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Sep. 30th, 2006 @ 01:59 pm grad school skills?
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Hi!

I am currently a junior at a small liberal arts school, and I recently started researching musicology graduate programs. My main areas of interest are music and queer/feminist studies, Mozart (particularly the DaPonte operas), 20th century opera (particularly Meredith Monk), and noise music.

I was wondering what that people in this community did to prepare for grad school. How much research experience did you have before school? I presented research at two conferences my sophomore year, and I'm currently doing research in my other undergraduate field (gender studies). How much of a difference to GPA and GRE scores make? (I haven't taken the GRE yet, but my GPA is a 3.9 or so). Do musicology programs like or frown upon interdiciplinary research, or does it depend on the program?

My favorite programs are UCLA and UC-Berkeley, both of which seem difficult to get into. When you were searching for schools, which programs seemed like "reach" programs, and which ones, well, were safety schools?

Basically: which programs will best suit my needs? What are these programs looking for? What can I do in the next year to make myself look more appealing to these programs?

Thanks for your help!

(x-posted to musicology_grad, musichistory, applyingtograd)
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god isn't dead
pinkvinylstar:
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From:varanus
Date:September 30th, 2006 11:39 pm (UTC)
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Concerning undergraduate research, remember that rather few schools have an undergraduate music history/musicology program at all, so there's not necessarily an expectation that you'll have the chance to do research. Also, it's rather common (read: nearly universal) for people to change their research areas wildly during graduate school, so you should probably think of undergraduate papers as writing samples rather than work on a track record. Since you've been able to present at conferences and do some serious work, you've gotten some feedback that will help you make those papers better and more impressive in your application.

As for the relative importance of the various parts of your application, that will vary with each department--some people care very little for "objective" measurements like GPA or GRE scores, while others think they're important. You'd do well to inquire of your favorite programs. Your GPA is fine, and I doubt that a GRE score of any sort would negate that. Speaking personally, I had an undergrad GPA of about 3.2, and while it was sometimes an issue, I doubt that it alone kept me out of any worthwhile programs. Many (if not most) programs are much more interested in your writing and/or your letters of recommendation, as well as your contact and correspondence with departments--if they know you from a conference or other venue, they're likely to remember you better (and usually more fondly).

Many musicology programs like interdisciplinary work--it seems to be the way the field is going, and it speaks well for you to be literate in another field. Many other programs are completely uninterested in it; if you're drawn to intersdisciplinary work, you won't feel at home in those programs. Here at UCLA, interdisciplinary reading/writing is basically required for all, even for people with very strictly musicological interests. I think we're probably the most extreme on this issue, though.

Check out some journals to see who is doing the kind of work you're interested in, and figure out which departments those people dwell at. As you are looking at programs, I'd highly advise you to come to the AMS conference either this year or next--meet some faculty (and graduate students!) at places you might be interested in, and ask them about who makes a good fit with your program.

Best of luck!
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From:pinkvinylstar
Date:October 1st, 2006 12:24 am (UTC)
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thank you so much! this is extraordinarily helpful. i wish i had the money to get to more conferences :(.
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From:varanus
Date:October 1st, 2006 12:33 am (UTC)
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Have you asked your undergraduate institution if they have financial help available to get to conferences? They often do...
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From:pmaxgentry
Date:October 1st, 2006 02:23 am (UTC)
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varanus has very good advice. Since you are starting this so early--remember, many people will wait until their senior year to apply, or more often take a few years off--you have the time to research programs really thoroughly. Be sure to talk to grad students, since we not only know the gossip, but are usually willing to spill it! AMS is the best place to do this, but if you can't make it, you have the option of regional conferences that are closer homes, and also just emailing people. Most departmental web pages have lists of grad students, and I'm sure you could find people with your interests would be willing to talk to you.
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From:keg41
Date:October 2nd, 2006 05:56 am (UTC)
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I completely agree with varanus as well. I would also enourage you to find a faculty member to help you through the process, even if this person isn't in musicology, per se. I know that I was fortunate enough to meet a very generous musicologist during my junior year, and it was one of the best things that could have happened.
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