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Maestrowick Presents: Part I of III: the composition matriculation


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matriculate: To admit or be admitted into a group, especially a college or university

There have been posts on which schools, portfolio, length, etc. I will try to organize all that in this particular thread and discuss options from baccalaureate to doctorate although I will lean heavier into masters and doctorate.

1) Picking and preparing for undergrad

Three to five compositions are pretty standard. Since I am an alumnus of Michigan, Kansas State and in some time, LSU, I will use first-hand their admission practices as my references.


This is pretty straight-forward. They are not expecting the second coming of Beethoven.

2) Picking and preparing for Master's

Here is one of Wick's Rules: If a school does not offer a doctorate in your field, the chances of you getting a scholarship drastically increases.

If the aforementioned is true, then the chances of getting a scholarship to Juilliard has diminished. So what does one do? I suggest find a school that offers money to MM students. Lee University is a small college in Tennessee that has a wonderful music program. Most of you have never heard of it, but it's phenomenal. Apply there!

Does this mean do not apply to the "big boys?" Not necessarily. My goal here as the older one is to put everything into perspective. Many are not familiar with Kansas State University but my matriculation there was great. Great teachers and some good musicians.

3) Picking and preparing for PhD/DMA

Clarification: The difference between the two is traditionally, the PhD has a research dissertation to it. This isn't always law. The University of Washington Music Composition DMA has a research component also so the differences aren't always apparent.

Here are requirements from the University of Michigan:


There are maybe 60-70 (and that may be smaller) schools that offer a terminal Music Composition degree; therefore, the choices of school significantly drops at this level. One could say on average, about two per state.

I generally hate to say that because states like NY, Cali, FL and TX have at least four but states like NM, NH, Vermont have none. States like LA, NC, SC, OR, UT have one school in their state. Consequently, that is how the average is about two per state

Even with that number, one can still see that there are many schools outside of the NY/NE area that offer terminal degrees in music composition. Why limit yourself? Apply everywhere. The place where you want to go might not give you any money. A school elsewhere might be in love your music and wants you to have their degree. At this level, one really should not pay for school.

At this level, one really should not pay for school.

At this level, one really should not pay for school!!!!

Why? There is too much money out there for you to do that and it's expensive. Now, that doesn't mean you won't have to take out a loan of some sorts; however, tuition-waivers and some form of stipend needs to happen at this level.

The second reason is that at this point, you are at your last levels of matriculation and need not worry about going to a second job to pay your bills. Your institution should be preparing you for a job (which is the reason you're getting a terminal degree [for the most])

The reason one works towards the terminal degree is to get a job in academia. Of course, you'll still learn more technique from your teacher. The degree doesn't get you film score opportunities or a recording contract, it gets you a chance at academia. Therefore once again, apply everywhere.

This concludes Part I. The next part shall talk about jobs/commissions in music composition!

Musically Yours,

Chad "Sir Wick" Hughes

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The school I am going to does not offer doctorates in music composition... yet, I was awarded a very good scholarship which is paying for all but a fraction of my total tuition of $50k... so, that's not always a good barometer for whether the school will offer a scholarship.

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