What will I be able to do with a degree in music?

Anything you want. Music training is among the most rigorous you will find, and music graduates are supremely prepared to apply their skills across a variety of contexts. Music graduates have self-discipline and persistence; they collaborate well; they know how to accept and give constructive criticism. Check out this video from the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP):

I indicated music as my intended major when I submitted my university application. Is that all I need to do to be considered for entry into the Department of Music?

Yes. Indicating music as your major directs your application to our department. You will then be sent a link prompting you to schedule an audition.

Do I need to write an essay to apply to the Department of Music?

No. You are only required to complete a personal statement if you indicate music as your intended major.

If you would like to be considered for a scholarship from the university, you should complete one of the two essay options provided in the application. Your essay and application materials should be complete and submitted to the university by the deadline.

Do I need to submit any letters of recommendation?

VCUarts applicants are required to have one reference submitted by their recommender of choice. Choose the person best qualified to assess your ability to be successful at VCUarts. You will be prompted to enter your recommender’s email address on the Common Application. You may only submit one recommender via the Common App. The system will then prompt your recommender to submit a letter of recommendation online. Be sure to notify your recommenders that you will list them.

If you wish, you may submit up to two additional letters of recommendation. Your additional recommenders should mail their letters to:

VCU Office of Admissions
PO Box 842526
Richmond, VA 23284-2526

How good do my GPA and test scores need to be?

We’re looking for students who are both good musicians and good students. In general, the better your grades and scores are, the better your admissions chances will be. The same goes with your sight-reading, aural skills, improvisation (if jazz) or any other element of your application.

I have submitted my university application indicating my intended majors as music. What additional requirements do I need to submit to apply to Music?

To apply to VCU Music you must complete all of the application requirements including the audition.

Scheduling an audition

What musical skills should I be working on?

Along with continuing to improve your technique and musicality on your instrument, you should also have developed the following skills before entering any music program — whether you’re a singer or string player; classical or jazz musician.

  • Matching pitch: When a note is played for you at the piano, you should be able to sing it back.
  • Reading music: Being able to read pitches and rhythms fluently is essential for any student planning to study music and/or pursue a career in music.
  • For jazz students, the ability to create an improvised solo is a critical part of playing and studying jazz. If you haven’t had much opportunity to improvise solos, you should first take private lessons from an experienced jazz instructor.

How do I schedule an audition for entry into the VCU Department of Music?

Once you’ve submitted your application to the university, you will receive an automated email with a link containing audition request information.

I want to minor in music at VCU. Do I need to schedule an audition?

No. In order to begin a minor in music, you must complete an interview with John Patykula, assistant chair of the VCU Music Department, during the summer or semester prior to declaring the minor.

I’ve received confirmation of my audition day. Is it possible to find out what time my audition will be?

No, your audition time will be assigned to you at check-in on your audition day. Audition times are generally scheduled according to when your audition request was received and what area you will be auditioning for. Since we schedule such a large number of auditionees, we cannot give you your audition time in advance.

I’ve received confirmation of my audition day, but now I can’t come on that day. What should I do?

If you are confirmed for an audition day and need to reschedule, you must contact our Admissions Office as soon as possible. We will assist you in rescheduling your audition, if it is possible. Please note that we cannot always accommodate rescheduled auditions, so you should make your best effort to attend on your assigned audition day.

I’ve received confirmation of my audition day, but I’ve decided that I don’t want to major in music at VCU. What should I do?

If you decide that you do not want to attend VCU as a music major, then you do not need to audition. Please contact our Admissions Office in the Music Department as soon as possible to let us know that you will not be auditioning.

If you would like to apply to VCU as another major you must contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions to change your intended major.

Please note: If you change your major to another major within the School of the Arts you may be required to provide additional supplementary materials.

I have another event that I want to go to the day of my audition. How long does the audition day generally last?

We will do everything in our power to remain within the scheduled event time for the audition day, but it is strongly recommended that you plan additional time for delays due to weather and other unforeseen circumstances.

Audition preparation

How should I dress for my audition?

You’ll want to present your best self on your audition day, so dress accordingly; semi-formal or business attire is generally appropriate. Be sure that you can comfortably play your instrument in whatever you choose to wear. The audition tips for your particular instrument may include additional information.

What do I need to bring to my audition?

In general, auditionees only need to bring their instrument and music to the audition. There are special exceptions and additions for certain instruments so be sure to read the audition tips for your particular instrument.

I’ve prepared my music, but I want to know what else to expect when I come to my audition. What’s it like?

There are five components to the Audition Day: 1) the theory placement test; 2) the audition (for which you will be given 15 minutes to warm up); 3) the interview; 4) the aural skills diagnostic; and 5) the keyboard diagnostic. You’ll be escorted to each of these sessions at designated times by a student ambassador. Meanwhile, your parents will attend a panel discussion and have the opportunity to ask questions of faculty, students, and alumni. University tours will be available to all students and their families during the day.


I’m a vocalist. Do I need to provide my own accompanist or will an accompanist be provided for me?

Some students prefer to bring their own accompanist to their audition day, but you may also request that VCU Music provide an accompanist for you.

If you would like VCU Music to provide an accompanist, you will need to indicate that in your audition request. You will need to submit a PDF copy of your music with your audition request. You should also bring your original music with you.

Students auditioning for the voice area may bring their own accompanist on the day of their audition. However, please note that your audition time cannot be confirmed in advance, so your accompanist must be available for the entire event.

After the audition

I’ve completed my audition. When will I find out whether or not I’ve been accepted into the VCU Department of Music?

Applicants who apply by the application deadline and complete an audition will be notified of their admission status by April 1st. Please check your online application to confirm that we have received all required application materials including your transcripts and SAT scores.

I have a friend who applied to VCU in another department and she’s already received notification that she’s been accepted. Why haven’t I heard anything yet?

Applications are reviewed as they become fully complete. For music applicants this includes completing the audition. Applicants who apply by the application deadline and complete an audition will be notified of their admission status by April 1st. Please check your online application to confirm that we have received all required application materials including your transcripts and SAT scores.

I’ve just received notification that I was not accepted into the Department of Music. Does this mean I’m automatically accepted into the university as an undecided major?

No. If you were not accepted into the music department, but would like for your application to be considered for another major within VCU, you must contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions to change your intended major.

Jazz Studies

I’m interested in studying jazz at VCU because jazz is closer to the rock music I want to play than classical music. Is VCU Jazz the program for me?

We’re looking for students who love the jazz music tradition. Yes, jazz may be closer to rock than classical in some ways, but if you want to study jazz at VCU, it should be because you love jazz.