Skip to main content

Music Lessons as a Non-Music Student

Fiona explains how to take music lessons (even if you are not a music major or minor).

Fiona explains how to take music lessons (even if you are not a music major or minor).

Music at Carleton is a lively scene! There are opportunities to engage with music in a wide range of ensemble sizes and styles. Whether you want to play violin in our orchestra, sing a cappella in the stairwells, or record rock music with your friends in our studio, there is something for everyone. Our music scene is intended to be accessible and open to people of all backgrounds. Maybe you’re a music performance minor and are very serious about choir. Maybe you played jazz piano in high school and want to keep your skills up. Maybe you can’t even read music but have always wanted to play cello. In all of these cases, you might want to consider taking a music lesson!

Music Lessons: Logistics

At Carleton, it is easy to take music lessons. You do not have to be a music major or minor to take private lessons. The main difference is that if you are a music student, your lessons will be free. On the other hand, there is a fee for non-music students. However, if you are receiving financial aid, it is easy to get this waived.

Types of Lessons

There are generally two types of lessons that are available: classes and private lessons. Classes are offered for the most popular instruments, guitar and voice. If you have absolutely no experience in music, then classes are a great starting point. These lessons teach the most basic fundamentals to students before they move on to private lessons. 

Indoor. Piano in a small room
A typical practice room found in the Weitz Center for Creativity, an essential space for any music student!


Conversely, private lessons are offered for a wide range of instruments. Everything from jazz piano, to harpsichord, to sitar. Generally, you earn one or two credits (and an arts practice) from taking lessons. These lessons take place about once a week. Once it’s time, you will meet with a dedicated faculty member who has expertise in your instrument. Since lessons are individual, the instructor will tailor what you study and practice to your goals. Instructors are also generally incredibly flexible when it comes to scheduling when your lesson takes place. 

My Experience Taking Lessons

In my case, I did one hour of flute lessons every week with Martha Jasma. We met in Applebaum Hall, a small performance hall in the Weitz Center for Creativity. I played a little bit in high school, but by the time I started taking lessons, I hadn’t played in about two years! Because of this, our lessons focused on refreshing my skills from high school. We also built upon them with etudes and new pieces. 

Photo of Applebaum Recital Hall, a choir rehearsal space, with piano, risers, and chairs.
Applebaum Hall, the recital hall where I had my flute lessons during Covid quarantine 

What If I Don’t Own an Instrument?

Overall, I have had a very positive experience taking music lessons here. Any student who wants to sharpen their skills should consider enrolling in a lesson. As mentioned earlier, even if you have never played a particular instrument before, you can still take lessons on it. This is supported with instrument rentals. There is a large inventory of instruments that are available to choose from. The Ensemble Library has band/orchestra instruments that are available for free! These can be checked out for a term at a time or a full year. There is also a collection of folk instruments that are available for short term use through the Music Resource Center. No matter what your goals are, we probably have you covered. 



Fiona (she/her) is a junior from Stoneham, MA who is majoring in Cognitive Science and minoring in Philosophy. On campus, Fiona works at Carleton’s music venue, The Cave, and is one of many admissions bloggers who is a DJ on KRLX. She is also a defender on the women’s club lacrosse team, and takes yoga classes wherever they fit into her schedule. In her down time, you can find Fiona going for walks in the Arboretum, listening to a podcast, or grabbing a dessert from Cakewalk. Meet the other bloggers!