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Music Advising


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 exploring such diverse subjects as ethnomusicology, music and gender, film music, ecologies of listening, music and politics, and popular music.

Course descriptions, requirements for the major, FAQs and other information may be found on the department web site.

Music theory placement

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 Information 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 (Early Musical Migrations and The Listening Mind)
 MUAC 125 & 126 (Music Theory I and II)                                                                               MUAC 131 and 133 (Introduction to the Art of Composition and Composer's Forum)

*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: For all 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 page  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:

  • Participating for four semesters in a Faculty-led ensemble (Choir, Jazz Ensemble, Orchestra, Chamber Music.)
  • One full-credit of Performance Studies lessons in an instrument or voice (two half credits in the same instrument may be coupled together to make a full credit.)
  • Any full-credit MUAC class (two half credits in composition courses may be coupled together to make a full credit.)

Quantitative Reasoning (QR):
MUAC 125, Music Theory

Global Diversity
MUAC 209, Ethnomusicology

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

Film Studies:
MUAC 221, Music in Film

Curricular ensembles and performance studies

Department Ensembles (MUEN)

All music department ensembles at Dickinson (choir, jazz band, and orchestra) as well as the chamber music program are open to all students via tryouts. Tryouts on all instruments (including voice) comprise 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. Tryouts for all music programs (private lessons, ensembles, and chamber music) take place on the first Tuesday of classes. Music Information 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; choir rehearses twice a week. It is possible to be in more than one ensemble at a time, as no rehearsals overlap. Music ensembles do bear credit. Two semesters are required for music majors and minors. All students must register through Banner (after being accepted via tryouts) 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) 

Dickinson invites all students—from beginners to advanced students—to further or begin their study of music through Performance Studies. Performance Studies/studio lessons at Dickinson are open to all students, regardless of major, and carry academic credit.

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 satisfies the Arts Requirement. 

In order to begin private lessons at Dickinson, please follow these steps:

1.      Attend Music Information Night, the first Tuesday of each fall semester of classes, 5:30 pm, where you can meet your instructor. Upperclassman may contact the instructor with whom you wish to study. (A directory of all Performance Studies faculty, including contact information, is available on the Music Department Faculty page.)

2.      The instructor will place the appropriate override code on your Banner account.

3.      You will receive a confirmation e-mail when the override is placed on your account. Once you receive this confirmation, you must log in to Banner and register for lessons as you would for any other class.

4.      Once your registration is confirmed, you and the instructor will arrange for a mutually convenient weekly lesson time.

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 ASC 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. Scholarship applications can be submitted through the Gateway Student Forms menu and must be received by noon on the first Wednesday of each semester.

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)

Sophomore Year
MUAC 101 and/or 102 (if not taken earlier)
200-level coursework associated with a given track

Performance majors should be enrolled in MUPS 223/224 

Junior Year
Remaining 200-level courses
MUAC 351-355 seminars
Performance majors should be enrolled in MUPS 323/324 (junior recital)

Senior Year
MUAC 401
Any remaining 300-level seminars or coursework

Performance majors should be enrolled in MUPS 423/424 (senior recital)

Music majors are strongly advised:

  • to begin the theory sequence (125/126) 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, 200-level electives) 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 323/324) 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.

Co-curricular activities/programs

Student Music Society

The Music Appreciation Club at Dickinson is open to all students interested in participating in and enriching campus musical culture. The Club sponsors many activities, including post-concert receptions, regular meetings with guest artists and lecturers, and field trips to off-campus concerts and lectures.

The Music Appreciation Club is also the sponsor for the student-led outreach initiative Composed - a group of Dickinson students who transport the love of music into the community via local elementary schools and community agencies. Community students learn the basics of playing guitars, keyboards, or ukuleles, and how to write songs.

Additional Remarks

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, 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.