Cornell College offers a major in Music within the framework of the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Special Studies degrees. The Department of Music oversees the Bachelor of Music degree, with majors either in Performance or in Music Education (see Bachelor of Music Degree, alongside the Bachelor of Arts Degree on page 14 of the catalogue).

The Bachelor of Arts allows the student with a strong interest in music the opportunity to explore various musical pursuits within the general liberal arts program of the College. Instruction in a performing medium and participation in solo performance and ensemble courses are required components of the B.A. Music major.


  1. A minimum of 11 course credits in Music, which include:
    1. MUS 110, 210, 310, 343, 321, 322, and 323;
    2. A minimum of one and one-half course credits in Solo Performance courses (selected from 731-793), of which one course credit must be in one medium; and
    3. A minimum of one and one-half course credits in large Music Ensembles (selected from MUS 712, 713, 715, 716, and 717), of which one course credit must be earned in one ensemble;
    4. an elective of any MUS course numbered 200 and above, not to include MUS 212 or any 700 numbered course other than 702 (Composition).
  2. Passing the Piano Proficiency Requirement (see below);
  3. Passing the Aural Skills Proficiency Requirement (see below);
  4. Completion of a senior capstone experience;
  5. All Music majors must enroll in a Solo Performance course (music lesson) and in a music ensemble during their final three semesters, unless excused by the Music Department; and
  6. Receive a passing grade (P) in MUS 701 for a minimum of five semesters (see "Music Performance Seminar").

All senior Music majors must complete a senior capstone experience. There are two categories from which to choose: recital (MUS 798 or 799); or paper/project (MUS 485). Students may choose both of these options if they wish. Students who plan to complete MUS 485 as their capstone must submit a description of the proposed project for departmental approval by October 1 of their senior year. Student teaching fulfills this requirement for music education majors.

Minor: A minimum of six course credits in Music which include MUS 110, 210, 310, and at least three additional courses in Music at the 200 level or above, selected in consultation with and approved by the Department, not to include MUS 212, 301, or any 700 numbered course. After declaration of the Music Minor the student will also be registered for MUS 701.

Music Lessons at Cornell: Students register for Solo Performance courses (music lessons) at the beginning of Term One and Term Five. These courses are taught over four consecutive terms. Registration entails additional costs (see Music Lessons, Fees*). Students may withdraw from these courses only during the first of the four terms. If a student withdraws from a Solo Performance course during the drop period, he or she will be charged only for the lessons scheduled between the beginning of the course and the date when the course is officially dropped and no entry concerning the course will appear on the student's transcript. After the drop period has passed, if a student ceases to attend, a grade of F will appear on the student's transcript and the student will be billed for the full semester charge. All music scholarship students must be enrolled in music lessons to retain their scholarships. For students graduating before 2017: after a student has earned more than one course credit in the continuing study of the same instrument, he or she may count the additional credits toward the fulfillment of the general B.A. requirement for a minimum of eight courses numbered in the 300s or 400s.

Music Lessons, Fees (Solo Performance Courses)*

Music Majors: $200 for one half-hour lesson per week for four terms (one-quarter course credit); $300 for one hour-long lesson per week for four terms (one-half course credit).  These fees are the same for lessons on secondary instruments.  Piano lessons leading toward the passing of the piano proficiency exam are $100 for one half-hour lesson per week for four terms (one-quarter course credit).

Non-Music Majors: $350 for one half-hour lesson per week for four terms (one-quarter course credit).  The fee is the same for lessons on secondary instruments.

Recipients of Music Scholarships and Awards will not be charged for lessons on their principal (scholarship audition) instrument. 

Piano Proficiency Requirement: All Music majors, regardless of degree or program, must pass the Piano Proficiency Requirement by the end of the sophomore year. If this requirement is not passed by this time, the student must take applied piano (MUS 761 or 762) until the requirement has been passed. The requirement consists of six components: performance of three prepared works; scales; arpeggios; sight reading; and melody harmonization. Also, as part of the requirement, Music Education majors must demonstrate their ability to perform an accompaniment with a singer or instrumentalist. A student may pass the requirement in segments.

Aural Skills Proficiency Requirement:
All BA and BM Music majors must pass the Aural Skills Proficiency Requirement in order to complete the Music Major.  These students must pass each of a series of graduated exams (3 levels required for the BA; 4 levels required for the BM) that test in the following Aural Skills areas: intervals, chords, scales, melodic dictation, harmonic dictation, and sight singing.  These topics will be taught both within the four required Music Theory courses, as well as in a longer-term self-paced, computer-program-assisted, proficiency-based mode.

Ensemble Participation: Participation in large music ensembles (MUS 712, 713, 715, 716, and 717) is required of all Music majors and music scholarship students, regardless of degree or program. Requirements vary, depending on the degree program. The student must perform within an ensemble on his/her primary instrument unless otherwise approved by the Department of Music. Pianists must complete one full-credit from the large ensembles (712, 713, 714, 715, 716) before they may count MUS 719 or MUS 711 as their primary ensemble credit. Only pianists may use 719 or 711 to fulfill an ensemble requirement. Regulations governing adding and dropping ensembles are the same as for Music Lessons, with the exception of MUS 718.

Music Performance Seminar: The Music Performance Seminar (MUS 701) is a semester-long program that consists of attendance at music events. The purpose of this Seminar is to help nurture an understanding of diverse musical styles and musical ensembles and to provide opportunities for student performances. Attendance at concerts, recitals, and Friday afternoon Music Performance Seminar Student Recitals is required of all Music majors and minors, as well as all other students who are enrolled in music lessons. (Students who have accepted a Music Scholarship must satisfy, at minimum, the recital attendance requirement for a Music minor.) The number of required events changes from semester to semester. Students should contact the Department of Music each semester for details. Music majors must receive a passing grade in Music Performance Seminar (MUS 701) in a minimum of five semesters in order to complete the major. Failure to meet the attendance requirement will result in the student's receiving an F for Music Performance Seminar. No course credit is given for this Seminar. It is offered on a Pass/Fail basis.