This guide is intended to be an informative beginning to the advising process for prospective music majors. It is not intended to substitute for one-on-one academic advising or faculty-student counseling. Please review this information carefully and meet with one of our music faculty members and an academic advisor before deciding if majoring in music is right for you.

Thank you for your interest in majoring in music at Richland College. We are proud to offer one of the most comprehensive undergraduate music programs in Texas, especially at the community-college level. If you are thinking about a career in music, obtaining a degree in music may or may not be the right thing for you, depending on your intentions. Music at the college-level is a very competitive field that typically focuses on classical music and jazz. Students majoring in music typically have extensive experience in music prior to matriculation in a college music program. A conventional 4-year college/university undergraduate music program will offer degrees in music with majors in instrumental or vocal performance, elementary and secondary music education, music composition and musicology/music theory. Some but not all undergraduate music programs also offer majors in recording technology, sacred music, music therapy, musical theater, music publishing, music business/arts administration, and more. Advanced degrees in music are available in all of those disciplines, with the additional availability of majors in specialized disciplines such as ethnomusicology, and conducting. A listing of careers in music, along with salary scales and suggested college training can be found at

Richland College offers a Field of Study Associates degree in Music that is fully transferrable to any Texas 4-year public university. Many private and out-of-state universities also accept transfer credit from Richland College, though they reserve the right to evaluate which credits they will accept for transfer on a case by case basis. The degree plan offers some flexibility so that students can take the right courses as required by their chosen 4-year college/university music program.

If I get my Associates degree in Music from Richland, can I automatically go to the 4-year school of my choice to finish my Bachelor's degree?

Entrance to most 4-year college/university music programs is by competitive audition. You also have to meet the general entrance requirements of the college/university, usually defined by GPA and/or standardized test scores. These music programs have a limited number of students that they can accommodate. Students who do not pass the audition are typically barred from taking music courses at the 4-year college/university. Once you have been accepted into the music program, an advisor will evaluate your transcript to determine how your completed coursework will transfer towards your Bachelor's degree. It is important that you understand the transfer requirements of the college you wish to attend. Consult with an advisor at the 4-year college/university prior to enrolling at Richland.

Do I have to audition to major in music at Richland College?

Beginning in the Fall Semester of 2006, students who wish to pursue the Field of Study Associates degree in Music at Richland College will need to pass an audition for Richland's music faculty to be given clearance to declare the degree plan. The audition should be comparable to a freshman-level entrance audition for a 4-year college/university music program. Students who do not pass the audition can still take music courses at Richland, but they will have to pass the audition before being granted the Field of Study Associates degree in Music. This faculty oversight system is in place to help the student prepare to meet the requirements of a 4-year college/university music program.

Can't I just take my basics at Richland and take music courses when I get to the 4-year school?

Every year, prospective music majors attempt to transfer to 4-year college/university music programs from community colleges without having taken any music coursework at the community college. The biggest problem with this is that most music degrees do not allow completion of the Texas state core curriculum. Some music degrees plans are highly specialized with little room for elective credit and no room for all of the Humanities requirements. Also, most 4-year music programs require a special physics course for musicians that Richland does not offer. A music major taking two lab science courses (as required by the core curriculum) would only end up having to take an additional lab science course at the 4-year school. Again, it is vital that the prospective music major consult with a representative from a 4-year college/university music program before enrolling in courses at Richland.

Music is different from most disciplines in that unlike other fields where you would get your basics out of the way before taking coursework specific to your major, students majoring in music take music coursework every semester that they are enrolled. College music majors in their third year of study are typically expected to have completed 16 hours of music theory and musicianship, 3 hours of a music literature survey course, 8 hours of applied (private) study in their instrument/voice, 4 hours of piano proficiency, and a minimum of 1 hour of ensemble (some programs distinguish between large group lab ensembles and chamber or small group ensembles) for each semester that they have been enrolled. Additional lower level courses such as methods, jazz improvisation, vocal diction, masterclasses, etc. may also be required, depending on the music discipline the student is pursuing. College/university music programs may also require music majors in their third year of study to have passed proficiency tests in piano and music theory before being given permission to enroll in upper-level coursework. The bottom line: waiting to take music courses at the 4-year school will delay your graduation and cost you more money in the long run.

What advantages are there if I major in music at Richland College instead of a 4-year college/university?

Our music faculty consists of working performers, educators, and scholars who hold advanced degrees from some of the top music schools and conservatories in the nation including the University of North Texas College of Music. Our low teacher to student ratio means plenty of individual attention, and you will never have a class, ensemble, or private lesson taught by a student assistant. Our location in the heart of North Dallas puts you within minutes of world-class performance venues such as the Meyerson Symphony Center, the Eisemann Center, Music Hall at Fair Park, as well as the bustling Deep Ellum entertainment district. With tuition at an unbeatable $36 per credit hour for Dallas county residents and no additional fees (as of Spring 2006), the cost of a 66-hour Associates degree at Richland would be less than the cost of resident tuition for 1 semester of study at most 4-year public universities in Texas.

My high school counselor has expressed that I won't be prepared for a 4-year university if I go to community college because the standards are not as high.

4-year colleges and university have strict entrance standards typically defined by a student's grade point average (GPA) and standardized test scores that limit which students get admitted. Richland College has open enrollment meaning anyone 18 or over can attend (special rules apply to students under the age of 18). That said, students attending Richland must pass placement tests that will assess whether or not the student is ready for college-level work. Students who do not meet minimum standards are placed in appropriate developmental courses to prepare them for the demands of the courses required for their degrees.

The Richland music program functions in a similar manner. We maintain an open dialogue with officials at 4-year college/university music programs throughout Texas to make sure that our curriculum is on par with what those programs expect from their own students. Students meet with music faculty advisors prior to enrolling in classes to determine which music courses would be appropriate for their level of expertise. We focus on students' musical growth by stressing individual musical and technical development through private applied study, ensemble participation, and solo performance. Our standards are the same as any 4-year college/university music program; we work diligently with our students to help them achieve or exceed those standards.

I want to be a producer for a recording studio. What courses should I take?

Richland offers two levels of Digital Music Production that introduces students to MIDI and audio sequencing. Cedar Valley College, our sister college located in Lancaster, offers a unique comprehensive Commercial Music curriculum that has degree and certificate programs in audio production and recording technology. You can start your work here at Richland, but you will need to complete your coursework at Cedar Valley. Visit with a music faculty advisor from Richland or Cedar Valley before signing up for any courses.

I can't decide on a major. I like music, but I don't sing or play an instrument. Can I still major in music?

It is possible, though we don't recommend it. Music is a unique discipline in that students majoring in music are expected to have a certain amount of expertise by the time they attend college. Most college music majors have had years of specialized training and ensemble experience. Some students have innate musical talent that allows them to quickly gain proficiency in an instrument or voice. This is the exception rather than the norm. We have a limited number of non-major level courses for beginning musicians. Visit with a music faculty advisor for more information.

I want to major in music at Richland, but my work schedule only permits me to take classes 2-3 days per week. What options do I have?

Majoring in music, no matter where you attend college, is a huge commitment of time and effort. Courses required for the Field of Study Associates degree in Music occur every day of the week during the Fall and Spring semesters. In addition, there are rehearsals and performances that will occasionally happen outside of scheduled class time as well as a certain amount of time that you will need to reserve for daily individual practice. This commitment is necessary not only at Richland, but upon transfer to a 4-year program.

Unfortunately, we do not offer applied lessons, degree-level academic music courses (except Music Appreciation which is not recommended for music majors), or ensembles outside of the Fall or Spring semesters. We do not offer online learning options for degree-level music courses, though there are many opportunities to take core-curriculum courses online.

If you have limitations on your ability to schedule classes due to work or family obligations, majoring in music may not be a realistic option for you, no matter your level of musical talent. Make sure to express any concerns of this sort with a music faculty advisor.

I've been playing for years but I don't read music. Can I major in music at Richland?

Absolutely. With language, it is easier to read if you already know how to speak. Music is the same way. Our Foundations in Music curriculum will help you make the transition into being able to read standard musical nomenclature.

I want to major in music at Richland and transfer to a 4-year school to get a degree in Music Education. The 4-year program requires that I have 3 semesters of marching band. Does Richland have a marching band?

No, but we have a partnership with the SMU Mustang Band in that Richland music students can audition for and participate in that group. They are provided a marching band scholarship to offset the costs of membership and they do receive the college credit for the course. For more information, contact the Mustang Band office at (214) SMU-BAND or go to

Also, shouldn't I be taking education courses at Richland?

The teacher training courses at Richland are designed for early childhood education and for working professionals who want to get certification to teach in a public school. The 4-year program will have the appropriate music education courses.

I'm going to be a voice major at Richland. Why am I having to take extra courses like studio masterclass and diction that aren't on the Field of Study degree plan?

Majoring in voice at the college-level (no matter what college you attend) typically focuses on performance of classical art song, operatic aria, and in some but not all cases, musical theater repertoire. Vocal performance has unique requirements in that students must sing in foreign languages. Richland offers a unique vocal diction course for singers each semester, focusing either on French, Italian, German, or English. These courses are necessary because each language has its own pronounciation rules, as well as unique situations where it is necessary to modify vowel sounds when singing (especially in English) to achieve clarity. Whether or not the 4-year college/university music program of your choice wants to accept these credits since they are outside of the degree plan (in most situations, these credits do transfer), vocal majors are expected to know this information by their third year of study. The studio masterclass is a supplement to the applied private voice lesson. Students perform in front of each other and are coached by the instructor in front of the class. It gives students the opportunity to hone their stage presence, deal with performance anxiety, and also see how the instructor handles different situations.