Choral Music FAQ

Frequently asked questions about vocal music at Haverford and Bryn Mawr

Can I take private voice lessons for credit?

Yes, you can take private voice lessons for one-half graded credit per semester, either with one of the teachers who regularly teach on campus (mezzo soprano Suzanne DuPlantis, soprano Rebecca Whitlow, soprano Lisa Willson, or tenor Timothy Bentch) or with any teacher in the greater Philadelphia area into whose studio you can be accepted and whose credentials are approved by the music department.

Are voice lessons for credit covered by regular tuition?

Unfortunately, no. As with most smaller colleges, the size of the faculty is too limited to include private teachers for voice, piano, and orchestral instruments, so the student pays the teacher directly. However, a special alumni fund is available to help subsidize the cost of lessons. Lessons tend to run $50 per hour lesson, with 10 lessons per semester required to receive credit. Subsidies tend to run $250 per semester for students in Chamber Singers and $125 for students in Chorale.

Are there other opportunities to study vocal literature?

There is an Art Song Seminar (MUSCH219) taught each Spring semester for one half graded credit. In this class, singers learn the basics of German and French diction, the use of the International Phoenetic Alphabet (IPA), and a familiarity with the musical style of German lieder, French chanson, and art songs by American and British composers.

Are there opportunities to study conducting at Haverford and Bryn Mawr?

Yes, you can take an independent study course with Thomas Lloyd in conducting and gain experience as an assistant conductor with Chamber Singers and/or Chorale. Students have regularly conducted both ensembles in performance and on tour.

Is it possible to belong to Chamber Singers and/or Chorale and belong to a student a cappella group?

Yes. About 1/3 to 1/2 of Chamber Singers each year are members of a cappella groups, frequently including the music directors of those groups. A large number of such students also sing in Chorale.

Is it possible to belong to Chamber Singers or Chorale and participate in a varsity sport?

So long as meets or games don't conflict with more than two Wednesday night rehearsals a semester or with the final performance, varsity athletes have frequently sung in Chorale. Because Chamber Singers rehearses Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 4:30 to 6:00 it is difficult for varsity athletes to belong to Chamber Singers. However, with tennis and cricket at Haverford arrangements can be made where a singer/athlete can miss one rehearsal and one practice a week and still do both.

If I'm serious about singing, how would my experience at Haverford or Bryn Mawr differ from what my experience would be at a conservatory or university school of music?

As a serious undergraduate singer, you would probably have many more opportunities to perform as a soloist in major works with Chorale (such as the Bach B Minor Mass, or Haydn The Creation) than in a more competitive conservatory or a university school of music dominated by graduate students. Singers have also won the annual concerto competition to perform with the bi-college orchestra.

Haverford and Bryn Mawr offer all the benefits of a full liberal arts curriculum along with a music curriculum in theory and music history sufficiently rigorous to put students in a strong position for acceptance by graduate programs in performance. Also, whereas keyboard and string instruments require hours of practicing during the college years to grow in proficiency, the singing voice doesn't fully mature until the mid-twenties to early-thirties, making it often more beneficial for singers to delay intensive and highly competitive study until after college.

Is there any difference in singing opportunity for women depending on whether they attend Haverford or Bryn Mawr?

No. The only exclusions of any kind in vocal ensembles would be a few of the student-led a cappella groups which are restricted to students from one school or the other (such as the Night Owls at Bryn Mawr and Oxford Blues at Haverford). Rehearsals and performances regularly take place on both campuses, which are only five minutes away from each other on the Blue Bus.

With so many more women than men between the two campuses, how hard is it for women to get into Chamber Singers?

Yes, auditions for women for Chamber Singers are very competitive, but there are always openings each year because of seniors graduating and juniors studying abroad. Several first year women make the group each year - you don't have to be a music major to have a chance; most women with a strong choral background are able to get in in either their freshman or sophomore year.

Are there merit scholarships for music at Haverford or Bryn Mawr?

No. Both Haverford and Bryn Mawr have a long-standing policy of need-blind admissions, i.e., first you are accepted without reference to financial need, and then you are awarded financial aid according to need without regard to special merit.

Would it help for me to send in a recording?

Yes. If you send in a CD or tape of yourself singing as a soloist (two short contrasting songs in classical, folk, or musical theater style is plenty), the recording will come to Prof. Lloyd, who will listen to your performance and send a recommendation to the admissions office that will become part of your file and may enhance your overall assessment by the admissions committee.