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Why Major in Commercial Music?
The meteoric rise of digital media has dramatically expanded career opportunities in the music industry. Everything from movies to video games to advertising needs a soundtrack, boosting demand for studio musicians, composers, arrangers and managers.
And there’s no better place than Belmont to prepare for a career in this growing industry. Our state-of-the-art studios in the heart of Nashville’s legendary Music Row give you access to some of the industry’s top performers, record companies and producers.
Our program – the first of its kind in the nation – builds on a strong foundation of classical music, jazz and blues to equip you for a career in any genre. Whether your passion is bluegrass, pop, R&B, rock, gospel or Christian contemporary, you’ll prepare to thrive on stage or in the studio.
What You'll Learn
As a commercial music student at Belmont, you'll get a thorough grounding in the building blocks of music, including theory, aural skills and the history of music. You'll learn the fundamentals of music business and audio engineering and explore topics such as digital musicianship.
You'll also have the flexibility to pursue your passions. You’ll choose an area of emphasis from five options:
Prepare for a career on stage, on the road or in the studio concentrating on any genre, including country, pop, contemporary Christian, Jazz, Bluegrass and more. The performance emphasis gives you the chance to study with established musicians in the studio and beyond. You'll study theory, ear training, harmony, ensemble orchestration, applied lessons, studio techniques and piano. You'll also have many opportunities to perform, including both a junior and senior recital in Massey Concert Hall.
*Performance emphasis must be confirmed by the applied faculty in the performance area after the student completes their first commercial jury at the end of the fourth semester.
Composition and Arranging
This program prepares you to write and arrange music for orchestras, choirs, bands and other music organizations as well as for films, TV, gaming and much more. In this emphasis, you'll build skills in commercial arranging and orchestration for small and large ensembles. Many of our graduates have become influential composers and arrangers for the music industry in Nashville and beyond.
*Composition and Arranging emphasis must be confirmed after submission and approval of required material—typically by mid-term of the second semester.
This emphasis leads to careers in tour promotion and management, publishing, copyright, artist development/A&R and much more. Graduate with a well-rounded understanding of the music industry and the capabilities of a performing musician. In addition to core music courses such as applied lessons, music theory and ear training, you'll take courses in entertainment industry studies and the business of music.
Create original lyrics, instrumental accompaniment and often demo recordings. You’ll learn from award-winning Nashville songwriters and prepare for a dynamic career as a singer-songwriter. This emphasis includes courses in commercial songwriting and lyric writing. Songwriting students become top-notch songwriters in a variety of genres, including pop, rock, country, folk and R&B. The degree culminates in a recital in Massey Concert Hall.
After admission as a Commercial Music Major, you must submit songwriting materials for approval to be accepted in the Songwriting Emphasis program. Learn more about the songwriting application process.
The use of the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) and “cloud-based” music libraries has opened many new possibilities for music professionals, including sound technician, producer, audio-visual specialist and more. Explore a rapidly changing discipline with massive career potential. In this emphasis, you'll gain a broad knowledge of audio and MIDI-based programming and a portfolio of self-produced Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)-based productions. As a culminating project, you'll incorporate sequenced tracks into your senior recital.
Whichever option you choose, you'll build the skills you need to take your career to the next level.
Whether you’re planning a career on the stage or behind the scenes, a commercial music major from Belmont opens the door to exciting opportunities in the music industry. Our graduates go on to careers in every aspect of the business. Depending on the emphasis you choose, you'll be ready for careers such as:
- Tour Manager
- Tour Promotion
- Artist Developer
- Music Composer
- Sound Technician
- Audio Visual Specialist
- Much more!
Rayvon Owen, Class of 2013
"I’m always taking Belmont with me wherever I go and in whatever I do. Everything I learned here has prepared me for everything that has happened in my life, being able to perform in front of millions of people all around the world. That's why we come to Belmont, literally, so we can be able to make music.”
The major in commercial music requires 132 credit hours of coursework. This includes private lessons and seminars on your principal instrument and one-credit courses that focus on the music, technique and topics related to your instrument or musical style.
- BELL core requirements: 38 hours
- Music core: 31 hours
- Major area: 13 hours
- Emphasis area: 40 hours
- General electives: 10 hours
Ensembles & Performance Opportunities
Belmont University's School of Music has a variety of ensembles that showcase the School of Music's incredible musical diversity. From classical chamber groups to popular music ensembles, students have access to many performance opportunities that support the development of their craft.
The Belmont University School of Music is a fully accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM).
All programs in the School of Music require an audition. The audition determines admission into the School of Music, which is separate from the University's admission decision.
After submitting the Application for Undergraduate Admission, applicants to the School of Music will receive an email prompting them to complete the Undergraduate School of Music Audition Registration Form in their BU4U account. They will choose their intended in-person audition date or the video audition option.
The School of Music does not prescreen for any of its programs.
You will be automatically considered for a School of Music talent-based scholarship when you audition. If you are chosen for a scholarship, you will receive an award letter.
With our International Exchange program, students in the School of Music can spend up to two semesters at any of the following schools:
- University of Manchester - Manchester, England
- Russian Academy of Music (Gnesins School) - Moscow, Russia
- Hochschule fur Musik - Dresden, Germany
- Edinburgh Napier University/Arcadia University - Salzburg, Austria
- Music Academy/Scottish Royal Conservatory - Glasgow, Scotland
School of Music students are given extraordinary opportunities to study in a normally competitively-limited audition atmosphere. Credit gained through these programs varies, depending on the international program undertaken by the student and the length of the study abroad
These classes, held during May in locations abroad, are a wonderful opportunity to learn and engage in other cultures. These classes are presented in English by Belmont faculty. Maymesters led by music faculty have included:
- Baltic states, Czech Republic, Germany
For students wishing to remain stateside, the Belmont USA program offers semester-long programs in New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and other cities across the USA. These programs allow students to connect and learn in different environments across the USA.
For a complete listing of study away/abroad opportunities, please visit the Office of Study Abroad.
The following are national music organizations with active chapters at Belmont University:
The Epsilon Eta Chapter of Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society recognizes high academic achievement and superior musicianship.
Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia advances the cause of music in America. Membership is based on scholastic standing and is by invitation only to men interested in the development and furtherance of music.
Sigma Alpha Iota brings a bond of sisterhood and mutual interests with great artists, teachers, composers, and students of music throughout the world. Membership is by invitation and is based on scholarship and performance ability.
Belmont American Music Therapy Association for Students, or BAMTAS, is a student-led organization for music therapy majors.
The Student Chapter of the National Association for Music Education is dedicated to advancing the Profession of Teaching Music. Belmont University Collegiate NAfME members have the opportunity to attend monthly meetings related to their future profession, to attend a music education workshop during the spring semester, and to receive journals that enhance knowledge in their chosen field of study. The national NAfME organization also informs the public about the values of music education. NAfME sponsors a “Music in Our Schools” month and completes various public relations work. The association encourages music teachers to see their work as vital to the development of young children and motivates and encourages teachers to approach music education as something to which every child needs exposure. Dr. Deen Entsminger, Faculty Advisor
The American Choral Directors Association is a professional association of active choral directors and those interested in choral art.
Cody Fry ’12 Performs Sold-Out Show at Fisher Center
The Grammy-nominated arranger performed a one-time-only show featuring a 60-piece symphony orchestra, live band and special guests including Ben Rector, Scott Mulvahill and Cory Wong.