Voice Department Frequently Asked Questions

I want to sing in college. What are my options for majors and degrees?

  • Our Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance is a pre-professional degree that trains singers in a rigorous and supportive environment for the skills required of career artists.  Our alumni include many who advance to very strong graduate programs; some then make careers in opera (including The Met, Houston Grand, Chicago Lyric, overseas), professional choral ensembles (such as Chanticleer, Cantus, the Rose Ensemble), and many other career paths - in music or other fields.
  • Our Bachelor of Music in Choral Music Education is a pre-professional degree that trains future teachers to be creative, dynamic, artistic, and transformative educators.  Our alumni have a 100% placement record in finding teaching positions, and work throughout the country and world.
  • Students at Lawrence can pursue a Bachelor of Music in Composition or Theory with voice as their primary instrument.  These are pre-professional degrees that train students in these careers, while the student develops the voice as their primary way of expressing their artistry.
  • Students at Lawrence can pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Music with voice as their primary instrument.  Here the student receives a strong and broad-based liberal arts education while developing their voice beautifully.

What’s the difference between a major and a degree?

  • Lawrence offers two kinds of degrees – the Bachelor of Music, which prepares artists for a career in music, and the Bachelor of Arts, which gives students a liberal arts degree that includes more courses from the college.
  • Within the Bachelor of Arts, a student selects one of dozens of majors, like French or psychology or music, to emphasize in their study.  Within the Bachelor of Music, a student selects a major like Vocal Performance or Choral Music Education to emphasize their specialized training needs.

Can I double-major? Double-degree?

  • Double-major?  Absolutely.  Some majors mesh especially well together, like adding a vocal performance major to one’s choral music education degree. 
  • Double-degree?  Absolutely.  The double-degree means a four-year Bachelor of Arts in a collegiate subject like history or a foreign language or English, and a Bachelor of Music in a conservatory subject like vocal performance.  Lawrence is a national leader in offering a very strong, well-coordinated five-year double-degree option. Nearly half of our incoming conservatory class each year plans to complete two degrees.

How do operas and musicals work?

Lawrence offers a comprehensive and nationally celebrated opera training program.  Students take beginning acting courses at the end of their first year, then typically move to a Scenes program in the fall of their second year, then move to the mainstage opera or spring Scenes program as best fits their development each year.  Lawrence’s mainstage operas consistently win top awards at the National Opera Association, and students graduate prepared for the next step in their career, onstage or backstage.  Lawrence also offers a mainstage musical theatre production every other fall term, and a student-directed musical theatre show every spring.

How are the choral ensembles?

Lawrence choral ensembles consistently perform at a nationally recognized level, and have been invited to national and regional ACDA conferences regularly in the last fifteen years. The three large ensembles are:

  • Viking Chorale – a symphonic chorus, open to all Lawrentians, that focuses on skill development and training
  • Concert Choir – an advanced mixed chorus, open to all Lawrentians, that trains professional choral singing and advanced repertoire
  • Cantala Women’s Choir – an advanced treble chorus that trains professional choral singing and advanced repertoire (performing at the ACDA Central/North-Central Conference this February!)
  • All ensembles are open to any Lawrentian (range-dependent).  There are no “conservatory-only” ensembles at Lawrence.

How do voice lessons work?

  • Lawrence has a strong department of seven faculty members who teach studio voice lessons.  Upon successful admission into the conservatory as a voice-primary student, you will be matched with a professor.  (You can request a specific teacher if you desire, but all teachers teach all voice types very effectively.)  If your voice is your primary instrument for your study here, voice lessons are covered as part of your tuition.
  • If you decide to pursue a college degree but wish to study voice, Lawrence makes every effort to match you with a faculty member if there is studio space available.  Those lessons would include a tuition fee, but it is significantly less than if the student paid for lessons off-campus.

What distinguishes Lawrence from other schools?

  • We are the rare combination of a major school of music plus a strong liberal arts college.  That means every class is taught by a professor, not a graduate student, that every role is given to an undergraduate, and that we know your name and are invested deeply in your personal growth. It also means we’re big enough and strong enough a school of music to do major opera productions and oratorios every year.
  • Our track record.  Recent alumni now work at the Houston Grand Opera, Metropolitan Opera, and overseas with opera contracts in Germany; recently graduated teachers now change young peoples’ lives throughout Wisconsin, America, and the world.
  • Our distinctly collaborative approach.  Lawrence is not an opera school with a reluctant choral requirement, nor a choral school with a fledgling vocal studio program.  We believe in three equally strong pillars to support the career: studio voice, stage training, and choir are all part of the complete vocal musician’s training. 
  • Significant opportunities with top-level artists.  Students at Lawrence have recently worked in coachings and master-classes with: Audra Macdonald, Lawrence Brownlee, LU alumna Heidi Stober, Margo Garrett, Chanticleer, Seraphic Fire, and Roomful of Teeth, and artist-in-residence, Dale Duesing, also an LU alum. 
  • We give generous financial aid.  97% of LU students receive financial aid.  Our top auditionees will receive merit awards of well over $20,000 just for their singing potential, independent of additional aid that our school will add based on need and academic success.

Who do I call with further questions?

  • Kate Bittner is the director of Conservatory admissions and can answer questions about auditions, admissions procedures, financial aid, et cetera.  (920) 832-6932
  • Dr. Steve Sieck serves as the chair of the voice department and can answer questions about singing and studying at Lawrence University.  (920) 832-6620
  • Look us up on our website!  http://www.lawrence.edu/conservatory/areas_of_study/voice   You’ll find each of our names and biographies on the right side of the page.  Drop us a line – we’d be happy to respond.