Requirements

Music Major

The music major consists of eleven credits that include courses from three areas: social and historical context (x1xx–x3xx), theory and composition (x4xx–x5xx), and performance (x6xx– x8xx). Majors can choose either to pursue a broader curriculum with some balance among these areas or to concentrate in one of them, as indicated in the concentrations listed below. All majors are required to take an independent study in their final semester that includes a seminar component. Honors work normally adds one extra course credit, and its second semester counts for the senior independent study. 

General Concentration

The music major with a general concentration consists of eleven credits, distributed in the following way:

Required Courses
Social and Historical Context
MUS 1101Sound, Self, and Society: Music and Everyday Life1
or MUS 2101 Asking Questions about Music-Making: Musicological Methods
Select two elective courses (x1xx–x3xx) a2
Theory and Composition
MUS 1401Introduction to Music Theory1
Select two elective courses (x4xx–x5xx). a2
Performance
Select at least two credits:2
two consecutive semesters in a single ensemble (27xx) b
two semesters of individual performance studies at an intermediate-level proficiency b,c
Select two additional electives from any area between x1xx–x6xx. a2
MUS 4040Senior Project in Music1

Music in Social and Historical Context Concentration

The music major with a concentration in social and historical context consists of eleven credits, distributed in the following way:

Required Courses
Social and Historical Context
MUS 1101Sound, Self, and Society: Music and Everyday Life1
MUS 2101Asking Questions about Music-Making: Musicological Methods1
Select five elective courses (x1xx–x3xx). a5
Theory and Composition
MUS 1051Fundamentals of Music1
or MUS 1401 Introduction to Music Theory
Select one elective course (x4xx–x5xx).1
Performance
Select one of the following:1
two consecutive semesters in a single ensemble (27xx) b
two semesters of individual performance studies at an intermediate-level proficiency b,c
MUS 4040Senior Project in Music1

Theory and Composition Concentration

The music major with a concentration in theory and composition consists of eleven credits, distributed in the following way:

Required Courses
Social and Historical Context
MUS 1101Sound, Self, and Society: Music and Everyday Life1
or MUS 2101 Asking Questions about Music-Making: Musicological Methods
Select one elective at the 2000 level or above (x1xx–x3xx).1
Theory and Composition
MUS 1401Introduction to Music Theory1
MUS 2403Songwriting and Song Analysis1
MUS 2501Introduction to Composition1
MUS 1451Introduction to Audio Recording Techniques1
or MUS 2551 Introduction to Electronic Music
MUS 2401 Tonal Analysis
Select one advanced elective course (34xx–35xx).1
Performance
Select two consecutive semesters in a single ensemble (27xx). a1
Select two semesters of individual performance studies at an intermediate-level proficiency a,b1
MUS 4040Senior Project in Music1

Performance Concentration

The music major with a concentration in performance consists of eleven credits, distributed in the following way:

Required Courses
Social and Historical Context
Select one elective course relevant to student’s area of performance.1
Theory and Composition
MUS 1401Introduction to Music Theory1
MUS 2401 Tonal Analysis
Performance
MUS 2602Improvisation1
Select one of the following:1
MUS 2601 Performance of Classical Music
MUS 2603
Art of Singing
MUS 2604 The Performance of Music
Select two consecutive semesters in a non-notation-centered ensemble (2701–2712).1
Select two consecutive semesters in a notation-centered ensemble (2721–2752).1
Select two semesters of individual performance studies at an intermediate-level proficiency a1
MUS 3805 Advanced Performance Studies1
Select one additional intermediate or higher elective from any area between 21xx–26xx or 31xx–36xx.1
MUS 4040Senior Project in Music1

Music Minor

The music minors consist of five credits that include both classroom-based and performance-based courses. Minors can choose either to pursue a broader curriculum or to minor in performance, as indicated below. 

General Music Minor

Select one course x1xx-x3xx a1
MUS 1051Fundamentals of Music1
Select two other classroom electives (x1xx-x6xx). a2
Select either two consecutive semesters in a single ensemble (27xx) or two semesters of individual performance studies with intermediate-level proficiency b,c1

Music Performance Minor

MUS 1401Introduction to Music Theory1
or MUS 2403 Songwriting and Song Analysis
Select one other classroom elective (x1xx-x6xx).1
Select two consecutive semesters in a single ensemble (27xx).1
Select two semesters of individual performance studies at an intermediate-level proficiency a1
MUS 3805 Advanced Performance Studies1

Additional Information and Department Policies

  • With departmental approval, students may count up to two courses taken at another college or university toward the major, and one such course toward the minor.
  • First-year writing seminars do not count toward the major or minors.
  • Only one academic course in which the grade of CR (Credit) is received may count toward the major or minors, and only grades of C- or higher count toward the major or minors.

Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate (AP/IB)

Students who received a minimum score of four on the Music Theory AP exam or an IB Music Theory score of six or higher should take the music theory placement exam. Placement in MUS 2403 Songwriting and Song Analysis results in one credit that is the equivalent of MUS 1401 Introduction to Music Theory. If a student earns a grade of C- or higher in MUS 2403 Songwriting and Song Analysis, this credit can count toward the major. Placement into MUS 1401 Introduction to Music Theory or MUS 1051 Fundamentals of Music results in no credit. In order to receive credit for advanced placement work, students must have their scores officially reported to the Office of the Registrar by the end of their sophomore year at Bowdoin.


Music Ensembles and Individual Performance Studies

The following provisions govern both ensembles and individual performance studies:

  • All music ensembles (27xx) and individual performance studies (28xx) count for one-half credit per semester and are graded on a Credit/D/Fail Only basis. The symbol for a grade of credit in a Credit/D/Fail Only course is CR# (see the Registrar's website for details).
  • Ensembles (27xx) and individual performance studies (28xx) may be repeated for credit, but a maximum of 6.0 credits of ensemble and individual performance studies courses together may be applied towards the 32.0 credits required for graduation. Advanced Individual Performance Studies (38xx) count for a full credit, are graded with standard letter grades, and are not included in the limitation of 6.0 combined performance credits that can be applied to graduation requirements.
  • The course number for the first semester of participation ends with an odd number; all subsequent semesters end with the even number immediately following.
  • Visit the Class Finder for additional information on the music ensembles and individual performance studies on offer currently.

Music Ensembles

  • Ensembles meet regularly for a minimum of three hours weekly, and in the case of chamber ensembles and jazz combos, this is inclusive of time without the ensemble coach.
  • Members of ensembles must attend rehearsals regularly and participate in all dress rehearsals and performances.
  • Two semesters of participation in an ensemble for credit where a grade of CR# is earned fulfills the Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) distribution requirement. 
  • Students may participate in some large ensembles, chamber ensembles, and jazz ensembles on a non-credit basis upon instructor or departmental approval only.
  • For auditioned ensembles, returning students need not normally audition again.

Auditioned Ensembles

  • MUS 2711 Jazz Combos - Initial Semester and MUS 2712 Jazz Combos
  • MUS 2721 Chamber Ensembles - Initial Semester and MUS 2722 Chamber Ensembles
  • MUS 2731 Orchestra - Initial Semester and MUS 2732 Orchestra
  • MUS 2741 Chamber Choir - Initial Semester and MUS 2742 Chamber Choir
  • MUS 2745 Chorus - Initial Semester and MUS 2746 Chorus

Non-Auditioned Ensembles

  • MUS 2701 West African Music Ensemble - Initial Semester and MUS 2702 West African Music Ensemble
  • MUS 2705 Middle Eastern Ensemble - Initial Semester and MUS 2706 Middle Eastern Ensemble
  • MUS 2751 Concert Band - Initial Semester and MUS 2752 Concert Band

Individual Performance Studies

  • Any student is eligible to take individual performance studies regardless of musical background or access to an instrument. To borrow an instrument, please inquire with the academic department coordinator when registering.
  • Students and instructors meet weekly for hour-long lessons; exact meeting times are determined based on the students’ and instructors’ schedules. Some instruction, e.g., guitar and piano, may take place in a small-group format.
  • The deadline to officially register is one week after the start of classes, and the deadline to drop is two weeks from the start of classes. Students should note that the deadline to register for individual performance studies is earlier than all other Bowdoin courses.
  • Students taking lessons for credit pay a fee of $700 for twelve one-hour lessons per semester. Junior and senior music majors and minors may take two half-credits free of charge. Scholarships are available for students on financial aid to cover the cost of lessons for credit; students interested in applying should contact the academic department coordinator by the second day of classes.
  • Students who begin studying their instrument at Bowdoin as beginners must perform in their fourth semester of study and each semester thereafter. All other students must perform in their second semester of study and each semester thereafter.
  • In order for performance studies to count towards the major or minor, the student must be studying at an intermediate level. The department defines intermediate-level proficiency as having a basic technical facility of one's instrument or voice. Intermediate proficiency assessed in consultation with the student's major or minor advisor. 
  • Individual Performance Studies do not count towards the VPA requirement.

Individual Performance Studies Instructors for 2022–2023

Bass (Pop/Jazz): Duane Edwards
Bassoon: David Joseph
Cello: Christina Chute
Clarinet: Titus Abbott
Drums: R.J. Miller
Fiddle: Christina Chute
Flute: Krysia Tripp
French Horn: John Boden
Guitar (Classical and Pop/Jazz): John Johnstone
Guitar (Pop/Jazz): Gary Wittner
Harp: Suki Flanagan
Oboe: Kathleen O'Connor-McNerney
Organ: Ray Cornils
Piano (Classical): Naydene Bowder, Joyce Moulton
Piano (Classical; by special permission from professor, only): George Lopez
Piano (Pop/Jazz): Matthew Fogg
Saxophone: Titus Abbott
Trombone: Anita Jerosch
Trumpet: Tim Kenlan
Viola: Kirsten Monke
Violin: Dean Stein, Yasmin Vitalius
Voice (Classical): Christina Astrachan
Voice (Pop/Jazz): Stephanie Fogg

Information for Incoming Students

The Department offers text-based sociological/historical inquiry courses open to first-year students in which placement is not required. For fall 2022 those courses are MUS 1051 Fundamentals of Music and MUS 1101 Sound, Self, and Society: Music and Everyday Life. Students with any background in theory/composition are strongly encouraged to take the music placement exam to access the department's notation-based music theory/composition courses.

Students considering further study in music or a possible major/minor are encouraged to take a music course in the first year, specifically MUS 1401 Introduction to Music Theory or MUS 2403 Songwriting and Song Analysis, depending on placement results. Most academic music courses count towards the Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) distribution requirement. 

Seating is limited, but any student is eligible to take individual performance studies/lessons regardless of musical background or access to an instrument. See above for more details about music ensembles and individual performance studies and note that most participants in music ensembles and individual performance studies are not music majors/minors, so all students with an interest should consider participating. Students with questions should contact the department.


This is an excerpt from the official Bowdoin College Catalogue and Academic Handbook. View the Catalogue