Musical Mastery

At MIT it’s amazingly easy to find an engineering student whose goals include performing with the Boston Pops, a math student who plays a mean jazz piano, or a marine biologist who is also a stellar cellist. From the study of structures and patterns to the value of discipline and fluid thinking, the affinity between music and the math and science fields is very deep. And at MIT, students seeking a STEM education are also able to further their passion for music: the Institute offers unique opportunities to pursue mastery of both. In fact, nearly half of MIT students are engaged with the Institute’s rigorous music program, and music is one of the most popular minors.

The Emerson Program in Music offers financial assistance for conservatory-level private lessons for qualified students to study with top music instructors from MIT or within the greater Boston musical community. The program is open to all enrolled students and graduate students, regardless of their primary course of study.

“It’s an extraordinary phenomenon at MIT that an unexpectedly large percent of students are just very, very talented musicians,” says Peter Child, Class of 1949 Professor of Music, and a former head of MIT Music and Theater Arts. “At the very top level, we have performers and composers who are so good they could thrive in a conservatory. We keep them challenged and enable them to progress to the highest level.”

Ellie Bors, for example, came to MIT with a dual bachelor’s degree in cello performance and biology. “The Emerson Program has allowed me to study with one of the premier cello professors in Boston and perform annual solo recitals while pursuing a PhD in oceanography,” she says. “What a gift it has been to continue my musical studies at such a high level.”