Bachelor of Music (BM) in Performance

The Performance program is offered in eight areas: Strings, Woodwinds, Brass, Percussion, Piano, Collaborative Piano, Organ, and Voice. Performance majors combine performance studies with courses in theory, musicology, pedagogy, and related music studies. Each student is assigned to a teacher with whom they study individually during their degree program. The Historical Performance program is available for those seeking instruction on period instruments or baroque style.

Learning Outcomes

All students graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree are expected to demonstrate:

  • A practical knowledge of basic music theory, musicianship, composition, and analytical skills.
  • An appropriate level of technical and interpretive performance skills.
  • A broad understanding of music history and cultures and associated repertories of music in a global context.
  • The ability to apply creative approaches to problem-solving and self-directed study.

Students graduating with a Bachelor of Music in Performance are additionally expected to demonstrate:

  • An appropriate level of pedagogical skills.
  • Evidence of an advanced level of technical proficiency and artistic judgment on their chosen instrument/voice, through a variety of solo, chamber music, large instrumental/choral ensemble, and operatic performances, as appropriate, over the course of their undergraduate career.

Undergraduate Curricula

General Degree Requirements

To attain the Bachelor of Music, each student must meet the following requirements:

  • Satisfactory completion of all courses in the chosen program of study, as prescribed by the School of Music
  • Completion of a minimum of 132 credits (please refer to the Boston University Residency Requirement policy)
  • Demonstration of proficiency in all technical and professional courses, including satisfactory recitals at the junior and senior levels (for performance majors) and a recital of original compositions (for composition majors)

The curriculum falls into four main categories: Musicianship, Applied Studies and Ensembles, Major Requirements, and BU Hub requirements. School of Music requirements can be found here.


Music Theory Sequence and Aural Skills

All undergraduate music majors must satisfy both the written music theory and aural skills requirement. Music theory consists of a six-semester sequence, while the aural skills sequence lasts four semesters. Entering undergraduate music majors may take placement examinations in both music theory and aural skills. Exams are given during the Summer Orientation and at the start of each semester. Based on the results of these placement exams, students may test out of some, but not all, of these courses. Music theory must be completed through Level 6 (CFA MT 302) and aural skills for four semesters and/or through Level 5 (CFA MT 311). School of Music students will not earn credit for CFA MT 105. Students may substitute other upper-level music theory courses for CFA MT 302 by petition, including CFA MT 411 or MT 472.

Group Piano

All undergraduate music majors, with the exception of piano performance majors, have a two-semester Group Piano requirement. A non-mandatory Keyboard Proficiency Exam is offered for students wishing to test out of this requirement.


All undergraduate music majors have a two-semester conducting requirement, with the exception of voice performance majors, whose requirement is one semester. An introductory course is required of all students, covering basic techniques, terminology, and transpositions. The second semester specializes in either instrumental or choral techniques. Students may petition to count CFA ME 330–1, 430–1, or 530–1 toward conducting requirements.

Music History

All undergraduate music majors are required to take four semesters of music history, consisting of MH 211–212, plus two music history electives from MH 403–480 At least one of these courses must be in ethnomusicology: MH 404, MH 409–411, MH 415, MH 420, MH 429, MH 431, MH 435–436, MH 480.

Applied Studies and Ensembles

Applied Lessons

All undergraduate music majors must study a major instrument for credit every semester in residence, up to a maximum of eight semesters. Instruction is offered in the following areas: flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, saxophone, horn, trumpet, trombone, euphonium, tuba, percussion, piano, organ, harp, voice, violin, viola, cello, and bass. Prescribed levels of proficiency are adjudicated through juries and recital permission hearings. For a student to receive credit for a semester of applied music study, a grade of C– or higher must be earned. Please see the General Applied Lesson Syllabus (on the CFA School of Music website) for detailed information.

Music Organization

All undergraduate music majors are required to perform in a music organization for credit every semester in residence, up to a maximum of eight semesters. Music education students are exempt from the music organization requirement during their semester of full-time practicum (student teaching).

BU Hub Requirements

All BU undergraduate students, including both entering first-year and transfer students, will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, the University’s general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements can be satisfied in a number of ways, including coursework in and beyond the major as well as through cocurricular activities. Students majoring in Performance will ordinarily, through coursework in the major, satisfy BU Hub requirements in Aesthetic Exploration, Historical Consciousness, Quantitative Reasoning, some of the Communication requirements, and many of the requirements in the Intellectual Toolkit. Remaining BU Hub requirements will be satisfied by selecting from a wide range of available courses outside the major or, in some cases, cocurricular experiences.

Major Requirements

Each major has a number of courses tailored specifically to that major. Students in the major take a combination of professional development courses, literature and pedagogy courses, and electives, as outlined in the Program of Study below. They enhance the general Musicianship components of the curriculum and form the body of major study around the BU Hub coursework.

Program of Study