Earl Harville: CCM College Programs

Weekly Teaching Tip – Dec 9, 2019
by Earl Harville


Many of the students who come into my studio are considering pursuit of further studies in voice and music. They are pretty clear, though, that they are not looking to attend college to only be trained in classical repertoire. Most aren’t even looking to major in Musical Theatre. They are pop singers and songwriters.

These students need to have training for the real world of Contemporary Commercial Music. They will need to know how to sing with good technique without sacrificing the elements of style that may be frowned upon in more traditional college voice programs. They will also need to know how to write and produce tracks in Pro Tools, Logic Pro, Ableton Live, Studio One, and others. Learning the intricacies of the music business is an absolute must. Networking with those already involved in the industry is paramount. Thankfully, there are now more appropriate school settings for that than ever before.

Here is a list of some of the CCM programs that are available in colleges in the American Midwest, South, and West Coast:

· Berklee College of Music– The world-famous king of the CCM degree programs. Located in Boston, Massachusetts. Besides the performance major, there are fantastic programs in songwriting, production & engineering, music business, film scoring, music therapy, and professional music. Bachelor of Music offered as well as the professional diploma. Our own Linda Balliro is an associate professor in its wonderful Vocal Department. One of my former students is currently there as a songwriting/production double major with voice as his principal instrument.

· Belmont University– Located in Nashville, this Christian-based school has a phenomenal Commercial Music program within its School of Music that leads to the BM degree. Students can major in performance, songwriting, composition & arranging, music business and music technology. Very high-quality vocal instruction is offered.

Being located in the heart of a major entertainment city is a definite plus.

· Columbia College Chicago– In the heart of the South Loop is the campus of this amazing arts school. It happens to be my alma mater. The Music Department has added the Bachelor of Music degree programs in Composition & Production and Contemporary, Urban, & Popular Music (CUP) to its original Bachelor of Arts in Music offerings in performance and composition. The faculty is replete with very active and experienced practitioners of the craft who are strong mentors to their young colleagues.

· USC Thornton School of Music- The Popular Music program at the University of Southern California has established itself as powerhouse training ground for CCM musicians. It is currently under the direction of the award-winning and legendary R&B/pop/jazz phenom Patrice Rushen. Graduates receive the Bachelor of Music degree in Performance. Los Angeles is, of course, one of the most important centers for all styles of modern music so the location is ideal.

· Musicians Institute- Another wonderful Los Angeles musical institution for the training of players and singers from pop to country to metal to gospel. The school has expanded its name to MI College of Contemporary Music. Like Berklee, it has a long track record of equipping CCM musicians with high levels of skill that allows them to work in a variety of settings successfully. Beginning as a vocational school for players and singers, it evolved into an accredited college that now offers the Bachelor of Music and Associate of Arts degrees. They have now added a Master of Music in Performance, making it one of the few schools offering that option.

· Kent State University– Another Midwest option for the CCM singer. Located in Kent, Ohio, The School of Music grants the Bachelor of Arts degree with a concentrations in Contemporary Popular Music and Jazz Studies.

· California State University Los Angeles– Cal State LA’s Department Of Music offers both the Bachelor of Arts and BM degrees in Commercial Music in addition to Jazz Studies.

These are just a few of the CCM programs that your pop, country, rock, R&B, and contemporary Christian singers may find of interest if they want to pursue degree-level studies that will equip them with solid technical vocal training as well the tools to survive in the modern world of music making.

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