Section 10.F: The Senior Music Major Capstone Experience

Music Student Handbook

Section Contents


Meaning and Purpose

The Senior Music Major Capstone Experience (MUS 390) is the culmination of a student’s undergraduate studies in music at Gustavus Adolphus College, and an opportunity for the student to make his or her personal statement of preparedness for a post-college life with music. The Capstone Experience includes the Music Major Capstone Course, Senior Interview, and Portfolio Presentation/Banquet. Throughout the experience, each student is expected to demonstrate a level of musical competence that is commensurate with an undergraduate Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in music.

Registration Timetable

Students normally take the Capstone Course (.13 course) during the Spring Semester of their senior year. This is also when the Interviews and the Banquet are scheduled.

Music Majors seeking education licensure are required to register for this course before the semester in which they are student teaching. These majors will need to work with their advisor during their junior year to determine the best time to give their recital, and schedule the Capstone Interview (including formal review of their Portfolio). However, students are invited to participate in the Capstone Banquet with their class.

Course Description

The Senior Music Major Capstone course (MUS390) is required of all Music Majors. It consists of a Recital, Interview, and Portfolio.

The Capstone Recital is a performance program that is designed by the student in consultation with the primary instrument applied instructor. As a personal musical expression, it may take a variety of forms in content, performance site, and artistic form, but is intended to reflect the student’s musical skills and values. It is not limited to solo music performance, but may include small ensemble music performance, original composition, and conducting. This may take the form of a full or partial student recital, a combination of the above, or other musical performance ideas. It is intended to be a meaningful extension of the student’s coursework at Gustavus Adolphus College.

There are two requirements which include (1) a primary instrument/voice performance component (to be decided by the student and applied instructor), and (2) a 30-minute recital minimum. It is appropriate for applied lesson time to be devoted to these preparations. In this spirit, the Department is willing to support the effort by offering the student the opportunity to register for lessons at 1.00 academic credit during and/or preceding the semester in which the presentation occurs. It is understood that not all student or instructor’s schedules will accommodate this possibility.

Capstone (Senior) Recital

The student and the primary instrument/voice studio instructor are responsible for designing and presenting the Capstone Recital. Ultimately, it is the student’s recital and her responsibility. As a personal expression of her musical skills and values, it may take a variety of forms. It is not limited to solo music performance and may include an ensemble, an original composition, and conducting.

There are two requirements: (1) a primary instrument/voice performance component, and (2) a 30-minute recital minimum.
Lesson time may be devoted to recital preparations. Option: the student may register for one-hour lessons at 1.00 academic credit during and/or preceding the semester in which the recital occurs.

The Capstone Recital is normally presented in the Spring Semester of the Senior year. A jury is not required during that term. Students planning a 30-minute recital should pair with another senior. After consulting with a faculty member, it may be possible to coordinate a Recital with the various Honors in Music cognates. Program notes are not required.

(See: Student Recitals: Policy and Practice in Section 8).

The Portfolio

The Portfolio is an autobiographical collection documenting the student’s musical life at Gustavus Adolphus College. It serves as a resource for Graduate School applications and career opportunities. The Portfolio contains the student’s best work and catalog of musical experiences. It is displayed at the Capstone Banquet. A detailed list of contents for the portfolio is available in the Music Major Portfolio section (Section 10.E).

Capstone Interview

Subsequent to the Capstone Recital but before the Banquet, students will participate in a Capstone Interview with their Committee (if a3rd member, studio instructor attendance is optional). The Interview includes the Portfolio Review and the student's brief Reflective Oral Summary of undergraduate musical experiences, accomplishments, values, and future plans.

Capstone Banquet and Portfolio Presentation

The Senior Banquet is the celebratory culmination of the students’ residence at Gustavus. Portfolios are presented. All music majors, senior music major parents, invited guests, and faculty attend a banquet and a culminating event in honor of the senior music majors. The program has traditionally consisted of:

  • 4:30 PM: Viewing of Senior portfolios in on of the Banquet Rooms
  • 5:30 PM: Dinner Banquet in one of the Banquet Rooms

The Capstone Committee

The Department Chair creates a Committee for each student consisting of two full-time faculty members (assign one as chair) and the student’s studio instructor (who may be one of the full-time members). All Committee members attend the Recital. Once the Recital has taken place, the 2 full-time members conduct the Capstone Interview.


The Committee meets to discuss and determine the grade. The studio instructor will contribute the grade for the Recital – 50%. The other Committee member(s) will contribute the grade for the Interview and Portfolio – 50%. The Committee Chair submits the final grade to the Department Chair.

Revised: October 2014