Department of Music & Theatre

Music Performance

Department of Music & Theatre

Music Performance

  • Bachelor of Music
  • Undergraduate

131 - 138 credits

required for program

131 - 138 credits

131 - 138 credits

required for program

Prepare for a career as a professional musician in vocal, piano, or instrumental music performance. Laying the foundation to teach private music lessons or to pursue graduate studies.


Entrance auditions are required for this major. Auditions are during the spring semester. You must be admitted to both Northwestern and the Department of Music & Theatre to major in music. Please refer to the Music Admissions & Scholarships for audition requirements and dates.

Music performance may be the right degree for you if you

  • are disciplined
  • have a passion for performing
  • are interested in a career in music

Why study music performance at Northwestern?

In small classes, learn from credentialed music faculty, seasoned performers, sought-after conductors, and acclaimed composers who are dedicated to your musical excellence.

You can perform at regional, national, and international tours while building your education. Christian faculty will help you to grow in your faith and your music. With campus so close to downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, students can take advantage of opportunities in Minnesota’s thriving music industries.

All Northwestern music degrees hold accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Music, the principal U.S. accreditor for higher education in music.

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What degree specializations are offered in Music Performance?

Careers in music performance

There are a variety of career and academic pathways that begin with a degree in music performance.

What types of work are related to this degree?

  • Freelance or contracted performer
  • Private instructor
  • Church worship leader
  • Audio technician
  • Concert promotion
  • Concert hall management or administration
  • Music program coordination
  • Artist representation
  • Arts administration or management
  • Promotion/media relations
  • Collaborative pianist
  • Orchestral musician
  • Music librarian

Who employs people with this degree?

  • Music industry
  • Private and community music centers (teaching)
  • Churches, orchestras, choral groups
  • Opera and theatre companies
  • Military ensembles
  • Recording studios
  • Dance companies and teaching studios
  • Colleges and universities (requires graduate degree)
  • Parks and recreation programs
  • Nursing homes and hospitals
  • Concert venues and performance halls
  • Music-related publishers
  • Entertainment law firms and businesses
  • Music shops
  • Theme parks and cruise ships

Strategies for success:

  • As an undergraduate, gain as much experience as possible, paid or unpaid, through college and local organizations. Seek internships or volunteer positions with relevant organizations.
  • Confidence, personality, a positive attitude, and a love of music are important to success in many areas of music. Learn basic tools of self-promotion.
  • Some jobs may require you to join unions or guilds. Research the industry to learn which ones are appropriate.
  • Performers often travel frequently and must be flexible regarding their work schedules.
  • Majoring in music provides students with a sense of aesthetics and an understanding of human expression valuable to many employers.
  • Develop competencies in business management, computers, marketing, or other areas to broaden range of employment possibilities.
  • Recognize that few musicians make a living solely through music.
View Career Guide

of Northwestern music performance graduates felt professionally prepared by their education


often combine multiple income streams to experience fulfilling careers

3 tracks

in this degree: vocal, piano, instrumental

Still have questions about this program or how to apply?

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