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Music Performance Major Guide for 2016-2017

What is Music Performance?

Music Performance is the act of playing an instrument or singing for an audience. A professional musician performs music alone or with a small or large group, of other musicians.  Music performers must function as practitioners who exhibit not only technical competence, but also a broad knowledge of music, literature, and musical style. Performers also possess insight into the role of music in the life of humankind.  The primary emphasis of the Bachelor of Music degree is the development of the skills, concepts, and sensitivity essential to the professional life of a musician.

Career Opportunities in Music Performance

Graduates with a B.M. in Performance may:

  • Continue their studies in graduate school
  • Teach privately or in colleges
  • Pursue a solo performance career
  • Pursue performing opportunities with symphony orchestras, bands, or opera companies
  • Perform in nightclubs, in restaurants, at parties, and at receptions
  • Perform in pit orchestras for theatrical productions
  • Perform in churches

Salary Trends in Music Performance

Orchestra musicians will earn an average salary from $28,000-100,000. Pit orchestra members may earn as much as $1000 per week. Opera soloists may earn as much $1000 per performance, but opera chorus members will earn about $100 per performance.

For more information see:

High School Preparation

To prepare for a degree in music performance:

  • Perform as much as as possible – either as a soloist or with a group
  • Perform in the chorus, the bands, and the orchestra in high school
  • Take private music lessons
  • Take any music theory, ear training, music history, or appreciation courses offered by your school
  • Listen to as much music and as many varied types of music as you can
  • Attend concerts
  • Take piano lessons
  • Above all, practice!

How to Major in Music Performance

All new music students in music performance (freshmen and transfer) must perform an audition on their major instrument.

Information on the audition process can be found on the School of Music web site (  Applicants are strongly urged to register for an audition as early as possible.

Requirements for Music Performance

As a Music Performance major, you will take the music core curriculum, including

  • Music theory and ear training
  • Form and analysis
  • Music history and world music
  • Piano
  • Applied music (lessons)
  • Ensembles
  • Recital attendance, as part of Solo Class

Courses specific to your major, including

  • Conducting
  • Pedagogy
  • Literature
  • Courses specific to your instrument (diction for vocalists)

Performance majors are also required to present two recitals, a 30-minute recital in the junior year and a 60-minute recital in the senior year.

Highlights of Music Performance

Most music performance students find their recitals and ensemble participation to be highlights of their coursework.

All recitals given by music students are free and open to the public.  Junior and senior recitals are recorded and archived in our music library.  Students also receive a CD of their performance.  Some student recitals are even broadcast on WUOT, UT’s classical radio station.

Students can participate in many different ensembles including Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Music Ensembles, Concert Choir, Chamber Choir, Men’s and Women’s Chorale, Opera Theatre, Wind Ensemble, Symphonic and Concert Band, The Pride of the Southland Marching Band, the Big Band Jazz Ensemble and various small jazz ensembles.

Ready for the World logoReady for the World

The School of Music faculty members encourage their majors to acquire a wide range of experiences.  If students can afford and have an interest in studying abroad, the faculty will work with them to make this opportunity as easy as possible.  Learn more about UT’s Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, offers study abroad programs in Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, South America, and North America. Program lengths vary from mini-term trips to the entire academic year, and students may choose to fulfill general education requirements, study a foreign language, or take courses within their majors. In addition, UTK offers students opportunities for international internships.

Students are highly encouraged to begin planning early in their academic career and to consult with an academic advisor about the best time to study abroad as well as what courses to take abroad. For more information about program options, the application process, and how to finance study abroad, please visit the Programs Abroad Office website.

Experience Learning

Experience Learning LogoExperience Learning is a bold new initiative with the goal of transforming the educational student experience at the University of Tennessee. Over a five-year period, UT will transform our culture to give students more opportunities to be involved in civic engagement, solve complex real-world problems, and contribute to the welfare of their communities as part of their regular course work.

The purpose of Experience Learning is to help students apply the knowledge, skills, and values learned in the classroom to real-world challenges. Experience Learning also seeks to engage student learning through direct experience and intense reflection to increase knowledge, acquire lifelong learning and problem-solving skills, and elucidate values.

Learn more about Experience Learning.

Academic Plan and Milestones

Following an academic plan will help students stay on track to graduate in four years. For first-time, first-year, full-time, degree-seeking students, UT has implemented Universal Tracking (uTrack), an academic monitoring system designed to help students stay on track for timely graduation. In order to remain on track, students must complete the minimum requirements for each tracking semester, known as milestones. Milestones may include successful completion of specified courses and/or attainment of a minimum GPA.

To see a sample academic plan and milestones for this major, please visit the undergraduate catalog under BM for Brass Instruments Concentration; Organ Concentration; Piano Concentration; Strings Concentration; Voice Concentration; and Woodwind and Percussion Instruments Concentration.

For More Information

See the School of Music Areas of Study web site:
Or contact the School of Music:
Undergraduate Admissions
School of Music

Haslam Music Center
1741 Volunteer Blvd.
Knoxville, TN 37996-2600


The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.

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