Music Degree

The Music department at Whitman College emphasizes the understanding and appreciation of music as an art, perparing students for advanced work in composing, research and performance.  By providing high-qualty music education and performance opportunities for majors and non-majors alike, the department supports the College's liberal arts mission.

We encourage our students to pursue creative, analytical, and scholarly activities through a balanced list of course offerings. As a music major, you many select from five options within the program: the Standard Track, the Performance Track, the Music History Track, the Theory/Compsition Track, and the Jazz Track.

The Music Major

Students majoring in music may select from five options within the music major program:

  • Standard Track
  • Performance Track
  • Music History Track
  • Theory/Composition Track
  • Jazz Track

Basic Requirements

All music majors must complete a minimum of thirty-six credits in the following courses, ensemble credit and private lessons to satisfy a basic musicianship:

     I. Theory: 126, 127, 226, 227, 326
     II. History and Literature 297, 298, 299
     III. At least one elective chosen from these courses: 260, 360
     IV. At least one elective chosen from these courses: 310, 342, 354, 426
     V. Large Ensemble, three credits (for Jazz Track, two from 261, 262 and one from the following list) selected from Music 211,212, 231, 232, 241, 242, 253, 254

Applied Music Requirements

Requirements for the Applied Music credit hours differ according to the degree tracks as follows:

  • Standard Degree:  Seven credits of applied music (with no fewer than six on the student's primary instrument, no more than one at the 100-level, and at least two at the 300-level). The student must give a half recital in their senior year and those pursuing honors must also enroll in Music 498.
  • Performance Track: Seven credits of applied music (with no fewer than six on the primary instrument, no more than one at the 100-level, and at least four at the 400-level). The student must give a full recital in their senior year and those pursuing honors must also enroll in Music 498.
  • Music History Tracks: Four credits of applied music (with no more than two at the 100-level), three additional credits in history courses (see III & IV, above), and Music 497 (senior thesis). Honors candidates must substitute Music 498 for Music 497.
  • Music Theory/Composition Track: Four credits of applied music (with no more than two at the 100-level), three additional credits in theory/composition courses, and a senior project. For theorists, the senior thesis includes enrolling in Music 497 and writing a senior thesis. For composers, the senior thesis includes a portfolio of compositions and a public performance of original works in the senior year. Honors candidates must substitute Music 498 for Music 497. A student in the composition track ideally should complete Music 226 by the end of the sophomore year, then take Music 480 every semester thereafter. All students desiring the composition track must submit a portfolio to the music faculty at the end of the sophomore year for consideration of acceptance into the composition track. The portfolio should include two to three works totaling about 15 minutes of music, and the works should demonstrate technical proficiency at a level determined by the composition professor.
  • Jazz Track: Four credits of applied music at the 300-level or higher; two credits selected from Music 261, 262; Music 260; and 360. Students give a full recital in the senior year and those pursuing honors must enroll in Music 498. This recital must contain one piece from the classical repertoire; this stipulation does not apply to guitarists.
  • Senior Assessment: The senior assessment for music majors consists of three components: written, aural, and oral. These exams are typically scheduled between December and February.
  • Honors: Students must apply for honors candidacy by the October deadline specified by the Registrar. Honors candidates in music must pass all three components of senior assessment with distinction. The honors thesis in the history track is a written document. Students in the composition track must pass their senior composition recital with distinction, and the written document will be a portfolio of original compositions. Students in the theory track must write an analytical thesis. Performance, Standard, and Jazz track majors must pass a senior recital with distinction, and the thesis will be a recording of the recital.

Additional Requirements

Music majors in the Performance Track and Standard Degree must give a full (Performance Track) or half (Standard Degree) recital in their senior year. Any student desiring to perform a recital must present a pre-recital jury to the music faculty at least three weeks prior to the scheduled recital date. Majors in the Music History Track are required to write a Senior Thesis and those in the Theory/Composition Track are required to produce a Senior Project.

Private piano instruction or a piano proficiency exam and an aural proficiency examinations are required of all students majoring in music. It is recommended these examinations be taken by the end of the junior year.

The comprehensive examination for music majors consists of three segments: written, aural, and oral.

The Music Minor

A minimum of 18 credits selected to include:

  • Music 126, 127;
  • one course from 297, 298, 299;
  • one course from 260, 310, 342, 354, 360, 426;
  • four credits in music ensembles from 211, 212, 231, 232, 241, 242, 253, 254, 261, 262;
  • two credits in Applied Music 263, 264 and/or 363, 364.

The P-D-F option is not allowed for anycourses applied to the music minor.

Advisory Information

 

Potential Music Major

It is strongly recommended that potential music majors enroll in Music 126, 127 and applied music in their freshman year. Required music history courses are only offered in alternate years.  Music majors intending to study abroad should complete most of the required courses before going abroad.

 

Applied Lessons

Instruction is offered in piano, voice, organ, harpsichord, violin, viola, cello, string bass, woodwinds, and brass at all levels; and guitar and percussion at the introductory and intermediate levels. All college students enrolled in applied music for credit must take a jury examination at the conclusion of each semester. Applied lessons may not be taken P-D-F.

 

Scholarships for Applied Lessons

Scholarships are available to offset the fee for lessons. Students receiving scholarships are required to participate in the appropriate major ensemble (Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, Symphony Orchestra, or Chorale) or Accompanying 253/254 (a minimum of two half-hour lessons per week per semester).

 

Non-Majors

The following courses are recommended as an introduction to music for liberal arts students (some courses require auditions and/or consent of the instructor):

  • Music 101 Fundamentals of Music
  • Music 126 Music Theory I
  • Music 129 Deconstructing Popular Music
  • Music 150 Music in Society
  • Music 160 Study of Jazz
  • Ensembles - Music 211, 212, 231, 232, 241, 242, 251, 252, 253, 254, 261, 262
  • Applied Lessons - Music 163, 164, 263, 264

Grading and credit limitations

All ensembles (211, 212, 231, 232, 241, 242, 251, 252, 253, 254, 261, 262) are graded on a regular basis; a maximum of 12 credits may be applied toward degree requirements. Applied music lessons are graded on a regular basis and may not be taken P-D-F. A maximum of 16 credits in applied music will be allowed toward the minimum of 124 credits required for graduation.