Music - Paris Program

A gamelon session at the Cite de la MusiqueStudying music in Paris is an engaging, rich, intensive and diversified experience. Students who wish to take music courses in Paris must demonstrate proficiency in the French language. They are strongly encouraged to enroll for the full year or for the fall semester, as most schools will not accept students for the spring semester only.

Structured around individual instruction in composition, voice and/or instruments, the Sarah Lawrence Program's music curriculum includes supporting course work in theory, history and performance.

In general, students may choose one 4 credit course per semester. A typical music course consists of three components:

  1. Individual Instruction (instrumental performance, composition, electronic music, or voice)
  2. Theory or History
  3. Performance Ensemble

Advanced students may consider applying to one of our intensive programs in jazz or classical music.

Partner Institutions

Of the four institutions central to the SLC Program, the private Schola Cantorum, housed in what was formerly a 16th century English Benedictine abbey, constitutes the core. Close to the Program’s center at Reid Hall, the school offers classical instruction in all instruments and voice, with particular strengths in piano, organ and chamber music, as well as classes in such areas as solfege, counterpoint, and composition.

For jazz, the private Le CIM offers a wide range of traditional and interdisciplinary programs tailored to student needs, and the Sorbonne enrolls students interested in advanced academic studies, including theory and analysis, music history and ethnomusicology. Students with other musical interests may enroll in courses at additional institutions affiliated with the SLC Program.

The Sarah Lawrence College music program centers around the following institutions:

Schola Cantorum
All instruments and voice; solfege; theory and analysis; composition; history; individual and ensemble performance; master classes; special programs in piano pedagogy and organ

Ecole Normale de Musique
Highly competitive school that accepts advanced American students by audition. All instruments and voice; solfege; theory and analysis; composition; history; individual and ensemble performance; master classes; individual practice rooms

Conservatoire Charles Munch
Special programs in early music, baroque opera and instrumental music; all instruments and voice; solfege; theory and analysis; composition; history; individual and ensemble performance; big band jazz and jazz theory; individual practice rooms

Université de Paris IV (formerly the Sorbonne)
Advanced academic studies include theory and analysis, history, musicology and ethnomusicology

Université de Paris X
Theoretical ethnomusicology

Cité de la Musique
Studies in world music performance include traditional and contemporary music for the gamelan; steel drums; Arabic, Brazilian, Cuban, Indian and West African music; rock and jazz; courses in history, form and structure, and the relationship between music, society and language; electroacoustic and computer music

Centre de Musique Médiévale
Special semester long workshops in Medieval Music, including chant, vocal technique, monody and vocal polyphony, improvisation, notation, counterpoint, and history; various one day workshops on instrumental performance (vielles, ancient harp, lutes, and percussion) and on stage practice.

IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique)
Special weekend (20-25 sessions) and weeklong (3-5 weeklong sessions) programs studying software developed by IRCAM, including MAX, SPAT, MAX4LiVE, JiTTER, AUDIOSCULPT, MODALYS, and OPENMUSIC; advanced work in computer music and seminars in music research on the CURSUS program; special studies on the Artists Program with Sciences Po (Institut d’études politiques, or JEP).

All courses are taught exclusively in French.

Preparing to Study Music in Paris

Music students should be proficient in “fixed do” solfege before enrolling in music courses in Paris. They should also familiarize themselves with basic musical terms – such as the names of notes, accidentals, scales, rhythms and so on – in French. We recommend the following book: Abrégé de la Théorie de la Musique, by A. Danhauser (Editions Henry Lemoine, 2002; 41, rue Bayen, 75017 Paris). There are also numerous websites that compare musical terms in different languages. We recommend the following:

Where to Practice in Paris?

Those students who choose to live at the Cité Universitaire will be able to practice in the music room. Students who study at the Conservatoire Charles Munch, the Ecole Normale, or at INFIMM/CIM may practice in facilities at those institutions. Students will sign up for these spaces for specific times. Students may also rent rehearsal space at various other places, including INFIMM/CIM and the Muses Galantes.

Application Process

All students applying to the music program in Paris must be approved by and receive initial guidance from the Director of the Sarah Lawrence College Music Program. Students will audition and be interviewed for individual instruction at the specific institutions to which they are applying when they arrive in Paris. Instrumentalists and vocalists will perform a piece of their own choosing. They may be asked to play a technical exercise. They should also be prepared to take diagnostic tests in solfege, theory and harmony, including sight-reading, sight-singing and dictation. Each candidate will be placed at a level of study corresponding to his or her abilities. Final programs will be arranged and approved by the SLC Paris Program Director.

For further information about SLC Music Abroad Programs please contact:

Chester Biscardi
Director, Music Program
Sarah Lawrence College
1 Mead Way
Bronxville, New York 10708-5999
(914) 395-2334

Request More Info About Paris

Thoughts on the Paris Program

"I've been exposed to new exercises that have been extremely helpful. It's been wonderful looking at piano from a more technical perspective. [The professor] has been wonderful, and she chooses hauntingly beautiful music."

–Lydia Delauro, SLC