every summer for everything from jazz to classical music. Students just need to start digging for the right opportunities!

Related: How Extracurriculars Benefit Your College Applications

3. Meet the instrument professors

I think of instrument professors at a music college like a four-year coach. A Division I football player would never sign with a school without first meeting the coach and touring the facilities. Musicians should do the same. When looking at schools, visiting campus to meet the instrument professor and take a trial lesson is one of the most important things you can do. Start learning about the successful teachers in your field by reading their bios on each school’s website. Then make it a priority to have a lesson with a professor on each campus you visit.

4. Don't plan to fail with a backup major

If you want to major in Music, choose Music. I don’t recommend anyone add a second degree just to have a backup plan or to spend too much energy worrying about what they'll do instead if they fail. As someone who was enrolled in a dual-degree program (Music and Math), I can tell you it’s extremely time-consuming and challenging. Think of practicing music like a Medical degree: If you don’t put in thousands of hours studying in the lab—or in your case, the practice room—you won’t equip yourself for the professional world. In the end, students will sacrifice something because their time is split. Only enroll in two degrees or two majors if you truly want to use both.

Related: Music Students: Is a Double Degree Right for You?

5. Don’t avoid a school because of the cost

I learned this lesson from Dr. Kathleen Tesar, Associate Dean of Enrollment Management at The Juilliard School, who coauthored College Prep for Musicians with me: No matter what price is listed on a website, you won’t know the true cost of a school until you’ve applied and received your financial aid package. With your aid and scholarships factored in, one college with a sticker price of $50,000 a year could be ultimately cheaper to attend than one that costs $10,000 per year. I’ve witnessed many students attend schools they never thought they could afford. 

6. Treat your audition like an interview

The audition at a music school is often around 10 minutes long and usually in front of either one professor or a panel of professors. Think of the audition the way you might think of a professional interview. Make sure to dress up in nice, appropriate, and nondistracting clothing. Usually, business casual clothes in black or dark blue are a good choice. Normally the panel will hear you play before asking you a few questions about yourself. It’s appropriate and encouraged for you to have a few questions for the panel as well.

Related: 4 Performing Arts College Audition Mistakes Students Should Avoid

Getting into music school and making a career out of the performing arts may seem daunting—but many students have done it before you! So why not you? If you're passionate about music, pursue it and commit to it. There are plenty of ways to make it work, but you're not going to if the song is over before you've picked up the tune. 

Find a great fit college to study music by checking out our featured performing arts colleges! You can even get connected right away to any school you're interested in. 

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now


About Annie Bosler

Dr. Annie Bosler is a horn player and teacher in Los Angeles. She coauthored the book College Prep for Musicians. She specializes in teaching private horn lessons to high schoolers and has a 100% success rate in helping students get into music schools. Annie has former French horn students in almost every major conservatory across the United States. For more info, visit and


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress


High School Class of 2019

CollegeXpress has helped me by opening my eyes to new opportunities. I learned about such easy ways to get financial help to achieve my dreams while also learning about myself and who I truly am. I know this isn't a very long explanation of what CollegeXpress has done for me, but nonetheless, I believe it's crucial to how I developed as a person throughout my time as a college student.

Joseph Johnsly

Joseph Johnsly

High School Class of 2021

It's an honor for me to be writing to share a little about my experience with CollegeXpress. I've been using CollegeXpress for about a year now, and the reason why I chose it is because it provides astonishing scholarships for every student around the globe. Besides that, this organization dispenses all the information necessary to help students get to college. CollegeXpress has helped me have an easier experience with applying to colleges and choosing the best fit for myself.

Leah Maciel

Leah Maciel

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has helped me with all aspects of applying for college. The website is extremely easy to navigate and gives access to so many resources. I was able to research all of the colleges I was interested in, find out any information I wished to know about, and keep them organized in a list. I've also been able to research scholarships and save them as resources for later. I've used many websites in my college and scholarship search, and CollegeXpress has by far been my favorite one to use.

Jada Bohanon

Jada Bohanon

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has helped me find scholarships for the colleges I applied to. It was very hard for me to find scholarships in the beginning that I was qualified for. My teachers recommended this website to find some, and not only did I find some scholarships but I also got to look into some schools I hadn’t heard of before. I was very happy to have discovered this website, especially with the coronavirus spreading all over as I can’t really go visit many colleges.



High School Class of 2023

Being a sophomore in high school, I never really worried about college. I thought it wasn't important to worry about until senior year. Through this program opportunity I came across, I realized how important it is to start looking at colleges early and start planning ahead. CollegeXpress has opened my eyes to what colleges require, what colleges are near me, and what they offer. The daily emails I get from CollegeXpress really help me look at the different options I have and what colleges I fit into. Without this website, I would not be taking the time out of my day to worry about what my future will be nor what opportunities I have. I could not be more grateful for such an amazing and useful website. It's thanks to CollegeXpress that not only me but my family now know how much potential I have in to getting into these colleges/universities that we thought were out of my reach.

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Thiel College

Greenville, PA

Moody Bible Institute

Chicago, IL

Emerson College

Boston, MA

Ohio University

Athens, OH