The Top Extracurricular Activities for High Schoolers Pursuing Music

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

View of two students playing guitar.

The Top Extracurricular Activities for High Schoolers Pursuing Music

For the majority of high school students, part of the plan when it comes to applying to and enrolling in an undergraduate program is to figure out what it is that they want to pursue as a major and career going forward in their life. best extracurriculars for students who want to study music

However, some lucky students, are able to identify and pursue their true passions very early in life. Though these kinds of students are rather rare, it is somewhat common for these students to be heavily passionate about pursuing a career in entertainment or the arts.

We’re talking about young people who know in their hearts that they want to become the next great actor or actress, painter, writer or musician. If music is your passion, you are probably already looking into some of the top undergraduate programs and conservatories for students who are interested in pursuing a career in music.

At AdmissionSight, we make it our top priority to help our students get into the schools of their dreams, and while some of the most prestigious music programs are actually not at Ivy League programs, the acceptance rates at these music programs are often just as competitive. No matter where our students dream of getting into, we make sure to offer them the tools and strategies that they need to improve their odds as much as possible when it comes to getting into some of the most competitive schools in the world.

View of a music teacher talking to a student.

We let the results speak for themselves, and approximately 75.0 percent of the students that we have worked with have gone on to get into an Ivy League school or top 10 program that isn’t part of the Ivies.

Though the process of applying to, and getting into, music programs is somewhat different than applying to a purely academic program, the basic requirements that students face are essentially the same.

One of those requirements is – without a doubt – impressive extracurriculars related to music. But what are the best extracurriculars for students who want to study music? If you find yourself asking that question along with questions like what’s the point of extracurricular activities, or can extracurriculars increase your chances of getting admitted to college, then you have absolutely come to the right place!

If you want to know about the best music-related extracurricular activities, or simply want to learn more about why extracurriculars are so important to the college application process in general, then simply keep reading this blog, because you will know the answers to all that and more by the time we’re finished! So, without further delay, let’s get started.

What’s the point of extracurricular activities?

Before we get into the best extracurriculars for students who want to study music, we wanted to first answer some important questions about extracurriculars in general for high school students no matter what their primary passions or academic interests are.

The simple truth is that extracurriculars are known to play an incredibly important role in any student’s ability to get into their top schools. Can extracurriculars increase your chances of getting admitted to college? We’ll do you know better than that. Extracurriculars are practically required if you want a real chance of getting into any kind of competitive undergraduate school. Extracurriculars are actually one of the single-most important aspects of any student’s application resume and account for approximately 30.0 percent of a student’s total application!

View of students playing a guitar while sitting on the bench.

In fact, that number could be even more inflated now considering the fact that the standardized tests – the SAT and ACT – are no longer required aspects of applications to a huge number of schools across the country. For that reason, admissions officers at those schools depend on the other aspects of a student’s application resume even more.

However, just because you know that extracurriculars are important does not mean that you now know precisely why they are important. So, let’s go over some of the key bullet points when it comes to their importance and what admissions officers are really looking for.

  • Extracurriculars give students the chance to pursue their passions: This is important for students no matter what their specific passions are, but it is especially important if that passion is also what that student wants to ultimately pursue as a career, such as music. Whether a student’s passions lie in typical academic subjects, like science or math, or lie in things like music or theater, extracurriculars offer them the chances to pursue them further and become more talented than they already are!
  • Extracurriculars let students demonstrate their specialty: If you are interested in applying to an undergraduate music program or conservatory, you are going to make sure that you are spending a lot of your high school years demonstrating your specialty as a musician, whatever your preferred type of music is. While you are very obviously going to be involved in the music options that your high school provides, you would also be wise to spend time outside of school improving as a musician and demonstrating what sets you apart from the other musicians in your school, state, region and beyond.
  • Extracurriculars give students the chance to lead their peers: When it comes to what schools and admissions officers look for in students’ application resumes, the actual extracurriculars themselves often matter far less than how the students behave within those activities. And when we say behave, we mean lead. Leadership qualities and the ability to take initiative are two things that admissions officers at all types of schools and conservatories look for when analyzing a student’s application resume. The reason for this is because admissions officers are just as concerned with how a student will fit into their school’s cultural and community lifestyle as they are concerned with how a student will fit into the school’s academic culture. Students who are not afraid to take initiative, work with their peers and lead their peers are the students that are most likely to have lasting and positive impacts on the campus community.
  • Extracurriculars give students an outlet outside of the classroom: This goes for extracurricular activities that are both related or unrelated to your academic pursuits. Since we are focused primarily on music extracurriculars in this blog, let’s talk about how this works. Basically, any student that is interested in music is going to take music classes in school and try to hone their craft in school, but that is far from enough. Students who love music enough to want to pursue it as a major in their undergraduate education and a career after that are going to feel compelled to use music as an outlet and release. For that reason, taking advantage of the time that they have out of the classroom to improve their skill level and express themselves through music is a near requirement. That is especially true if the music that a student gravitates towards most is one that is not commonly covered in a high school curriculum. For students that feel this passionately about music, there is no doubt that finding out about some of the best extracurriculars for students who want to study music is a great thing to focus on!

How many extracurricular activities should a high school student have?

So now that you know the answer to the question, “What’s the point of extracurricular activities?” you might be curious about how many extracurricular activities students should have on their high school resume.

There are some that believe that what admissions officers want to see most is a well-rounded student that has a lot of different interests that they have committed their time and energy to. However, the truth is that admissions officers are typically more looking for students who have identified what it is that they are passionate about and have deeply invested in those interests.

Group of students huddled together while listening to an instructor.

Typically, it is advised that students invest in somewhere between three and five extracurricular activities during the year and then another handful during their summer months in the form of summer programs or activities. In all, there should be a high level of consistency from one school year to the next, signifying that you are keeping up with your primary interests.

Keep in mind that if you start sensing your passions change, you should feel free to change your extracurricular activities to match your changing interests. Remember, these activities are primarily for you and your growth, and you should not be basing your life decisions on how you think an admissions officer at a college or university may perceive it!

The best extracurriculars for students who want to study music

Now that we have finally gotten past some of the most basic information regarding extracurriculars, we wanted to turn this AdmissionSight blog over to focus more specifically on students who are interested in studying music once they get to undergrad.

Unidentified person using a music sheet to answer.

Before we go further, it is really important to keep in mind that for students who are interested in enrolling in a music program at a college or university or a music conservatory are going to have to have their music pre-screened and, very likely, auditioned in person in order to gain admission. At these types of programs, a student’s academics, extracurriculars, personal essays, letters of recommendation and more are going to be strongly considered, but a student’s pre-screens as well as their auditions are going to factor really highly in a student’s chances to get in.

When it comes to what the best summer programs for undergraduate students, here are the schools that high school students tend to target:

  • Jacobs Schools of Music at Indiana University, Bloomington
  • Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University
  • Schools of Music, Theater and dance at University of Michigan
  • Yale University
  • Eastman School of Music at University of Rochester
  • Thornton School of Music at University of Southern California
  • Oberlin Conservatory of Music at Oberlin College
  • Frost Schools of Music at University of Miami
  • Curtis Institute of Music
  • Berklee School of Music
  • The Juilliard School
  • Scan Francisco Conservatory of Music
  • Cleveland Institute of Music
  • New England Conservatory
  • Manhattan School of Music

With that list out of the way, let’s look at some of the best extracurriculars for students who want to study music. It’s important to know that during the school year, there are going to be a lot of extracurriculars that you can join that will be a part of your school. Others, you will have to seek outside of your school’s walls.

  • A Capella Club/Glee Club
  • Chamber Orchestra
  • Chorus
  • Concert Band
  • Drumline
  • Guitar Club
  • Jazz Ensemble
  • Marching Band
  • Mariachi Club
  • Music Composition Club
  • Music Production Club
  • Pep Band
  • Percussion Ensemble
  • Piano Club
  • Pit Orchestra
  • String Ensemble
  • Start a band

Beyond these great groups and clubs that you can get involved in, there are also a lot of wonderful summer programs that students who are interested in music can apply to and enroll in during the summer months. Taking advantage of summer vacation during high school to expand your passions and dive deeper in your interests is a fantastic choice for all high school students.

  • Rafael Mendez Virtual Brass Institute – This program offers students an incredible opportunity to learn more about the business of music from renowned brass artists.
  • Morse Summer Music Academy – This is another fantastic online program that is open to students grade 3 through grade 12 and is run by Yale University’s School of Music. Academy runs four weeks of interactive classes in string, percussion, guitar, string, and brass instruments. Singing, wellness, music theory, and music composition.
  • National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America – This is widely considered to be one of the most prestigious summer music programs in the United States, and for good reason! Students between the ages of 16 and 19 get the chance to perform and study music with the top orchestra in the country. To make matters even more exciting, this incredibly prestigious program is completely free, with tuition, room and board and all incidentals are covered.
  • Vocal Arts at Depauw – Virtual Camp – This camp offers guest workshops as well as master classes with a number of different subjects that students can take part in, including: Voice faculty master classes ,Technology courses, Character coachings, Panel discussions, Repertoire classes, The Quince Workshop
  • Music Production Workshop – If you are interested in learning how professional musical recordings are actually recorded, produced and printed from start to finish, then this summer program could be the perfect option for you. Students get to choose between tracks for songwriters, instrumental music, computer music and more. Students get to perform the music they work on during the final day of the summer program.
  • University of Miami Frost Young Musicians’ Camp – As you may have noticed by now, a number of the top music programs in the country are behind several of the summer programs that we have already covered. The summer programs offered to students includes: Classical, Jazz, Rock, Vocal Performance, Music Production Essentials, Honors Jazz Program and the Frost Summer Institute of Contemporary Songwriting.
  • Boston Conservatory at Berklee – High School Composition Intensive – Another one of the best extracurriculars for students who want to study music is offered by one of the best music programs in the world. This two-week intensive program that teaches music composition to students aged 15 and 18 get to take part in individualized lessons from the award-winning faculty. Classes cover the essentials of composition, including niche writing, rehearsal, and communication skills. By the end of the program, students will get the chance to develop a portfolio of three works of their own.
  • Interlochen Arts Camp – This is another incredibly popular summer program for students that are not only interested in musical arts, but all of the arts. Students can enroll in courses and programs that can last up to six weeks. Each intensive features world-renowned artists and personalized master classes, workshops, and practice opportunities.

AdmissionSight can help you choose extracurriculars

When it comes to pursuing a degree and career in music, students need to be sure that they are doing the necessary work in high school to set themselves up for success. Music is a highly competitive area of academic study, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. If you are interested in pursuing your love for music, starting to take it seriously in high school is a must.

The same, however, can be said for students no matter what their passions are. The truth is that using your extracurriculars to learn more and get better at what interests you is going to look fantastic on your application profile no matter where you end up deciding to apply to university. If you are interested in learning more about extracurriculars and how they can have a major impact on your admissions journey, contact us at AdmissionSight today.



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