Carleton is an exceptionally musical college, where excellent musical opportunities abound for all students, regardless of major. All Carleton students may choose from a wide variety of classroom courses embracing the study of not only western art music, its history, theory, and practices, but also rock, jazz, global pop, Motown, and blues, American folk music, film music, the philosophy and psychology of music, and music of non-Western cultures such as India, Africa, the Caribbean, and China.

Over 800 Carleton students per year have also chosen to perform in Choir, Orchestra, Symphony Band, Jazz Ensemble, Chinese Music Ensemble, West African Drum Ensemble, and to study privately in an array of areas, including voice, piano, all instruments typical of western art music ensembles, jazz instruments (guitar, bass, piano), folk instruments (guitar, mandolin, and banjo), and world music instruments (sitar, Indian vocal music, African drums and Chinese musical instruments).