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  • Ray Zhang

Auditions as a Music Major or Double Major

By doThe topic of this POW can be seen as pretty boring, so I’m going to try to introduce it with a palatable mental image. Picture this: you’re getting ice cream with friends (imagine it’s non-dairy if you’re lactose intolerant) and you have to choose between two flavors that are both equally craveable. For me, that’d be choosing between cookies and cream or chocolate peanut butter ice cream. No matter which scoop you pick, there’s a chance that you would’ve liked the other scoop more.

My point: it’s hard to choose between two things you really like. Now pretend your college field of study is a scoop of ice cream.

Going into my junior year, I was asked over and over what I wanted to do in college. Coming from a family of professors and researchers, I was encouraged to study math and science, which is what I did throughout high school. However, at the same time, I really enjoyed playing the viola and was often recognized for musical achievements outside of school. I didn’t know what I wanted to choose to pursue in the future, and after talking to my viola teacher about it, I realized that double majoring was a good option for me (engineering and viola performance). In relation to the ice cream example from before, I chose to get two scoops so I got to taste both of my favorite flavors!

Going into the application process, I had no idea what to expect. I spent more time looking for what I had to do than doing what I had to do. In case you’re applying to dual-degree offering programs like I was this past fall, here are a few important things to consider:

How do auditions work?

Most music school auditions have two rounds: pre-screening videos, and live audition. Schools use pre-screening videos to determine which applicants are most likely to successfully audition at the school. After passing the pre-screening round, you’ll be invited to audition in person. Your in person audition will determine if a professor at the school wants to take you in as a student, and if they do, you’re in!


  • December 1st is most likely when you’ll have to submit pre-screenings for the music school

  • January 1st is probably your latest university deadline

  • Auditions from late January to early March

With this timeline in mind, I’d recommend recording your pre-screening recordings in October. Start preparing your music in the summer before college applications!

Universities with dual-degree programs have earlier deadlines:

If you’re applying to a university that offers a dual-degree program between its music school and another school of your choice, it’s very likely you’ll have to submit an application to both schools by the music school deadline. This is an important fact to consider when writing applications to colleges.

You have double the workload:

Let’s say you want to apply to a dual-degree offering school (Northwestern University for example) and pursue computer science and music performance. You’d have to apply to Northwestern University’s computer science program through a regular application process (Common App, Coalition, etc.) and also submit an application to the music school. Since you’ll have to submit 2 applications—complete with essays—for the dual-degree offering colleges you want to attend, be careful of overworking yourself and keep a healthy balance between both types of applications.

I hope these pieces of advice are useful to anyone who’s interested in double majoring in music and another field in college! Personally, I had trouble figuring out what to do, and I hope nobody else has to go through that in the future.


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