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Music Stand

Each program of study provides a balanced education in music in addition to a liberal arts core. This affords the professional student the opportunity to develop high-level musicianship, artistic sensibilities, and a strong commitment to the art, and will instill a lifelong desire to participate creatively as an artist and as an audience member in musical pursuits in an ever-evolving musical culture.



For students dedicated to developing performance skills at the highest level, Blair offers the bachelor of music degree in:

Bassoon Harp Trombone
Cello Horn Trumpet
Clarinet Oboe Tuba
Double bass Percussion Viola
Euphonium Piano Violin
Flute Saxophone Voice

This degree program focuses heavily on individual performance instruction in the classical tradition. Through solo recitals, master class participation, and performance in chamber music and larger ensembles, students gain practical experience and earn academic credit.

Because well-educated performers understand music's foundations and progression, the program also emphasizes knowledge of music theory and history/literature. A school-sponsored referral service provides opportunities for student soloists and ensembles to gain performing experience for pay in Nashville.


OBJECTIVES: The composition major emphasizes creation and analysis of music in an ever-evolving culture, encouraging students to develop a deep knowledge of self while fostering a greater understanding of the musical world around them. Students focus on repertoire and craftsmanship, primarily in (but not limited to) the art music field, and may then employ those skills and techniques to explore other areas of interest, such as film scoring, jazz composition, musical theatre composition, electroacoustic music, computer composition, and experimental music of various kinds. Our students steadily develop and refine aural and analytical proficiency, compositional techniques, and artistic intuition. Broad in scope, the program further encourages students to hone performance skills and passionately engage with the disciplines of musicology, philosophy, literature, and art.

PROFESSIONAL PREPARATION: The Composition Department's Composer-in-Residence Program provides students with multiple opportunities to engage with prominent living composers each year. Composition majors also have at least three performance opportunities each year on the student-governed "Living Sounds" concert series. Finally, the summation of the composition major's career at the Blair School is a full-evening portrait concert of works selected from his/her portfolio, or a large-scale capstone project of similar scope. Alumni have continued on to successful careers both inside and outside of music, and/or graduate studies in film scoring, arranging, and composition in multiple genres and aspects of the music industry, including arts administration and business. 

Musical Arts

The musical arts major attracts students who are strong performers and composers, but are also interested in music in all its facets. Often, this major is a good choice for students interested in a second major in another academic area because of the flexibility it provides. Students applying to the Musical Arts major will submit audition materials for their primary instrument or area, such as piano, voice or composition (see application requirements.) 

The program provides a solid foundation in the liberal arts and music, with preparation in the disciplines of performance, theory, and literature/history. It also demands high skill levels in performance, research, and analysis, and serves as a natural conduit to graduate studies or careers in music theory, musicology, performance, or composition, and other areas of music and the arts. Students will complete performance requirements in their primary instrument/area of study, in addition to all other aspects of the Musical Arts major, and will graduate with the Bachelor of Music degree.

Five-Year Bachelor of Music/Master of Education (MA5)

This program combines Blair's strengths with those of the Peabody College of Education and Human Development. Based on the musical arts degree, the program provides for teacher licensure in instrumental or vocal/general music. Students who meet all requirements will earn the B.Mus. degree in four years and the M.Ed. from Peabody in an additional calendar year, June through May. Application to Peabody College for the M.Ed. program is made during the student's senior year at Blair.

The curriculum includes a strong emphasis on music performance; a solid foundation in music literature, theory and the liberal arts; undergraduate and graduate courses in psychology and education;three practica; and two student-teaching assignments in the fifth year. Students also gain experience in the pre-college ensembles at Blair.

3+2 Bachelor of Music/MBA Blair-to-Owen Program

The five-year joint program between the Blair School of Music and the Owen Graduate School of Management allows a small cohort of particularly motivated musical arts majors to overlap their undergraduate coursework with work toward the MBA, facilitating the earning of both the undergraduate and graduate degrees in five years (ten semesters). By combing three and one-half years in Vanderbilt's Blair School of Music with one and one-half years of study in the Owen School, students may obtain both the B.Mus. degree in musical arts and the MBA in five years. The baccalaureate from the Blair School is awarded at the end of the fourth year, and the MBA is awarded from the Owen School after the fifth year.

Students must apply to the Owen School for admission to the five-year program during their junior year. Acceptance into the five-year program is extremely competitive and requires advanced standing earned in undergraduate courses. Lacking full-time work experience, students must enhance their portfolios with outstanding academic performance and show a strong commitment to rigorous business education.

Liberal Arts Core

Mission statement: The liberal arts core affords music students the opportunity to develop a broad-based understanding of intellectual endeavors and methods in a variety of disciplines, to explore the interconnectedness of music, arts and other humanistic pursuits, and to articulate their thinking in clear and effective language.

Second Majors for Bachelor of Music Students

Blair students have the flexibility to complete a second major or minor in another undergraduate school at Vanderbilt.  All Vanderbilt students with two majors receive only one degree; for Blair students this is the Bachelor of Music degree.  Because this is not a dual-degree program, it is completed in four years.  For Blair students in the performance, musical arts (not musical arts/teacher education), and composition majors, both academic and free electives can be used to satisfy the requirements of a second major or minor.  Please note that computer science is the only second major available to Blair students in the School of Engineering.  Minors in Engineering are also available.  Most students who wish to study engineering and music choose to enroll in the School of Engineering as their home school and in Blair as a second major or minor.  The neuroscience major in the College of Arts and Science is also not a major that Blair students can combine with the B.Mus. degree.  For complete information on second majors and the pre-med track, please consult the Undergraduate Catalog and the Blair Student Handbook.

Opportunities for Music Minors, Second Majors, and Non-Majors

Blair offers all Vanderbilt students opportunities to make music a part of their lives and academic focus. The school offers private instruction for credit in any instrument or voice, as well as for group instruction in piano, guitar, voice, percussion and fiddle. Courses designed for music majors are open to all students with sufficient background and expertise. A number of classes are designed especially for non-majors, including music literature/history, theory, and music business.

All Vanderbilt undergraduate students may audition for membership in Blair's performing groups, including the Vanderbilt Orchestra, Vanderbilt Wind Ensemble, Vanderbilt Symphonic Choir, Vanderbilt Chorale, Brass Choir, Blair Big Band and Vanderbilt Opera Theatre. Students in Vanderbilt's other undergraduate colleges may also audition for a minor in music, music history, or music performance— or a second major in music. Those intending to complete a second major or minor in music  do not need to audition during the admissions process, but instead, are expected to enroll in a semester of private lessons in voice, keyboard, guitar, or an orchestral instrument at the Blair School before auditioning for the program.  Auditions for a minor or second major in Blair may take place at the end of the first fall semester as an undergraduate, if recommended by a private instructor. See more details.