Undergraduate Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between the Bachelor of Arts (BA) program and the Bachelor of Music (BM) program? 

The BM degree plan means that, essentially, your major is the study of your chosen instrument and the art of performance in that instrument. Daily practice, performance, and participation in ensembles becomes the major focus of your degree plan. Of course, the study of music theory and music history is also an important component of the curriculum. A rigorous series of auditions, juries, and recital requirements must be fulfilled.
The BA series of degree plans, although allowing for the study of performance, places emphasis on music and its role in society and its value as a cultural entity within a global perspective. Your degree and many of your courses will be in Music, but you will also take a variety of different courses to round out your Liberal Arts degree.

When do I need to decide between the BA and BM? 

As soon as possible. If you are questioning, you should pursue the BM program first so you do not get behind in your studies. The BA program is much more flexible, so it allows for a smoother transition into the degree if you come into it later than your first year, decide to double major with another department, or are still undecided.

Do I need to audition? 

If you intend to declare the Bachelor of Music (BM) degree plan; you MUST audition.

You may declare the Bachelor of Arts in Music Studies without auditioning. Many students who are quite advanced and proficient in instrumental or vocal performance may still choose the BA degree plan options. We have many fine performers every year who decide on the BA degree plan based on their personal goals and aspirations.

If you would like to study private lessons in an instrument, voice, or composition, you must audition for placement in lessons. You may audition in January for a space in private lessons taught at UCSB, or audition at the beginning of Fall quarter. The Music Department provides lessons to all BM students first, and then allocates spaces to BA students and non-majors in order of priority. Auditions for individual class placement and ensembles also take place at the beginning of each quarters as space in the classes allow.

Can I declare a Music Major without auditioning?

You may declare the Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Music Studies without auditioning.

When will my individual lessons instructor be assigned? 

During the first week of classes.

Do I need to take placement exams? 

Yes, in music theory and musicianship and also for class piano, even if you have no prior experience.

What music courses should I enroll in for my first quarter? 

All First Year BM music majors should enroll in the following:
  • Music 3A Introduction to Music Studies
  • Music 4A (Musicianship) - You will drop this during the first week of classes if you place at a higher level after taking the placement exam.
  • Music 5A (Music Theory) - You will drop this during the first week of classes if you place at a higher (or lower) level after taking the placement exam.
  • Music 31A (Class Piano) - You will drop this the first week of classes if you place at a higher level after taking the class piano audition.
  • Music 20-33 (Individual Instruction) - Choose the appropriate course number for your instrument or voice. (BM students must register for 3 units, and BA students and composition students must register for 1 unit.)
  • A performance ensemble (Music A34-A70AA-ZZ) - this may vary; choose from the selection on your requirement sheet or if you are considering a switch from BA to BM, take the requirement for BM.
  • Voice majors should enroll in French, German, or Italian
All First Year BA music majors should enroll in the following:
  • Music 3A Introduction to Music Studies
  • Music 4A (Musicianship) - You will drop this during the first week of classes if you place at a higher level after taking the placement exam.
  • Music 11 or 5A (Music Theory) - You will take the placement exam to determine which.

Does the Music Department make decisions on who will be admitted to the University of California at Santa Barbara?

No. The results of our auditions/composition portfolios and interviews only serve to assess undergraduate freshmen and transfer applicants. We do submit the results of our auditions to the Office of Admissions. All recommendations for degree emphasis are contingent on acceptance to the University of California by the Office of Admissions. Any other questions about this process should be directed to the Office of Admissions.

When does the Music Department have auditions?

Auditions are typically held during the last two weekends of January for the following Fall entrance.

How long will my audition last?

Auditions typically last  between 5 and 15 minutes, depending on the instrument and the repertoire presented for the audition. It is possible that instrumentalists and vocalists will be asked to stop before a work is finished and be asked to move on to another work. Time limits must be observed in order to give each prospective student appropriate time to audition.

Should I bring the audition form/repertoire list to the audition with me?

Yes. Please take your audition form/repertoire list to the audition and present it to the Faculty who are listening to the audition.

May I play my own pieces (composed by myself) for the audition?

Normally, the Faculty will wish to hear the required repertoire pieces listed for the audition. You may offer your own composition “IN ADDITION TO” the required repertoire; but not “INSTEAD OF “.

Is it possible to double major in music with another discipline?

Yes. The BA tends to lend itself more easily to those wishing to pursue a double major. It is also possible with the BM, though careful planning from the beginning of your course of study at UCSB is essential.

Is there a minor in music?

Yes, there is a Music Minor option. The Music Minor requirements may be viewed here. You do not need to audition to be a music minor.

May I participate in ensembles without being a music major?

Yes, each year we have many students who are studying in other majors across the University, and who participate in many of our Music Department ensembles. A list of ensembles and their audition requirements can be viewed in the Ensembles section. Contact the faculty, or review the information provided on the webpage to get information on how to audition for the ensemble.

Can I use the Music Department practice rooms even though I am not participating in official Music Department lessons or ensembles?

No. The Music Department practice room facilities are limited to students who are music majors or who are enrolled in the study of instrumental or vocal music through the Department of Music. The Music Department does not have enough practice rooms in order to allow students who are not studying in the Department of Music to use the facilities. For students enrolled in lessons and ensembles, see the bottom of the enrolled student information section to see how to get access to a practice room.

Can I take lessons in saxophone or guitar?

Currently, we do not offer private instruction or majors in saxophone or guitar. Lessons ARE offered in: violin, viola, cello, double bass, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, French horn, trombone, tuba, percussion, piano, and voice. Lessons for non-majors and minors are granted on a limited basis by Faculty who have room in their schedules to accommodate non-majors. Some faculty members who teach on a part-time basis would have very limited availability for non-major students.

Are scholarships available from the Department of Music?

Yes, each year the Department of Music awards many scholarships to incoming students majoring in Music based on the results of their audition. Scholarship awards from the Department of Music are limited to students who have declared and maintain a “Music Major” as their degree plan emphasis.