Facing the music: What’s next for music majors?


Erica Spear is in high demand. Appalachian State and UNC-Chapel Hill both want her for her musical abilities.

Not that academics doesn’t play a role, of course, but any school that takes the time to hear an audition to a music department must be looking for something besides an “A” in English.

“I knew that I wanted to double major in Music Education and Music Performance and stay in state for undergraduate,” said Spear, who plays flute for the Symphonic Band. “I was introduced to Appalachian my sophomore year and toured the Hayes School of Music. Earlier this year I participated in App’s student-for-a-day program, where you get to sit in on music classes, take private lessons and meet with faculty associated with your intended major.” Spear has also auditioned at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Hayes School of Music is a well-respected music education center that is part of App State, and — alongside UNC-Greensboro — is a top destination for musicians coming from North Carolinian high schools.

“I love music — it’s what I want to do with my life,” said Logan Wilson, a senior who auditioned at Appalachian State. “The music program [at App St.] is awesome.” Wilson performed on the cello.

It’s one thing to decide you want to devote your career to music; it’s another thing entirely to put in the effort required to make the cut at the schools best suited for it.

Galen Tim, violinist, has been hard at work putting together his own one-man show for one of the nation’s top music programs.

“I have to audition in front of 14 string faculty members at the Peabody Institute. I have to play two of Kreutzer’s Etudes, the Adagio and Fugue from Bach’s Sonata No. 1, and the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto,” explained Tim. “I plan to eat Indian food for good luck, too.”

So — that can’t be too difficult, can it?

“Well, I have been preparing [this audition] since September, and I’ve been putting 3.5 hours per day in for practice — it means a lot of time commitment on my part.” Tim expects this audition, held on the campus of Peabody in Baltimore, MD, to be a daunting challenge in comparison to his recent tryout for UNCG.

“For flute, I had to prepare two contrasting pieces, major/minor scales and arpeggios, and be prepared to sightread,” said Spear. “For piano, I had to prepare a Bach prelude or invention, a Classical-period sonata, and a 19th or 20th Century work (I prepared a 20th century Shostakovich piece), as well as the major/minor scales and arpeggios, and sight-reading.”

Take the work Tim puts in, then double it, because there’s two different instruments in play here.

“I signed up for all of my auditions so I could be considered for scholarships at each school,” added Spear. “What you show the faculty at your audition is pretty much the basis of how they determine what scholarships to give to specific people.”

That’s how it works outside the realm of instruments, too: Take Hunter Coultrap, for instance, who hopes to attend ASU, ECU or South Carolina for music education.

“Music is a huge passion of mine, and it comes from being raised in an awesome choral program here at Leesville,” said Coultrap, who sang pieces by Dvorak and Bach for his audition.

Each of these students has put forth the effort to make music their lifestyle, and now it’s up to the schools to choose from among them.

But what makes UNCG or Appalachian any better than Chapel Hill or NCSU for music? It comes down to which schools show as strong a commitment to their students as the students show towards music.

“In my search overall, I was also looking for a School of Music and not a Department of Music….Schools of Music are larger and are more ‘well-equipped’,” Spear elaborated.

Spear has already been accepted into the Hayes School of Music and looks forward to her years in Boone or in Chapel Hill, acceptance pending.

But the key, no matter where the musically inclined end up — be it Greensboro, Boone, Columbia, Baltimore, or any school — is the time they’ve put in. Auditions are meant to recognize that effort, to recognize that fiery devotion, and to bring in those students that can best seize the opportunity for success in one of the most difficult career paths available.


  1. BRAVO to the hardworking musicians–and also to the talented writer who highlighted them! 🙂


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