Most people initially experience music as an “extracurricular” activity—listening to and performing music for fun. Through engagement in the Grinnell Music Department, students learn to take their love of music to the next level: to transform it into a “curricular” activity. With intensive faculty guidance—whether in performance or classroom courses—students develop intellectual skills and a foundation of musical knowledge that enhances and complements their coursework in other areas.

Important Information for Tutorial Advisors

  • Music Orientation: Students interested in music of any sort should attend the Music Orientation held during NSO (Monday, 2 pm, Sebring-Lewis Hall).
  • Registering for Music Lessons and Ensembles: These courses go at the bottom of the New Student Registration Card. Students can also submit add-drop forms.
  • Music Lessons: Course credits earned in music lessons are NOT counted in the total that determines whether a student has an "overload" (18 credits or above). All entering students should register for lessons at the 100 level (1 credit); no audition is required. Advanced and motivated first-years who wish to take lessons at the 200 level (2 credits) can change their registration after consultation with the instructor.
  • Music Lesson Scholarships: Most students are eligible for a scholarship that pays all or most of the music lesson fee (see Music Department website for more information). Students receiving need-based financial aid from the College and music majors (if declared before the end of the add/drop period) will receive their scholarships automatically upon registration in lessons. Others who need assistance paying music lesson fees should apply for a scholarship through the Office of Financial Aid. The Music Department also offers a small number of competitive music lesson scholarships, based on auditions: ensemble auditions early in the fall semester (for the current academic year), and solo auditions in the spring (for the following academic year).
  • Musical ensembles: Ensemble credits ARE counted towards the overload total; however, students may participate in ensembles without registering if they are already at the 18 credit maximum. Non-registered students are expected to be full participants, fulfilling the same expectations for attendance and commitment as registered students. Several ensembles are open to students without any previous musical training. Other ensembles require an audition, held at the beginning of the fall semester; consult posters in Bucksbaum or contact instructor for information.
  • Classroom Courses Open to 1st-years: All 100-level courses, plus MUS 201, 202, 203, 204, and 205, are open to 1st years without pre-requisite. The only courses that require any previous musical training are MUS 112 + MUS 111 (see below).
  • Music Theory Placement Test: Students wishing to enroll in MUS 112 Music Theory I (formerly called 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 MUS 112, or the more preparative MUS 109 Music Fundamentals (formerly called Musicianship), or place directly into MUS 213. The Music Department does not accept AP credit as a substitute for MUS 112. Note that MUS 112L Keyboard Lab and MUS 111 Aural Skills I are co-requisites for MUS 112.
  • Prospective Majors: Take the required theory/aural skills sequence MUS 112/MUS 111 and MUS 213/MUS 212 as soon as possible, preferably in the first year. Note that MUS 213/MUS 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 with a music major. Prospective majors should also take MUS 261-262 as early as possible, preferably in the second year. The Music Department only offers one or two 300-level courses per year, so majors should consult with music faculty about offerings and pre-requisites far in advance. Ensemble credits do not count towards the major in music; nonetheless, majors are expected to participate in department ensembles for a minimum of two semesters. Note that the College has a limit of 8 practicum credits (musical ensemble) and 16 music lesson credits that can count towards graduation.

The Major

A music major at Grinnell College prepares a student for many interesting careers, both within the larger field of music and without (it is one of the most highly recommended majors for pre-med, for example). Areas of particular expertise among the Grinnell music faculty include Composition, Electronic Music, Music Technology, Jazz, Popular Music, Music Industry Studies, Ethnomusicology, World Music, Musicology, Historical Performance Practice, Early Music, Music Theory, Cognition, Aesthetics, Performance, and Conducting. In addition, Grinnell music majors have combined their interests in music with another field to pursue careers in areas like Music Education, Arts Administration, Music Therapy, Music Librarianship, etc.

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, abilities, and career aspirations. Please note that the 36 credits required for the major represent a minimum: students considering a career in music (especially one involving graduate study) will need to take additional coursework. It is also recommended that music majors take foreign language courses and participate in a semester of off-campus study.

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.

Plan 1) If the student places into Music Theory I (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 ideally register for music lessons (MUS 120, 220, or 221) and ensembles (MUS 101) every semester, though they do not need to take MUS 101 for credit, and only 4 credits of lessons are required for the major.

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 120, 220, or 221 MUS 120, 220, or 221
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 120, 220, or 221 MUS 120, 220, or 221
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
MUS 120, 220, or 221 MUS 120, 220, or 221
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 120, 220, or 221 MUS 120, 220, or 221
MUS 101 MUS 101