Christina Ebersohl is a Music Performance major (viola) at Portland State University. She just completed Performing Arts Abroad’s Summer Study Abroad semester in Italy. I’m not exactly a discrete study abroad student in Italy. I mean, I don’t exactly have…
Study music in Florence, the birthplace of opera and one of Italy’s most important cultural centers as the capital of the region of Tuscany. Musical excellence is part of the very identity of Florence, from the historical influences of Paganini to the hundreds of opera singers, orchestras, and choirs that flourish today.
Take small classes and private lessons taught in English with experienced instructors at a music school within an accredited arts university. You can also pursue an internship with an arts organization as one of your 3-credit courses.
Want to do this program in the summer instead of a full semester? Check out our Music Summer Study in Florence page.
“I thought this program was a lot of fun and I certainly learned a lot in my host country. The school in Florence I stayed in was perfectly placed and had everything students would need.”
Performing Arts Points of Interest
The Alfieri Space is a creative theatre venue in Florence that houses cultural events such as plays, film, music, and visual arts. The Alfieri Space theatre houses performances ranging from works of local playwrights to Shakespeare. Film opportunities in the Alfieri Space include festivals year-round. Past festivals have been the annual International Documentary Film Festival and the Sea Film Festival of 2017.
NoF Club Firenze
The NoF Club in the Oltrarno area of Florence opened in 2011 is a popular local band venue. Bands perform from an AstroTurf stage in the shop-front window overlooking Borgo San Frediano. There is a second bar beneath wrought iron fixtures and leafy plant life. The venue hosts live music six nights a week, music starting from 10pm with free entry.
Odeon Firenze Cinehall
Cinema Odeon Firenze is an elaborately designed theatre in Florence inaugurated in 1922. Here you can find English film screenings along with Italian films. The cinema hosts events as well as film screenings, including the British 100 Film Festival.
Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
The Teatro Comunale di Firenze or Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino was built in the 1800s as an open-air ampitheatre seating 6,000 people! After fires, damage from WWII bombing, and other closures, it finally re-opened permanently in 1961 as a 2,000 seat auditorium. The theatre now hosts Italy’s most important music festival, the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino.
PAA Home Base
Our programs in Florence are based at the Florence University of the Arts (FUA), where you will take music classes and attend many student activities. You will have access to all FUA facilities as a Performing Arts Abroad student, including the gym and culinary arts school dining hall. All buildings are in the very heart of Florence with the main student life center overlooking the Arno River.
About the Location
Experience the breathtaking magnificence of the cafes, art museums, and architectural wonders of the Renaissance city of Florence, Italy. History is alive everywhere you look, from Giotto’s Campanile and The Duomo to the Baptistery of St. John. Attend one of the abundant musical performances throughout the city where opera began in the 1500s, and enjoy the legacy of Italian music via festivals happening throughout the year.
Surrounded by style and elegance in everything from food to fashion, you’ll feel the artistic heart of Florence the minute you step off the plane. The region’s mild climate makes strolling the cultured streets a popular activity, and the city is enclosed by the rolling hills of Tuscany. World-famous vineyards and olive oil producers are minutes away, while the cities of Venice, Milan, and Rome are just a few short hours away by train.
Experience independence and build friendships with other study abroad students while living in a student apartment. You will live in a double room in one of many apartments located in charming neighborhoods throughout the city center of Florence. Single rooms are available at an extra cost.
All apartments offer a full kitchen, and utilities are included in the price of housing. You will be located within a 15-minute walk from where you will take music courses as well as the bustling downtown.
You will stay in a double or triple room with other study abroad students, or request a single room at an extra cost. Apartments and homestays vary in size and accommodate up to six people each. Performing Arts Abroad usually hosts five to ten students per semester at Florence University of the Arts, which is made up of hundreds of international students, primarily from the United States. You will join a cohort of several dozen other students from our partner companies for regular onsite activities and excursions throughout your semester.
A Day in the Life
The Participant Experience
You wake to the sound of the cobbled streets below, bustling with eager travelers and Italian merchants peddling their wares. Light streams through the shutters of your apartment’s tall ornate windows as you sit down to breakfast with your flatmates. On your way out the door, you hop across the street to your neighborhood cafe where they already have your coffee waiting, just the way you like it. You greet the staff with a friendly “buongiorno” and make small talk with the barista as you enjoy a pastry with your coffee, standing at the counter. It’s amazing how much your Italian has improved with these small daily interactions, even in the few short weeks since you arrived in Florence. You walk down the street to the university where you have your one-on-one morning music class, followed by a small group course utilizing the school’s recording studio and computer lab with keyboards. That afternoon, you will walk a few blocks to the music organization where you are interning to help with their upcoming production. You pinch yourself. A few months ago, you never would have believed you would be doing all this, AND earning academic credit toward your music degree at home.
You will book your flight to arrive at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Fiumicino Airport (FCO), where PAA representatives will greet you and begin your orientation to Italy with a 3 credit week-long travel course called “Cultural Introduction to Italy.” During this intensive class, you will travel to several key sites throughout the country, exploring their historical and cultural significance. Upon arrival in Florence, you will have already completed 3 credits, which will free up your schedule for more artistic pursuits, or for spending more time relaxing and exploring the beautiful Tuscany region surrounding the city.
Upon arrival in Florence, you will attend all-day orientation activities, including:
- a session on immigration advising to confirm you have all necessary documents for the Permit to Stay visa procedure
- an orientation that will include a school welcome, academic and program policies, student services, housing, information about educational field trips, an Italian language test for non-beginner students, and a school facilities walking tour
- “Living in Florence” seminar
Your second orientation day, you will have a meeting to finalize your Permit to Stay, which is required of the student visa you will acquire for entry into Italy. You will also enjoy a welcome reception for all new students!
A Typical Day
During your semester abroad, you will live independently with other students studying at the university. You will attend classes during the week, with plenty of time to explore the city on your own. Most students choose to travel over the weekends, and many classes do not meet on Fridays, giving you three-day weekends to explore Italy and cities in nearby countries such as Barcelona and Paris. Often, you can find roundtrip airfare to these places for under 100 Euros!
Each week, you will be invited to participate in many extracurricular activities, including
- a “Musing” club that attends music events throughout Florence and often forms bands that play gigs in local venues
- Connecting Cultures, a program of community engagement through city walks, language partners, and an “Italian Family Club” that allows you to meet regularly with an Italian family to learn more about their lifestyle
- Sport nights for some fun friendly competition with your peers playing football (soccer)
- “Taste Italy” cooking and food workshops in collaboration with the university’s culinary program
Stand out at auditions by spending a semester studying vocal or instrumental music with some of Florence’s renowned instructors.
The music school where you will be studying is housed in the Florence University of the Arts, which is accredited through the University of South Florida, meaning you will be issued an official academic transcript with credit being awarded through USF.
Many courses involve one-on-one individual instruction, the most effective way to develop your musical proficiency. Other courses are taught in small groups. Specific areas of study include opera, Italian vocal styles, diction, intensive Italian language, piano, guitar, and music production. Other instruments may be available upon request as an independent study.
You also have the option of doing an internship as one of your 3-credit courses. This would involve you working 15 hours per week at an arts organization in Florence. Examples include opera houses, symphony halls, recording studios, and theaters.
As a student, you will have access to practice rooms, a piano, and a state-of-the-art recording studio. We have highlighted the music courses available each semester on this page, but you are welcome to take courses in cooking, history, business, wine, and many other subjects which can be found on the FUA Academic Schedule page. Just select your term of interest to begin perusing.
Christian is the primary PAA contact for all participants once they have applied to their programs. He processes applications, conducts applicant interviews, communicates with overseas partners regarding acceptance decisions, orchestrates all pre-departure preparation, supports participants while they are on their programs, and oversees re-entry counseling as he ushers them into joining the ranks of our fabulous PAA alumni.
Christian has been a musician for most of his life. He began performing at a young age on the trumpet in his school’s concert and jazz bands, as well as playing bass guitar in various bands throughout high school and college. Most recently, he has taken up the drums, collaborating with a longtime friend on different projects. His travels have taken him to almost all of the Caribbean, various countries in Europe, and Lyon, France where he lived for three months. His favorite city so far has been Budapest, Hungary, and his favorite experiences were scootering around the countryside in France, and exploring the neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince.
Erin advises everyone who expresses interest in PAA’s programs. She responds to e-mails, answers questions submitted in online forms, makes and receives phone calls about our programs, and communicates with those who begin an application.
Erin Hardee Patterson earned a Bachelor’s of Music in Music Therapy at Berklee College of Music, and her Master’s in Music Therapy from Florida State University. Her professional adventures as a cellist, singer songwriter, board-certified music therapist, event coordinator, admissions professional, project manager, and newly trained birth doula have helped her to live all over the United States – from her home state of Virginia, to New Orleans and Maine, to Tallahassee and Vegas (to name just a few!). In addition to her US travels, a ferocious case of wanderlust inspired Erin to travel to The Netherlands, Canada, Germany, France, and Belgium. (The wanderlust is no joke – this bio was written on a plane!). She enjoys practicing her conversational French and American Sign Language, and has aspirations of one day carrying on conversations in Spanish (hopefully on a beautiful balcony in Spain). Erin is a new transplant to the Northampton, MA area with her firefighter/paramedic spouse Max, their dog Eleanor, and 3 very fat house cats. She is passionate about tiny humans, music, yoga, beautiful bodies of water, succulents, two steppin’, empowering families to have joyous, satisfying births, and being a smiley muppet.
Florence Site Director
Alessandro supports all participants on our Florence programs, acting as the main point of contact throughout their stay in Italy. He coordinates airport pickup, arranges housing, leads cultural excursions, and manages the 24-hour onsite emergency phone.
Born in Maryland, USA, raised in Rome with Italian and Guatemalan parents and having traveled extensively through Europe, Central America, North America and China, Alessandro considers himself a citizen of the world. During his travels, he acquired a passion for the environment, its preservation, cultures and languages. This passion led him to obtain a BA in Geography with a minor in Chinese Studies from Humboldt State University in California. In 2010 he spent a semester studying abroad at the University of Shanghai in China and this outstanding experience turned him into an even stronger proponent of study abroad programs, no matter where. After graduation, his passion for the outdoors and the environment led him to successfully complete the National Park Service Ranger Academy as well as the National Outdoor Leadership School Wilderness First Responder certification. Wanting to get back into the international education world, he moved to Florence at the beginning of 2013 and has coordinated several study abroad programs in Florence and throughout Italy. Some of his hobbies are learning new languages (he speaks English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French along with some German and Mandarin), cooking, traveling, sharing what he knows of this wonderful part of the world, and learning from other cultures.
Florence Program Director, FUA
Cristiana coordinates all programming in collaboration with the Florence University of the Arts, including our semester and summer study programs and internships in Florence. She finalizes course schedules, coordinates university orientation events, provides academic advising, facilitates internship placements, and acts as a liaison between PAA and FUA’s academic departments of music and dance.
Cristiana graduated from the Università degli Studi di Firenze in 2008 with a Masters degree in Foreign Languages: English and Japanese. Her passion for international education and study abroad started at a young age with several summer study abroad experiences in the UK. At the end of her first year of university she decided to spend the three-month break in Boston, MA where she was able to enhance her understanding of the US culture and further improve her English. The following year she spent a semester in Paris, France, taking courses at the “Denis Diderot-Paris VII” through the ERASMUS project. Cristiana began working at Florence University of the Arts in 2007. Having gained experience in various departments of the university, since 2010 Cristiana is the Dean of Student Affairs. At the same time she also coordinates the various internship and experiential learning project opportunities at the school. A local Florentine, Cristiana has a wealth of knowledge to share with students about her hometown. She loves nothing more than spending her free time in the traditional artisan quarters of the city and encourages students to explore the lesser known areas of Florence.
“Florence was a beautiful experience where I learned a lot about the Italian culture and people. Even though I did not take a language course while there, I realized that studying the language was a good technique in order to engage with the people I met and respect the culture.”
“PAA was by far one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Not only did I learn a great deal about the Italian culture, customs, and language, as well as meet amazing people, but I also grew so much as a singer. I studied for six weeks in the heart of Florence under the tutelage of Susanna Piccardi. Susanna taught me more in those six weeks than I have ever learned in all of my years of singing. Concepts that once seemed foreign to me, or large abstract ideas that did not quite make sense before, she broke down so clearly, and explained them (in a fantastic Italian accent, I might add!) in such a way that I understood them immediately. She took me from being a “college-level” singer, to a pre-professional singer. I would love to return to Florence with PAA to study with her again in the coming years. Thank you, PAA!”
“I got to be on the deck crew of a touring house where I helped bring shows into the Theatre and learned how to work a hemp rigging system. I made life-long friends and had an amazing adventure. I got to do and see things I only ever dreamed about seeing. I gained confidence in myself, and I feel like a whole new person!”
From the blog
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|Session||Application Deadline||Start Date||End Date|
|Fall Semester 2018||May 15 2018||Aug 26 2018||Dec 13 2018|
Important Fall 2018 Dates
|Event||Start Date||End Date|
|Students arrive in Rome||August 26, 2018|
|Orientation||August 27, 2018|
|"Cultural Introduction to Italy" travel course||August 27, 2018||September 2, 2018|
|Students arrive in Florence||September 2, 2018|
|Classes start||September 3, 2018|
|Midterm Exam Week||October 15, 2018||October 19, 2018|
|Fall Break||October 20, 2018||October 28, 2018|
|Classes resume||October 29, 2018|
|Final Exam Week||December 10, 2018||December 12, 2018|
|Classes end||December 12, 2018|
|Housing check-out (by 10 a.m.)||December 13, 2018|
|Session||Application Deadline||Start Date||End Date|
|Spring Semester 2019||Oct 01 2018||Jan 20 2019||May 09 2019|
Important Spring 2019 Dates
|Event||Start Date||End Date|
|Arrive in Rome||January 20, 2019|
|Orientation||January 21, 2019|
|"Cultural Introduction to Italy" traveling course||January 21, 2019||January 27, 2019|
|Arrive in Florence||January 27, 2019|
|Classes start in Florence||January 28, 2019|
|Midterm exam week||March 15, 2019|
|Spring Break||March 16, 2019||March 24, 2019|
|Final exam week||May 6, 2019||May 8, 2019|
|Housing check-out (by 10 a.m.)|
|Fall or Spring Semester||$17,995|
Apply today — How the process works
Submit a simple online application
Schedule a live video interview with a Program Coordinator
Upload program specific materials to an online portal
Receive your aceptance decision and begin your journey!
How the Process Works
To apply, click the “Apply Now” button below. You will fill out a simple initial application online and pay a deposit that is refundable if you are not accepted, and will be applied toward your overall program cost if you are accepted (not an additional fee). At this point, we will ask you to send us the following materials:
- Your resume/CV
- A copy of your academic transcript
- Official university online application
- Audition video (optional)
- A cover letter (if you choose an internship as one of your classes)
- Your availability in U.S. Eastern Time for a 30 minute video interview with your Program Coordinator. If you choose an internship as one of your classes, you will use this interview to schedule a second Skype interview with our Internship Placement Coordinator in Florence. You will receive an acceptance decision within two weeks of finishing the application process.
- The Skype interviews are our first face-to-face impression of you. Show up on time, dress well, and be personable.
- Be very clear in your interviews about your intentions for your semester, and the classes you hope to take. If you are pursuing an internship as one of your classes, be clear about your goals. We work hard to customize placements to your needs, and to do this well, we need a clear picture of who you are and what you want out of your experience (and don’t want!).
- If you are pursuing an internship, use the cover letter template we will send you to help organize your thoughts for the cover letter. Remember that we will be sending these to companies for consideration to take you on as an intern, so put your best foot forward!
Participants must be 18 or over the day they begin the program.
GPA / Student Status
You do not have to be a student to apply for this program, but keep in mind that you will be paying tuition and receiving an academic transcript. For currently enrolled students, we recommend a GPA of 2.5 or higher, although exceptions can be made in special circumstances. A student visa is required, and your Program Coordinator will walk you through this process upon acceptance.
The language of instruction is English. Although it is not required, a basic understanding of Italian before beginning your program will improve your semester, lead to a richer cultural experience, and open up more possibilities if you choose to do an internship.
We give preference to applicants with at least one year of music experience. An audition video showing your current skill level is helpful, but not required unless as a pre-requisite for specific courses.
We are looking for open-minded, flexible applicants who can clearly convey their passion for music and an acute interest in international travel and exposure to new ideas.