Certificate in Music Performance

Students in the Certificate Program

have often gained entrance to top conservatories and have gone on to successful performing careers. For others, the program has served as a way to reach the highest level of musical excellence and fulfillment for its own reward fostering alumni that include physicians, engineers, lawyers, scientists, architects and academics. All students of this program form a community bound by a shared commitment to music performance, who continue to live rich musical lives through a variety of forms.

The two-year Program is open to rising juniors who can demonstrate in an audition a high level of proficiency in a performance medium such as an orchestral instrument, piano, electronic media, voice (either solo or consort singing), or jazz. 

The program provides a wide range of resources for its students: Financial assistance for summer performance study and collaborative projects; professionally engineered recording studio time; a huge diversity of performance classes taught by world class faculty and musicians-in-residence; and frequent master classes with some of the world’s great performers. In the last few years these have included pianists Emanuel Ax and Lang Lang, violinists David Kim and Ani Kavafian, clarinetist David Shifrin, trumpeter Chris Gekker, singers Joyce DiDonato and Thomas Hampson, and jazz artists Terence Blanchard and Phil Woods

Certificate Requirements
The four requirements for successful completion of the Certificate in Performance are completion of six required courses, participating in one of the Music Department’s main ensembles, taking private lessons on an instrument, and performing a senior recital.
Required Courses
Music Staff
  • 2 Music Theory Courses: Completion (or placing out of) MUS 105 & 106
  • 2 Performance Courses
  • 2 other Music Department Courses: Selected from those that satisfy the Music Major.

For a complete list of current courses, please click here

Required Departmental Ensemble Participation
Princeton University Department of Music

includes being a part of either the Princeton University Glee Club, the Princeton University Orchestra, or one of the Princeton University Jazz Ensembles. For further information about these groups, please click here. Pianists who are not a part of these groups should pursue chamber music and accompaniment projects. 

Senior Recital

A recital must be performed in the senior year for completion of the Certificate. For more information on recital procedures and requirements, please see this document

Studio Lessons

in the major instrument are free and required for all students enrolled in the program, and can be taken for academic credit. For further information, please click here

New Certificate Option for Singers:

Focus on Consort Singing

While solo singers spend their time developing their personal technique and performance craft, consort singers work within a group to create and hone a distinctive, colorful and beautiful ensemble sound. This Certificate serves singers who love small ensemble music-making, and who show some proficiency in, and eagerness to develop, the particular skills it requires: melding one’s sound with that of a colleague or colleagues; using the body and the breath as a communication tool; and discerning and responding to specific musical cues which are not conducted. 

Applying to the Certificate Program

Admission to the Program in Performance is by live audition at the end of the sophomore year, for a panel of ensemble directors. Audition sign-up sheets are posted on the bulletin boards on the first floor of Woolworth when the audition date is announced online, by email, and by flyer.

Audition Requirements:

  • PIANO & ORCHESTRAL INSTRUMENTS: one movement from a standard sonata or concerto, showing an element of contrast.
  • SINGERS: two selections from standard opera arias or songs - one in Italian, and the other in French or German.
  • All classical performers must bring a brief musical CV and repertoire list, signed by their studio instructor, covering their freshman and sophomore years. 
  • JAZZ: two selections of contrasting style that demonstrate awareness of the jazz tradition and the ability to improvise.  Repertoire selection is open across jazz genres, including Afro-Latin and Brazilian pieces.  Musicians should be prepared to improvise over several choruses with their own ensemble accompaniment.