Opera singer practicing

Being a Music Performance Major

As a music performance major, you will belong to one or more highly polished performing ensembles where rigorous musical standards are combined with musical understanding of the literature performed. You will learn about the historical and cultural contexts of musical masterworks. You will apply your growing knowledge of music theory to the literature you perform. And you will study with some of the finest performer/teachers in New England.

Our faculty members appear regularly as soloists and chamber musicians throughout the region, and many are members of the elite professional ensembles in the area, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, The Boston Pops, and the Rhode Island Philharmonic.

Many of our ensembles have achieved national recognition through touring and appearances at conventions of the MENC and ACDA, as well as in the major cities on the east coast, Canada, Italy, and Ireland. Ensembles have appeared in collaborative performances with the Rhode Island Philharmonic, the Rhode Island Civic Chorale and Orchestra, and in Carnegie Hall, NYC.

The music performance curriculum is highly respected for its hands-on, practical approach to the art of making music. Private applied lessons are taught by members of our performing faculty, who impart technique and wisdom based on their own professional experiences. Low student-to-teacher ratio in all music classes allows for one-on-one learning and the development of close, professional mentoring relationships between students and faculty.

Performance opportunities abound for undergraduate music performance students at RIC in a variety of settings: solo, chamber and large ensembles. And our performance majors fare exceedingly well in the professional job market. Many have gone on to play professionally in leading symphony orchestras, sing in major opera houses and serve as conductors and administrators with leading musical organizations in the country. Others have gone on to serve as faculty members in colleges and universities. Many have gained admission to some of the best graduate schools and succeeded in their pursuit of advanced degrees.

To qualify for acceptance as a B.A. in music major, you must be admitted to Rhode Island College (follow the general admission procedure described on the Office of Admissions website) and successfully complete an audition. You DO NOT need to be admitted to audition, but we recommend that you have your admissions application at least completed by your audition date.

Get Music Audition Information

Keep Moving Forward

If you are looking for a challenging and supportive environment in which to develop your artistic talents, take a closer look at Rhode Island College.

Visit Our Campus

Find Out about the Admissions Process

Complete the Music Contact Form


Ready to Apply or to Ask More Questions?

Program Details

Admission Requirements

Entrance to the B.M. in music performance program begins with applying to Rhode Island College through the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and simultaneously applying for the required entrance audition. Once you have been admitted to the college and pass the music audition, you will be designated a “Music Performance Intended Major.”

Course Information

Here we provide information on course requirements, course descriptions and an Academic Rhode Map for each program, a semester-by-semester plan to help you toward graduation in four years.

Course Requirements

Course Descriptions

Academic Rhode Map for Music Performance – Piano

Academic Rhode Map for Music Performance – String, Woodwind, Brass, Percussion, Guitar

Academic Rhode Map for Music Performance – Voice

Program Learning Goals

Upon completion of this program, students will:

  • Be able to perform at a professional level, successfully compete in their chosen professional fields and pursue advanced graduate studies.
  • Be highly qualified and skilled music educators who serve in public and private schools, engage their own students and assume leadership roles in their professional associations.
  • Be able to encourage intellectual and creative expression through research and musical scholarship.
  • Be able to educate non-music majors in ways that enrich, enlighten and encourage the development of their own musical expression and appreciation.
  • Be able to produce concerts and other musical events of the highest quality for Rhode Island College and the community.
  • Be able to encourage and support faculty development through research and creative activity.
  • Be able to cultivate arts audiences of the future.

Writing in the Discipline

Why or in what ways is writing important to your discipline/field/ profession?

The ability to write well is important for all students seeking a career in music. Performers, music educators, musicologists and composers are required to write resumes, cover letters, grant applications and program notes. Music educators must also be adept at creating lesson plans, student assessments and learning outcomes. Musicologists and theoreticians will use their writing skills to produce scholarly research papers, magazine articles, and books. Music administrators are required to create websites, write copy for promotional materials, create grant applications and write to benefactors in order to solicit donations. Music critics will need sufficient writing skills to compose performance reviews and written interviews with prominent figures in the field of music.

Which courses are designated as satisfying the (Writing in the Discipline) WID requirement by your department? Why these courses?

The music area within the Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance has designated the courses listed below as satisfying the WID requirement.

MUS 205: Music History and Literature I (all music degree programs)

MUS 206: Music History and Literature II (all music degree programs)

MUS 391: Junior Recital-Music Performance Majors

MUS 492: Senior Recital-Music Education Majors

MUS 493: Senior Recital-Music Performance Majors

PFA 461: Senior Seminar (Music B.A. only)

These specific courses have been designated as WID classes due to the fact that they teach and require various types of writing skills which are critical for music majors.

What forms or genres of writing will students learn and practice in your department’s WID courses? Why these genres?

A number of writing genres are introduced and developed in the music area WID courses.

In MUS 205: Music History and Literature I students are required to write about interpretive approaches toward music of the past by listening to multiple recordings of the same piece of music and writing a comparative analysis in the form of an essay. This course also requires a stylistic analysis and two research papers on topics related to music history. In addition to course materials, students must consult at least three outside sources of scholarly merit.

In MUS 206: Music History and Literature II students continue to refine the materials and methods of written discourse in the field of music, in part, by focusing on the integration of primary sources into the writing process.

Another important requirement is learning forms of writing associated with the concert experience such as concerts reviews and program notes. MUS 391: Junior Recital, MUS 492: Senior Recital-Music Education Majors, and MUS 493: Senior Recital- Music Performance Majors all require students to write press releases, promotional materials, a recital program and program notes.

In PFA 461: Senior Seminar students develop individual projects by either 1) completing a research paper on a topic in music history, literature or ethnomusicology, 2) completing an in-depth analytical essay on a topic in music theory or music criticism, or 3) presenting a lecture-recital with a supplementary written component such as a research-oriented term paper.

What kinds of teaching practices will students encounter in your department’s WID courses?

There are a few modes of writing instruction in the music area WID courses. In MUS 205 and 206 students submit a topic, an outline, and a rough draft to the instructor for feedback. MUS 391, 492 and 493 typically involve regular one-on-one meetings between student and instructor to discuss the works-in-progress. PFA 461 involves both of these modes of instructions as well as presenting works-in-progress to classmates for feedback and discussion.

When they’ve satisfied your department’s WID requirement, what should students know and be able to do with writing?

Students who have completed the WID requirement should be able to do the following:

  • Effectively market themselves to a prospective employer or funding source.
  • Critically review musical performances and recordings in an effective and coherent manner.
  • Analyze musical works from a theoretical, aesthetic, and historical perspective.
  • Write coherent and effective research papers on all topics related to music history, music theory, musical performance practice, and musical biographies.

Minors in Music and Jazz Studies

Declaring a minor allows you to explore other areas of interest and make interdisciplinary connections. Minor areas at RIC complement and reinforce all major areas of study. By declaring a minor, you can set yourself apart as a candidate for job, internship and volunteer opportunities.

Minor in Music

Minor in Jazz Studies