Undergraduate Careers

As a member of an institution that is dedicated to a liberal education in the arts and humanities, our Department of Music sees our role as offering a major that introduces the students to all aspects of the study of music and thereby prepares them for any number of ways to make music meaningful and useful in their lives after graduations. We use the phrase “integrated” to distinguish our major from the program one would follow, for example, in a School of Music (i.e., conservatory within a university) where the emphasis is put almost exclusively on training for a professional career as a performer. We want our students to be exposed to all facets of music—historical and cultural studies, composition, improvisation, conducting, music and technology, and, of course performance which takes a central position in our course offerings. This, we believe, is well suited to the diverse needs of the students who want to study music, as majors or minors, at Berkeley, whether or not they intend to pursue a professional career in music.

Our graduates have entered any number of fields. They become lawyers and bankers for instance, directors or fundraisers in non-profit sectors, audio editors in the film industry, public school teachers, professors of music, or professional performers, to mention a few fields of endeavor. Therefore, we encourage our students to shape their program according to their particular interests, using the required units of upper division music electives and, if they wish, additional courses from both within and outside the department.

As students in the College of Letters and Science, our majors can combine their specialized knowledge in music with other aspects of their education at Berkeley. Through the breadth requirements of the College of Letters and Sciences as well as through our diverse program of music study, our majors are acquiring the very skills that the Career Placement Center staff report that businesses are looking for: writing and other communication skills, critical thinking, practice at learning how to learn very diverse subject matter as is required in the contemporary job market, and knowledge that contributes to successful participation in a very diverse society. Apparently, the major most sought after in applicants by medical schools is music.

The Undergraduate Committee of the Department plans career workshops annually. In Spring 2007, for one instance, alumna Antoinette Thomas (class of 1962 and a successful public school teacher of music) led a workshop on careers in music education. For students interested in exploring the field of arts administration, in 2008, a workshop on “Music Management and Administration” was held, with speakers Adam Frey, Executive Director of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players and Peter Williams, Artistic Director of Yoshi’s Jazz Club. UCB alumni and graduate students in ethnomusicology and musicology presented on graduate studies in music for students thinking about that possibility, and “Careers in Performance” featured successful UCB alumni in that area. The workshops vary from year to year.

For questions about the major requirements contact Zoe Xu at musicadvising@berkeley.edu.