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Essays, Personal Statements, and Résumés for Music Students

Essays, personal statements and résumés for music students can be daunting. While the audition is a key component in the acceptance process, admission reps want you to keep in mind that the paperwork side of the application is also important.

by Caitlin Peterkin

“We have a small interview component to our audition process and we review recommendation letters and a student’s music history (typically via the résumé),” says Megan Grady, music recruitment coordinator and assistant director of Admission at the University of Puget Sound School of Music. “We also like to see what else students do and if we think they’ll fit in well with our liberal arts university, not just the School of Music.”

Applying to music school is a highly-competitive process. Brittany Jimenez, associate director of Undergraduate Admission at USC Thornton School of Music , encourages students to be genuine and to put their best foot forward in all parts of the admission process.

“There are many parts of the application and admission process you cannot control, like who else is applying,” she says, “so carefully managing the parts you can control (like the writing supplements and portfolio submissions) will be very important.”

Catch the attention you want

An essay, often referred to as your personal statement, is required by many music schools. Each school posts its own guidelines for these. If you’re uncertain about what they’re asking for, contact the admissions office.

The Common App streamlines the process of applying to several schools, although not all schools use it. You’ll find out whether colleges and universities that use the Common App require a personal essay once you create your Dashboard on the Common App website. The Common App provides a list of “prompts” or ideas to write about and you are given the option to edit your essay after you submit your first application. Even if schools don’t require a personal essay, you’ll have the option to submit one.  

Music schools within universities as well as some colleges require you to apply to the university or college as well as to the music school. A separate school of music essay may also be required. Schools will indicate the word count as well as prompts or a specific theme they want you to write about. This may be referred to as a “supplemental essay.”

You can also choose to apply directly to schools instead of using the Common App. A request for supplemental materials including writing requirements is built in to these applications.

Note that these requirements may be different for transfer students.

So how do you make sure your essay and personal statement stand out from the crowd?

Here are suggestions from recruiters and admission representatives for creating essays they’ll they’ll be eager to read:

1. Do your research.

“It is beneficial to research the school and program and speak to the specific aspects and opportunities you find most relevant to you and your interests,” says Jimenez. “Getting to know the specific programs and faculty is important because every school is going to be unique in the type of experience they offer.”

Patrick Zylka, assistant dean for Admission, Financial Aid and Graduate Services at Northwestern University Bienen School of Music , agrees. “We want to know an applicant has done the research on our institution, not just that it’s a top ten ranking, or that their best friend goes here, but that they’ve really dug a little bit deeper and understand what the institution offers….and whether we’re actually a good fit for them.”

But he adds the caveat to not just regurgitate what’s on a school’s website: “Don’t tell us we’re a beautiful campus next to Lake Michigan—we already know!”

2. Don’t copy and paste.

Faculty and staff recognize that you’re probably applying to multiple institutions. Make sure to write a unique statement for each one, tailoring each essay to the specific program you’re applying to. Schools do not want to see a generic, cookie-cutter answer as to why you’re choosing their particular program.

“Essays that are clearly ‘cut and paste’ versions of an essay you’ve sent to a dozen schools…are not very persuasive,” says Christina Crispin, assistant director of Admissions at Eastman School of Music .

3. Show your personality!

As faculty and admissions reps review hundreds of applications each year, they want to read thoughtful statements from prospective students to get a better sense of each individual’s personality.

According to Zylka, admission reps view the essay as an applicant’s only opportunity to really show who they are as an individual, more than what any transcript or test score can reveal. “Speak from the heart,” he says. “If you’re funny, be funny. If you’re serious, be serious.”

Grady agrees: “We are looking for students to tell us more about themselves. We like to see creative essays that tell us something we may not be able to learn from the rest of their application.”

4. Proofread—multiple times.

Not only are essays a good way to show your personality, but they’re also a chance to demonstrate that you can write in a clear and coherent way.

“The essays that we are least impressed by are those that have typos, grammatical or punctuation errors—anything that screams, ‘I didn’t proofread this,’” says Crispin.

Some other no-nos: run-on sentences and “writing one big paragraph instead of a thought-out essay,” according to Grady.

Your résumé – the right way

Nearly all applications for music schools require a résumé.  

“The résumé is the place for applicants to highlight their musical accomplishments and experiences,” says Crispin. “If they want us to know about other extracurricular activities, leadership, volunteer work, etc., the résumé is a good place to capture that information.”

“It’s important to tell us about any honors, awards, summer festivals, private lessons,” adds Zylka. “Things that show us you didn’t just go to high school from a certain time in the morning to the afternoon.”  

• Make it clean and organized.

There is no one right way to format a résumé unless specified by the schools you’re applying to. They should be easy to read. Include your contact information plus music-specific information and experience.

“Present your résumé in an organized way so it is easy to review what you have done and when,” says Jimenez. “The résumé is typically 1-2 pages in length and mostly focuses on accomplishments and activities during high school.”

“Clean résumés are best—for musicians, that involves what you’ve performed, competitions you’ve won, ensembles you’ve performed along with chair placement (if applicable),” says Grady.  

“Keep your activities limited to your high school achievements,” she adds “unless there’s something particularly outstanding (like a performance at Carnegie Hall) that took place before high school. Show that you play multiple instruments and for how long, who you’ve studied with, ensemble directors, etc.”

• Proofread.

Edit your résumé multiple times, and have a trusted friend, family member, or teacher look it over. “We never want to see typos, misspelled words, or grammatical errors,” says Jimenez.

Final thoughts

Crispin advises all students to start their application early. “We often hear from applicants that they were surprised how much time it took to fill out their applications, and you don’t want to be rushing and risking errors right before the deadline,” she says. This also includes reaching out to teachers for recommendations well before applications are due.

Just like no two music programs are the same, no two application processes are the same. Do the research on what exactly is needed for each program you’re applying to, and make a checklist with deadlines for each one.

Finally, utilize all the resources available online and in admission offices. “Our website should be your best friend throughout the process,” says Jimenez. “Your other best friends will be the people in the office of admission. Applicants are always encouraged to ask questions anytime! We want our applicants to be successful throughout the admission process and are here to help however we can.”

Caitlin Peterkin is a writer/editor and arts enthusiast currently based in Portland, OR. She has worked as program manager for Earshot Jazz (Seattle) and has written for BestNewBands.com , Chronicle of Higher Education , and Paste Magazine . She graduated from Indiana University Bloomington with a B.A. in Journalism and a minor in Music.  

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How to Draft a Creative Music Grad School Personal Statement

Table of Contents

Are you considering pursuing a graduate degree in music? Writing a personal statement for your application can be an intimidating task. It is, after all, the one piece of writing that will give admissions officers insight into who you are as a person and musician.

Let’s dive into how to write an effective music grad school personal statement without further ado.

Steps to Writing a Music Grad School Personal Statement

Brainstorming.

Before you begin writing your personal statement , it’s essential to take some time to brainstorm. Reflect on why you want to pursue a graduate music degree in the first place. Consider what experiences have led you to this point—what has been meaningful for you about past musical endeavors? What made those experiences unique or special? What do you hope to experience in the future after attending grad school?

Explaining Your Passion

Your personal statement should also explain how your passion for music has evolved and how it drives your decision-making process . You may choose to discuss any challenges faced along the way or successes achieved that demonstrate a solid commitment to the art.

Providing Specifics

It is essential to be as specific and detailed as possible when writing your personal statement. This will give admissions officers a better understanding of who you are as an individual and musician. Try to include specific examples from past experiences demonstrating why you are uniquely qualified for the program. State how your skill set has grown over time.

Once you’ve completed the first draft of your personal statement, it’s time to do some editing! Read through it carefully, looking for any typos or errors in grammar or punctuation. Ensure the content is clear and concise—you don’t want to overwhelm the reader with too much information. Finally, review it for style to ensure that the tone and voice are consistent throughout the statement.

Music Grad School Personal Statement Examples

tilt selective photograph of music notes

I have been passionate about music my entire life. As a child, I was constantly listening to and playing various instruments. After attending Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos performance, I was deeply inspired and decided to pursue music as my career path.

I attended college and earned a degree in Music Performance, where I honed my skills as a musician. I performed with many renowned ensembles during this time and developed close relationships with experienced musicians worldwide. My education has given me an appreciation for all genres of music, but classical music truly drives my passion for performing.

Now that I am ready to pursue a graduate degree in music, I am looking to expand my knowledge and skill set. A graduate program would provide me with the opportunity to learn from accomplished mentors. It will give access resources that will allow me to pursue unique performance opportunities.

My love for music began when I was very young. I started singing at an early age and eventually progressed to playing several instruments, including piano, guitar, and drums. Music has always been an outlet for me—not just as a means of expression but also as a way of understanding myself better.

I have had the privilege of studying with some fantastic musicians throughout my collegiate career. My professors have always encouraged me to push myself beyond my comfort zone and have helped shape me into the musician I am today. After receiving my undergraduate degree in Music Performance, I am ready to take the next step and pursue a graduate degree. This will help to expand my knowledge of music theory and composition.

Grad school will open up many unique opportunities for me as an aspiring musician. I am excited to learn from experienced teachers and peers who can help me reach new heights as an artist. I can achieve great things in this field with hard work, dedication, and commitment.

Final Thoughts

Writing a personal statement for music grad school is no small feat! However, take the time to brainstorm, explain your passion, provide specifics from past experiences, and edit thoroughly. You can craft a compelling personal statement that will make a great impression on admissions officers .

Good luck with your application process!

How to Draft a Creative Music Grad School Personal Statement

Abir Ghenaiet

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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music school personal statement examples

What is a Personal Statement?

A 1-2 page essay that is often requested for college applications, sometimes with specific prompts. At minimum, be prepared to describe who you are, your educational/professional background, your career goals, and why your are interested in going to this particular school .

What is a Teaching Philosophy?

A 1-2 page essay that is often requested for teaching positions, especially in higher education. It describes your focus, goals, and approaches to courses you instruct, such as what every student will learn, how they are assessed, how you engage your class, and examples of implementation.

What Is a Diversity Statement?

A 1-2 page essay that is often requested for teaching positions, especially in higher education. It describes your philosophy AND your actions (both inside and outside the classroom) around supporting diversity, equity and inclusion in your field.

Steps to Writing a Statement

1. read the prompt.

Before starting, be sure to read any specific prompts that are outlined by a school or organization. These questions must be answered and, therefore, you can not send an absolutely identical statement to every opportunity.

2. Draft an Outline

Write down the layout of your essay. Use a short introduction, 2-3 body paragraphs, and if space a quick conclusion. Be sure to theme each body paragraph with a topic, idea, or focus that is clearly identified.

3. Identify Specific Examples

Now that you know what you want to discuss, be sure to provide specific details or examples. It’s not enough just to say you are “passionate” or “committed” to music, teaching or diversity. You must demonstrate through your actions.

4. Make Connections

For personal statements, you must ALWAYS make a direct connection to the program for which you are applying – whether they ask you to or not. For philosophies, be mindful of the position and type of institutions you are applying for so that you focus on the correct thing (i.e. private piano instructor vs. group piano instructor might have different approaches).

5. Have Someone Read It

Whatever you write down, no matter how many times you edit it, it is a draft. Always have a friend, colleague, or advisor review it so they can confirm you are stating things clearly and without mistakes .

Whatever feedback you received, incorporate it into your final version and give it one more look over before sending as PDF.

Statement Tip Sheet!

For examples of prompts and further instructions, please view our Personal Statement Tip Sheet.

“The IML has been incredible in shaping my musical and entrepreneurial career. The advisors are extremely professional, knowledgeable, and welcoming which made me feel comfortable and productive every time I scheduled a session. All Eastman students should take advantage of this valuable resource. I am a better musician, activist and ambassador of the arts because of them.”

music school personal statement examples

Naomi Nakanishi, ’20E B.M. Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media in Piano

music school personal statement examples

  • Personal Statements
  • Music Personal Statement

Music Personal Statements Example

Sample statement.

I love music but I also enjoy a challenge. That is why I have decided to focus on music as my future career rather than just a way to relax. I have had an instinctive feel for playing music, singing and moving to music since I was a small child and I have enjoyed training to improve my skills and to make my playing and singing a pleasure for others. That has not always been easy. It’s a lot of hard work at times but the rewards for sticking with it are very worthwhile.

A university course in music is the next natural step for me and I realise that it won’t be easy. It will be an opportunity to grow as a musician and I look forward to being able to immerse myself in music and to develop my skills both on a personal and academic level. Music for me is relaxing but it is that all-encompassing relaxation that comes with the self-discipline required to practice and improve. Learning to play a musical instrument can be torture, but getting through the difficult stages and learning to make the instrument sound good is so satisfying.

Music needs determination, commitment and skill to be able to make it sound good, but being able to apply your musical achievements to build a career also needs a thorough grounding in the music industry. I want to focus on expanding my musical skills and knowledge but also on where it can take me in the future. Studying at university level seems a very natural next step.

I have looked for music courses that allow flexibility and that will give me the widest experience and appreciation for different types of music and different ways of making it. I want to learn the technical knowledge too, building on my experience with music software I have already been using.

College has been a positive experience for me and I am lucky to have been within an environment that was encouraging and challenging at the same time. My music teachers provided the push we needed to achieve our best but were also realistic in the deadlines that they set. This has made me able to cope well with time pressure and I work consistently and well to finish set tasks, which has given me added confidence. I have a high natural ability, with a good ear, timing and good rhythmic skills but I have learned to become a polished performer and to work well within a group.

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Music Personal Statement Examples

  • 1 Personal Statement Example Links
  • 2 Career Opportunities
  • 3 UK Admission Requirements
  • 4 UK Earnings Potential For Musicians
  • 5 Similar Courses in UK
  • 6 UK Curriculum
  • 7 Alumni Network

Personal Statement Example Links

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Ever been captivated by the universal language of music, its power to evoke emotions, and its profound cultural significance? Intrigued by the prospect of creating, interpreting, or studying music?

If so, a degree in Music could be your perfect journey. This vibrant field offers you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the theory and practice of music, honing your artistic expression and understanding the cultural contexts of various musical traditions.

Music is an incredibly interesting and relevant choice for students because it provides a way to express themselves creatively, to explore different cultures, and to gain an understanding of the world around them. Music can also provide a way to relax and destress, which is especially important in today’s fast-paced world.

Additionally, music can be used as a tool for self-expression and communication, as well as a way to connect with others. Finally, music can be used to explore the history and culture of different societies, providing students with a unique perspective on the world. All of these reasons make music an incredibly interesting and relevant choice for students.

👍 When writing a personal statement : Highlight your passion for the course, demonstrating your understanding of it. Use relevant personal experiences, coursework, or work history to showcase how these have fostered your interest and readiness for the course.

Career Opportunities

Someone with a degree in music can pursue many different career opportunities.

In the music industry, potential career paths include:

  • Music Producer: A music producer oversees the recording and production of music, from the initial composition to the final mix. They are responsible for selecting the right musicians, sound engineers, and other personnel to create the desired sound.
  • Music Composer: A music composer creates original music for a variety of purposes, from film scores to background music for video games. They must have a strong understanding of music theory and composition techniques.
  • Music Teacher: Music teachers are responsible for teaching students of all ages how to read, write, and play music. They may teach in a school, university, or private studio setting.
  • Music Therapist: Music therapists use music to help people cope with physical, mental, and emotional challenges. They may work in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, schools, and private practices.
  • Music Journalist: Music journalists write about music for a variety of publications, such as magazines, newspapers, and websites. They must have a deep understanding of the music industry and current trends.
  • Music Business Professional: Music business professionals work in the business side of the music industry, from marketing and promotion to legal and financial matters. They must have a strong understanding of the music industry and the laws and regulations that govern it.
  • Music Venue Manager: Music venue managers are responsible for overseeing the daily operations of a music venue. Their duties may include booking artists, organizing and promoting concerts, managing staff, ensuring the venue complies with health and safety regulations, and dealing with financial tasks like budgeting and accounting.

UK Admission Requirements

In order to be accepted into a university course in music, applicants must meet certain entry criteria. Generally, applicants must have a minimum of five GCSEs at grade 4 or above, including English, Maths, and a science. Additionally, applicants must have at least two A Levels at grade C or above in music-related subjects such as Music Theory, Music Technology, Music Performance, or Music Composition.

In comparison to similar courses, the entry criteria for a university course in music is slightly more stringent. For example, a university course in music production may require only three GCSEs at grade 4 or above, and one A Level at grade C or above in a related subject.

UK Earnings Potential For Musicians

The average earnings for someone with a degree in music can vary widely depending on the individual’s job and experience level. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for musicians and singers was $28,000 in May 2020. However, the top 10% of earners in this field made more than $80,000 per year.

In terms of job market trends, the music industry is expected to grow by 3% between 2019 and 2029, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. Additionally, the demand for live performers is expected to remain strong, as the industry continues to diversify and expand. Furthermore, the use of technology and digital media has created new opportunities for musicians to create and distribute their work.

Similar Courses in UK

Other university courses related to Music include Music Technology, Music Production, Music Performance, Music Education, and Musicology.

Music Technology focuses on the use of technology to create, manipulate, and record music. It involves the use of computers, software, and hardware to produce music.

Music Production is the process of taking a musical composition and turning it into a finished product ready for release. It involves recording, mixing, and mastering.

Music Performance focuses on the development of performance skills and techniques. It involves learning to play an instrument, developing vocal skills, and learning how to perform in front of an audience.

Music Education is the study of the history, theory, and practice of music. It involves learning about music theory, composition, and performance.

Musicology is the study of music from a historical and cultural perspective. It involves the study of music from different cultures and eras, as well as the study of music theory and composition.

UK Curriculum

The key topics and modules covered in a university course in music typically include:

  • Music Theory: This module covers the fundamentals of music theory, including scales, intervals, chords, and harmony.
  • Music History: This module looks at the history of music from the Baroque period to the present day. It may also include an overview of different musical styles and genres.
  • Music Composition: This module focuses on the fundamentals of composition, including melody, harmony, and rhythm. Students will learn how to write and arrange music for various instruments and ensembles.
  • Music Performance: This module focuses on performance techniques and skills, such as sight-reading, improvisation, and vocal technique. Students will learn how to perform music in a variety of styles and genres.
  • Music Technology: This module introduces students to the use of technology in music production, such as recording, mixing, and mastering.

Hands-on experience and practical work are an important part of any music course. Students will typically have the opportunity to perform in ensembles, compose and arrange music, and record and mix music using technology.

Alumni Network

One notable alumni from the University course in Music is John Williams, who is a five-time Academy Award-winning composer, conductor, and pianist. He is best known for his film scores, including the iconic Star Wars, Jaws, and Indiana Jones franchises.

Williams has also composed music for numerous other films, television shows, and concert pieces. He has contributed greatly to the field of music, and his influence can be heard in many of today’s popular film scores.

The University of Music offers several alumni events and networking opportunities for alumni. These include the annual Alumni Reunion, which is held each summer, and the Alumni Networking Series, which is held throughout the year.

Alumni can also connect with one another through the University’s online alumni network. Additionally, the University offers an alumni mentoring program, which provides students with the opportunity to connect with alumni who have experience in their chosen field.

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Gre prep online guides and tips, 3 successful graduate school personal statement examples.

music school personal statement examples

Looking for grad school personal statement examples? Look no further! In this total guide to graduate school personal statement examples, we’ll discuss why you need a personal statement for grad school and what makes a good one. Then we’ll provide three graduate school personal statement samples from our grad school experts. After that, we’ll do a deep dive on one of our personal statement for graduate school examples. Finally, we’ll wrap up with a list of other grad school personal statements you can find online.

Why Do You Need a Personal Statement?

A personal statement is a chance for admissions committees to get to know you: your goals and passions, what you’ll bring to the program, and what you’re hoping to get out of the program.  You need to sell the admissions committee on what makes you a worthwhile applicant. The personal statement is a good chance to highlight significant things about you that don’t appear elsewhere on your application.

A personal statement is slightly different from a statement of purpose (also known as a letter of intent). A statement of purpose/letter of intent tends to be more tightly focused on your academic or professional credentials and your future research and/or professional interests.

While a personal statement also addresses your academic experiences and goals, you have more leeway to be a little more, well, personal. In a personal statement, it’s often appropriate to include information on significant life experiences or challenges that aren’t necessarily directly relevant to your field of interest.

Some programs ask for both a personal statement and a statement of purpose/letter of intent. In this case, the personal statement is likely to be much more tightly focused on your life experience and personality assets while the statement of purpose will focus in much more on your academic/research experiences and goals.

However, there’s not always a hard-and-fast demarcation between a personal statement and a statement of purpose. The two statement types should address a lot of the same themes, especially as relates to your future goals and the valuable assets you bring to the program. Some programs will ask for a personal statement but the prompt will be focused primarily on your research and professional experiences and interests. Some will ask for a statement of purpose but the prompt will be more focused on your general life experiences.

When in doubt, give the program what they are asking for in the prompt and don’t get too hung up on whether they call it a personal statement or statement of purpose. You can always call the admissions office to get more clarification on what they want you to address in your admissions essay.

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What Makes a Good Grad School Personal Statement?

A great graduate school personal statement can come in many forms and styles. However, strong grad school personal statement examples all share the same following elements:

A Clear Narrative

Above all, a good personal statement communicates clear messages about what makes you a strong applicant who is likely to have success in graduate school. So to that extent, think about a couple of key points that you want to communicate about yourself and then drill down on how you can best communicate those points. (Your key points should of course be related to what you can bring to the field and to the program specifically).

You can also decide whether to address things like setbacks or gaps in your application as part of your narrative. Have a low GPA for a couple semesters due to a health issue? Been out of a job for a while taking care of a family member? If you do decide to explain an issue like this, make sure that the overall arc is more about demonstrating positive qualities like resilience and diligence than about providing excuses.

Specific Examples

A great statement of purpose uses specific examples to illustrate its key messages. This can include anecdotes that demonstrate particular traits or even references to scholars and works that have influenced your academic trajectory to show that you are familiar and insightful about the relevant literature in your field.

Just saying “I love plants,” is pretty vague. Describing how you worked in a plant lab during undergrad and then went home and carefully cultivated your own greenhouse where you cross-bred new flower colors by hand is much more specific and vivid, which makes for better evidence.

A strong personal statement will describe why you are a good fit for the program, and why the program is a good fit for you. It’s important to identify specific things about the program that appeal to you, and how you’ll take advantage of those opportunities. It’s also a good idea to talk about specific professors you might be interested in working with. This shows that you are informed about and genuinely invested in the program.

Strong Writing

Even quantitative and science disciplines typically require some writing, so it’s important that your personal statement shows strong writing skills. Make sure that you are communicating clearly and that you don’t have any grammar and spelling errors. It’s helpful to get other people to read your statement and provide feedback. Plan on going through multiple drafts.

Another important thing here is to avoid cliches and gimmicks. Don’t deploy overused phrases and openings like “ever since I was a child.” Don’t structure your statement in a gimmicky way (i.e., writing a faux legal brief about yourself for a law school statement of purpose). The first will make your writing banal; the second is likely to make you stand out in a bad way.

Appropriate Boundaries

While you can be more personal in a personal statement than in a statement of purpose, it’s important to maintain appropriate boundaries in your writing. Don’t overshare anything too personal about relationships, bodily functions, or illegal activities. Similarly, don’t share anything that makes it seem like you may be out of control, unstable, or an otherwise risky investment. The personal statement is not a confessional booth. If you share inappropriately, you may seem like you have bad judgment, which is a huge red flag to admissions committees.

You should also be careful with how you deploy humor and jokes. Your statement doesn’t have to be totally joyless and serious, but bear in mind that the person reading the statement may not have the same sense of humor as you do. When in doubt, err towards the side of being as inoffensive as possible.

Just as being too intimate in your statement can hurt you, it’s also important not to be overly formal or staid. You should be professional, but conversational.

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Graduate School Personal Statement Examples

Our graduate school experts have been kind enough to provide some successful grad school personal statement examples. We’ll provide three examples here, along with brief analysis of what makes each one successful.

Sample Personal Statement for Graduate School 1

PDF of Sample Personal Statement 1 – Japanese Studies

For this Japanese Studies master’s degree, the applicant had to provide a statement of purpose outlining her academic goals and experience with Japanese and a separate personal statement describing her personal relationship with Japanese Studies and what led her to pursue a master’s degree.

Here’s what’s successful about this personal statement:

  • An attention-grabbing beginning: The applicant begins with the statement that Japanese has never come easily to her and that it’s a brutal language to learn. Seeing as how this is an application for a Japanese Studies program, this is an intriguing beginning that makes the reader want to keep going.
  • A compelling narrative: From this attention-grabbing beginning, the applicant builds a well-structured and dramatic narrative tracking her engagement with the Japanese language over time. The clear turning point is her experience studying abroad, leading to a resolution in which she has clarity about her plans. Seeing as how the applicant wants to be a translator of Japanese literature, the tight narrative structure here is a great way to show her writing skills.
  • Specific examples that show important traits: The applicant clearly communicates both a deep passion for Japanese through examples of her continued engagement with Japanese and her determination and work ethic by highlighting the challenges she’s faced (and overcome) in her study of the language. This gives the impression that she is an engaged and dedicated student.

Overall, this is a very strong statement both in terms of style and content. It flows well, is memorable, and communicates that the applicant would make the most of the graduate school experience.

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Sample Personal Statement for Graduate School 2

PDF of Sample Graduate School Personal Statement 2 – Musical Composition

This personal statement for a Music Composition master’s degree discusses the factors that motivate the applicant to pursue graduate study.

Here’s what works well in this statement:

  • The applicant provides two clear reasons motivating the student to pursue graduate study: her experiences with music growing up, and her family’s musical history. She then supports those two reasons with examples and analysis.
  • The description of her ancestors’ engagement with music is very compelling and memorable. The applicant paints her own involvement with music as almost inevitable based on her family’s long history with musical pursuits.
  • The applicant gives thoughtful analysis of the advantages she has been afforded that have allowed her to study music so extensively. We get the sense that she is insightful and empathetic—qualities that would add greatly to any academic community.

This is a strong, serviceable personal statement. And in truth, given that this for a masters in music composition, other elements of the application (like work samples) are probably the most important.  However, here are two small changes I would make to improve it:

  • I would probably to split the massive second paragraph into 2-3 separate paragraphs. I might use one paragraph to orient the reader to the family’s musical history, one paragraph to discuss Giacomo and Antonio, and one paragraph to discuss how the family has influenced the applicant. As it stands, it’s a little unwieldy and the second paragraph doesn’t have a super-clear focus even though it’s all loosely related to the applicant’s family history with music.
  • I would also slightly shorten the anecdote about the applicant’s ancestors and expand more on how this family history has motivated the applicant’s interest in music. In what specific ways has her ancestors’ perseverance inspired her? Did she think about them during hard practice sessions? Is she interested in composing music in a style they might have played? More specific examples here would lend greater depth and clarity to the statement.

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Sample Personal Statement for Graduate School 3

PDF of Sample Graduate School Personal Statement 3 – Public Health

This is my successful personal statement for Columbia’s Master’s program in Public Health. We’ll do a deep dive on this statement paragraph-by-paragraph in the next section, but I’ll highlight a couple of things that work in this statement here:

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  • This statement is clearly organized. Almost every paragraph has a distinct focus and message, and when I move on to a new idea, I move on to a new paragraph with a logical transitions.
  • This statement covers a lot of ground in a pretty short space. I discuss my family history, my goals, my educational background, and my professional background. But because the paragraphs are organized and I use specific examples, it doesn’t feel too vague or scattered.
  • In addition to including information about my personal motivations, like my family, I also include some analysis about tailoring health interventions with my example of the Zande. This is a good way to show off what kinds of insights I might bring to the program based on my academic background.

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Grad School Personal Statement Example: Deep Dive

Now let’s do a deep dive, paragraph-by-paragraph, on one of these sample graduate school personal statements. We’ll use my personal statement that I used when I applied to Columbia’s public health program.

Paragraph One: For twenty-three years, my grandmother (a Veterinarian and an Epidemiologist) ran the Communicable Disease Department of a mid-sized urban public health department. The stories of Grandma Betty doggedly tracking down the named sexual partners of the infected are part of our family lore. Grandma Betty would persuade people to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases, encourage safer sexual practices, document the spread of infection and strive to contain and prevent it. Indeed, due to the large gay population in the city where she worked, Grandma Betty was at the forefront of the AIDS crises, and her analysis contributed greatly towards understanding how the disease was contracted and spread. My grandmother has always been a huge inspiration to me, and the reason why a career in public health was always on my radar.

This is an attention-grabbing opening anecdote that avoids most of the usual cliches about childhood dreams and proclivities. This story also subtly shows that I have a sense of public health history, given the significance of the AIDs crisis for public health as a field.

It’s good that I connect this family history to my own interests. However, if I were to revise this paragraph again, I might cut down on some of the detail because when it comes down to it, this story isn’t really about me. It’s important that even (sparingly used) anecdotes about other people ultimately reveal something about you in a personal statement.

Paragraph Two: Recent years have cemented that interest. In January 2012, my parents adopted my little brother Fred from China. Doctors in America subsequently diagnosed Fred with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). My parents were told that if Fred’s condition had been discovered in China, the (very poor) orphanage in which he spent the first 8+ years of his life would have recognized his DMD as a death sentence and denied him sustenance to hasten his demise.

Here’s another compelling anecdote to help explain my interest in public health. This is an appropriately personal detail for a personal statement—it’s a serious thing about my immediate family, but it doesn’t disclose anything that the admissions committee might find concerning or inappropriate.

If I were to take another pass through this paragraph, the main thing I would change is the last phrase. “Denied him sustenance to hasten his demise” is a little flowery. “Denied him food to hasten his death” is actually more powerful because it’s clearer and more direct.

Paragraph Three: It is not right that some people have access to the best doctors and treatment while others have no medical care. I want to pursue an MPH in Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia because studying social factors in health, with a particular focus on socio-health inequities, will prepare me to address these inequities. The interdisciplinary approach of the program appeals to me greatly as I believe interdisciplinary approaches are the most effective way to develop meaningful solutions to complex problems.

In this paragraph I make a neat and clear transition from discussing what sparked my interest in public health and health equity to what I am interested in about Columbia specifically: the interdisciplinary focus of the program, and how that focus will prepare me to solve complex health problems. This paragraph also serves as a good pivot point to start discussing my academic and professional background.

Paragraph Four: My undergraduate education has prepared me well for my chosen career. Understanding the underlying structure of a group’s culture is essential to successfully communicating with the group. In studying folklore and mythology, I’ve learned how to parse the unspoken structures of folk groups, and how those structures can be used to build bridges of understanding. For example, in a culture where most illnesses are believed to be caused by witchcraft, as is the case for the Zande people of central Africa, any successful health intervention or education program would of necessity take into account their very real belief in witchcraft.

In this paragraph, I link my undergraduate education and the skills I learned there to public health. The (very brief) analysis of tailoring health interventions to the Zande is a good way to show insight and show off the competencies I would bring to the program.

Paragraph Five: I now work in the healthcare industry for one of the largest providers of health benefits in the world. In addition to reigniting my passion for data and quantitative analytics, working for this company has immersed me in the business side of healthcare, a critical component of public health.

This brief paragraph highlights my relevant work experience in the healthcare industry. It also allows me to mention my work with data and quantitative analytics, which isn’t necessarily obvious from my academic background, which was primarily based in the social sciences.

Paragraph Six: I intend to pursue a PhD in order to become an expert in how social factors affect health, particularly as related to gender and sexuality. I intend to pursue a certificate in Sexuality, Sexual Health, and Reproduction. Working together with other experts to create effective interventions across cultures and societies, I want to help transform health landscapes both in America and abroad.

This final paragraph is about my future plans and intentions. Unfortunately, it’s a little disjointed, primarily because I discuss goals of pursuing a PhD before I talk about what certificate I want to pursue within the MPH program! Switching those two sentences and discussing my certificate goals within the MPH and then mentioning my PhD plans would make a lot more sense.

I also start two sentences in a row with “I intend,” which is repetitive.

The final sentence is a little bit generic; I might tailor it to specifically discuss a gender and sexual health issue, since that is the primary area of interest I’ve identified.

This was a successful personal statement; I got into (and attended!) the program. It has strong examples, clear organization, and outlines what interests me about the program (its interdisciplinary focus) and what competencies I would bring (a background in cultural analysis and experience with the business side of healthcare). However, a few slight tweaks would elevate this statement to the next level.

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Graduate School Personal Statement Examples You Can Find Online

So you need more samples for your personal statement for graduate school? Examples are everywhere on the internet, but they aren’t all of equal quality.

Most of examples are posted as part of writing guides published online by educational institutions. We’ve rounded up some of the best ones here if you are looking for more personal statement examples for graduate school.

Penn State Personal Statement Examples for Graduate School

This selection of ten short personal statements for graduate school and fellowship programs offers an interesting mix of approaches. Some focus more on personal adversity while others focus more closely on professional work within the field.

The writing in some of these statements is a little dry, and most deploy at least a few cliches. However, these are generally strong, serviceable statements that communicate clearly why the student is interested in the field, their skills and competencies, and what about the specific program appeals to them.

Cal State Sample Graduate School Personal Statements

These are good examples of personal statements for graduate school where students deploy lots of very vivid imagery and illustrative anecdotes of life experiences. There are also helpful comments about what works in each of these essays.

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However, all of these statements are definitely pushing the boundaries of acceptable length, as all are above 1000 and one is almost 1500 words! Many programs limit you to 500 words; if you don’t have a limit, you should try to keep it to two single-spaced pages at most (which is about 1000 words).

University of Chicago Personal Statement for Graduate School Examples

These examples of successful essays to the University of Chicago law school cover a wide range of life experiences and topics. The writing in all is very vivid, and all communicate clear messages about the students’ strengths and competencies.

Note, however, that these are all essays that specifically worked for University of Chicago law school. That does not mean that they would work everywhere. In fact, one major thing to note is that many of these responses, while well-written and vivid, barely address the students’ interest in law school at all! This is something that might not work well for most graduate programs.

Wheaton College Personal Statement for Graduate School Sample 10

This successful essay for law school from a Wheaton College undergraduate does a great job tracking the student’s interest in the law in a compelling and personal way. Wheaton offers other graduate school personal statement examples, but this one offers the most persuasive case for the students’ competencies. The student accomplishes this by using clear, well-elaborated examples, showing strong and vivid writing, and highlighting positive qualities like an interest in justice and empathy without seeming grandiose or out of touch.

Wheaton College Personal Statement for Graduate School Sample 1

Based on the background information provided at the bottom of the essay, this essay was apparently successful for this applicant. However, I’ve actually included this essay because it demonstrates an extremely risky approach. While this personal statement is strikingly written and the story is very memorable, it could definitely communicate the wrong message to some admissions committees. The student’s decision not to report the drill sergeant may read incredibly poorly to some admissions committees. They may wonder if the student’s failure to report the sergeant’s violence will ultimately expose more soldiers-in-training to the same kinds of abuses. This incident perhaps reads especially poorly in light of the fact that the military has such a notable problem with violence against women being covered up and otherwise mishandled

It’s actually hard to get a complete picture of the student’s true motivations from this essay, and what we have might raise real questions about the student’s character to some admissions committees. This student took a risk and it paid off, but it could have just as easily backfired spectacularly.

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Key Takeaways: Graduate School Personal Statement Examples

In this guide, we discussed why you need a personal statement and how it differs from a statement of purpose. (It’s more personal!)

We also discussed what you’ll find in a strong sample personal statement for graduate school:

  • A clear narrative about the applicant and why they are qualified for graduate study.
  • Specific examples to support that narrative.
  • Compelling reasons why the applicant and the program are a good fit for each other.
  • Strong writing, including clear organization and error-free, cliche-free language.
  • Appropriate boundaries—sharing without over-sharing.

Then, we provided three strong graduate school personal statement examples for different fields, along with analysis. We did a deep-dive on the third statement.

Finally, we provided a list of other sample grad school personal statements online.

What’s Next?

Want more advice on writing a personal statement ? See our guide.

Writing a graduate school statement of purpose? See our statement of purpose samples  and a nine-step process for writing the best statement of purpose possible .

If you’re writing a graduate school CV or resume, see our how-to guide to writing a CV , a how-to guide to writing a resume , our list of sample resumes and CVs , resume and CV templates , and a special guide for writing resume objectives .

Need stellar graduate school recommendation letters ? See our guide.

See our 29 tips for successfully applying to graduate school .

Ready to improve your GRE score by 7 points?

music school personal statement examples

Author: Ellen McCammon

Ellen is a public health graduate student and education expert. She has extensive experience mentoring students of all ages to reach their goals and in-depth knowledge on a variety of health topics. View all posts by Ellen McCammon

music school personal statement examples

music school personal statement examples

Sample Statement of Purpose – Music

This sample SOP is for applying to a master’s program in Music in the USA.

If you need help writing your SOP, check out our SOP Writing Service

Statement of Purpose – Music

My life’s passion has been music ever since I was old enough to sing. As I have grown and matured, I have been on a constant quest to explore new musical vistas and hone my own technical and composition skills. Now, having earned a degree in music and acquired teaching experience, I desire to challenge myself further by pursuing additional studies overseas. The music education in my native country is somewhat limited and not nearly as open or developed as it is in the USA, which is why I am attracted to the enriching, inspiring environment of your master’s program. In addition, I look forward to experiencing a new culture and interacting with diverse groups of people, which will broaden both my personal and musical horizons considerably.

As a young child, I often played the piano and sang songs with my mother. After learning the basics of piano, I soon began playing pop music by ear, and I gradually began adding my own flair to these songs and exploring my creative side. I was fortunate to have a mother who supported my passion for music, and she got me a composition teacher, which led to me focusing on composition in junior and senior high school. During this period, I mainly played classical music, which gave me a good foundation for my university-level studies. The numerous undergraduate classes I took on harmony, theory, music analysis, counterpoint, and composition opened my eyes to the vast possibilities I could continue to explore in the musical world. I especially enjoyed the regular one-on-one classes in the university, in which I got advice from instructors while discussing pieces from contemporary composers.

Many of the most instructive experiences have come outside of the classroom. For instance, in high school I participated in the Music Club as the lead singer and arranger, and I joined the Musician’s Association in the university, holding instructional camps for elementary school students. Throughout these years, I also performed solos and orchestral pieces at music festivals and concerts, playing various instruments and gaining invaluable experience. Meanwhile, I have also regularly taught private students in everything from composition and theory to ear training and technical skills. Such experiences have taught me to devise different teaching methods as appropriate for students of varying levels. For instance, I may let the students listen to J.S. Bach’s Chorale or Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale, then give them a chance to practice conducting in small groups with classmates. This has shown me firsthand the value of teaching, which makes me yearn for more teaching experiences in my future career.

My musical experiences have molded me into a multi-talented musician with teaching talents and a keen understanding of my own strengths and interests. This is why I feel well prepared to enter your graduate program of music. If accepted, I will devote my efforts to enriching my knowledge of music and composition, and I hope to focus on the area of contemporary music. I understand that studying at the graduate level overseas will present me with certain challenges, but based on my past accomplishments and struggles, I know that I have what it takes to overcome these and excel. After completing my studies, I plan to return to my country and seek a teaching position, with the goal of nurturing the next generation of musicians and inspiring others as my teachers inspired me.

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Music Personal Statement

Sample Music Personal Statement

My first public performance, humble though it was (I played the role of ‘troll’ in a nursery Christmas show), vividly imprinted itself on my mind and forms one of my earliest memories. Singing lessons allowed me to expand my repertoire somewhat and my naturally sociable nature saw me joining my first school choir. Here, I realised with wonder that I could cooperate within a large team to create beautiful harmonies, in addition to taking on many solo parts. Thanks to these, I was even offered one of the hotly-contested places in our local cathedral choir. Entertaining became second nature and I gave many impromptu staffroom shows at the request of teachers. Singing at the head’s retirement ceremony to an audience of nearly three hundred, I was not at all daunted and actually remember feeling disappointment that the whole school of eight hundred plus could not be in attendance! Positive and motivated, receiving praise for my performances has always buoyed my ambition to pursue a career in the field of musical theatre. It has not, however, overinflated my ego or given me false confidence, as nothing is as rewarding or truthful to me as seeing the enjoyment on the faces of my audience.

Elected onto the high school council, I represented my fellow pupils through clear, precise communication skills and a talent for persuasive speech-making. This led in turn to my being put forward to compete in several categories in the school’s annual Eisteddfod. Calling on my experience of drama festivals and examinations (I hold L.A.M.D.A. and Guildhall certificates for both group and solo performances) I was pleased to win honours for my house. Involving myself in the wider life of my school helped me to make many friends and I was a valued participant in the drama club, later acting as a mentor for younger members. I excel in such roles, as I am a great motivator who draws the best from others with patient perseverance; I have an autistic sister and this has taught me to cope with balancing varied demands. During the A-level drama exams, I volunteered providing backstage support with lighting, props and make-up, testifying to my proactive attitude. I have always felt driven to stretch myself and, when applying to join the new Young Actors Studio at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, I chose my own audition pieces and imposed a strict rehearsal schedule. This audition met with success and I was amazed to find that I was the youngest student ever accepted to study at R.W.C.M.D. Their dynamic course (attended on a weekly basis for two years) instilled me with terrific understanding of the craft of acting. I also progressed greatly with my singing, being encouraged to write original material that I am proud to say is now in use on my diploma course.

Hardworking and methodical in approach, I expect to achieve a UCAS rating of 200. My commitment and drive to complete every task I set my mind to is best demonstrated by my success in such notorious challenges as the Duke of Edinburgh awards. My spare time is spent in fun performance projects such as singing with an amateur rock band and volunteering at a local youth organisation where all types of performances are showcased. Supporting other young artists, I hand out flyers, sell programmes and take on the role of usher. I also never underestimate the importance of offering constructive criticism and moral support. When singing at a holiday-camp show aged twelve, I was filmed by a guest who professed to be securing ‘early years footage’ for when I became famous. I am fully determined not to let her down on this front, but any career in the entertainment industry would be fulfilling for me. I am serious in my dedication to your course, seeing it as the crucial next step in expanding my skills and developing expertise. The field that I have chosen is competitive but I know that it is where I truly belong and I am keenly prepared to face many trials on the journey to reach my full potential.

We hope this sample Music personal statement has been helpful for you.

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A Guide to Writing a Personal Statement for Grad School Applications

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This article was originally written by Hailey Spinks and was published on Grammarly .

music school personal statement examples

Congratulations! You made it through undergrad, and you’ve decided to apply to graduate school. Grad school can be a great way to progress your career path, upgrade your earning potential, and get a whole new perspective on your subject area—making the application process all the more daunting. As part of the application process, you’ll likely be required to write and submit a personal statement. 

A personal statement is a short  essay  between two and three pages long explaining why you’re applying to the program and what makes you a strong applicant. A personal statement allows you to differentiate yourself by sharing a little bit about what makes you unique.  Writing  your personal statement for grad school is the best way to show off your personality, which doesn’t always come through in the other parts of the  application  process. 

What is a personal statement? 

The point of a personal statement is for the admission committee to better understand who you are outside of your professional and academic experience. It’s also an opportunity to share information that they won’t find in your other application documents. 

A personal statement is different from a statement of purpose. A statement of purpose expands upon your career and academic goals, while a personal statement explains why you’re the right person for the program. You can still share your academic and career goals in a personal statement, but you should focus on explaining how you came to those goals and what accomplishing them would mean to you. 

A personal statement for grad school applications is also not the same as a personal statement that you would submit alongside a  résumé . While a personal statement for your CV focuses on your professional accomplishments and gives a quick overview of who you are as a potential employee, a personal statement for grad school is a more in-depth look at who you are outside of being an employee or a student. It provides a deeper glance at what you bring to the table and why you’re a good prospect for the program.

Brainstorm before you write your personal statement

Sitting down and taking some time to reflect is the first step to writing an outstanding personal statement. Writing prompts can help you get into the right frame of mind and begin your  brainstorming  process. Here are some ideas: 

  • What are my short-term and long-term goals? How will acceptance into this program help me achieve them?
  • What are my strengths in terms of skills and characteristics? How can these benefit the program?
  • What life experience or interest is so meaningful that I would devote years to exploring the topic or subject? Why does it captivate me? 
  • Is there someone who has significantly impacted my life or character? Who is it, and in what ways have they impacted me?
  • How has my life shaped my choice to apply for grad school?
  • What do I want the people reviewing my application to know about me? 
  • What makes me different from other students or prospective applicants? 

The answers to these questions will serve as the foundation of your personal statement.  You can also try other  calming prompts  to ease any nervousness you feel about beginning the writing process.

What makes a strong personal statement?

The best personal statements capture who you are as a person and give the reader a sense that they know you once they’re finished reading. You have a story to offer that no one else does, and the more authentic you are, the better your essay will flow. 

Your personal statement should have a sense of completeness. You don’t want to leave your readers wanting more. You want to provide your audience with all the information they might need to make a decision on your application. The beginning of your essay should be relevant until the end, with supporting body paragraphs in between. 

And finally, a personal statement should be mistake-free. Your grammar and spelling need to be perfect, and the diction and syntax in your essay need to be purposeful. 

7 dos and 3 don’ts for writing a personal statement

1  include examples.

If you’re spending your essay telling the admissions committee that you’re driven and compassionate, provide anecdotes that back up your claim. For example, you can prove that you’re driven by sharing that you balanced a job with school to pay down student loans, or you could talk about a time when you went above and beyond for a particular project. You can prove that you’re creative by giving an example of a time you offered an innovative solution to a problem that came up. You don’t want to say, “I’m smart and reliable.” You want to  show  that you are.  

2  Be yourself

It’s easy to tell when someone is exaggerating, hedging, or pretending to be someone they’re not. And this comes through especially in writing. Be authentic when crafting your personal statement. 

3  Do your research

Just as you would for a job interview, make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. Before writing your personal statement, you should have a concrete idea of what the university and program offers, what they value, and the kind of applicants they’re looking for. 

4  Grab their attention 

As the initial impression of your paper, your  hook  is everything—make it interesting! 

Stay away from rote phrases like “I’m writing to you today to . . . ” and throw them right into the action. Think of an instance that shaped you and jump right into the story. Keep it short, engaging, and illustrative of the qualities and motivations you will explore later in your statement.

5  Remember your audience

One of the biggest mistakes people make in personal statements is trying to be humorous or sarcastic. In writing, these  tones  often fail and fall flat. Remember who you’re writing for, and stay professional. 

6  Address the prompt

Though most schools will give you the freedom to make your personal statement about whatever you want (as long as it’s within the guidelines of the general answer they’re seeking), some will require you to answer a specific question. If that’s the case, remember to keep your personal statement tailored to the prompt and be  direct  with your answers. 

7  Revise and proofread

Make sure your statement is clear and flows smoothly between sentences and paragraphs. Read it out loud, and read it to a friend or family member to get feedback. Also, be sure your copy is clean—any grammatical errors or spelling mistakes can distract the reader and detract from the message you’re trying to deliver. 

1  Don’t be presumptuous

Of course you want to showcase what makes you a great applicant, but make sure you don’t overdo it. Just because you might think you’d be a good fit for the program doesn’t mean the admissions office will see it that way. 

Presumptuous: “I know my personal statement for grad school is the best, and I have no doubt that I’ll get in everywhere I apply.”

Confident: “I put a lot of effort into my personal statement for grad school, and I know it is well-written and authentic.” 

2  Don’t use platitudes or clichés

You don’t want to oversimplify important life events by using a platitude, nor do you want to use  clichés  in place of opportunities for authenticity. Everyone uses them; that’s how they got to be clichés! Avoid starting your essay with a quote, definition, or anything else that signals the obvious fact that time has passed and you’re now applying for graduate school. For example: “from a young age . . . ” or “I’ve always been interested in . . . ” 

3  Don’t overshare

This isn’t an autobiography or a session with a close confidant. Pick an example or two of life events that shaped you and your desire to apply to grad school, but don’t tell your whole life story. There’s also no need to get into the nitty-gritty with the admissions committee. Keep your personal statement inspiring, and remember what you’re trying to convey. 

Crafting your personal statement

You might want to begin your writing process with an outline detailing what you plan to include in your personal statement.  Writing an outline  might seem annoying, but it can be beneficial in the long run. 

Your paper should end up between two and three pages long, and should include:

  • Introduction
  • Body paragraphs

Your introduction should include a hook that captures your reader’s attention and makes them want to keep reading. Admission committees read countless personal statements, so make yours stand out. 

Body paragraphs should include examples of characteristics you want to come through in your personal statement, whether that be an  anecdote  about a challenge you overcame or something broader. Let these paragraphs explain your motivations for applying, and provide examples of your ability to excel in the program.  

Your conclusion is an opportunity to discuss future plans and explain why acceptance into your desired program would benefit you. The conclusion is also a great time to summarize the key pieces of your previous paragraphs, weave them together, and complete your argument. For example, if you previously explained a challenging moment in your life, your conclusion should emphasize what you got out of that experience and how it has prepared you for this opportunity. 

The final sentence of your concluding paragraph should be just as good as your hook. You want the audience to remember your paper, so leave them with something to ponder. Perhaps your last sentence inspires the reader or evokes a strong emotion. Either way, your final statement needs to give a sense of completion. 

After you finish writing, don’t forget to proofread and revise until your final draft is polished and clear. 

Remember to bring something different to the table and provide the admissions committee with something new and valuable to know about you that they can’t access elsewhere. Stay authentic, be engaging, and prove that you’re exactly the kind of person grad schools want in their program. 

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How To Write a Personal Statement That Stands Out

How To Write a Personal Statement That Stands Out

Table of contents

music school personal statement examples

Laura Jane Bradbury

A personal statement is a chance to highlight your unique qualities, skills, and experiences, all while showcasing your personality.

But whether you're applying for university, a job, or funding, it can be daunting to write about yourself. To increase your chances of getting accepted, it's important to know how to create an effective personal statement.

In my six years as a copywriter, I’ve written many personal statements that get results. In this article, I’ll guide you through what to include, what to avoid, and how to tailor a personal statement based on your application type.

Key Takeaways

  • A personal statement is an opportunity to share your unique qualities, experiences, and skills.
  • It should always relate to the course, job, or funding you are applying for.
  • Include accomplishments and experiences that demonstrate how suited you are to the position or course you are applying for.
  • Use clear and simple language to ensure your points are understood.

Your personal statement should be concise and demonstrate how you fit the position or opportunity you’re applying for. It’s important to keep information relevant, rather than listing all of your skills and accomplishments.

Follow these steps to accurately write and tailor your statement.

Understand your prompt

Before you start, make sure you understand what's expected of you. Are there specific instructions, keywords, or phrases that stand out in your prompt? Read through it thoroughly and note the requirements. You can then brainstorm ideas for each point.

Let's say I'm applying for a university journalism course. I've been asked to write a statement that shares why I'm interested and why I would be a good fit. I can use columns to plan my content:

music school personal statement examples

Putting your ideas together first makes it easier to stay on track. Otherwise, you might lose focus and include irrelevant information. 

Show, don't just tell

Once you’ve listed your experiences, skills, and accomplishments, consider how you can demonstrate them with examples. Take a look at the list you created during the previous exercise and organize your points so you have clear examples and proof.

music school personal statement examples

This technique helps you demonstrate your experiences and how they tie in with your application.

When telling anecdotes, use engaging stories that demonstrate your skills. For instance, a story about how I handled a fast-paced news internship proves I work well under pressure. 

Start strong

Recruiters, application tutors, and funders read lots of personal statements. You can make yours stand out with an engaging introduction.

Examples of a strong opening include:

A meaningful statistic

This draws readers in and increases credibility: 

"Communication is the key to marketing success, according to Business Marketing News. With five years of experience communicating and delivering campaigns to global clients, I have the skills and passion to add value to your team."

A personal story

Anecdotes connect the reader with the author’s real-life experience: 

"My first exposure to microbiology was during my time as a research assistant for a microbiologist. I was fascinated by the complex and intricate processes within cells."

An alarming statement

This piques the reader’s interest by making an issue seem urgent:  

“ The fashion industry churns out clothes at an alarming rate, causing mass production of synthetic fibers and harsh chemicals which have a detrimental impact on the planet. Funding my sustainability initiative is vital to mitigating this environmental impact." 

Avoid cliches such as "From a young age, I have always loved...." and "For as long as I can remember, I have had a passion for..."

Pro tip: Use Wordtune Editor 's Shorten feature to cut unnecessary fluff and make your intro sharper. Simply type in your sentence and click Shorten to receive suggestions.

music school personal statement examples

Get Wordtune for free > Get Wordtune for free >

Admission committees and employers appreciate sincerity and authenticity. While it may be tempting, avoid exaggeration. You can better emphasize your skills and personality by being honest. For instance, rather than claiming I read every type of newspaper in my journalism application, I can focus on my dedication to reading The New York Times.

Your writing style should also feel genuine. Instead of trying to impress with complex language and fancy words, keep sentences simple and direct . This makes them more effective because they’re easier to read. 

Address weaknesses

Addressing weaknesses can show your willingness to confront challenges. It also gives you a chance to share efforts you have made for improvement. When explaining a weakness, exclude excuses.

Instead of saying "I didn't achieve my expected grades due to work commitments impacting my studies," try “While I didn't achieve my expected grades, I am now working with a tutor to help me understand my weak areas so I can succeed in your program.”

Wordtune’s Spices feature can help you develop counterarguments to weaknesses. In the Editor, highlight your text, click on Spices, and then Counterargument . Here’s an example:

Wordtune Editor’s Spices feature can provide a counterargument to help you address weaknesses in a personal statement.

Using Wordtune’s suggestion, I can highlight my eagerness to learn and provide examples to support my argument.

Highlight achievements

This is your chance to shine! A personal statement should highlight your best qualities — provided they relate to your prompt.

Ask yourself:

  • What are your skills and strengths? Identify both academic and non-academic abilities such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork.
  • What challenges have you faced? Reflect on how you have overcome significant challenges and how these experiences have helped you grow. For example, completing a course, learning a new language, or starting a business.
  • What are your unique selling points? Consider what sets you apart from other applicants. For example, you may have a unique set of technical skills or experience learning in a different country.
  • How have your achievements shaped your goals and aspirations? Sharing your goals shows that you think long-term and have taken the time to make sure you’re applying for the right opportunity.

Connect with the institution or company

Tailor your statement to the specific institution or company you're applying to — this shows you understand their values and have carefully considered where you want to seek opportunities.

To do this, head to the company or institution’s website and look for the About page. Many organizations include a mission statement on this page that conveys its purpose and values.

Princeton University’s “In service of humanity” page highlights that they value supporting society and giving back.

For example, universities often include their values under “Community” or “Student Life” sections. Here, Princeton University’s “In Service of Humanity” section highlights how they value using education to benefit society. Applicants can engage with this by explaining how they interact with their communities and seek to use their education to help others.

You can also research a company or institution’s social media. Look for similarities — maybe you both prioritize collaboration or think outside the box. Draw upon this in your personal statement. 

End with a strong conclusion

A strong conclusion is clear, concise, and leaves a lasting impression. Use these three steps:

  • Summarize the main points of your statement. For example, “My experience volunteering for the school newspaper, along with my communication skills and enthusiasm for writing, make me an ideal student for your university."
  • Discuss your future . Share your future ambitions to remind the reader that you’ve carefully considered how the opportunity fits into your plans.
  • Include a closing statement. End on a positive note and offer the reader a final explanation for why you would be a great match. For instance, “Thank you for reviewing my statement. I am confident my skills and experience align with the role and your company culture.”

Tip: Learn more about writing an effective conclusion with our handy guide . 

Different types of personal statements

Now you know how to write a personal statement, let’s look at what to focus on depending on your application type.

music school personal statement examples

The length of your personal statement will vary depending on the type. Generally, it should be around 500 words to 650 words . However, a university application is often longer than a statement for a job, so it’s vital to determine what is expected of you from the beginning.

Whatever the length, it’s important to remove and edit content fluff , including any repetition or copy that does not relate to your prompt.

Personal statement checklist

Use this checklist to ensure that your statement includes: 

  • An engaging introduction.
  • Clear examples of your experiences, skills, and expertise. 
  • A commitment to improvement, if required.
  • Any applicable achievements. 
  • A direct connection to the company or institution’s values.
  • A strong conclusion that summarizes information without adding new content.
  • Authentic, simple language.

Personal statements are an opportunity to delve deeper and share who you are beyond your grades or resume experience. Demonstrate your ability with anecdotes and examples, address any weaknesses, and remember to use genuine and simple language. This is your place to shine, so follow our tips while displaying your unique personality, and you’ll be sure to stand out from the crowd.

Want to get started and create a powerful introduction? Read our step-by-step guide .

What is the difference between a cover letter and a personal statement?

A cover letter expresses your interest in a position and introduces you to an employer. It’s typically shorter and focuses on your qualifications, skills, and experience for a particular role. A personal statement, however, is common for a job, internship, funding, or university application. It explores your background, goals, and aspirations, as well as your skills and experience.

What is the purpose of a personal statement?

A personal statement is an opportunity to stand out by detailing your background, experiences, and aspirations. It should explain why you are interested in and a good match for the company or institution you are applying to.

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Popular Music Performance Personal Statement Example

From a young age I have been very interested in popular music and It's culture. My interest started at my family gatherings. My older cousins used to bring their instruments with them and play pop songs everyone knew and most times it ended up with everyone jamming and singing along. It was thrilling to be a part of and I was very intrigued by the way people can play instruments together by ear. I feel very grateful to have a musical family, It's given me a real appreciation for many different styles of music and cultures.

I play the bass guitar. I took it up after being fascinated by the deep sound and liked working together with the drummer as the solid foundation of an ensemble. I also play various hand drums which has taught me about some aspects of drumming and helps me play tighter. In school I learnt mainly by jamming with my friends. This quickly turned into a band and opened up the opportunity for us play regularly in school assemblies and start playing gigs in our local area. I started to learn about what is was to be a musician and I knew I wanted to take it further. I went to Walsall college to study a BTEC in popular music. It was very hands on and opened up my eyes to the greater world of music with lessons covering live sound, theory, producing and many more areas. It taught me a lot about how life can be in the music industry and about the jobs that are part of it. Overall college taught me many skills that help me get employed as a musician, like being able to think on my feet with improvisation.

I have played bass for a range of bands including function, church, metal, rock and acoustic. It's shown me the importance of being able to play many different styles and this gives me the ability to take more musical opportunities when the arise. Although playing an instrument is something I like to take seriously, I really enjoy it. I've learnt that when playing a show, just small things like being early and having a band dress code can really make an impact on how the band is received by the audience and venue staff. I consider the bass guitar to be my main instrument but I like to explore other areas of music too, as I find it essential to being a musician. I have an acoustic act with my brother. It has taught me about song writing, the use of vocal harmonies and computer software like Ableton Live to make audio samples and loops for the act.

I have had experience within other areas of music too. In my gap year in New Zealand I worked as a promoter for a pub, on top of my day job. I found it was mainly about convincing people that my venue and acts are worth seeing with a great deal of social networking, flyering and posters in key areas. Having done well as a promoter I got the position of choosing some of the bands, becoming a part of the events managing team. I found this to be a big responsibility and very rewarding. It helped me develop a closer relationship with the rest of the staff and the bands, giving me more opportunities for work.

In my non-musical interests I like to build and repair computers. This has given me an appreciation for quality with my builds and to be thorough in checking for faults with connections and systems. It's a skill which links with my live sound abilities. I also like to go to new places and experience new cultures. I have learned a lot from my time in New Zealand about myself and the music business and want to travel more in the future. It's also given me an appreciation and a much bigger interest in world music.

From my experiences over the past few years I am set on choosing music. I have a great desire to learn and with my experience in promotion and currently working on two different musical projects and working towards grade 6 theory, I really want to take myself to the next level of education. I feel that University is the way to get to that next step, with new learning and life opportunities.

Profile info

This personal statement was written by Biggs for application in 2013.

Biggs's Comments

Sent this off in December. It's getting me interviews! Hope it helps if your stuck.

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    My study with Brian Bowman made me be a stronger performer and refined my teaching skills. Thus, I became a successful low brass instrumental freelancer in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Brian Bowman's instruction to me was the accuracy of playing the musical language, as well as to be trained as a stronger soloist.

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    Where your musical enthusiasm lies: Dr Kirsten Gibson, music admissions tutor and programme leader at Newcastle University (an academic course), is looking for detailed, engaging examples of your musical experiences, interests, and your academic and musical aspirations.These could lie in performance, composition, music history, analysis, ethnomusicology, or elsewhere.

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    I have achieved ABRSM Grade 8 merit on my Horn and plan to take an ATCL diploma in left-handed piano in 2008. A particular strength of mine is a willingness to be flexible and diverse in my interests. Recently, I took on the role of editor for my College team in the T.E.S Newsday Competition.

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    Bryce Richardson Like every classical musician, I long for opportunity to play in an incredible orchestra. I played principal bassoon in the Beaufort Youth Symphony Orchestra for t years and during my time at SCGSAH have been involved in many large ensembles. This is one of my favorite setting to play music.

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    Applying Personal Statements Music Personal Statement Music Personal Statements Example Sample Statement I love music but I also enjoy a challenge. That is why I have decided to focus on music as my future career rather than just a way to relax.

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    Sample Statement of Purpose - Music This sample SOP is for applying to a master's program in Music in the USA. If you need help writing your SOP, check out our SOP Writing Service Statement of Purpose - Music My life's passion has been music ever since I was old enough to sing.

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  18. PDF GradAdm Personal Statement Tip Sheet

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  19. sample music personal statement feel free to use it when writing yours

    Calling on my experience of drama festivals and examinations (I hold L.A.M.D.A. and Guildhall certificates for both group and solo performances) I was pleased to win honours for my house.

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  21. Popular Music Personal Statement Example

    For 4 years, I worked in an office/telephone centre for opinion research. As a project supervisor, I was personally responsible for 10-100 employees, and had various other responsibilities, which did teach me a lot. It has always been a goal of mine to do the degree in popular music.

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  24. Music and Popular Music Personal Statement Example

    The earliest musical memory I have is singing along to 'Puff The Magic Dragon' and crying my heart out. The combination of the beautiful melody and the lyrics of loss and loneliness made a great impact on me. Since then, music has meant the world to me.

  25. Popular Music Performance Personal Statement Example

    It was very hands on and opened up my eyes to the greater world of music with lessons covering live sound, theory, producing and many more areas. It taught me a lot about how life can be in the music industry and about the jobs that are part of it.