Music Lessons

Music lessons are available to all students, regardless of major.

Click here for the list of Applied Music Instructors.

Music Lesson Information

Students at Occidental College have the benefit of the best professional teachers in the Los Angeles area. Private lessons are offered in voice and instruments. Class lessons are also offered in guitar, ukulele, and Alexander Technique. Lessons receive one course unit each term and serve as partial fulfillment of the College's fine arts requirement. Scholarship opportunities for lessons are described here.

Applied Lesson Fees for Academic Year 2020-2021

All private music lessons and group classes require an additional fee on top of regular tuition.
Half-hour private lessons: $500 per semester
One-hour private lessons: $1000 per semester
Class lessons in guitar, ukulele, and Alexander Technique: $260 per semester*

*Note: Voice Class (MUSC107) and Piano Class (MUSC 109) no longer require an additional fee.
See the Scholarships & Awards page for information on scholarships that can cover or defray the cost of lessons.

Music Lesson Placement & Ensemble Scholarship Auditions

The 2019 Music Lesson Placement & Ensemble Scholarship Auditions will take place in Booth Hall's Bird Studio on Monday, August 26th from 1:00 to 5:00 PM.

Click here to sign up for the 2019 Music Lesson Placement & Ensemble Scholarship Auditions.

Print this form and bring it to your auditions. If you are unable to print it, hard copies will be available on the day of the audition.

Any student interested in taking music lessons must attend these informal auditions in order to be assigned an instructor. Plan to play or sing two (2) pieces or songs at your audition of contrasting style/ genre. An accompanist will be provided; please bring with you hole-punched sheet music of your pieces or songs. Singers, there will be no unaccompanied auditions.

Students who participate in ensembles have the opportunity to be considered for scholarships to defray the cost of lessons. During your audition, let the panel know if you plan to be in a departmental ensemble.

To be eligible for an Ensemble Scholarship, you must be enrolled in one of the following ensembles depending on your instrument:

PIANO: Glee Club, College Chorus, Symphony Orchestra, Afro-Cuban Drumming, Son Jarocho, Jazz Ensemble
STRINGS: Symphony Orchestra
WINDS: Symphony Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble
BRASS: Symphony Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble
PERCUSSION: Symphony Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble, Afro-Cuban Drumming, Son Jarocho
GUITAR: Glee Club, College Chorus, Jazz Ensemble, Afro-Cuban Drumming, Son Jarocho
VOICE: Glee Club, College Chorus

Setting Up Lessons

Fall 2019 "Add" Deadline: Friday, September 6th
Fall 2019 "Drop" Deadline: Friday, September 13th

Spring 2020 "Add" Deadline: Friday, January 31st
Spring 2020 "Drop" Deadline: Friday, February 7th

Note: The applied music registration deadlines are different from regular course registration deadlines.

Registration: Students enroll for applied lessons (courses designated MUSA) through the regular online course registration process or with an ADD form. Please note: the Registrar will not accept late or retroactive adds or drops for applied study. Therefore, you must be sure to register on time for your applied music class.

You are responsible for contacting your teacher to set up your lesson schedule at the beginning of each semester. If your teacher has been unavailable for the first two weeks of the semester, you must inform the Music Department office of this problem so that you can be given an extension of one week to set up your lesson time. Your teacher is required to provide you with a written syllabus indicating his/her expectations for your performance, methods and standards of evaluation, and contact information.

Grading: Lessons count for one unit of credit and can be taken for either one half-hour a week or one hour a week. Music majors and scholarship recipients must receive a letter grade. All others are welcome to opt for Credit/No-Credit (CR/NC) grading if their instructor approves. Please be sure to acquire the necessary form from the Registrar by the deadline if you are interested in this option.

Dropping Lessons

Applied teachers are not salaried by the College; they are paid directly by the lesson fee you pay the institution. Refunds for lessons and group classes will not be given after the published Music Department drop date each semester, listed at the top of this page. If you drop lessons before the published drop date, you will be billed only for the number of lessons taken up to that time, provided that you have informed the Music Department IN WRITING of the intent to drop lessons. Any student who drops class or private applied lessons after the deadline will be billed the FULL lesson fee for that semester.

Applied Lessons and Practice

Practice: An extremely important element of applied music study is regular practice time between lessons. You should consult with your applied teacher and develop a practice schedule that you can maintain with the same consistency as class attendance. You also should work with your applied teacher on methods of using your practice time most effectively.

Practice Rooms: The practice rooms in Booth Hall, each of which contains a piano, are available to all Occidental College students at no charge. These rooms are not scheduled in advance. Students may use the rooms as they are available. Unlocking a combination lock on the door accesses all practice rooms. The combination is changed periodically and may be obtained from the Music Department office.

Performances: All music majors and all ensemble scholarship recipients must perform a jury at the end of each semester of study (excluding semesters in which a student is performing a junior or senior recital). Please be aware that some instructors require all their students, regardless of their major or scholarship status, to perform a jury. Check your syllabus, given to you each semester by your applied music instructor, to see if you will be required to perform an end-of-semester jury.

Instructor evaluations: Each semester, you will be asked to evaluate your instructor using the Music Department's evaluation tool. Please be sure to take care of this important responsibility -- it helps your teacher to know your opinion of his/her strengths and areas for improvement.

Attendance and Makeup Lessons

Students are expected to attend every lesson throughout the semester (12 lessons). The only acceptable reasons for missing a lesson are: (1) Illness or injury that prohibits you from singing or playing, or (2) a family emergency that takes you away from campus. If you enroll for private applied study after the first week but before the Music Department's deadline, you are entitled to one makeup lesson, which must take place before end-of-term juries.

Your lesson schedule has the same academic status and priority as any college class. Citing a conflict with another class or a meeting with a professor is an unacceptable reason for missing a lesson. If you are unable to attend a lesson for any reason, you must notify your teacher at least 24 hours in advance of your scheduled lesson. Except in cases of sudden illness, injury, or family emergency, if you do not notify the teacher 24 hours in advance of missing a lesson, you will forfeit the lesson for which you have paid. Therefore, at your first lesson each semester, you must discuss with your teacher the procedure by which you can notify her/him of an urgent need to miss a lesson.

Your teacher is required to make up a lesson if:

  • The teacher is unable to attend a lesson
  • Illness, injury, or a family emergency prohibits your attendance (see reasons listed above), and you inform the teacher 24 hours in advance of the lesson time except in cases of sudden illness, injury, or family emergency
  • A faculty member schedules a field trip that conflicts with your lesson and refuses to permit you to make up the field trip, and you inform your teacher at least 24 hours in advance of the lesson time

Both you and your teacher are responsible for making time to reschedule or make up a lesson. A lesson is to be made up no later than the last day of classes during the semester in which the lesson is missed.


Jury Requirement

All recipients of a Music Department scholarship must perform in an applied music jury at the end of each semester. Students who don't comply with this requirement will receive a grade reduction and be at risk of losing their Ensemble Scholarship. Please be aware that some applied music teachers require all their students to perform an end-of-semester jury whether or not they are Music majors or scholarship recipients. Students performing a junior or senior recital are exempt from the jury requirement during the semester in which they perform their recital.

The jury is a chance for you to demonstrate progress made during the semester. Normally, the jury will be performed for your instructor and at least one member of the full-time Music faculty at the end of the semester.

Jury Dates

All music majors, and all students receiving a 1/2-hour or greater music department scholarship, must perform an applied music jury at the end of each semester.

Fall 2019 Jury Date: Wednesday, December 4th
Spring 2020 Jury Date: Wednesday, April 29th
Bird Studio, Booth Hall

Jury standards

Regardless of a student’s major or lesson duration, all students must do the following for their jury:

  • Bring their accompanist's jury music, in good condition and in order.
  • Come knowing the composer and the historic-stylistic context of their repertoire (date of composition, stylistic period, formal context -- part of a song cycle, an aria from an opera or  oratorio, a sonata, a concerto, etc.). If their repertoire is part of a larger work, they are expected to have listened to that larger work.
  • Treat the jury as a performance, dressing and behaving accordingly.
  • Half-hour students must have at least two pieces thoroughly memorized.
  • One-hour students must have prepared at least three works each semester, all of them memorized.

Additionally, all voice students must do the following:

  • Explain the character’s position or role in the larger work their repertoire represents.
  • Be thoroughly familiar with a word-for-word translation of texts sung in a foreign language.

Roughly a week before the scheduled jury, you will be assigned a specific time and room. In consultation with your applied teacher, you will fill out a repertoire form which you must bring to your jury. On the form, you will be asked to list the titles and composers of the musical selections you have studied with your teacher during the semester.

When you arrive at your jury, you will be given an opportunity to choose which item you want to perform first. After that piece, members of the jury panel will request other works from your list. In consultation with your applied teacher, the jury panel will evaluate your progress during the semester, as well as your level of achievement, and the result of your jury will be factored into the grade given by your applied teacher.