FAQs for Prospective Music Students

Prospective Music Student FAQs

Should I submit an Arts Supplement?

Whether you are thinking of becoming a music major, or not, you are encouraged to participate in the Music Department’s curricular offerings, which include private lessons, faculty-led ensembles and classroom courses. If you are an experienced performer interested in pursuing music within the Department’s curriculum, it is highly recommended that you submit an Arts Supplement to the Admissions Office by the application deadline. More information is available on the Admissions website under Arts Supplements.

What should my application supplement include?

You should submit at least 10 minutes of solo performance representing your abilities and demonstrating contrasting styles, along with a resume summarizing your experience, giving years of study and awards received. Supplements should feature you as a soloist rather than as a member of an ensemble, so auditors can hear you.

Do I have to audition to be a music major?

Pomona College is a liberal arts college with a strong Music Department, instead of with a conservatory or school of music attached. In common with other similar schools, it does not require students to audition to become music majors. However, in the course of their studies students must pass a qualifying exam in order to take one-hour lessons, one of the requirements for the major. Potential music majors usually do this within their first year.

I’m thinking about being a music major. How does the program at Pomona prepare me for a career in music?

Students who choose to pursue a career in music receive an excellent education through our curriculum. Recent music graduates have attended graduate schools such as Harvard, Yale, University of Michigan, San Francisco Conservatory, Cal Arts, USC, and UC Berkeley in the fields of music performance, music theory, music history, composition and non-western music. Others are active in arts management, musical theater and popular music.

How does the program prepare me for a career outside of music?

Our instruction is designed to develop skills that include self-discipline, teamwork, creativity, problem solving, decision-making, and communication in a precise and expressive manner. As one alumna has written, “My abilities to decipher patterns in scientific data and to conceptualize the ‘invisible’ world of chemistry are reasoning skills that were refined [through] the theoretical study and practice of music.” 

- Wendy Iskendarian-Epps '04
(Chemistry/Music); Ph.D. program in Organic Chemistry, MIT, 2011

Do I have to be a music major to participate in an ensemble?

No, all courses offered by the Music Department, including private lessons and ensembles, are open to all students regardless of major and are available for academic credit.

What performance opportunities will I have?

There are many opportunities for performance and they include student recitals, performance classes, large ensembles, chamber music, junior/senior recitals, master classes and workshops, and the Pomona College Orchestra concerto competition. Department-sponsored ensembles include Band, Choir, Glee Club, Jazz Ensemble, Orchestra, Balinese Gamelan Ensemble, West African Music Ensemble and Afro-Cuban Music Ensemble. There are also student-run ensembles, not affiliated with the Department, which include a cappella groups and bands.

Do I need to audition for the ensembles?

The Orchestra, Choir and Glee Club, and Jazz Ensemble have auditions at the beginning of each semester. The other ensembles do not have auditions. Visit our Music Courses page to find more information on ensembles and auditions.

Can I take lessons on two different instruments?

Sometimes. There is considerable demand for music lessons, so students normally may not take lessons on more than one instrument. However, students who can demonstrate a practical reason why studying on two instruments is a prudent choice given one’s individual circumstances may petition to take lessons on both instruments. Petitions are part of the lesson registration form.

How will I know who will be my teacher? How do I contact that person?

Most instruments have one instructor; piano, voice and guitar have multiple teachers. The faculty will place students with a teacher. If you wish to contact a particular teacher, please email the Music Department for more information.

Will I be able to play chamber music?

Yes, many students in the large ensembles also form chamber music groups. Students form groups on their own and/or in consultation with faculty to find appropriate players. Faculty members are then available to coach these groups.

Can I use the practice rooms?

Yes, students who take lessons or play in a department ensemble may use the practice rooms in the basement of Thatcher Music Building. Access is 24/7 with a validated student ID.

What are the practice facilities like?

We have a few unlocked practice rooms with upright pianos. Access to our finer pianos and larger practice spaces is restricted to students enrolled in private lessons or department ensembles. Pomona has all Steinway pianos.

Will I be able to play a sport and still play in an ensemble?

Our music ensembles are academic courses and attendance is considered mandatory. Some athletics coaches provide flexibility in order to accommodate students who want to do both. Check with your coach to identify conflicts

Are any scholarships specifically reserved for music students?

No. All of Pomona College’s financial aid is need-based and there are no merit scholarships for music or any other field of study.