Plato wrote that "music is to the mind as air is to the body." At Grinnell, no matter what your major might be, you have the opportunity to develop and strengthen your musical skills – to oxygenate your mind with music, not merely as a listener, but as an active performer as well. As our phones get smarter and the gadgetry surrounding us becomes ever more capable, the skills we ourselves possess without technological aids – to play instruments, to sing – seem to become more valuable, not less. The best way to develop these skills is to engage in guided practice with a skilled teacher. This is where music lessons come in.
The Music Department offers music lessons for credit at every level—from total beginner to advanced—in voice and more than two dozen instruments. Enrollment in lessons entitles a student to the use of a College-owned instrument, an instrument storage locker, and practice facilities in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts. Our applied music faculty are professional musicians from around the state, including members of the Des Moines Symphony, Orchestra Iowa, and many other regional ensembles. For more information about the different levels of lessons offered, consult the Catalog under MUS 120, MUS 122, MUS 220, MUS 221, and MUS 420.
Credits earned in music lessons are NOT counted in the total number that determine whether a student is liable for an "overload" fee (18 credits or above). Music lessons are offered for one or two credits, depending on the level.
Music Lesson Scholarships & Fees
For more information, see Music Department Scholarships & Awards
The Music Department offers discounted lessons to every Grinnell College student:
- For music majors, lessons are free: all declared majors may take an unlimited number of lessons of any type without charge. Majors must declare before the end of the add/drop period in order to receive free lessons for that semester.
- Students who need additional assistance paying their portion of the music lesson fees are encouraged to contact the Office of Financial Aid
- Non-majors are eligible to compete for approximately 30 merit scholarships that pay the full fee for 30-minute lessons (or discounted 60-minute lessons) for one year.
- On a trial basis for three years (2013-2016), all non-majors are entitled to one scholarship per semester that covers 75% of the fee for 30-minute lessons.
Grading and Expectations
Grading for music lessons is based primarily on the evidence of consistent effort and commitment to improvement that the student exhibits over the course of the semester. Students are expected to practice regularly for their lessons: a minimum of 30 minutes/day for MUS 120 and MUS 122 and 60 minutes/day for MUS 220, MUS 221, and MUS 420. Students in MUS 220 and MUS 221 are expected to perform one or two pieces in public on a department-sponsored recital during the semester. MUS 420 is for students presenting a full recital.
Applied Music Faculty
Jennifer Williams Brown
Nancy McFarland Gaub
Guitar & Jazz Bass
Clarinet & Saxophone
Brass & Percussion
Trombone, Baritone Horn, Tuba