Breaking into the scene: a guide to getting started in music

Allie O'Connor, Assistant Culture Editor

There’s so much a student can do to get involved in the music scene at UVM and in Burlington that it might be intimidating for those who don’t quite know where to begin.

While the campus is well known for fostering a creative environment, getting started in the music scene isn’t always easy. Here are several programs and individuals who want to help current and future Catamount artists find their musical foothold. 


Junior Lili Traviato, who writes and produces music under the name Princess Nostalgia, said the best part of being a musician in Burlington and at UVM is that the music community is welcoming and not too difficult to get involved in.

“The worst part is that being a female producer in a music scene dominated by men means dealing with a lot of bullshit,” Traviato said. “Men assume that I don’t produce my own stuff or try to downplay the amount of work that goes into my music.”

She recommends that students who are looking to get into music in Burlington start by putting themselves out there.

“I started performing at open mics and as a result got connected with people who started booking gigs with me,” Traviato said.

She said networking is crucial on the path to musical success.

“If you perform regularly, you’ll start to form relationships with local booking agents, reporters and fellow musicians,” Traviato said.

Drew Steinberg ’18, former manager of and guitar player in the student band Jeddy agreed that new musicians should play as often as they can.

“Play downtown, play in a dorm room, play in a basement,” he said.

Because Jeddy kept putting itself out there, the band quickly became successful, Steinberg said. The band became a business, and the group moved beyond Burlington bars, to venues in New York, Massachusetts and Maine.

“It’s hard being a student musician, so it’s important to ask yourself  ‘do you want to do this?’” Steinberg said. “Jeddy’s answer was always ‘yes.’ That’s what pushed us to go to class and get our work done so that we could practice.”


First-year students who are missing their high school bands should check out the UVM Pep Band. It might be the perfect replacement.

Junior Will Wuttke joined the band as a drummer after being introduced to it by floormate his first year.

“He told me to just try coming to a rehearsal, and I fell in love right away,” Wuttke said.

Wuttke’s favorite things about Pep Band are the people and that the noncompetitive nature of the group, which makes playing more fun, he said.

“The hardest part is just the amount of music we play. Our song selection is massive,” Wuttke said. “I’m in my third year and sometimes we’ll play a song in a game that I’ve never practiced before, which can be scary, but also kind of fun.”

To join, Wuttke suggests dropping into a rehearsal 8 p.m. on Wednesdays at Gutterson Fieldhouse.


Several introductory music classes are available to student who want to start playing an instrument but want a little guidance first, or are already playing an instrument and want some one-on-one help.

MUL 022 and 023 offer private lessons for several different instruments like piano, cello, flute, bassoon and more. MU 021 consists of guitar and piano group lessons available to beginner-level students regardless of major.

“MU 021 is a class of about 12 to 15 students and is designed for those who have never played or have very little experience,” lecturer and professional jazz guitarist Joseph Capps said.

Only music majors and minors have access to eight private practice rooms,  according to the department’s web page.

Breaking into the local music scene is difficult, but doable with hard work.