Music, Vocal Performance, BA

Singing is one of the most expressive and complex ways to create music. Along with learning the principles of good vocal technique, you’ll engage in a course of study that supports your unique experience and goals as a vocal performer. With the support of our faculty of working professional singers, this program focuses on contemporary genres such as jazz, blues, gospel, pop and rock, with an emphasis on versatility and collaboration.

If you have little or no formal training, we’ll work with you to turn your raw talent into refined performance skills. You’ll perform in ensembles at public concerts on campus as well as venues like Chicago’s famed Auditorium Theatre and the House of Blues. You’ll sing with other vocalists and work with various instrumentalists. Our goal is to help you bridge the gap between your natural talent and the specialized techniques that will support your continued development as a singer.

What to Expect Your First Year

As a first-year student, you’ll begin with Music core classes appropriate to your skill level. You’ll learn basic music literacy as well as music theory, ear training and sight singing. You’ll take master classes facilitated by voice pathologists to learn how to maintain a healthy voice. You’ll immediately apply your skills by joining the Gospel Choir or the Jazz/Pop Choir. These groups have performed at the Auditorium Theatre, at Operation Push events, at the House of Blues, and for the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. You’ll also attend numerous performances and productions at Columbia’s Music Center Concert Hall and across campus.

What to Expect Your Last Year

By your senior year, in addition to completing the required sequence of vocal-focused classes, you’ll be a seasoned performer. You may have the opportunity to perform at Columbia events such as Manifest, Commencement or Open House, showcasing your growth and artistic development through solo and group performances.

You’ll also meet and work with acclaimed artists in residence, who hold master classes and workshops with our students. You’ll continue to hone your unique vocal and performance techniques. You’ll also gain key show production insights, repertoire development, collaboration experience, and skills in communicating, networking and auditioning. Your faculty mentors will help you identify a career path that makes sense for your artistic goals.

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’re encouraged—and expected—to 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, orchestras and more. Columbia’s Music Center hosts more than 200 student, faculty and artist in residence performances and workshops each year. Our department also offers an exchange program with the 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 work as an assistant to composers, musicians or music business managers. You’ll also have the opportunity for real-world training with singing gigs at Chicago venues, campus events, or with the artists in residence who, in addition to teaching, perform with our students.


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.

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