Introduction to the Music Department

The Music Department is a vibrant department that enrolls over five hundred students every term in a flexible and broad curriculum that offers an array of courses in performance, composition, theory, history, popular music, electronic music, electroacoustic media, and ethnomusicology. We offer a Music Major and minors in Music, Music Performance, and American Music.

Carleton’s ensembles include:

  • Orchestra
  • Choir
  • Symphony Band
  • Jazz Ensemble
  • African Drumming
  • Chinese Music
  • Chamber Music (Western, Folk, Jazz, and Non-Western) 

We offer private lessons in all traditional instruments and voice, and many Folk and Non-Western instruments. The personal and rigorous attention each student receives is from faculty members who represent diversity in their field on the international stage and scholarly conference venues, including academic presentations at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, performances at Carnegie Hall and around the world, and research with collaborators around the US and Canada, and in China, the UK, and Finland.

The Music Department regularly presents internationally acclaimed guest artists in concerts and masterclasses with students, and we provide many opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaboration with artists and scholars and as guest lecturers in classes.

Our majors have presented work at national conferences. Recent graduates have continued their studies at Harvard, The Royal College of Music (London), Indiana University, and the Boston Conservatory. Others have continued on to Law school, Medical school, or other professions, where a music major or double major was integral to their personal and professional success, and music continues to play a formative role in their lives.

The Music Department is located in the Weitz Center for Creativity. These facilities were completed in 2017 and boast a 400-seat flexible performance hall, an 80-seat recital/rehearsal hall, a chamber rehearsal room, a jazz room, an ElectroAcoustic Lab, and all-new practice rooms and teaching spaces with built-in A/V recording capabilities.

Mission Statement

The study of music in a liberal arts setting develops logical thinking, critical analysis, musical literacy, historical consciousness, cultural sensitivity, and aesthetic values. The human dimensions that music is especially capable of revealing — emotional nuance, beauty, and imagination—are also central to the liberal arts ideal. Creative musical activity cultivates feelings of accomplishment and facilitates the search for meaning.

Many Carleton students with outstanding academic records believe their work as musicians is the most challenging, they undertake as an undergraduate. Composing, performing, or writing about music requires talent, initiative, risk, and reflection, and demands the courage to stand up for a personal vision realized through exacting attention to detail.

Collaborating in music-making encourages sympathetic communication, attention to others, and clear personal expression. These processes stimulate personal, intellectual, and social growth and have a positive, lasting influence.

Private Music Lessons

We offer private music lessons from an extensive music faculty with strong teaching and performing backgrounds.  Our music faculty members are mindful of the need to engage students in the learning process by providing a supportive environment that encourages personal growth and the exploration of individual potential. Music majors are eligible for free applied study.

Ensembles and Chamber Music

The Ensemble Program and the Chamber Music Program give students a wonderful opportunity to play music with others, and provide a rich learning experience that focuses on how the individual contributes to the group.

Music Courses

Music courses offer students the opportunity to develop as a performer and composer, and in writing about and the analysis of a wide range of musics. The Music Department offers courses in performance, composition, theory, history, popular music, electronic music, film and television music, and ethnomusicology.