A keyboardist and a guitarist rehearsing in a studio.

Music - Instrumental Performance (BM)

The Instrumental Performance Degree

As a student in the Instrumental Performance degree program, you can choose to learn one or many musical instruments including bass, drum set, guitar, percussion, piano, saxophone, trombone, trumpet, vibraphone and woodwinds. If you consider your instrument to be a true extension of yourself and your personality, if jazz or contemporary musical performance is what you want to do for a living, and if you’re a creative and critical thinker, then the bachelor of music in Instrumental Performance is a good fit for you. UArts will help put you on track to become a professional touring and recording musician, arranger, producer or music director.

Skills and Experience

While pursuing a degree in Instrumental Performance, you will sharpen your technical and improvisation skills on your instrument. You will master your overall musicianship during core study subjects of arranging and orchestration, music business, music history, music theory and technology. UArts features 19 ensembles of varying genres, including the premiere "Z" Big Band ensemble. Through private lessons and ensembles, you will increase your command of diverse repertoire and styles. Find more information on our ensembles in the Facilities tab below.

Awards and Accolades

  • In 2020, the School of Music was ranked #2 in The 10 Best “Hidden Gem” Music Schools by Music School Central.

  • Z Big Band tied for first place at the Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival in 2017.

  • Henry Tirfe BM ’17 won best soloist award at Monterey Next Generation Festival in 2016 and 2017.

  • Z Big Band won the Downbeat Magazine Award for Best Undergraduate Big Band in 2016.


Listen to UArts students, faculty and alumni on Spotify and Apple Music.

Faculty Spotlight

At UArts, you’ll develop your individual musical voice as you learn the fundamentals through hands-on education and private lessons with our professional performing and recording artist faculty. You’ll get exposure to all styles and genres of music while having the flexibility to focus on your particular niche. There are plenty of opportunities to collaborate with other Instrumental Performance students; students in Vocal Performance, Dance and Theater programs; and guest performers.

Micah Jones
Micah Jones


Dean Bassist and producer who has performed with Terence Blanchard, Randy Brecker, Patti LaBelle, Tiffany Jones, Patti LaBelle and others
UArts Pre-College Creative Jazz Institute Faculty Randy Kapralick
Randy Kapralick

Assistant Dean

Performer, composer and educator who has played with Aretha Franklin, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, the Four Tops, the Philly Pops and others
A black-and-white, slanted image of Chris Farr holding a sax.
Chris Farr

Instrumental Performance Program Director

Music - Instrumental Performance (BM)
Sax player who has performed with Eminem, John Legend, Rihanna and the Roots
Mark Allen

Saxophone/Woodwind Department Chair

Music - Instrumental Performance (BM)
Saxophonist and woodwind doubler who has performed with Tony Bennett, Orrin Evans, Lady Gaga, and the Philly Pops, among others
UArts Pre-College Creative Jazz Institute Faculty Steve Beskrone
Steve Beskrone

Bass Department Chair

Music - Instrumental Performance (BM)
Performer who has worked with Ray Charles, Pat Martino, Horace Silver, the Philly Pops and many others
Matt Davis

Guitar Department Chair

Music - Instrumental Performance (BM)
Guitarist and composer who has performed with diverse artists such as the New York Pops, Odean Pope and the Silk Road Ensemble
Steve Fidyk Headshot
Steve Fidyk

Drumset Department Chair

Music - Instrumental Performance (BM)
Jazz drummer, composer and author
SHot of Matt Gallagher playing trumpet, dressed in all black.
Matt Gallagher

Trumpet Department Chair

Music - Instrumental Performance (BM)
Director of the “Z” Big Band; principal trumpet for the Philly Pops Orchestra and Broadway Philadelphia


The Instrumental Performance curriculum provides a direct and practical education for students interested in establishing careers in jazz and/or contemporary music. The core of this curriculum includes theory and musicianship, piano, improvisation, technology, and music business. Additional study topics include acoustics, arranging, orchestration, recording, and an array of music history and literature courses. 

Students have weekly, one-hour private lessons in their major with renowned teaching artists. Ensemble and performance opportunities play a critical part in students’ education by sharpening technical and improvisation skills and increasing students’ command of repertoire and styles.

Areas of Concentration: Cello, Clarinet, Drums, Electric and/or Upright Bass, Flute, Guitar, Hand Drums, Percussion, Piano, Saxophone, Trombone, Trumpet, Tuba, Vibraphone, Violin and Woodwinds
Woodwind majors may elect to enroll in a woodwind specialist program that includes the study of various woodwind instruments.

Students successfully completing the Instrumental Performance program will demonstrate

  • strong technique and artistry through the study of varied repertoire and technique exercises;

  • knowledge and understanding of contemporary and traditional music theory;

  • knowledge of fundamental aural skills through singing, sight-reading, dictation and solo transcription;

  • understanding of jazz forms, improvisational concepts, and how to apply them to a broad range of musical styles;

  • ability to collaborate artistically with other performers, both vocal and instrumental, as a performer, arranger, creator and leader;

  • ability to compose, orchestrate and create musical arrangements; and 

  • knowledge of current technological applications to assist in the creation of one’s art.

Beginning your first year, coursework in the Instrumental Performance program is sequential. Each year you will have a midyear performance review, a jury performance, ensemble concerts and final exams or projects. As a senior, you will give a senior recital during spring semester.

In the School of Music at UArts, you’ll be able to take classes outside your major, including Audio Electronics, Intro to Ableton, Intro to Logic, Intro to ProTools, Live Sound I and Recording I and II. As a UArts student, you can take courses in other areas of study, such as Art History, Dance (for non-majors), Photography and Yoga. We also encourage students to take advantage of the many minors we offer, like a Musical Theater minor.

Sample Curriculum

Total Credits: 120
Duration: 4 years, full time
Major requirements: 69 credits
Critical Studies: 33 credits
Discipline history: 9 credits
Free electives: 9 credits

Expand all Collapse all
First Year

Fall: 15 credits
Instrument Instruction (3c)
Ensemble (1c)
Music Theory I (3c)
Musicianship I (3c)
Class Piano (1c)
Comp I (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (1c)

Spring: 15 credits
Instrument Instruction (3c)
Music Theory II (3c)
Musicianship II (3c)
Freshman Improvisation (2c)
Music Technology Survey (1c)
Comp II (3c)

Second Year

Fall: 16 credits
Instrument Instruction (3c)
Jazz Theory I (3c)
Jazz Musicianship I (3c)
Class Jazz Piano I (1c)
Jazz Improvisation I (2c)
Science (your choice) (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (1c)

Spring: 16 credits
Instrument Instruction (3c)
Jazz Theory II (3c)
Jazz Musicianship II (3c)
Class Jazz Piano II (1c)
Jazz Improvisation II (2c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (1c)

Third Year

Fall: 16 credits
Instrument Instruction (3c)
Comprehensive Musicianship (3c)
Chorus (1c)
Discipline history (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)

Spring: 15 credits
Instrument Instruction (3c)
Chorus (1c)
Discipline history (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (2c)

Fourth Year

Fall: 15 credits
Instrument Instruction (3c)
Ensemble (1c)
Ensemble (1c)
Business of Music (2c)
Discipline history (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (2c)

Spring: 12 credits
Senior Recital (0c)
Instrument Instruction (3c)
Ensemble (1c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (2c)

“The interdisciplinary opportunities I’ve had have been some of the best benefits of this school. Animation majors are always looking for music and Dance majors have open jam events.”
— Raphael Krause-Palit ’21 Music - Instrumental Performance (BM)


The School of Music offers a robust set of performance spaces, recording studios, rehearsal rooms and music labs.

  • two state-of-the-art recording studios
  • seven production suites
  • eight rehearsal rooms
  • 16 individual practice rooms
  • two dedicated drum practice rooms
  • four smart classrooms that double as rehearsal spaces
  • one circuitry lab
  • one electronic music lab featuring the 4th Moog analog synthesizer, built specifically for the School of Music at UArts
  • two computer labs with keyboard controllers and audio interfaces
  • two drum teaching and practice studios

Laurie Wagman Recording Studios

In November 2019, UArts celebrated the grand opening of the Laurie Wagman Music Studios on the 11th floor of Terra Hall. The two recording studios are equipped with state-of-the-art, 24-channel API consoles and Antelope interfaces. There is a surround sound system in Studio A, while Studio B has a pair of Adam reference monitors. Both studios have a number of outboard compressors, equalizers and other effects processors. Studio A will also function as a fully analog space equipped with a 16-track tape machine.


Performance Spaces

In addition to our performance and recording spaces, students have access to facilities around campus including the Arts Bank Cabaret Theater, Black Box, dance studios, film and animation studios, photography labs and the woodshop.



UArts features premier ensembles known nationwide, such as the Z Big Band. The styles of music in our ensembles range from jazz to hip hop and ambient to rock and include original compositions. Students can perform in the following groups. 

  • Ambient Ensemble
  • Big Band
  • Brass Ensemble
  • Chorus
  • Femme Ensemble: an instrumental ensemble for women, non-binary and gender-neutral students
  • Great American Songbook
  • Handbells
  • Hip Hop
  • Jazz Composers
  • Jazz Singers
  • Motown
  • Original Music Ensemble
  • Rick Kerber Tribute Ensemble: an 18–20 piece Lab Band
  • Rock Ensemble
  • Saxophone Quartets
  • Soul
  • Stax Records Ensemble
  • Transfusion Ensemble
  • Vocal Session Ensemble for rhythm sections and individual vocalists

Rehearsals, Performances & Tours

Each ensemble rehearses weekly, culminating in an end of the semester performance. Some ensembles record live in the performance hall or in the recording studios. Many groups perform at regional high schools or notable events such as the Jazz Appreciation Month at Philadelphia City Hall, the Key of She Festival, the Philadelphia Jazz Summit and the Washington Women in Jazz Festival.

Awards & Accolades

  • Z Big Band tied for first place at the Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival in 2017.
  • Henry Tirfe BM ’17 won best soloist award at Monterey Next Generation Festival in 2016 and 2017.
  • Z Big Band won the Downbeat Magazine Award for Best Undergraduate Big Band in 2016.



Femme Ensemble will be playing in the Washington Women in Jazz Festival September 2020.

UArts concerts and events at the Ellen and Ronald Caplan Center for the Performing Arts are live streamed.

See upcoming events.

Profiles & Careers

Careers & Internships

Throughout your studies in the Instrumental Performance program, you’ll have opportunities to shadow and substitute for faculty in professional rehearsals, performances and recordings. In some cases, you may be contracted through the School of Music to perform for outside events and organizations like social functions, jazz clubs and occasional high profile TV opportunities. 

Internships ranging from administrative to teaching positions are available in a variety of professional music organizations. Companies who have hired UArts students include the Academy of Music, Bellevue Hotel, Comcast, DoubleTree by Hilton, FS Investments, Philadelphia 76ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Philadelphia Phillies, Philly POPS, Ritz-Carlton and the Walnut Street Theatre.

Common careers students could obtain after graduation include:

  • Artist manager
  • Arranger
  • Composer
  • Concert band member or director
  • Entertainment booker
  • K–12 music educator
  • Military ensemble member
  • Music copyist
  • Music director
  • Orchestral musician in a major ensemble
  • Private event entertainer
  • Private music teacher
  • Producer
  • Publicist
  • Recording engineer
  • Studio musician
  • Touring musician

Featured Alumni

Jake Sommers playing for Luke Combs on SNL
Jake Sommers

BM '13

Music - Instrumental Performance (BM)
Drummer for Luke Combs who's played at the CMA Awards, CMT Music Awards and SNL
Head shot of Dan Berkery
Dan Berkery

BM ’11 (Instrumental Performance), MM ’12 (Jazz Studies)

Music - Instrumental Performance (BM)
Drummer for Broadway shows Hamilton, Book of Mormon, Dear Evan Hansen, Wicked, Avenue Q
Nick Bockrath playing guitar with Cage the Elephant
Nick Bockrath

BM '10

Music - Instrumental Performance (BM)
Lead guitarist for Grammy-winning band Cage the Elephant
Jon Smith BM '09
Jon Smith

BM '09

Music - Instrumental Performance (BM)
Bassist who's played with artists like Eric Wortham, Luke Carlos O'Reilly, George “Spanky” McCurdy and Rick Tate
Adam Blackstone playing bass guitar in studio, wearing black baseball cap, black shirt and jeans
Adam Blackstone


Music - Instrumental Performance (BM)
Bassist, music director for Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, Maroon 5
A headshot of Todd Groves
Todd Groves

BM '99

Music - Instrumental Performance (BM)
NYC-based performer and composer who's played in Broadway musicals, the New York Philharmonic and more
Dan Zank Headshot
Dan Zank

BM '95

Music - Instrumental Performance (BM)
Award winning composer and arranger whose work has been recorded in famed studios worldwide

Featured Students

Scott Blanke headshot
Scott Blanke


Music - Instrumental Performance (BM)
Hometown: Montgomeryville, PA
Raphael Krause-Palit headshot
Raphael Krause-Palit


Music - Instrumental Performance (BM)
Hometown: Sparta, NJ
Cat Madewell
Catherine Madewell


Music - Instrumental Performance (BM)
Hometown: Medford, NJ
Morgan Walbridge Headshot
Morgan Walbridge


Music - Instrumental Performance (BM)
Hometown: Rochester, NY
Peter Frank headshot
Peter Frank


Music - Instrumental Performance (BM)
Hometown: Cherry Hill, NJ
Kevin Blanke headshot
Kevin Blanke


Music - Instrumental Performance (BM)
Hometown: Montgomeryville, PA
Edward Castillo headshot
Edward Castillo


Music - Instrumental Performance (BM)
Hometown: Dominican Republic
Alex Delcourt headshot
Alex Delcourt


Music - Instrumental Performance (BM)
Hometown: Versailles, France
Dallas Taylor headshot
Dallas Taylor


Music - Instrumental Performance (BM)
Hometown: Mount Laurel, NJ

Scholarships & Aid

UArts recognizes the extraordinary talent of our students through a range of merit-based scholarships. All applicants are automatically considered for such scholarships—no special application is necessary.

Nearly 80 percent of UArts’ undergraduate students enrolled on a full-time basis are eligible for some type of need-based aid. Additionally, some scholarship opportunities take need-based criteria into account. All students who are U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens and are enrolled in a degree program are encouraged to apply by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Learn more about financial aid.

View tuition & fees.

How to Apply

Admissions Deadline: There is no set deadline for applications, however the deadline for the Federal Applications for Student Aid (FAFSA) is February 15th. UArts operates on a rolling admissions basis, which means we receive and process applications throughout the year as space remains available in each program. 

Learn more about FAFSA and associated deadlines.

The following materials are required for your application. 

  • A completed application for admission

  • A nonrefundable $60 application fee

  • A personal statement 

    • Your individual voice and personal insights play an equally important and valued role in an admissions review. Your personal statement allows you to share your story, express yourself and place a spotlight on your creative journey—past, present or future. It helps us get to know you and your dreams, ideas, challenges, opportunities and/or goals in a way your transcripts and other application materials can’t. 

    • Here are some questions to help you shape your personal statement. Interpret them as you wish. There are no right or wrong answers—there’s only your story.

      1. When and how did you realize you wanted to be an artist?

      2. How will University of the Arts help you achieve your creative and professional goals?

      3. How do you want your creativity to affect the future?

    • There is no word count requirement, but we recommend you share your story in 250 to 500 words. Upload your personal statement with your application for admission or email it to undergradcredentials@uarts.edu.

  • Official transcripts

    • Official transcripts from the high school(s) you have attended are required. For transfer students, transcripts from each college you have attended are required. They must be mailed directly by your school in a sealed envelope to the Office of Admissions, emailed directly from your school, or sent through a secure electronic transcript delivery service. Transcripts sent or emailed by students are not considered official. They should be sent to the Office of Admissions, University of the Arts, 320 S. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19102 or via email to undergradcredentials@uarts.edu.

    • For transcripts from outside the U.S., refer to the instructions for international undergraduate students.

  • An audition or interview

    • Every student applying to performing arts programs must pass an entrance audition or interview. This measures not only the student's creative and expressive facility, but also the level of skill acquired. Students are asked to select their preferred audition or interview date when completing the application.

    • You will receive an email confirming your requested audition date within 48 hours of submitting the application. An application for admission must be submitted to the Office of Admissions at least two weeks before the requested audition/interview day.

  • International applicants must submit proof of English proficiency

  • Optional materials 

See our audition dates and audition requirements pages to learn more.

Visit our first-year application checklist and transfer checklist for more information.

Apply now.

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