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SAQ: General Music Minor/Performance Minor/Orchestra/Music Service!

Posted by on Sunday, June 18, 2017 in Academics, Art, Blair School of Music, College Life, College of Arts and Science, Commons, Extracurriculars, Freshman Life, Music, Nashville, Student Life, Student Organizations, Student Organizations.

Dear Sophie,

Could you tell me about taking orchestra at Vanderbilt, how to audition for a music performance or general music minor, and any music service groups available? Basically everything :)



From what I remember, I signed up for “MUSE 1010” in the YES system when we registered for classes. Then, the excerpts are automatically uploaded to Blackboard. You will have access to both YES ( and Blackboard ( through your VU Net ID and password, which I think you will have instructions from Vanderbilt before class registration on how to generate. Also, Vanderbilt might be using a different platform this year for Blackboard, but your counselor will tell you what they’re using (and I’m sure that every student will get multiple emails soon about it if we are). That’s just a rumor that I’ve been hearing, but if  not, then Blackboard will be it.

I can’t remember if we had to play part of the piece we were working on or not, but I would have something prepared– whatever concerto you’re working on at the moment. Also, probably have two scales, both major and minor (though again, I can’t really remember if we had to do this, as it was two years ago that I auditioned). I’m not sure if they reject anyone or not, but really quickly after, the seating order is posted.

The Blair orchestra will be have a fair amount of performance majors, maybe a majority, because they have to play all or most semesters that they’re in Blair (or some kind of other ensemble). It can be a really good way to meet other freshmen who are in Blair, and start to become part of that community if you’re planning on doing more things with Blair in the future (auditioning for a second major, performance minor, or general music minor), or just want to know the people you’re seeing around in the practice rooms. The other people in it will probably be performance/general music minors. It’s 1.5 hours three times a week, and if it’s still at the same time, it’s 3:30-5 PM Monday, Wednesday, Friday (MWF) at Blair. You’ll probably be coming from Commons or main campus, so just know that it will be about a 20-minute walk from wherever you’re coming from. They play normal stuff for college orchestras to play, all the fancy things, and it’s a definitely a good experience if you want to build up your orchestra repertoire.


If you want something that’s less of a time commitment and more chill, Vanderbilt Commodore Orchestra (VCO) can also be an option. I think that rehearsal is only once a week, for about 1.5 or two hours (not sure), and they have one concert a semester. From what I know of it, they have a pretty great community, and while some people who are doing minors/majors play in this just for fun (it doesn’t count as credit), it’s mostly people who just want to be in an orchestra but don’t want the time commitment and/or rigor of the Blair orchestra. If you want to know more, I’d contact Deepa at, since she’s been concertmaster for at least the past year. You can check out the Facebook page here:


Other things that are interesting at Blair:

  • Harmonies for the Elderly: small ensembles that play at nursing homes and retirement communities once a month, usually for a 3-hour commitment total on Saturdays. I love this org and have been part of an ensemble for the past two years. The contact for this is a really sweet girl, Deepa, at You can also check out the Facebook Page here:
  • W.O. Smith Music School: If you want to teach a child to play violin (usually 9-13 range), you can do so for 30 minutes a week, max an hour with two students. They have a shuttle which will drive you from campus to the nearby school and total it’s about a 2-hour commitment once a week. I’ve also done this for the past two years and really enjoyed it. Lynn can tell you more about it if you’re interested at You can also check out the website here:
  • Lyrical Movements: So, Harmonies for the Elderly is to bring Music to people who have Alzheimer’s in order to stimulate memories by playing for them. Lyrical Movements has a lot of the Harmonies’s board involved, and it’s something similar, bringing music to kids who need music therapy in some way. If you want to know more I would also contact Deepa, because she’s on the board for LM as well. Also, the Facebook page is here:
  • Those are the main opportunities, but you’ll get to know of more when you’re actually there just by paying attention to the bulletin boards and talking with people


I hope that answers your questions about orchestra. I’ll also give you some info on the performance minor and general music minor if you need it:


Starting out: You sign up for violin lessons at the beginning of the year (Just type “Violin” into YES). You’ll see some sort of thing that says TBA because you haven’t auditioned for a particular teacher yet. Then, you can email Michael Hime, who’s the adviser for minors and second majors at He’ll tell you about the process for auditioning for a teacher and pursuing a second major or minor. Then, it’s roughly $2000 for lessons the first semester, if you’re taking them an hour a week., and 1000 per 30 minute lessons (I know, super expensive. There might be financial aid available; I’d email Professor Hime). An hour of lessons is 2 hours in class credit, but keep in mind that you’ll need to practice 8-10 hours a week.


At the end of your first semester and not before, you can audition for a performance or general music minor, or both. You can check out the requirements here:


  • General Music:
  • Performance:


You’ll probably play in Turner Music Hall in front of most of the members of the instrumental department that you’re auditioning for. For the performance minor, this last December, I played the Wieniawski Violin Concerto and something from Bach, as well as two scales. The December before that I played the Bruch concerto (I think) and something from Bach, for the GM minor. Your auditions don’t have to be a year apart, they can be a semester apart if you get the GM minor, work really hard, and reaudition. You just check the option on the sheet. You can find how these differ just by googling “Violin Performance Minor Vanderbilt” or “General Music Minor Vanderbilt.” The main difference is that it’s about two (I think) more classes if you take the GM minor and something like 7 more hours of lessons if you take the performance minor.


Let me know if you have questions on any of this or anything else! You can check out the rest of my blogs by clicking “Sophia Druffner” at the top. If you’re thinking about pursuing the (sort of) Blair life, check out this post:


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