Music Schools In Nashville – The Complete Overview

Musicians play a vital role in society by creating beautiful music for the world to enjoy. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are many professional musicians and singers, with over 175,000 nationwide. In order to find success in the music industry and fill the shoes of those who came before them, musicians must learn proper technique.

Through music schools, undergraduates learn methods for improving instrumental and vocal techniques and musical expression. Just like any other major, music students must take exams and practice their craft through hands-on experience. Outside of class, undergraduates have plenty of abilities to practice their instrument or vocal abilities. 

Standard classes at music school include performance, entrepreneurship, music theory, diction, and music history. Discussing critical elements like technique and musical style gives students the tools to express themselves musically. Undergraduates will have the opportunity to perform in front of their peers to showcase their growth in classes.

Conservatory programs and music schools aim to teach strong technique. Through private lessons and performance opportunities, students develop the confidence, discipline, and technical skills needed in a successful career. Music school graduates go on to perform in orchestras, become musicians, teach music, and contribute to the industry.

Known as Music City, Nashville is one of the most popular destinations for aspiring musicians. Singers and other musicians come from all over the world to form a metropolitan melting pot. Nashville has a diverse music scene with a variety of genres, including rock, pop, hip hop, bluegrass, and gospel music.

Many famous musicians have ties to Nashville, such as Bon Jovi, Elvis Presley, the Black Eyed Peas, and many more. Along with great inspiration, there are plenty of venues around time to perform and find live music throughout the year. Nashville is an ideal location for music school graduates, with over 20,000 jobs in the industry.

Vanderbilt University Blair School of Music

Vanderbilt University
Sean Pavone /

Vanderbilt University provides a balanced education in music and a strong foundation in liberal arts. The school aims to instill a lifelong passion for the performing arts. Through solo recitals, master classes, and performance opportunities, students gain plenty of practical experience.

At the school’s premier location in Nashville, students can catch a variety of shows, from honky-tonk country to a symphony performance. Nashville is home to hundreds of concert venues, music festivals, and other performing centers to explore. In 2021, the Princeton Review ranked Nashville as the #2 college city.

Recognized as a very selective university, Vanderbilt requires admitted students to have high grades and an impeccable audition. US News ranks the school among the top 20 universities in the country. Along with challenging academics, Princeton Review ranks Vandy among the happiest schools in the country.

The undergraduate-only music program means no competition with graduate students, leading to more resources for undergraduates. In addition, Vanderbilt provides excellent scholarship opportunities. With approximately 220 students in the program, the music program boasts an impressive 4:1 student to faculty ratio.

The School of Music enrolls students from over 35 states and foreign countries, adding to the diversity of the Nashville area. Alumni go on to pursue graduate study at renowned schools of music around the world.

While on campus, undergraduates study in state-of-the-art music facilities. The Blair School of Music houses many teaching studios, classrooms, rehearsal halls, laboratories, and a specialized library. Ingram Hall, the school’s largest performance hall, has over 600 seats and full staging capabilities with an orchestra pit and shell.

Performance, composition, integrated studies, jazz, and more are the majors available in the School of Music. Approximately 35% of music students at Vanderbilt pursue a minor or second major. Popular concentrations include collaborative arts, composition, musicology, pedagogy, and music theory.

Vanderbilt specializes in classical music performance. The Nashville Symphony, a top-20 orchestra, is conveniently located and offers inspiration to students. Many members of this prestigious group are on faculty at the School of Music.

The university presents over 300 concerts each year, open to both the campus community and public. Many groups perform, such as the Vanderbilt orchestra, wind symphony, chorale, choir, opera theatre, big band, and steel drum ensemble. As a highly regarded university, the performance groups participate in shows frequently at Blair and around the globe.

Launched in 1992, internationally recognized performers give master classes at the Blair School through the Broadcast Music Inc. Composer-in-Residence Program. This three-day residency includes performances and interaction with music students. Past residents include big names like William Bolcom, George Crumb, and Joan Tower.

Another way for music students to creatively express themselves is through the VU Summer Research Program. Undergraduates work one-on-one with faculty members to study musicology, composition, or another aspect of the arts. These independent projects range from researching the connection between music and the mind to investigating audience engagement trends.

Music students at Vanderbilt also gain practical experience through internship opportunities. The school-sponsored referral service provides the opportunity to perform in Nashville for a stipend or salary. Popular employers include recording studios, NPR, the Nashville Symphony, Washington National Opera, and National Music Festival.

After graduation, Vanderbilt Blair alumni go on to make a difference in the music industry. Some perform as members of prestigious orchestras and symphonies, while others record sessions at the Billboard Music Awards. Vanderbilt graduates can also be seen giving back to their community through music therapy, education, and bringing music to non-traditional spaces.

Belmont University

Belmont University
Lahti213, Belmont University building, CC BY-SA 4.0

Belmont University is recognized as an excellent, student-centered Christian university. It offers both the resources of a larger university and the personal instruction of a smaller college. The School of Music is unmatched in its commitment to innovation, stylistic diversity, and artistic performance.

Thanks to the university’s strong commitment to undergraduate teaching, US News has recognized Belmont for its commitment to innovation for 13 years in a row. This honor was a result of the school’s unparalleled curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology, and facilities. 

The Belmont campus is conveniently located next to Music Row and two miles from downtown Nashville. Throughout the area, there are many contemporary music venues for students to gain performance experience at. Music Row is home to many of the nation’s best music businesses, such as performing rights organizations ASCAP and SESAC.

The Belmont University School of Music specializes in contemporary performance, production, and composition, including film and media scoring. Music, theatre, church music, commercial music, composition, music education, performance, music technology, music theory, and music therapy are the majors available for undergraduates.

At Belmont, students have the opportunity to join a variety of ensembles that show the school’s diversity. With over 40 instrumental, vocal, and faculty ensembles, there is a group for every undergraduate. From classical chamber groups to rock ensembles, undergraduates can hone their performance abilities in front of audiences.

In order to support music students, a new performing arts center is scheduled to open in Fall 2021. This 1,700 seat venue is modeled off of European opera houses to provide the optimal learning experience. Along with being a unique learning environment, the center will bring in significant operas, performances, concerts, plays, and lectures for the Belmont community.

The Lila D. Bunch Library holds over 12,000 books, 15,000 scores, and provides access to databases and streaming services. Whether they are performers or audio engineers, music students will have access to listening and viewing equipment. A full-time music librarian is available to support undergraduate study of music outside of the classroom.

The Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business specializes in audio engineering and the business side of the music industry. The diverse programs prepare students for operational and technical careers in music. Audio engineering technology, audio and video production, music business, and songwriting are just some of the majors offered.

Belmont University is home to many top-tier facilities for music students to practice and perform in. The R. Milton & Denice Johnson Center is an interdisciplinary collaboration center for music business and audio engineering students. State-of-the-art computer labs, mixing suites, and digital production studios are just some of the services offered by the facility.

Through the International Exchange program, students in the School of Music can study at competitive music schools around the globe. They have their choice from the University of Manchester, Russian Academy of Music, Scottish Royal Conservatory, and other schools. 

Music students at Belmont are supported through various professional development opportunities to prepare them for working in the entertainment industry. There are advisor meetings, industry-led workshops, and networking opportunities. In addition, there are internship fairs each semester that bring over 90 employers to campus.

The School of Music students contribute to the Nashville arts community in a wide variety of ways. Belmont undergraduates instruct students, serve underprivileged communities, and take an active role in schools, churches, and performance venues. Community organizations include the Nashville Opera, TN Arts Academy, and W.O. Smith Community Music School.