Eric Ruple discusses the details of JMU Music.

You are invited to join us for these livestream events!

Wed. April 15

  • 6 p.m. YouTube - Theatre/Musical Theatre Q&A (recorded)

Wed. April 22

  • Noon YouTube - School of Music Vocalist Student Q&A (recorded)
  • 6 p.m. YouTube - School of Music Instrumentalist Student Q&A (recorded)

School of Music Frequently Asked Questions

What does the typical schedule look like for a music major in your first year?

As a music major, you’ll be getting started with your music classes right away. In your first year, most students will take Music Theory, Ear Training (Aural Skills), Recital Attendance, Private Lessons, Piano Keyboard Skills, an Ensemble and a general education credit. You can check out the JMU course catalog for a full list of required classes for each of the different music concentrations.

As a music major, what are the concentrations and when do I have to decide what concentration I want to pursue?

In the School of Music there are five different concentrations for Music majors:

Music Performance - for those students wanting to become professional performers, often going on for an advanced degree beyond JMU.

Music Education - to become a music teacher in the K-12 public school system, which includes certification and student teaching

Music Industry - for students interested in a wide range of music technologies, such as audio engineering, music software, music copyright, music advertising, artist management, and more.

Jazz - for students looking to pursue a career as a professional jazz musician

Composition - for students who are interested in classical style composition and careers in instrumental/vocal scoring as well as film scoring.

Students don’t have to declare a concentration until their sophomore year. Everyone takes the same first year as essentially Music undecided. There are additional requirements to declare each of the different concentrations, and some students may choose to declare up to two concentrations.

How can I join the Marching Royal Dukes?

The MRDs are open to anyone in any major. Incoming freshmen will receive an invitation to join the band in May via email. There are auditions for spots in the percussion and color guard, but all other instruments are open to anyone without an audition (there are auditions for marching spots held during band camp). You can check out their website here:

If I’m not a music major, can I still audition for ensembles or take private lessons?

Ensembles are open to anyone in any major. Many of our ensembles require an audition, typically in the first week of classes, but some of them are open to anyone. As a first year student we don’t typically offer official private lessons through the School of Music, but there are many willing and eager doctoral candidates who are happy to take on non-major students on a private basis.

What kind of performance opportunities will I have as a music major?

The School of Music puts on over 250 performances every year and there are over 30 different large and small ensembles. There are performance opportunities starting in your freshman year. Students will register for at least one ensemble their first semester, which will typically have 2-3 performances each semester. In addition, students will have the opportunity to perform in their studio class and in the weekly area recitals. There are also end of the semester juries, not to mention any clubs or extra ensemble performances to look forward to. No matter what your concentration, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to perform!

What kinds of music performance facilities do you have at JMU?

At JMU, we are so lucky to have the state-of-the-art Forbes Center for the Performing Arts. The Forbes Center has five beautiful performing arts venues:

Recital Hall: 198 seat intimate space for student, faculty, and guest recitals and small ensemble performances.

Concert Hall: 600 seat space for large ensemble and guest performances

Mainstage Theatre: 450 seat space for Theatre, Musical Theatre, and Opera productions.

Earlynn J Miller Dance Studio: a Dance performance and classroom space

Studio Theatre: home for the Experimental Theatre program, with student curated plays and musicals.

In addition there’s also the Music Building which houses most of the faculty studio spaces, classrooms, a recording studio, and our Music Library. JMU is an All-Steinway school, with over 200 Steinway family pianos for practice and performance.

How many students will be in my music classes?

That varies widely depending on the type of class. In the School of Music, you will receive one-on-one private lessons with a faculty member on your primary instrument. For your concentration specific classes, often there will only be 12 - 20 students, especially the higher level you are. Some of your music history and music theory classes are larger, with up to 100 students, and some of your ensembles are larger, with up to 100 students. You will definitely receive plenty of support even in your large classes, with all of our professors hosting office hours and graduate TA’s offering additional resources for these larger class settings.

Can I do study abroad as a music major?

Definitely! We offer several JMU sponsored summer study abroad options, including the Jazz Montreal Summer program, Opera in Germany, and Interdisciplinary Arts in Venice. Faculty members will also have connections to summer programs outside of JMU, many of which hold auditions on the JMU campus. Because of the sequential nature of our program, it’s difficult to do a full semester or a full year abroad, but you can always discuss that as an option with your advisor to complete general education requirements if that’s something you’re really passionate about.

What kinds of professional development opportunities does the School of Music offer?

The School of Music works closely with the Career and Academic Planning Office to make sure there are professional opportunities for all of our music students. That includes resume workshops, mock interview days, career fairs, and more. The College of Visual and Performing Arts provides over $25,000 annually in CVPA Undergraduate Research grants.  Many of our undergraduate music students are involved in research, and present at national and international conferences every year. In addition, the School of Music and the Forbes Center bring in dozens of music professionals every year for performances and masterclasses. We ensure that every artist who performs at JMU also includes a talkback session, masterclass, or other professional development opportunity. We have a strong connection with our Music alumni, who we often bring back to campus or connect through professional events (like the Virginia Music Educators Association Conference) to talk about their experiences and provide valuable networking opportunities. At JMU we believe in arts for the real world, which means preparing you to be successful upon graduation!

What are the music minor opportunities?

There are four different Music minors available to all JMU students:

Music minor: flexible, general Music minor (18 credits)

Jazz minor: helps students majoring in other disciplines understand and perform the jazz art form (15 credits)

Music and Human Services minor: prepares students for vocational opportunities to use music performance, education and community engagement skills to serve diverse populations (18 credits)

Music Industry minor: foundation for exploring career opportunities in the music entertainment industry (15 credits)

Have a question that's not listed above? Ask us!

360 Visuals of Music Spaces

Produced by Richard Finkelstein, Associate Professor of Theatre: Set and Light Design

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