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Additional Questions & Answers Regarding Music At MIT by mitblogs

If you've pursued music in high school and wish to continue doing so in college, you may be surprised by the wide range and high quality of opportunities at MIT.

[by Clarise Snyder – Director, Concerts Office, MIT Music and Theater Arts]

If you’ve pursued music in high school and wish to continue doing so in college, you may be surprised by the wide range and high quality of opportunities at MIT. MyMIT bloggers have written about many student-led music groups over the past year, but we also get lots of questions from students who are interested in MIT’s faculty-led ensembles such as the MIT Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Festival Jazz Ensemble, Concert Choir, Chamber Chorus, Chamber Music Society, Rambax, Gamelan Galak-tika, as well as scholarship opportunities to take private lessons in voice or an instrument.

1. Do you have to be a music major to perform in MIT’s ensembles?

No. We do have performers who choose to study music as their HASS concentration, and some who choose to declare a music minor or majorbut the majority of the students who participate in MIT’s ensembles are not music majors. There are no pre-requisites for membership in our ensembles, other than the audition.

2. Are the ensembles competitive?

The Music and Theater Arts Section’s ensemble directors try to select the strongest singers and instrumentalists whenever possible. Incoming students tend to have had strong musical experiences in high school, and in many cases, private instruction. But all students with a serious interest in music performance should audition to find out if there are any opportunities available to them in a given ensemble for the upcoming semester. The faculty will make every effort to include as many students as possible.

3. How does one audition?

All audition information and requirements are posted on our website. Instrumentalists are generally asked to perform any short piece that best demonstrates their ability. Auditions may also include some sight-reading.

4. When are auditions held?

For incoming students, auditions start at the end of August and during the first week of classes. Some auditions are by appointment (for Emerson Fellowships/Scholarships, the Wind Ensemble, the Jazz Ensemble, and the Symphony.) Chamber Music Society auditions are held each semester on Registration Day. Other auditions, such as those for Concert and Chamber choirs, take place on the first scheduled class meeting for the group.

If you miss the auditions and wish to audition for a performing group after the semester has begun, please come to the Concerts Office (in 4-243) or send an email query to [email protected] to see if it is still possible.

5. Are the ensembles available for credit?

MIT Music Section ensembles are co-curricular, which means that academic credit will be granted if students register for them. Rehearsal and performance expectations are the same regardless of whether or not one is participating in an ensemble for credit. If one is participating in MITSO, Wind Ensemble, or the Festival Jazz Ensemble and taking the ensemble for credit, it is necessary to pass a short playing exam on the literature at the end of each semester.

6. How many concerts do the ensembles perform at MIT?

MITSO, FJE and MITWE usually perform twice per semester; Chamber Chorus, Concert Choir, Chamber Orchestra, Rambax, Gamelan Galak-Tika and Chamber Music Society usually perform once per semester.

7. Is it possible to take private lessons at MIT?

Yes, via the Emerson program you may take private lessons with one of the excellent master teachers in the Boston area. The deadline for application is August 15. For Emerson program application details, email us at [email protected].

8. What instruments, storage and practice facilities are available at MIT?

Instruments: We strongly encourage students to bring their own instruments to MIT. However, a small collection of MIT-owned wind, brass, and percussion instruments is available for rent to students in our performing ensembles.

Instrument lockers: Lockers are available on a first-come, first-served basis to students in our music performance ensembles. The instruments and lockers are maintained by the Concerts Office. Call (617) 253-2826 to schedule an appointment or just stop by 4-243.

Practice rooms: There is a suite of eight individual practice rooms located on the second floor of Building 4; they are available on a 24-hour basis to all students participating in music performance subjects, as well as to music majors. In addition, there are six music department classrooms located in the basement and on the first and third floors of Building 4. Piano scholarship students and students in Chamber Music Society are granted access to these rooms for practice when not in use for classes. All of the classrooms have grand pianos; one classroom also has a harpsichord.

9. Other than performance, what music subjects are offered?

Here is a partial list of subjects: Fundamentals of Music, Introduction to Western Music, Introduction to World Music, Folk Music of the British Isles, Early Music, Vivaldi, Bach and Handel, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, Schubert to Debussy, Modern Music, Music Since 1960, Opera, Symphony and Concerto, Musicals of Stage and Screen, Film Music, Music of India, Music of Africa, Harmony and Counterpoint, Writing in Tonal Forms, Music Analysis, Jazz Harmony and Arranging, Jazz Composition, Music Composition, Composing with Computers.

10. What if I have further questions?

If they are general questions, please post them in this thread so that all may benefit from the answer. If your questions are of a personal or very specific nature, please write to us at [email protected] or call the Music and Theater Arts Office at (617) 253-3210.

16 responses to “Additional Questions & Answers Regarding Music At MIT”

  1. Anonymous says:

    HI Ms Snyder. Thanks for your entry. I love the piano although I do not practice it so often (I do not own a piano and renting is expensive in my home area). However, I do better with an electronic keyboard. My passion is the piano but I am concious that my performance level may not be enough to qualify to great music grups at MIT. I hope I will be able to perform with one of those one day but I feel need to improve a lot. What options would I have to continue music instruction?

  2. Hi, many students take lessons with instructors in the area and some from MIT. When you arrive on campus, come visit me in the Music Office and I will provide you with the contact information for private lesson instructors. You should probably audition for chamber music or for the Emerson private lesson program, so that we know what your real level is. Sometimes we are the most severe judges of our own playing! I look forward to meeting you in the fall.

  3. Zach says:

    Hi Ms Snyder,

    I play string bass though did not purchase one because I am unsure if I am going to continue playing next year at MIT. Are there places in the Are i could rent from if I desire to do so? I noted that MIT only rents out woodwinds, brass and perc.

    Thanks, Zach Rose

  4. Hi Zach,

    We have double basses available for members of our ensembles to use, so if you decide, for example, to audition for the MIT Symphony, you would have access to use one of our instruments. Just come to the Music office when you arrive on campus to arrange it. Clarise

  5. Melodie says:

    Hi Ms. Snyder! I really want to do a freshman seminar, so I was wondering if I could take MIT Symphony Orchestra for no credit. I know that you addressed the credit question above, but I just wanted to double check so that I don’t sign up for a seminar and then find out too late that I can’t play in an orchestra. Thank you!

    Melodie

  6. If you audition and are accepted into the orchestra, you can of course play in it whether you do it for credit or not. In order to obtain academic credit, you have to audition and register for the subject. I you don’t want academic credit, you just audition.

  7. Karen says:

    Hello

    I was wondering about how many members the Wind Ensemble has, and how likely it is for a freshman to be accepted – that is, is it mostly comprised of upperclassmen, and if so, what other opportunies are there until that time?

    And is it possible to take beginning lessons at MIT if we want to learn another instrument?

  8. Hi Karen,

    The Wind Ensemble has between 45-50 members. The membership is pretty evenly distributed with respect to freshmen versus upperclassmen. If you are interested in the Wind Ensemble, you should definitely audition in the fall. Many of our incoming students have strong music backgrounds but membership becomes more or less competitive depending on the quality and quantity of students who audition on a particular instrument. So, please do audition in the fall. It is the only way to find out whether there is an opportunity for you. To schedule an appointment, come to the music office. Auditions for incoming students will take place the last week of August. As far as beggining instrumental instruction goes, we can help you find a teacher in the area, but that’s something that you would pursue on your own. I hope you have a pleasant summer. Clarise

  9. What about a full-size pedal harp? (It would be too big to transport from England.)

  10. Hi, In the past we have rented a harp when necessary for use in our ensembles, but MIT does not own one. As soon as you decide which performance program you intend to audition for ,whether it’s the Emerson Scholarship program, or the orchestra or both, let me know so that we can arrange to have an instrument for you. [email protected]

  11. Hi Kallie, An art song, as you know, is a song with accompaniment set to a poem and composed by a classical composer Schubert, Schuman, and many others. The purpose of the Emerson audition is to evaluate your talent, as compared to others auditioning, to decide who is awarded a partial scholarship to take private voice lessons with a Boston area teacher. You should be prepared to sing one or two songs with accompaniment that show you at your best. Please email me your repertoire ideas or choices ([email protected]) and I will have a member of the voice faculty reply to your question in more detail. Thanks.

  12. Hi Kallie, An art song, as you know, is a song with accompaniment set to a poem and composed by a classical composer Schubert, Schumann, and many others. The purpose of the Emerson audition is to evaluate your talent, as compared to others auditioning, to decide who is awarded a partial scholarship to take private voice lessons with a Boston area teacher. You should be prepared to sing one or two songs with accompaniment that show you at your best. Please email me your repertoire ideas or choices ([email protected]) and I will have a member of the voice faculty reply to your question in more detail. Thanks.

  13. Kallie says:

    I’m interested in the Emerson Scholar program for voice, but I am unsure as to what constitutes an “art song.” Must it be strictly classical? Most of my vocal training is in music theater.

    Thanks for your help and introduction!

  14. Hi Ms. Snyder,

    I was wondering if there are teachers for Asian instruments at MIT, such as Erhu. I am very interested in continuing my studies in college, but am concerned about whether I’d be able to find a teacher. Also, regarding the Emerson scholarship, would I be able to apply twice for two instruments? Thank you for you time!

  15. Hi Christine, I’ll look into the Erhu instructor and will post my response. Regarding your second question, the answer is yes, you may apply to audition on two instruments for the Emerson program.

  16. Hi Christine, The only Erhu instructor that Prof. Ziporyn knows will be out of town next year. I have not been able to find anyone else in the Boston area. Perhaps that person will return to Boston the year after. It was suggested to him that you inquire via: the Taipei Economic and Cultural office. They have a website.- http://www.taipei.org