Music

Please note: Students wishing to enroll in MUS 112/111 Harmony should take the brief Music Theory Placement Test offered during New Student Orientation. The placement exam will help the student discern whether s/he should enroll in Harmony or the more preparative Musicianship course (MUS 109). The Music Department does not accept AP credit as a substitute for MUS 112.

Music lessons & ensembles

The Music Department offers 13 faculty-led vocal and instrumental ensembles and private and small group instruction in voice and over two dozen instruments for credit. Entering students generally register for lessons at the 100 level; only the most advanced and motivated first-years will be permitted to take lessons at the 200 level (consult instructor for placement).

Music Lesson Scholarships

Free or discounted lessons are available to every Grinnell student. All declared music majors receive unlimited free lessons (must declare before the end of the add-drop period). On a trial basis for the academic years 2013-2016, all non-majors are entitled to one scholarship per semester that covers 75% of the fee for 30-minute lessons or 44% of the fee for 60-minute lessons. Outstanding members of selected ensembles can win 1-year Curd Ensemble Scholarships that cover 100% of the fee for 30-minute lessons or 60% of the fee for 60-minute lessons. Students who need additional help paying their portion of the music lesson fee are encouraged to contact the Office of Financial Aid.

Important note about credits: Music lessons are NOT counted in the number of credits that determine whether a student has an "overload" (18 credits or above). Music ensemble credits ARE counted towards the overload, but do NOT count towards the major in music (though majors are expected to participate in ensembles—see below). If a student already has 18 credits, s/he may participate in an ensemble without registering (with permission of instructor). Non-registered students are expected to be full participants, fulfilling the same expectations for attendance and commitment as registered students.

Introductory courses; non-majors

The Music Department offers three 100-level courses that require no previous background in music. Two are historical/cultural in emphasis: MUS 116 sharpens student's abilities to interpret music's complex interplay with other facets of culture, both western and non-western; MUS 110 provides a historical overview of Western classical music. Both courses require extensive listening to and reading, speaking, and writing about music. The third course, MUS 109, teaches the basics of music notation and music theory while developing practical skills. If the student has little background in music (especially if s/he cannot read or write music notation), but wants to take other music courses (especially MUS 112/111, music lessons, and/or ensembles), s/he should register first for MUS 109. Furthermore, MUS 201, 202, 203, 204, and 295 are often open to first-year students with no previous background in music; these are special topics courses whose prerequisites change depending on the topic. Qualified non-majors are welcome in all upper-level music courses.

The Major

A music major at Grinnell College encompasses a wide variety of pursuits. Potential majors are encouraged to meet with a member of the Music Department as soon as possible to develop a coherent curriculum that is tailored to their interests and abilities and leads them toward mastery in a particular area (e.g. Music History, Music Theory, Performance, Composition, Ethnomusicology, Jazz Studies, etc.) Please note that the 36 credits required for the major represent a minimum: students considering graduate study and/or a career in music will need to take additional coursework. Music majors are expected to participate in a department ensemble for at least two semesters (note that ensemble credits do not count towards the major). Declared music majors receive unlimited free music lessons.

The suggestions below identify the most efficient ways to satisfy prerequisites and the core major requirements and at the same time allow students the greatest range of specialized advanced courses. Students who intend to study abroad or double-major should pay particular attention to these suggestions.

For prospective majors, the most important piece of advice is to take required theory/aural skills courses MUS 112/111 and MUS 213/212 as soon as possible, preferably in the first year. Please note that MUS 213/212 is only offered in the spring. Therefore a student planning OCS in the Spring of the third year MUST take MUS 213/212 in the first or second year in order to graduate.

Prospective majors should also take MUS 261-262 as early as possible, preferably in the second year. Students planning a MAP in composition should take MUS 215 (fall only), and MUS 219 (spring only) or MUS 324 (fall only) or MUS 323 (spring only) in the second or third year.

The following diagrams show two possible four-year plans for completing the minimum requirements for a major in Music, with or without a semester of off-campus study: 

Plan 1) If the student places into Harmony (see above), register in the first year for MUS 112/111 and MUS 213/212, then in the second year for MUS 261 and MUS 262. Prospective majors should also register for music lessons (MUS 120, 220, 221) and ensembles (MUS 101) (see below).

FIRST YEAR FALL FIRST YEAR SPRING
MUS 112/111 MUS 213/212
MUS 120 MUS 120
MUS 101 MUS 101
SECOND YEAR FALL SECOND YEAR SPRING
MUS 261 MUS 262
MUS 120, 220, or 221 MUS 120, 220, or 221
MUS 101 MUS 101
THIRD YEAR FALL THIRD YEAR SPRING
4 credits of MUS 2XX or 3XX 4 credits of MUS 2XX or 3XX
MUS 101 MUS 101
or OCS* or OCS*
*If doing OCS, take an additional 4 credits of MUS 2XX or 3XX in the second (ideally) or third year.
FOURTH YEAR FALL FOURTH YEAR SPRING
4 credits of MUS 2XX or 3XX or 4XX 4 credits of MUS 2XX or 3XX or 4XX
MUS 101 MUS 101

Plan 2) If the student waits until the second semester to enroll in MUS 112/111

FIRST YEAR FALL FIRST YEAR SPRING
MUS 109 (if needed; does not count towards major)  MUS 112/111
MUS 120 MUS 120
MUS 101 MUS 101
SECOND YEAR FALL SECOND YEAR SPRING
MUS 201-4 or 215 MUS 213/212
MUS 120, 220, or 221 MUS 120, 220, or 221
MUS 101 MUS 101
THIRD YEAR FALL THIRD YEAR SPRING
MUS 261 MUS 262
4 credits of MUS 2XX or 3XX (either fall or spring) 4 credits of MUS 2XX or 3XX
MUS 101 MUS 101
or OCS** or OCS**
**if doing fall OCS, take MUS 261 in the fourth year instead; if doing spring OCS, take MUS 262 in the fourth year instead. Note that postponing MUS 261 and/or MUS 262 until the fourth year may eliminate the possibility of taking a MAP or seminar (MUS 322) in music history.
FOURTH YEAR FALL FOURTH YEAR SPRING
4 credits of MUS 2XX or 3XX or 4XX 4 credits of MUS 2XX or 3XX or 4XX
MUS 101 MUS 101