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Immerse yourself in the art of sound.

At Whitman College, the Music major can help you unlock your full potential through comprehensive courses in music composition, history, theory, performance and production. By exploring a variety of genres, honing your performance skills and collaborating on original works, you’ll develop a deep appreciation for the complexities of sound as an art form—and the skills to prepare you for a successful music career. With a 300-seat recital hall, listening center and library, electronic music studio, 14 teaching studios, 25 practice rooms, and talented and specialized music faculty, the Whitman Music Department has the resources to help you realize your dreams.

3 Reasons to Study Music at Whitman

In-Depth and Specialized Training

Whitman’s Music program offers a well-rounded education in all aspects of the music world. You’ll have a chance to specialize in an area that suits your particular career goals, with tracks for Composition, History, Jazz, Performance and Theory—or pursue a Standard track that balances all these areas.

Polished Performance

All Music majors at Whitman learn to play the piano proficiently. Plus, the department offers lessons for voice, organ, harpsichord, strings, harp, woodwinds, guitar and percussion—with scholarships available for students who need assistance. Whatever your instrument, you’ll see your skill and artistry grow at Whitman.

Expanded Horizons

From Beethoven to the Beatles, you’ll explore an entire world of music at Whitman. You’ll learn to appreciate and respond to diverse perspectives as you develop a deep appreciation for this truly global art form.

Interested in Music?

We’d love to send you information, including more on academic majors and student life at our beautiful campus in Walla Walla, Washington.

Bethany H., Music Performance and Psychology major

“I was intrigued by the liberal arts Music degree in which I’d be able to engage in a more holistic and intersectional study of the discipline. I wanted to be able to engage in music collaboration especially, which I’ve been able to do through participation in the Orchestra and Chamber Music program. I also wanted to find a place where I could form close and lasting relationships with professors and faculty.”

Courses in Music

See just a few of the fascinating courses you might take.

Colorful guitars.
MUS 115

Introduction to World Music

Explore how diverse regions of the world—including Africa, the Americas, Oceania and Asia—express themselves through music. In this class you’ll think deeply about how music as an art form intersects with politics, religion, law, ethics, identity and social justice. And you’ll try out accessible performance techniques and dances firsthand with your peers.

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Headphones around some books.
MUS 126

Music Theory

What makes music work? In this class, you’ll dive into the fundamentals of music, including simple and compound time signatures, key signatures, scales, intervals, triads, common foreign language terms, tonal harmony and much more. It’s a thorough introduction to music theory that you’ll draw on throughout your Whitman career and beyond.

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Playing acoustic guitar.
MUS 145


Explore the craft of songwriting in this interactive course covering form and structure, lyric development and creativity. By analyzing and evaluating works of past and present artists, you’ll learn what it takes to write successful songs. And you’ll draw on the concepts you learn to create and perform your own original works.

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Microphone and a pop guard.
MUS 270

Diction for Singers

This course introduces voice students to English, Italian, French, German, and Latin diction. Using the International Phonetic Alphabet, you’ll learn to effectively study, pronounce and sing music in these languages. It’s an essential skill for any serious student of singing—whether you’re joining Whitman's Chorale, participating in the Opera Workshop or performing in a musical at Harper Joy.

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Violion and sheet music.
MUS 314

Symphonic Literature

Explore the development of the orchestra and its music from the 18th century to today. This course will introduce you to important touchstones of symphonic literature throughout history—with guided listening, historical exploration and lively discussions.

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Laptop and studio equipment.
MUS 371

Intermediate Music Technology

Get hands-on experience with advanced recording and mixing techniques, synthesis, sampling and new music technologies. You’ll be introduced to programming in Max/MSP—and you’ll get to work on sustained projects of personal interest to you. Plus, you’ll discuss the intersection of music and technology and how it’s reflected in the music we hear every day.

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Band outdoors

Amazing Experiences You Can Pursue

Create and collaborate globally. Take your study of music abroad with Whitman’s off-campus studies program. Work with international musicians, explore local music scenes, do ethnomusicology research or attend performances in music-rich cities like Amsterdam, Milan or Vienna. 

Experience artistic community. Want to develop deep friendships with other artistically minded students? Check out Whitman’s Fine Arts House, where students live and work together to promote studio art, theatre and music on campus.

Share the spotlight. Whitman Music majors perform regularly on and off campus. Audition for the Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensembles, Orchestra, Chamber Music ensembles, Chorale or Opera Workshop. Star in a campus musical. Or work with the Walla Walla Youth Symphony.

Your Questions Answered

Studying music at the college level can prepare you for a career in music, for additional study at top graduate schools and for a lifelong enjoyment of music. You’ll learn to perform proficiently, to understand the history and theory behind the music that moves you, to create and collaborate with other artists, and to discuss and write about music meaningfully. If you dream of a life filled with music, this is the major for you.

Studying Music can prepare you for a vast range of career opportunities in the music industry, such as performance, teaching, composing, producing, music therapy and more. A bachelor of Music can also prepare you for advanced study at a graduate school or conservatory. And the skills you learn—like critical thinking, research, collaboration, and cross-cultural literacy—can lead to opportunities in fields like education, business, marketing, public relations, healthcare and law.

The Music major offers a vibrant social experience. Collaborating and creating music together provides opportunities for close friendships and a sense of community to develop. Musical theater and other performance groups draw students together from a wide variety of majors. And attending concerts and performances hosted by the Music Department and in the wider community allows students to socialize and connect with a diverse range of musicians and music lovers at Whitman and beyond.

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