Carnegie Mellon University

School of Music

Where artistry and innovation share center stage

Instrumental Performance

Undergraduate instrumentalists at Carnegie Mellon can earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in every orchestral instrument, as well as bagpipes, euphonium, guitar, and saxophone.

The heart of the Instrumental Performance major is the private studio instruction by Carnegie Mellon’s world-class faculty. With a close relationship to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the School of Music faculty includes 20 PSO members, many of whom are principal players in the Orchestra. Renowned faculty from other parts of the country also travel to campus to teach instrumental majors in private studio and master class settings.

Understanding that every complete musician needs strong experience in major ensembles and chamber music, the School of Music places great importance on its orchestral and wind ensemble programs. Performing in the beautiful Carnegie Music Hall, only a short walk from campus, both ensembles present a full season of public performances, and have produced highly acclaimed recordings. The Contemporary Ensemble, Baroque Ensemble, and Jazz Ensemble, as well as Percussion Ensemble and other smaller groups round out the wide range of performance opportunities for instrumentalists.

The foundation of the Undergraduate curriculum contains five elements:

  • Studio: weekly individualized instruction within a major area of study
  • Theory: to develop listening skills, to acquire theoretical knowledge, to recognize structural techniques, and to manipulate technological resources
  • History: in depth study of western music and survey of non-western styles and structures
  • Ensemble Work: student participation in some of the School of Music Ensembles
  • Academics: one General Studies course outside of the School of Music per semester and six semesters of Elective courses

Carnegie Mellon courses are measured in units rather than credits or credit hours, with three units equaling a standard credit. There is no charge for extra credits taken at Carnegie Mellon.



Studio 8
Major Ensemble 8
Music History 7
Music Support Courses 8
General Studies 5
Elective Courses 3
Keyboard Studies 4
Music Theory 4
Eurhythmics 4
Solfege 4
Performance Electives 4-6
Music Technology 1
For more specific information regarding curriculum for the undergraduate Instrumental Performance program, click here.