Offerings in Music are given in four related areas: musical studies, composition, history/theory, and performance. Students have also created subspecialties in related areas such as conducting and ethnomusicology, with approval by overseeing faculty.

The department frequently offers courses dealing with such topics as ethnomusicology, music in the United States, music in film, music and politics, and the life and works of specific composers such as J.S. Bach.

Course descriptions, requirements for the major, FAQs and other information may be found in the Academic Bulletin: Music and on the department web site.

Music theory placement

For students who have had extensive, substantial studies in music, it may be possible to test out of one or more semesters of Music Theory (125, 126, 245, 246). The exam is offered online, and at Music Audition Night (second night of classes). No AP Music Theory score alone qualifies a student for Music Theory credit.

Courses appropriate for prospective majors

MUAC 101 & 102, Introduction to Music History
MUAC 125 & 126, Music Theory I
*First-year students intending to major in music are strongly encouraged to complete MUAC 125 and 126 in the first year. MUAC 101 and 102 can be taken out of sequence.

*Performance Studies: Prospective majors in Performance Studies with a vocal emphasis should note that MUPS 111-02 (Vocal Technique Class) is a pre-requisite for private studio lessons. For all other prospective Performance Studies majors, private studio instruction should begin as soon as possible. NB: A fee is assessed for all Performance Studies lessons (with the exception of the MUPS 111 classes, and declared Music majors who meet certain criteria). These fees are added to the student’s tuition when registration is confirmed at the end of the Add/Drop period (see the Financial Operations web site for current fee amounts). Performance Studies fees are non-refundable.

For course descriptions and requirements for the major, refer to the Academic Bulletin: Music.

Courses that fulfill distribution requirements

Arts Requirement and Division I C credit:
All full-credit 100-level courses; half-hour Performance Studies lessons in the same instrument can be combined for full credit.

MUAC 206, Music in the United States
MUAC 209, Ethnomusicology
MUAC 221, Music in Film

Quantitative Reasoning (QR):
MUAC 125, Music Theory

Comparative Civilizations:
MUAC 209, Ethnomusicology

U.S. Diversity:
MUAC 206, Music in the United States

Film Studies:
MUAC 221, Music in Film

In addition, the departments of Music and Theatre & Dance offer an interdisciplinary major in Dance and Music. See the Academic Bulletin for information on the major.

Curricular ensembles and performance studies

Department Ensembles (MUEN)

All music department ensembles at Dickinson (choir, collegium, jazz band, orchestra, Dickinson Improvisation and Collaboration Ensemble) as well as the chamber music program are open to all students by audition. Auditions on all instruments (including voice) comprise sight-reading and the performance of one work (a movement or song) that demonstrates the student's best musical abilities. Instrumentalists may also be asked to play specific scales. Auditions for all music programs (private lessons, ensembles, and chamber music) take place on the first Tuesday of classes. Music Audition Night, which begins with a thorough introduction to all the programs of the department, is held that evening at 5:30 p.m. in Rubendall Recital Hall.

Instrumental ensembles rehearse once a week; vocal ensembles rehearse twice a week. It is possible to be in more than one ensemble at a time, as no rehearsals overlap. Music ensembles do bear GPA credit. Two semester are required for Music majors and minors. To receive this credit, students must register through Banner (after being accepted via audition) under the appropriate ensemble rubric (MUEN).

Lockers for instrument storage are available only to students participating in ensembles and/or taking lessons in the department.

Performance Studies (MUPS)

Private lessons are offered in voice and instruments, either as half-hour lessons or full-hour lessons in the Performance Studies program. Performance Studies lessons are taken for credit (one half-credit for a semester of half-hour lessons, one full-credit for a semester of full-hour lessons). One-credit of private lessons at the 200-level satisfies the Arts Requirement and counts towards the minor. Students must have the instructor's permission to enroll for full-hour/one-credit private lessons. Degree requirements may be fulfilled by combinations of half-credit courses (i.e., two half-hour/.50 credit lessons at the 200 level and above) and can be combined to satisfy the Division IC distribution requirement or the minor. Please note that MUPS 111-02, Vocal Technique class, is a pre-requisite for singers wishing to enroll in private studio lessons.

To register for Performance Studies lessons,

  1. Contact the instructor with whom you wish to study. (Email is best.)
  2. The instructor may ask to meet with you. (Music Audition Night is an excellent opportunity if you are beginning lessons in the fall.)
  3. If the instructor agrees to take you on as a new student, s/he will place the appropriate override code on your Banner account.
  4. Once the override is recorded, you must still log in to Banner and register for lessons as you would any other class.

If you need an overload, twice during your studies you can simply use the Overload form (downloadable from the Registrar’s Office). In the third semester you will need to submit a petition for overload to the Subcommittee on Academic Standards, with copy to your studio teacher, chair and your Advisor. Once approved for overload by APSC in the third semester, in  subsequent semesters you will simply use the Overload form again. When your registration is confirmed, you and the instructor will arrange for a mutually convenient weekly lesson time.

PLEASE NOTE: A fee is charged for all Performance Studies lessons (with the exception of lessons for music majors meeting certain criteria). These fees are added to the student's tuition when registration is confirmed at the end of the Add/Drop Period. (See the Financial Operations web site for current fee amounts.) Performance Studies fees are non-refundable.

Scholarships are available from the Department of Music to offset the cost of lessons. To apply for a scholarship, a student must have the approval of the Performance Studies instructor with whom the student intends to study. The student must submit a brief letter of application (explaining any financial need as well as why the student wishes to study) in an email to Stacy Rohrer (, with copy to the student's intended instructor. Information about Music scholarships can be found online on the Department of Music’s web page.

Suggested curricular flow through the major

First Year
MUAC 125 (fall only), MUAC 126 (spring only)
MUAC 101 and/or MUAC 102 (these latter two may be taken out of sequence)
Performance Studies majors should begin enrolling in studio lessons (Voice majors begin their study with Vocal Technique Class, MUPS 111-02)

Sophomore Year
MUAC 245 (fall only), MUAC 246 (spring only)
MUAC 101 and/or 102 (if not taken earlier)
Possibly MUAC 255 for composition or theory emphasis if simultaneous with 245

Junior Year
Remaining 200-level courses
MUAC 351-354 seminars
Performance majors should be enrolled in MUPS 323/324 (junior recital), rather than 313/314 (for non-majors)

Senior Year
All 400-level courses (senior projects in history, theory, composition or performance)
Any remaining 300-level seminars

Music majors are strongly advised:

  • to begin the theory sequence (125/126/245/246) as soon as possible, ideally enrolling in MUAC 125 during the first semester of the first year.
  • to complete the core requirements (101-102, 125-126, 245-246) by the end of the sophomore year, in preparation for the more advanced research and analysis undertaken in courses numbered above 250.
  • to carefully plan any study abroad activity if they intend to pursue the performance emphasis. The required junior recital (MUPS 324/325) can be difficult to achieve for the student planning to go abroad for the entire junior year, and may require a student to undertake a semester abroad only.
  • enroll as early as possible in Vocal Technique class (MUPS 111-02) if they intend to pursue a vocal performance emphasis.

Additional Remarks

Student Music Society

The Student Music Society at Dickinson is open to all students interested in participating in and enriching campus musical culture. The Society sponsors many activities, including an informal concert series, performances of student compositions, regular meetings with guest artists or lecturers, and trips to off-campus concerts and lectures. Recent Society-sponsored events have included trips to Pittsburgh to hear a performance of Mozart’s The Magic Flute and to the Metropolitan Opera in NYC to hear Don Giovanni.

Recent graduates

Recent graduates of the department include a Fulbright Fellowship winner, others are attending or have attended graduate school in music-related fields at Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, University of California - Los Angeles, the Pennsylvania State University, the Royal Academy of Music (London), the University of Michigan, Indiana University, Rutgers, Catholic University, Temple University, New York University, UCLA, Boston Conservatory and University of South Carolina.  Graduates of the department are represented in the fields of music performance (the Philadelphia Orchestra), arts administration (the Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, BMI), musicological research (RILM), music publishing (G. Schirmer), academia, and are teaching in public schools and privately. An alumna teaches at Concordia College, and another has recently joined the music faculty at Princeton.

Music Audition Night information: