Section 3: Academic Considerations for Music Students

Music Student Handbook

Section Contents

General Education

Curriculum I

The Arts (ARTS)

Curriculum I includes a requirement for all students to take a course in the Arts (ARTS) as part of their general education requirements. The criteria for ARTS courses are:

Through modes of expression such as painting, sculpture, music, dance, theatre, and film, artists clarify, intensify, dramatize, and interpret the world in all of its physical, social, and spiritual aspects. General Education courses in the visual and performing arts develop a more comprehensive understanding of the creative process and foster a lifetime involvement with the arts. These experiences enable students to recognize and value the integral role that the arts play in society; and enable them to express themselves and their ideas in creative ways.

Courses in this area will:

  • Promote understanding of the interaction among the arts, culture, and society
  • Develop analytical, interpretive, or evaluative skills appropriate to the study, performance, and/or creation of at least one of the visual and performing arts
  • Develop intellectual and experiential awareness of the form and content of at least one of the visual and performing arts
  • Promote awareness of the interrelationship between artist and audience
  • Foster the development of personal expression and creativity
  • Develop meaningful standards by which to evaluate, interpret, and/or create works of art
  • Develop an understanding of the creative process

The following music courses are offered as possibilities to satisfy this requirement:

  • Music Lessons (MUS 129, 245-267, 345-367)
  • Music Ensembles (MUS 150-194)
  • Music Appreciation (MUS 101)

The equivalent of a full course (1.00 course credit) is required to satisfy the ARTS general education requirement; please note that most ensembles and lessons are offered for fractional credit and would therefore have to be repeated until the required amount of credit has been earned.

Non-West (NWEST)

Students using Curriculum I (Liberal Arts Perspectives) may take MUS 102: Music of World Cultures to satisfy their non-Western (NWEST) General Education requirement.

Introductory Courses

MUS 101: Music Appreciation (1.00 Credit, ARTS)

Offered annually during the spring semester, this course deals with the art of perceptive listening and introduces the student to basic knowledge about music and musicians of Western culture. Comparisons with other art forms are made as part of the course content, and attendance at live performances, both on and off campus, is the single most important aspect of the class. Students interested in expanding their knowledge about music often select Music Appreciation. Because of its historical orientation, the course is required as part of the music minor. There are no prerequisites.

MUS 102: Music of World Cultures (1.00 Credit, NWEST)

This course is a study of the traditional music of select non-Western cultures as a means to a broader understanding of music as a global phenomenon. Musical instruments, the uses of music, stylistic elements, and other features such as dance form the framework of inquiry. Intercultural music also is explored. Students in this course also complete an individual research project in the form of a written paper augmented with an in-class oral presentation. Offered annually in the spring semester.

MUS 103: Aural and Keyboard Skills I (0.25 Course)

In this course, a corequisite with MUS-111 and offered annually in multiple fall semester sections, students learn basic skills of sight singing, ear training, rhythm reading, and keyboard. MUS-103 and -111 are required of all Music majors and minors and must be taken together. Since the courses are required for the minor, they are ideal electives for the student who plans to be active as a Gustavus student musician.

MUS 111: Music Theory I (0.75 Course)

Offered annually in multiple fall semester sections, this course explores the inner workings of our music system; the student studies music through its structural elements, including scales, chords, and harmonic progressions. In addition to technical knowledge and written work, practical skills are developed in the corequisite course, MUS-103. MUS-111 and -103 are required for both music majors and minors and are highly recommended for first-year students with a strong interest in music or possible interest in a music major. Since the courses are required for the minor, they are ideal electives for the student who plans to be active as a Gustavus student musician.

Curriculum II

The Music Department offers the course CUR 220, Musical Understanding, as a regular part of Curriculum II course offerings. This course is usually offered as a IEX course during even-numbered years.

The Music Major

Music Majors should consult Section 10 of this handbook for detailed program information and specific advising considerations.

Music majors are identified upon successful completion of MUS 112 (Music Theory II) during which students complete a Statement of Intent to Major in Music), through their enrollment in the music theory-history sequence, registration for music lessons, enrollment in appropriate ensembles, and completion of the Audition for Music Majors on their primary instrument at the end of spring semester of their first year. The core sequence consists of MUS 103/111, 104/112, 212, 214, 374, 375 and two semesters of conducting, plus music lessons, ensembles and the senior capstone course. The course and credit summary of the music major is as follows:

Music Major Courses: 13.13 Credits

  • MUS 111-112, 211-212: Music Theory I-IV (3.50)
  • MUS 103-104: Aural and Keyboard Skills I-II (0.50)
  • MUS 374-375: History of Western Music I-II (2.00)
  • MUS 380: Basic Conducting (0.50)
  • MUS 385 or 387: Choral or Instrumental Conducting (0.50)
  • MUS 245/345-267/367: Applied Lessons (4.00)
  • MUS 150-194: Ensembles (2.00)
  • MUS 390: Senior Music Major Capstone Experience (0.13)

Any music major who does not achieve a C- or better in a course in the music theory sequence must retake that course and achieve the minimum grade of C- before registering for the next course in the sequence. College policy states that once a student has moved on in courses that must be taken in sequence that student may not go back and retake an earlier course. Therefore, for instance, a student receiving a D grade in Theory I and a C grade in Theory II cannot complete the requirements for the music major.

Registration for lessons is required every semester in residence and students must register for lessons in their primary performance area for at least six out of the eight semesters including both semesters of the senior year. Music majors are required to register for a major 0.25-credit ensemble every semester in residence, unless, through audition, they are placed in one of the following 0.13-credit ensembles: Lucia Singers, Birgitta Singers, Gustavus Philharmonic Orchestra, or Vasa Wind Orchestra. Those whose primary emphasis is in piano or guitar performance may satisfy part of the ensemble requirement as upperclassmen by completion of supervised accompanying. The Music Lesson Fee is waived for music majors commencing at the start the sophomore year.

Suggested First-Year Program for Music Majors

Fall Term (4.25 – 4.75 credits)

  • MUS 103: Aural and Keyboard Skills I (0.25)
  • MUS 111: Music Theory I (0.75)
  • Applied Lessons (0.50)
  • Ensembles (0.25)
  • First Term Seminar (FTS) Course (1.00)
  • General Education Requirement (1.00)
  • Elective Course (1.00) or Personal Fitness (FIT) Course (0.50)

January Interim Experience (1.00 credit)

  • IEX Course (1.00)

Spring Term (4.00 – 4.75 credits)

  • MUS 104: Aural and Keyboard Skills II (0.25)
  • MUS 112: Music Theory I (0.75)
  • Applied Lessons (0.50)
  • Ensembles (0.25)
  • General Education Requirement (1.00)
  • General Education Requirement (1.00)
  • Elective Course (1.00) or Personal Fitness (FIT) Course (0.50)

All Area courses are interchangeable for Curriculum I students: Curriculum II students substitute their course sequence for Area courses in Curriculum I. Those interested in a music major are encouraged to identify an advisor in the Department of Music during the first year so that an individual four-year plan can be developed before registering for the second year of classes.

The Music Minor

The music minor is intended for the student interested in gaining background to become a better listener, performer, and/or private teacher. The requirements for a music minor total five courses, which must include:

  • MUS 101: Music Appreciation (1.0)
  • MUS 103/111: Aural and Keyboard Skills I/Music Theory I (0.25 & 0.75)
  • A total of three additional course equivalents of music elective courses (3.00 credits)

Curriculum II students may substitute CUR 220 Musical Understanding for MUS 101.

Music Department Guidelines for Independent Study Proposals

All students who wish to complete an Independent Study project under the auspices of the Department of Music should observe the following guidelines in the development and preparation of an Independent Study Proposal (available from the Office of the Registrar):

  • Students should discuss the study with, and obtain permission to proceed from, the primary instructor for the project. If necessary and appropriate, other faculty members assisting with the project should be contacted and consulted as well. Prof. Rick Orpen is the overall coordinator of independent studies for the Music Department.
  • Obtain three copies of an Independent Study Proposal Form from the Office of the Registrar. Use one copy to draft the proposal (after consulting the project instructor) and a second for additional revisions. The third and final copy should be neatly typed. Students may request to view samples of successful Independent Study Proposals by contacting Dr. Rick Orpen (ext. 7348,
  • Drafts of Independent Study Proposals should be submitted to Prof. Rick Orpen for approval by December 1 for January Interim Experience and Spring Semester approval, and by May 1 for Fall Semester approval. If requested, revise and resubmit the proposal to Prof. Orpen.
  • Once the instructor has signed the Independent Study Proposal form, submit the proposal to the Chair of the Department for review. If requested, revise and resubmit the proposal to the Chair of the Department.

The Chair of the Department will distribute and present copies of the proposal to the Department of Music faculty for additional approval. If the faculty requests revision, necessary changes should be made promptly and the revised copy returned to the Chair of the Department. If approved by the faculty, the Chair will sign the proposal. If the faculty remains undecided, the Chair will make the final decision. Copies of the approved proposal shall be distributed to the instructor, other faculty as appropriate, and Prof. Orpen. The student must submit the signed proposal to the Office of the Registrar and give copies to the instructor, any other faculty involved in the project, and to Prof. Orpen.

The college requires that registration for all Independent Study courses in the Fall and Spring semesters be completed during the first two weeks of the term. For January Interim Experience registration deadlines, refer to information posted by the Registrar. The student should consult the academic course catalog for additional information.

Revised: July 2014