If you love your violin and don’t want to leave it behind after high school, consider a Bachelor of Music program -- a common undergraduate degree for students who want to focus on performance. Most programs require four years of study. As a senior, you give a formal public recital. Getting into a program isn't easy. You must pass a demanding audition. Once accepted, your coursework concentrates on music, but electives add a bit of diversity.
Violin majors take weekly private lessons from faculty members. These are usually 30 to 60 minutes long. You are expected to practice throughout the week to prepare for the lesson. In many programs, students are required to present small public recitals. Instructors have to give permission for these performances. In addition, you must join a musical group each semester. You may have options such as a full orchestra, chamber group, string quartet or other small ensemble.
Violin programs often require students to study piano or other keyboard instrument. You take a placement exam when you’re accepted into the program to see how well you already play in order to determine your starting level. The class involves both playing the instrument and learning musical theory. You work on keyboard skills and sight-reading, focusing on the music of composers such as Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. If the class is required, you may only need to take it during the first two years of your program.
To enhance your violin performance, you take several classes in music theory. Ear training focuses on areas such as sight-singing, harmony, melody, meter, clefs and rhythm. In music theory classes you study a variety of musical styles, including baroque and classical. You learn to analyze the musical features of many forms of music like sonatas and 20th-century pieces. Music history courses take students on a path from the earliest forms of music to the present. Some programs require a course in musical appreciation, where you analyze music within the context of culture. You may attend concerts as a class and discuss the performances.
Like most other bachelor’s programs, a degree in music usually requires several liberal arts courses. Sometimes specific courses are mandated, such as Composition, Ethics or Arts and Aesthetics. Most programs allow electives, so you can take classes that interest you. Typical liberal arts courses cover poetry, film, drama, literature, philosophy, history, science, mathematics and languages. In many programs you must take at least one liberal arts course each semester.
Living in upstate New York, Susan Sherwood is a researcher who has been writing within educational settings for more than 10 years. She has co-authored papers for Horizons Research, Inc. and the Capital Region Science Education Partnership. Sherwood has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from the University at Albany.