North Central College - Naperville, IL

Frequently Asked Questions

General Music Questions
Music Education

Private Lessons

I want to major in performance—is that an option?
At North Central College, your path would be to major in Music (liberal arts track). In addition to a broad base of music coursework in theory, musicianship, history and literature, you'll take four years of lessons and ensembles, give junior and senior recitals and participate in a number of performance-based experiences such as chamber music, master classes, and honors recitals, which will develop your performance ability and prepare you for auditions or graduate school.

How many students are music majors?
We have about 100 music majors—approx. 60 Music Ed, 15 Jazz Studies and 25 in music (liberal arts track).

Can I proficiency out of theory if I took it in high school?

Yes, the music department will consider AP credit for the first term of the theory/musicianship sequence; but in many cases, you may want to take the whole theory sequence to ensure you'll be ready for the upper-level classes.

Do I have to play piano to be a music major?
 All music majors study private piano and must pass a piano proficiency exam. Your lessons are tailored to your experience and ability level as an entering student, and your teacher will work with you to where you need to be for the proficiency and for your future goals.

Can I study music composition and/or electronic music?
Yes, we offer private composition study as well as classes in electronic and computer music.

What kind of facilities do you have?
We use five facilities:

*The Fine Arts Center, a state-of-the-art facility, constructed in 2008, houses the 600-seat state-of-the-art Wentz Concert Hall, professional art gallery, theatre spaces and music rehearsal and classroom facilities.

How many practice rooms do you have?
We have several spaces in the Fine Arts Center, many equipped with grand pianos, and additional practice spaces in Pfeiffer Hall

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Will I graduate with a Music Ed degree in four years?
YES!  Unlike many other colleges and universities, our students are completing their degree program, including student teaching, in four years.

Will I have to take summer classes to complete music ed in four years?
Many of our students do, just to lighten the load during the year. But if you have a carefully planned program from your freshman year, you should be able to complete it without summer study.

What is your job placement rate for Music Education (for music teachers)?
Over the last 10 years, about 99%. Our students have landed jobs in some of the best schools in the area, such as Indian Prairie District #204, which includes Grammy Signature Schools, and includes Naperville, Schaumburg, Plainfield, Oswego, Paxton, Gibson City, Franklin Park, Chicago and some out of state schools in Colorado and Wisconsin.

Can I double major in Music Education and another area, just to increase my job options?
Double-majoring is possible, but will likely take you at least one additional term of study, if not more. Depending on the second major, some classes will overlap. You might consider majoring in Music Education and taking additional coursework in a second area, leading to an endorsement in that second area.  This would not require you to student teach in both and may take you less time overall.

I don’t play piano—can I still major in Music Ed?
Yes, you will be taking private piano lessons throughout your program to prepare you for your piano proficiency exam and success in the classroom and rehearsal. In the meantime, it is a great idea to take some lessons or work with a computer program to get started.

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Can I get more than one music scholarship?
 Yes, you can audition for and receive scholarships in Concert Choir, Women’s Chorale, Concert Winds, Jazz, Strings, and Music Education. However, you will want to be sure you have enough time to adequately prepare for the lessons and ensemble requirements associated with each scholarship. Keep in mind that you can participate in a number of performance opportunities without receiving scholarships in every area. Balance here is key!

What do I have to do once I receive a scholarship?
Each music scholarship has its own unique requirements but, generally speaking, they involve performing in that ensemble and taking private lessons, maintaining exemplary attendance and performance.

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Do I have to send my music for my voice audition ahead of time?
No, just bring it with you.

Do I need to bring an accompanist?
No, one will be provided.

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Can I continue to study with my current private teacher if I get a scholarship?
The scholarship requires you to study with our faculty while you're in the program.

How much do lessons cost? 
Because lessons are taken for academic credit, they are figured into your full-time load of 8-12 credits per term, just like any other college class. There is a fee of $100 per term for weekly half-hour lessons ($200 for weekly hour-long lessons).

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How many ensembles do you have?
We have more than 18 choral, instrumental and jazz ensembles:


  • Concert Choir
  • Women’s Chorale
  • Cardinal Chorus
  • Chamber Singers
  • Naperville Chorus
  • Opera Workshop
  • Concert Winds
  • Chamber Winds
  • String Ensemble
  • Percussion Ensemble
  • Flute Choir
  • Saxophone Quartet
  • Big Band
  • Vocal Jazz Ensemble
  • Jazz Combos and Chamber Jazz groups


When do we audition for these ensembles?
Auditions for the large ensembles (Women’s Chorale, Concert Choir, Cardinal Chorus, String Ensemble, Concert Winds and the Jazz Studies program) take place during Audition Days; even if you do not think you want to audition for a scholarship, attend the Audition Days program to secure a place in the ensemble. Music majors must participate in the Audition Days program. Smaller ensembles, such as Show Choir and Jazz Combos, are organized in the fall. Signs will be posted on campus with information about auditions prior to the start of fall term.

Can I be in more than one ensemble?
Many of our students are in multiple ensembles. We do, however, encourage you to allow enough time in your schedule for practicing, clinical experiences, and academics so you're able to manage your time and energies well.

Do your ensembles go on tour?
Each ensemble has its own unique design for the concert season. Some tour, others do “high profile” performances in the Chicago area, while others host professional musicians as part of their performing experiences.  The Women's Chorale toured France, Germany, and Austria in 2009 and Ireland in 2012.  Concert Choir performed in Italy in 2011 and regularly tours throughout the United States.  The Concert Winds annually travels to various Midwest sites for a performing tour.

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Does North Central College have an orchestra?
We have an active and growing String Ensemble of approximately 24 players, which performs several times during the year. We also have opportunities for string players to play in the pit orchestra for the musicals, the orchestra for Naperville Chorus performances, and for other events throughout the year.

Can I take violin lessons (or cello, viola, bass)?

Yes, we have private teachers for string instruments.

Can I major in Music Education if I am a string player?
Music ed majors choose either a choral or instrumental track for their studies. Choral track majors will be placed in choral and general music settings for their teaching experiences; instrumental majors will be placed in band and general music settings for their teaching experiences. String players must choose one of these tracks and develop enough proficiency in either area to be successful in their teaching. However, we will work with you to find some additional teaching opportunities in string settings.

Revised August 2014

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