Majoring in Music

In order to delcare the Music major, you must take MUSC 151 Theory & Practice of Music I no later than the spring semester of your sophomore year and ideally the spring semester of your first year.  Students must declare their Major concentration when they declare the Music major. 

All Music majors must take the same six required courses, in music theory, history, and culture. In addition to those core courses, majors must take the courses required for their concentration. To plan accurately, pay attention to those courses that have prerequisites. Go to Courses & Requirements for further information. Because the catalog changes year to year, please note that your major requirements are determined by the catalog of the academic year in which you declare the major. For example, if you declare the major in 2020-2021, the Music major requirements for that academic year's catalog are the requirements you must fulfill in order to graduate. 

To declare the Music major, you must do the following, in this order:

  1. All students wishing to declare the Music major must have completed MUSC 151 with a grade of B-minus or higher. Students wishing to declare the Music Production concentration must also have completed MUSC 148 with a grade of B-minus or higher. Both courses must be completed by the end of the sophomore year.
  2. Submit the Declaring the Music Major questionnaire.
  3. Meet with your intended Music major advisor to discuss your responses to the questionnaire and to further plot your path through the major.
  4. Submit the Major Declaration Form to the Registrar's Office.

Music Major Concentrations

To help guide you through your degree progress, please look at the following flow charts. Be sure to click on the catalog year that applies to you; that would be the year you declared or intend to declare your major.

Music theory placement: Placement in Theory and Practice of Music I (MUSC 151) is determined in one of two ways: by satisfactory performance on the Music Theory Placement Exam or by completing Materials of Music (MUSC 101) with a grade of "C" or higher. Students who do not place into Theory and Practice of Music I (MUSC 151) will enter the course sequence with Materials of Music (MUSC 101).

Performing ensembles at Occidental are open to all students by audition regardless of major. Glee Club, College Chorus,  Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Music, and Jazz Ensemble hold auditions at the beginning of the academic year, and some ensembles also hold auditions in the spring term. The Son Jarocho Ensemble and Afro-Cuban Drumming Ensemble do not require auditions. Ensembles are taken for one course unit each term.

Music majors are required to participate in ensembles.

Piano proficiency is required of all Music majors. Students satisfy this requirement by participation in all three required musicianship classes. Ideally, this requirement should be fulfilled by the end of the Music major’s sophomore year.

Academic advising is essential to your success at Occidental. All Music majors have an advisor from the Music department. However, students who double major with another field listed as their primary major must speak to the Music department chair to obtain an additional advisor in the Music department. You are encouraged to meet regularly with your advisor, either during posted office hours or by making an appointment. You are also able to change advisors within the department, should you feel that another member of the faculty has similar academic or professional interests to yours. Even if you are not a Music major, all Music faculty are available to discuss possible music courses with you.

Music majors should know that graduate work in music theory, musicology, and classical voice requires a reading knowledge of French and German; a reading knowledge of Latin is also a very good idea.

Music majors are expected to attend all Music major meetings, as well as student and faculty recitals and guest artist performances each semester.