Carnegie Mellon University

Due to the ongoing considerations related to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Pre-College program will be offered only through remote instruction in the summer of 2021. Please view the Online Academic Information section below to review the updated program overview, curriculum, and requirements for our online Pre-College Music program.

Online Academic Information:

 The Music online program provides high school musicians the opportunity to continue learning and furthering their skills while staying safe and healthy. Study with our Pre-College faculty, learn how to navigate the college audition process, and connect with other young musicians over a 3 or 6 week program.

Students participate in private 1-hr weekly studio lessons, Music Theory, Solfege, Music History Seminar, Music Resume & Portfolio Workshop, Convocation, and an Instrument-specific Group Workshop. Courses meet online on MWF after 12:00pm EDT (9:00am PDT).



  • U.S. Location. The Program is available only to individuals in the United States. Students are required to be physically located in the United States at all times when accessing Program courses and/or activities.
  • Students participating in the instrument track will need access to an instrument.
  • All students should have headphones for their computer, ideally with a microphone.



Pre-College Music gives high school students the opportunity to improve as a musician and learn about life in a conservatory-style college curriculum.

Throughout Pre-College Music, students gain valuable experiences; by being immersed in a conservatory style curriculum and in preparing for college auditions, while experiencing what life is like within an internationally-recognized, research university. The program includes six weeks of lessons and coaching. In the typical in-person model, Pre-College Music very closely mirrors the first six weeks of the undergraduate first-year curriculum - students take the same coursework, with the same schedule, classrooms, faculty and program rigor as first-year undergraduates.


The Pre-College Music curriculum is comprised of private studio lessons, major performing ensembles and music support courses. Additionally, students are encouraged to take advantage of the many minor studios and electives offered every summer. Acceptance into each course is contingent on demonstrated performance level either by the audition recording or on submitted compositions.


Instrumental Performance

Students majoring in Instrumental Performance participate in classes and music experiences designed to develop them into well-rounded musicians. Instrumental Performance Majors receive a private studio lesson each week and participate in seminars to explore concepts and techniques of performance and to discuss topics relevant to their concentration. (Chamber Music Seminar, Woodwind Seminar, Brass Seminar, Piano Seminar, String Seminar)

Vocal Performance

The Vocal Performance Major has a rich curriculum of performance and music support opportunities. Voice majors receive a one hour private studio lesson and an additional half-hour private vocal coaching session (with a professional accompanist) each week through the summer, where they work on technique and the preparation and presentation of classical repertoire. Voice majors also take the Acting/Monologue Workshop, and learn the basics of acting necessary for voice majors. Structured improvisations, monologues, scene work, songs, and arias will provide a platform for the development of stage presence and effective communication.


Composition Majors receive a private studio lesson each week and explore several areas of music composition including theory, orchestration and electronic music, both in classes and in individual instruction. All summer composition majors meet in Composers’ Forum to hear lectures, participate in discussion, and present student works or works-in-progress.

Music Technology / Electronic Music

Music Technology / Electronic Music Majors take private studio lessons focused on recording techniques, sound synthesis, and/or other skills related to their specific interests and goals. All majors meet in the Music Tech Forum to hear lectures, participate in discussion, and present student works or works-in-progress.

Students may major in the following areas:

Bagpipe Bassoon Cello Clarinet Composition Double Bass
Euphonium Flute Guitar Harp Horn Jazz Piano
Music Technology Oboe Percussion Piano Saxophone Trombone
Trumpet Tuba Viola Violin Voice

Program requirements of all students:

  • Private Studio
  • Music Theory
  • Solfège (Sight-Singing)
  • Music History Seminar
  • Music Resume and Portfolio Workshop
  • Convocation (Talks with faculty and Q&A sessions with current college students.)


To be eligible for the Pre-College Music program students must: 

  • Be at least 16 years old by the program start date (to participate in the residential program).
  • Be a current sophomore or junior in high school.
  • Have a strong interest in music.

Application Requirements

The complete application for the Pre-College Music program consists of the following:

  • Completed Online Application
  • Unofficial Transcript
  • Standardized Test Scores (optional)
  • One Letter of Recommendation
  • Response to the following essay prompt (300-500 words):
    • What do you hope to gain from participating in the Carnegie Mellon Pre-College program?
  •  Submission of the audition requirements listed below. 
    • Instrumental and vocal performance majors should submit recordings of 2-3 contrasting pieces that demonstrate their musical and technical level of achievement. (Vocalists please note that the School of Music Pre-College program focuses mainly on classical repertoire, rather than musical theater.)

    • Composition majors should submit 2-3 manuscripts of original compositions showing their range in genre, training, and ability. If possible, include an audio recording of each of the submitted compositions. (An electronically generated recording is acceptable.)

    • Music Technology majors should submit a portfolio containing samples of their creative work. This may include audio recordings of performances or compositions that you engineered, video recordings of performances or compositions that you produced or edited, and/or screenshots of your software or other creative work. If this is not possible, please provide a written statement that outlines your specific interests and experience with music technology.

Frequently Asked Questions

"Work in progress" is most relevant for instrumentalists who might spend months working on a new piece. Vocalists should arrive with a polished song or two and expect to be given a number of new selections over the course of the Pre-College Music experience.

In the regular in-person model, you should arrive with an example of your best playing to present to the directors of the different ensembles. We are asking for these auditions for placement purposes only. This is not a "get-admitted-into-the-conservatory" audition. The attitude is casual and relaxed. There are not any repertoire requirements for these auditions. Think, "example of my best playing." An excerpt of a movement or an etude would be good options. This question is not applicable for online Pre-College 2021. We expect these auditions to resume with the residential program in 2022.

In the regular in-person model, all music students participate in mandatory end-of-summer conservatory auditions. The audition experience is a valuable component of the summer, allowing the individual student the opportunity to go through the paces of a conservatory audition. At the end of the summer program, every student will receive written comments from their private studio, coursework, and advice for future development in the profession. Your summer Pre-College Private Studio faculty will prepare you for the audition experience. As a result of these mock auditions, exceptional students may have their Carnegie Mellon pre-screening auditions waived or be accepted into the School of Music outright. (Note that these students must still be accepted by the university.) This question is not applicable for online Pre-College 2021. We expect these auditions to resume with the residential program in 2022.

Pre-College Music is happy to include students from other programs into our classes and ensembles.

The first concern is scheduling. Most students from other programs do not have the room in their schedule to take other courses, so you should first compare the music schedule and your own program schedule. Private lessons and chamber music are scheduled individually, so they are realistic options for most non-music majors. Placement auditions would be required for orchestra, wind ensemble and chamber music. Elective fees will apply in all of these options. 

 NOTE: Musical Theater students typically prefer Private Singing Lesson options within the Pre-College Drama program, since Private Voice Lessons with Pre-College Music focus on classical repertoire.

The Pre-College Music faculty is made up of professors, conductors, instructors and staff from its world-class conservatory program. Additional friends and alumni are brought in to complete our summer faculty. For specific faculty information, view our faculty listing here.

Yes. Please visit the School of Music website and click on "Part-Time Commuter” for information. This question is not applicable for online Pre-College 2021. We expect the Part-Time Commuter option to resume with the residential program in 2022.

Possibly. This is considered on an individual basis. If he/she is playing his/her instrument at a high school level AND is living close enough to commute AND is mature enough to succeed in this environment, it's possible that he/she could be accepted as a Part-Time Commuter. It's not possible for him/her to attend as a resident student or as a Full-Time student. Please visit the School of Music website for information. This question is not applicable for online Pre-College 2021. We expect the Part-Time Commuter option to resume with the residential program in 2022.

No. Only students with a Greater Pittsburgh area permanent address can register for the Part-Time Commuter option. Out of town students need to register as a Full-Time resident. This question is not applicable for online Pre-College 2021. We expect the Part-Time Commuter option to resume with the residential program in 2022.