Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between the Yale Department of Music and the Yale School of Music?
The Yale Department of Music offers curricular instruction at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. We are part of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and offer study towards the B.A. and Ph.D. in music. We offer academic training in musicology broadly speaking — including ethnomusicology, music history, music theory — as well as practice-based courses in composition, conducting, music technology, and performance. The School of Music is a professional school with its own faculty and facilities, offering only graduate degrees in composition, conducting, and music performance.

I am interested in a professional career in music.  Will music study at Yale help me achieve that goal?
The study of music at Yale College, and particularly the music major, provides a firm foundation in music that is intended to provide an extensive background in the art form for students who will go on to professional careers as composers, performers, or scholars, or who may enter fields in which a solid grounding in music is essential, such as arts management, cognitive psychology, music production, publishing, or world music.  Many of our alumni have been admitted into top graduate programs in conducting, composition, performance, and academic music studies.

Is the Yale College music major a degree in performance? 
No. The music major is a general music program that combines studies in composition, conducting, ethnomusicology, music history, music technology, music theory, and performance.

Are auditions required for admission?  
Yale College is a liberal-arts institution that does not admit students directly into specific programs, so there are no auditions for admission. Students are welcome to include composition works or recordings of performances with their application as supplementary material.   See the Yale College Admissions page on supplements.

Are music scholarships available?
There are no specific music scholarships for undergraduates, however, financial assistance is available through the Office of Financial Aid.

Can the music major at Yale be combined with my other academic interests? 
The music major at Yale is pursued as part of a diversified liberal arts program, leading to the Bachelor of Arts degree. Although Yale does not offer minors, students may double major.

Do music majors pursue music full time?
Whatever you choose to major in at Yale, you will be working towards a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree.  Yale seeks to give students in all majors a broad liberal arts education, so the music major consists of 12 credits of the 36 needed for graduation, with the remaining credits from other fields.  Yale is an excellent place to combine high-level music making with outstanding academics.

Are private music lessons offered at Yale? 
Yes! Thanks to an arrangement between the Department of Music and the School of Music, qualified students may take music lessons for credit.* Up to four performance credits may be applied toward the thirty-six-credit requirement for the Bachelor of Arts degree. Only two performance credits may apply toward the twelve-credit requirement for the music major. Students not wishing to take lessons for credit may pay a fee ($350 for 6 one-hour lessons in a semester, or $550 for 10 one-hour lessons). Auditions for lessons, whether for credit or for a fee, start in late August and run through early September. Questions about this program should be addressed to Richard Gard (richard.gard@yale.edu), the Coordinator of the Undergraduate Lessons Program.

*Please note that instruction is only available for instruments taught at the School of Music, a classical-music conservatory. These instruments include flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba, percussion, harp, piano, organ, guitar, voice, violin, viola, cello, and double bass.

Will I be able to perform with a Yale ensemble? 

Auditions for the Yale Symphony Orchestra, the Yale Glee Club, and the Yale Bands are held at the beginning of fall term each year. Participation in any of these groups is an extra-curricular activity open to both majors and non-majors.  In addition to these groups, there are many student-run ensembles and singing groups that perform regularly and hold auditions early in the fall semester.

How should I prepare for auditions in September?
Students hoping to enroll in performance courses, lessons for credit, the Yale Bands, the Yale Glee Club, and the Yale Symphony Orchestra, among others, should arrive at Yale College in September with two pieces of their choice ready for audition. It is best, but not required that these pieces be memorized. Singers may bring music for accompanists, who are provided.

What is the performing caliber of non-music majors?
There are many excellent performers at Yale, majoring in a variety of different fields. Some students double major with music as one of their majors and the other major in a different field.

Will there be opportunities to play a public solo recital or to participate in a public performance? 
It is possible to arrange performances under the auspices of your residential college, or through the Department of Music. Sudler Hall, a very fine small concert hall, is intended for undergraduate performances. Students may compete in the annual Friends of Music Recital Competition, sponsored by the Friends of Music, or the William Waite Concerto Competition sponsored by the Yale Symphony Orchestra.

Will I be able to play chamber music? 
The Music Department offers Music 220/221, a year-long offering in chamber music performance, which provides professional coaching by faculty members. Additional, informal opportunities to play chamber music are ample. Questions? Please contact Professor Wendy Sharp (wendy.sharp@yale.edu) regarding chamber music study in Yale College.

I compose. Can I have my own music performed? 
Composition students may have their works performed under the auspices of Yale College New Music. Many of the Yale College performance ensembles premiere compositions by Yale College composers.

Will I be able to study conducting? 
Courses in conducting are offered as electives in the Yale College music curriculum.

When do I declare myself a music major?
You are required to declare a major the Fall of your junior year.  Some students declare their major early.

How do I apply for the B.A./M.M. program?
Students in Yale College possessing outstanding ability in composition or performance may apply for the B.A./M.M program, whether they major in music or another discipline. Interested students should consult Professor Melvin Chen (melvin.chen@yale.edu) of the Yale School of Music at the beginning of their junior year.