Columbia College Chicago

Music, Instrumental Performance, BA

As an Instrumental Performance student, you’ll explore a variety of styles and genres on your primary instrument. You’ll learn where you fit in a diverse group of musicians and how to collaborate on stage and in the studio. You’ll take weekly private or group lessons and perform in ensembles, such as the Blues, Folk or New Music Ensembles, R&B Showcase or Pop Orchestra, among others.

The program is flexible and stylistically diverse, responding to your unique interests and skills. We foster an environment that values personal, soulful creative work and meaningful connections between students. There’s more to being a compelling artist than mere technical skill. You’ll learn how to strive for excellence and develop a rigorous practice ethic. You’ll also focus on professional development and interpersonal skills. This will allow you to pursue a career as a teaching artist in addition to working as a performer or studio musician.

What to Expect Your First Year

During your first year, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to practice and perform. You’ll play challenging music, develop your stage presence and learn how to contribute to a group of musicians. You’ll take techniques courses and enhance your skills in an instrumental group, such as the Pop Rock Ensemble or Groove Band. You’ll take core classes in music theory and will study a wide range of musical styles and genres, while developing your unique perspective as a musician.

What to Expect Your Last Year

In your last year, you’ll delve deeper into pop/jazz theory and arranging courses. If you choose to, you can take elective courses in repertoire and traditions to build a strong foundation and enhance the range of tunes you can play.

You’ll also have the opportunity to take master classes with a series of acclaimed artists in residence from a variety of disciplines. These artists also hold workshops with Instrumental Performance students and perform public concerts with our department ensembles.

Because the BA track allows for time to explore your passions in other disciplines, you may be finishing up a minor of your choosing, such as Music Business Management, Education, Arts in Healthcare or even Photography or Web Development.

Detailed Program Information

Download a Four-Year Plan

For More Degree Requirements and Transfer Plans, Visit the Catalog

Real-world Opportunities

What experience will I get outside the classroom?

As a Music student, you’ll perform in a variety of settings, both on campus as part of your coursework and in Chicago’s vibrant music scene. Chicago is a robust, diverse and accessible place for a working musician, even if you’re just starting your career. Our students play in dozens of ensembles, including bands, choirs and more. They also start their own bands and launch their own projects in collaboration with students from other departments on campus. Columbia’s Music Center hosts more than 200 student, faculty and artist in residence performances and workshops each year. Our department also offers exchange programs with Conservatorio Luisa d’Annunzio in Pescara, Italy, the Popakademie in Mannheim, Germany and other EU partner institutions.

What are my internship options?

You’ll have the opportunity to intern at recording studios, record labels, production companies and radio stations or as an assistant to composers, musicians or music business managers. However, your real-world training will most likely be playing at local venues, special events, campus happenings or with the artists in residence who not only teach but perform with our students. If you’re ready to play professionally, your instructors will help you find gigs.


Ready to Apply?

We’re happy you’re thinking of joining our creative community. We work hard to make our application process as simple and fast as possible, but should you run into any concerns, we're here to help at any time.

Looking for an event near you?

If you can’t make it to campus, don’t worry! We have a full schedule of events all across the U.S. and around the world.