Dear Columbia/Barnard Music Students,

Beginning in the fall semester of the 2011-12 academic year, the Music Performance Program will begin charging a supplemental fee of $500 per semester for individual instrumental lessons taken at Columbia, and a supplemental fee of $1,000 for individual vocal lessons taken at Barnard. This letter provides more details about this policy. The fee applies only to private instrumental and vocal lessons offered through the MPP, not to ensemble participation or the Columbia University Orchestra.

Lesson eligibility requirements remain unchanged.  Only students enrolled in an undergraduate program at Columbia University or Barnard College, or graduate students in Music, may participate in competitive auditions for a limited number of lesson placements for the coming academic year. However, we will now require everyone who wants to take private lessons at Columbia to (re)audition at the beginning of each year.  Audition sign-up sheets will be available on the door of 618 Dodge approximately two weeks before the first day of classes in the fall semester. Signing up for an annual audition is strictly the student’s responsibility.  Failure to do so will mean loss of eligibility for lessons for that year. Students who want to take vocal lessons at Barnard and who have passed the audition will not have to (re)audition at the beginning of each year.

Upon completing a successful audition, and when there is an available lesson slot, a student will be permitted to register for six one-hour lessons for one credit per semester at Columbia, or twelve one-hour lessons for two credits per semester at Barnard. For these lessons most students will be charged the new fee (as part of their bill). If, after a successful audition, a student decides not to take lessons for any reason, s/he must formally drop the course before the Add/Drop deadline, as specified in Columbia’s Academic Calendar, in order to receive a full refund of the lesson fee. After that deadline, the fee will not be refunded.  The amount will not be pro-rated.

In certain circumstances, the fee may be fully waived. Undergraduate students who are current music majors, minors, music or jazz special concentrators, or prospective music majors (a strictly defined status) will be fully subsidized if they qualify for lessons.

A very small number of students who are not in the aforementioned categories will also qualify for fully subsidized instrumental lessons taken at Columbia. This does not apply to vocal lessons taken at Barnard. Students will be selected on the basis of playing ability, service, and leadership as demonstrated in the fall semester audition and through involvement in the MPP (especially in ensembles) over the academic year.  In some cases, seniority in the program may also affect eligibility for fully subsidized lessons.

Students offered fully subsidized lessons will receive instructions from the MPP office regarding how to register for their lessons and will see an automatic adjustment in their bill within a few weeks of registering.  Students will be responsible for registering for the appropriate lessons and, if necessary, for dropping the course before the Add/Drop deadline.

The new fee will help us to offset the rising costs of providing individual music lessons (which will remain partly subsidized even with the fee).  It will also support general improvements in the MPP.  In implementing this fee, we follow all of our peer institutions. The rate is within the average amount charged at those institutions. And we are sustaining a more generous continuing provision of fully subsidized lessons than most of our peers.

Please address questions about these new policies to Becky Lu, Program Coordinator, or Prof. Deborah Bradley-Kramer, Director, in the Music Performance Program office.


Professor Aaron Fox (Outgoing Chair, Department of Music)
Professor Giuseppe Gerbino (Incoming Chair, Department of Music
Professor Gail Archer (Barnard College)