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Prospective B.M in choral music student

I have a question:
I go to a community college in Los Angeles. I want to transfer to a four year university by Fall 2015 (looking into CSULB and Northern Arizona University) to pursue a B.M. in music ed with emphasis in choral instruction, however my primary instrument is piano. Since I have to audition [as a transfer student] for schools on both piano and voice due to my interest in an instrument I'm not strong in (I've only been singing in choirs for 3 years), does my repertoire for both instruments have to be at the same level as those who are performance majors of these instruments?  How decent does my singing voice have to be?  I would like to conduct high school choirs, or possibly community choirs in the future.
Any suggestions for other schools I should look into that would seem good for me given this situation?
Thank you so much!
on July 9, 2014 3:13am
Westminster Choir College at Rider University!!

Fabuous Music Ed program, and would definitely understand that you haven't done a lot of choral singing!! They also have a wonderful (and underrated) program in Composition :)

Good luck wherever you decide!!
on July 9, 2014 5:46am
Michael, the entrance requirements vary greatly from school to school. Contact each of the schools in which you are interested individually and ask them these same questions. Also, ask what repertoire they recommend for your audition. Usually the voice audition involves something from 26 Italian Songs & Arias (get the Alfred publiication edited by Paton) and maybe a music theatre song. In the meantime, get some private lessons over the next year. Do some reading on vocal technique. As an entry level text may I recommend VoiceWorks because I wrote it and I think it will be very helpful. And keep singing in choral ensembles but with a very critical ear to what is being taught. I also have some other recommendations for schools you might want to consider if that would interest you. Let me know how things go and what you decide. 
Hank Alviani
Director of Choral Studies
Kutztown University of PA
on July 9, 2014 7:23am
Michael, Hank's suggestions above are right on target. Many schools will require one primary instrument and a demonstrated competency in a number of other performance areas. Most schools will require an exposure to piano, voice and all the famililes of orchestral instruments through pedagogy classes for music ed majors. Here at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, just up the coast from you in L.A., your acceptance would be based on your audition on piano and then you would be advised in regard to voice study and the other pedagogy courses based on your background, abilities and/or deficiencies. We would welcome your application for our Bachelor of Music Education degree. 
Dr. Michael Shasberger
Westmont College
on July 9, 2014 10:05am
I know of lots of great choral conductors who started out as pianists...there are a couple of stellar examples in this part of the world.  Ron Staheli at BYU and Mack Wilberg with Motab.   You need to sing well enough to demonstrate concepts that you are trying to enforce, and to really understand those concepts yourself.  But you CAN be successful as a choral conductor without having the pipes of a voice major. 
Claudia Bigler
Box Elder High School
Brigham City, Utah
on July 9, 2014 11:02am
I would say as a musician, I would feel cheated if I was instructed in piano by someone who couldn't play and had just 3 years of experience as an adult.
This part of the reason I feel choral music standards in this country are terribly lacking.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on July 14, 2014 7:54am
I agree (perhaps paradoxically) both with Claudia and with Thomas. As professional pianist, singer, and conductor, I can tell you that both piano skills and experience as a singer enhance one's ability as a conductor. Piano teaches you to be aware of a deal with multiple voices sounding simultaneously, and many of the best conductors I have known (including Drs. Staheli and Wilberg) are also fine pianists. But as Thomas suggests, a choral conductor really also needs to know the voice, and I can often tell just by listening to a choir that their conductor has little or no experience with and/or knowledge of the voice. So if you aspire to be a choral conductor, you need to get all the vocal training you can, as well as a solid grounding in vocal anatomy and pedagogy.
on July 15, 2014 8:30am
Please consider Trinity Lutheran College in Everett, WA.  We are interested in students just like you.  It is a small, private Liberal Arts college in which we tailor the program to meet the needs of each individual students.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.
Michael Austin Miller
Dir. of Concert Choir
Trinity Lutheran College
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