Degrees and Advising

Why Study Music?

Studying music is a great way to expand your mind and develop skills that...

can transfer into other areas of your life.
can lead to a fulfilling career in music or music-related fields.
can lead to a bachelor’s degree or music minor.
can prepare you for graduate study inside or outside of music.

 

Students interested in non-music major or minor opportunities should see the last section for more information. 

How to Study Music

All students interested in beginning a music major or minor must complete an Entrance & Scholarship Audition.  After being accepted, students may register for music core classes and declare their major or minor. Graduate students should review the information on the Master of Music page. 

Due to the length of our music major programs, incoming students are encouraged to start the music majors during their first quarter at WWU. 

Music Acceptance vs. WWU Admissions

Students must apply to WWU through the Admissions Office. Students can audition for our program at any time before or after submitting an admissions application. Students do not need to wait for WWU

Advising and Curriculum Details

Current students enrolled in music lessons, ensembles, music majors and minors should also review the information included on the Current Music Student Website. 

Music Advising

Music majors and minors are automatically assigned to the Music Program Coordinator as their advisor after acceptance to the program and degree declaration. Request a Music Advising Appointment.

General Advising 

Students are encouraged to utilize the general advising resources for help with total degree requirement planning. 

Advising Links

Music Degree Overview

The minor in music is a one-year program that consists of a basic core study in music theory, aural skills, and keyboarding skills (class piano), along with an introduction in different genres of music, and optional ensemble and private instruction.  All music majors and the music minor take the same first-year core sequence.  

This minor cannot be combined with a BA or BMus major. The music minor is designed to take one to two years to complete, with the core sequences completed consecutively in one academic year. Incoming students can audition for the minor after their first year and still be on track for graduation.

Degree Planning Guide

The 100-level core classes of music theory must be completed as a set of courses each quarter unless a student tests out through our assessments. 

Survey courses and electives can be completed any quarter. See the Music Minor University Catalog page for full degree requirement details.

Fall Winter Spring

Music Theory I: MUS 122

Aural Skills I: MUS 121A

Keyboarding I: MUS 121B

 

Music Theory II: MUS 124

Aural Skills II: MUS 123A

Keyboarding II: MUS 123B

Music Theory III: MUS 126

Aural Skills III: MUS 125A

Keyboarding III: MUS 125B

The Jazz Studies minor is designed for music majors who have an interest in a higher level of jazz education performance.

The jazz studies minor is open to all admitted Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Arts in Music students. This minor consists of advanced jazz theory and improvisation, jazz history, private jazz lessons, and jazz arranging and composition. 

A liberal arts degree in music, including a basic core of study in music theory, aural skills, and history, along with private instruction and ensemble performance. At 60 credits, this program allows a student the flexibility to pursue an additional major or minor.

Our general music major is designed to take two to three years to complete. Students have the option to take the second and third years of core sequences together to finish the major in less than three years. Please note, WWU requires students to reach a minimum of 180 credits with 60 credits of upper-division (300 and 400-level) courses. Students with minimal or no transfer credits should expect to take a minimum of 3.5 years to graduate with any bachelor's degree. 

Aimed at students with a particular interest in musicology or ethnomusicology. In addition to the core sequences of music history, music theory, aural skills, and keyboarding skills, History & Literature majors have the opportunity to pursue in-depth study in a variety of topics related to the history and culture of music.

This degree is structured to take approximately four years to complete for the average incoming music student. Students with transferrable credit in music theory, aural skills, and keyboarding skills through college courses or AP/IB exams may be able to accelerate this graduation timeline.

Students receive private composition training along with instruction in basic music theory, music history, and conducting; lessons on their major instrument or voice; and ensemble performance. While composition instruction covers all modes, genres and periods, students may elect to concentrate their creativity in one or more specific areas.

This degree is structured to take approximately four years to complete for the average incoming music student. Students with transferrable credit in music theory, aural skills, and keyboarding skills through college courses or AP/IB exams may be able to accelerate this graduation timeline.

With an emphasis on high-level performance and pedagogy, students receive comprehensive instruction on their primary instrument, gain a variety of solo and ensemble experiences, and perform two recitals in addition to completing a core set of courses in music theory, aural skills, keyboarding, and music history.

This degree is structured to take approximately four years to complete for the average incoming music student. Students with transferrable credit in music theory, aural skills, and keyboarding skills through college courses or AP/IB exams may be able to accelerate this graduation timeline.

This professional degree program prepares students to teach music in their emphasis area upon graduation, and receive a P-12 Certification as a Music Specialist. The program consists of a variety of pedagogy, conducting, and education-specific courses, including a student internship at a public school. Students in this major usually apply to the Woodring College of Education during their third year in our program.

This degree is structured to take approximately 4.25-4.5 years to complete for the average incoming music student. All academic work can be completed in four years with a full quarter of student teaching following between year four and year five. Students with transferrable credit in music theory, aural skills, and keyboarding skills through college courses or AP/IB exams may be able to accelerate this graduation timeline.

Western offers a Master of Music degree with concentrations in composition, conducting, history & literature, music education, and performance. The graduate program at WWU is small enough to be tailored to each student's individual needs and interests. We emphasize a rigorous level of creativity and scholarship, preparing the advanced student for a career in music and providing a solid foundation for doctoral studies.

Visit the Master of Music website for full details and information.

Sample Incoming Schedules

A typical incoming student will have the following schedule for their first quarter. Music minors must complete theory, aural skills, and keyboarding skills as a set of courses unless tested out through assessments. 

  • Music Theory (2 cr.)
  • Aural Skills (1 cr.)
  • Keyboarding Skills (1 or 2 cr.)
  • Major/GUR
  • Major/GUR

A typical incoming student will have the following schedule for their first quarter. Music minors must complete theory, aural skills, and keyboarding skills as a set of courses unless tested out through assessments. Incoming voice performance majors will also take Intro to Voice Studies (MUS 166A) for 2 credits.

  • Music Theory (2 cr.)
  • Aural Skills (1 cr.)
  • Keyboarding Skills (1 or 2 cr.)
  • Private Lessons ( 2 cr.)
  • Ensemble ( 2 cr.)
  • One to two GURs

The standard load for a WWU student is 15 credits. The standard load for a music student can range between 12-17 credits depending on the degree program, year in the music program, transfer credits, and number of GURs to complete.  

Due to reduced credits for music core classes, students may not reach full-time status with enrollment in solely music courses. Those who have completed GURs before attending WWU are encouraged to find a minor to supplement the additional credits needed to reach full-time status for financial aid purposes (scholarships, loans, grants, etc.), veterans benefits, and others..  

Core Sequences

The following is an overview of the core sequence curriculum. Incoming students with transferrable credit from colleges or AP/IB exams may be eligible to take courses out of sequence through their placement in Music Core Equivalency Assessments.

 

Fall 

Winter

Spring

Music Theory I, MUS 122 (2 cr.)

Aural Skills I, MUS 121A  (1 cr.)

Keyboarding Skills I, MUS 121B or 221C (1 or 2 cr.)

Music Theory II, MUS 124 (2 cr.)

Aural Skills II, MUS 123A  (1 cr.)

Keyboarding Skills II, MUS 123B or 223C (1 or 2 cr.)

Music Theory III, MUS 126 (2 cr.)

Aural Skills III, MUS 125A  (1 cr.)

Keyboarding Skills III, MUS 125B or 225C (1 or 2 cr.)

Music Theory IV, MUS 222 (2 cr.)

Aural Skills IV, MUS 221A  (1 cr.)

Keyboarding Skills IV, MUS 221B (1 cr.) 

Music Theory V, MUS 224 (2 cr.)

Aural Skills V, MUS 223A  (1 cr.)

Keyboarding Skills V, MUS 223B (1 cr.)

Music Theory VI, MUS 226 (2 cr.)

Aural Skills VI, MUS 225A  (1 cr.)

Keyboarding Skills VI, MUS 225B (1 cr.)

Music History 1 (MUS 341)

Music History 2 (MUS 342)

Music History 3 (MUS 343)

Sequence Track Options

The department of music currently offers two different tracks of the core sequence courses. Students should note that these options could change contingent on course offerings and curriculum updates.

  1. Track One: Regular three-year sequence. The first track will span three years covering two years of music theory, aural skills, and keyboarding skills followed by a year of music history.
  2. Track Two: Accelerated two-year sequence. The second track spans just two years with the second year theory aural skills, and keyboarding classes are taken alongside the music history sequence normally placed in year three.

Advising 

The Music Department recommends that all incoming first-year students complete track one. Students should be aware that the accelerated track does not guarantee they will graduate sooner. Students must still complete all general degree requirements and other major coursework. Students may choose to take the accelerated two-year sequence of the core sequences after passing MUS 126. 

We strongly encourage students to consider their current course load and their understanding of first-year theory before taking the combined track. 

All students must complete keyboarding (class piano) courses regardless of piano lesson experience. The only exception is those who place out through the Music Core Equivalency Assessments. 

There are two tracks for keyboarding skills:

  • Track B: For beginning and intermediate players. A six-quarter sequence at the 100 and 200-level. 
  • Track C: For advanced players, piano majors, and piano minors. A three-quarter accelerated sequence at the 200-level.

Music Minor

Music minors will complete only three-quarters of keyboarding skills for their degree program either at the 100-level for beginning and intermediate players, or the 200-level advanced track.

Music majors must complete the KPE at the conclusion of their keyboarding sequence.

All music majors must complete the Keyboarding Proficiency Exam (KPE). The exam is administered at the end of the "B" and "C" track of keyboarding courses.Keyboard Proficiency Exam

  1.  Perform a prepared solo piece from the following choices:
    • A Clementi Sonatina mvt
    • A Minuet by Bach, Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, or Beethoven
    • A piece from Schumann Album for the Youngor Scenes From Childhood
    • Anything from Volumes 17, 27, 37, or 47 of Classics to Moderns, Denes Agay, ed
  2. Harmonize a given melody with chords in the left hand. You must include V/V and V/IV with their proper resolution. Play the melody with the right hand and your harmonization with the left hand. You will have a moment to study the melody.
  3. Sight read a simple piano piece and a four-part hymn, hands together.
  4. Sight read a given lead sheet, with melody in the right hand and chords in the left hand. Included will be any type of seventh chord.
  5. Sight read a part for either Bb Clarinet, transposing the Clarinet part, or viola, reading alto clef.
  6. Play at least two parts from a four-part choral open score. Any combination but soprano/alto.
  7. Play a I-IV-V7-I cadence in any key, major or minor, with chord roots in the left hand and any chord inversion in the right hand.
  8. *Perform a prepared accompaniment to an art song or instrumental piece with a soloist. Good choices include short Schubert Lieder, Italian Art Songs, pieces from the Suzuki string methods, Vols 3 or higher. You will need to provide your own soloist.

* Number 8 is not a requirement during the Music Core Equivalency Assessments. Assessment students will play an accompanied piece at another time after course placement is determined.

Private "Applied" Lessons

The Music Department offers lessons at the 200, 300, and 400-level for undergraduate students and the 500-level for graduate students. At the 200-level applied lessons are split into two sections: full lessons which are approximately 50 minutes, and half lessons which are approximately 25-30 minutes. 

Co-Requisites

All students must additionally register for a major ensemble each quarter they are participating in lessons. The only exception to this rule is piano students who are non-majors/minors and music minors.

  • 200-Level: Full lessons at the 200-level are set at two credits, half lessons are set at one credit.
  • 300-level: Full lessons are 1-4 variable credits. Students must enroll in three credits unless they exceed the 18 credit maximum for full-time tuition.
  • 400-level: Full lessons are 1-4 variable credits. Students must enroll in four credits unless they exceed the 18 credit maximum for full-time tuition. 

Non-Majors/Minors

Private "applied" lessons are available to students on a space-available basis who have previous experience with an instrument or voice. Some studios may require an official audition to be considered. 

Music Minors 

Applied lessons are not required for the degree program and will be offered on a studio-available basis. Students may use applied lessons towards elective credits needed for the degree if offered a studio space.  

Music Majors 

Music majors are required to enroll in applied lessons each quarter according to their major requirements regardless of lessons completed before attending WWU. 

  • Bachelor of Arts: Enrollment every quarter until finishing minimum degree requirements. 

  • Bachelor of Music Performance and History & Literature: Enrollment every quarter until all degree requirements are fulfilled. A majority of students will enroll every quarter until graduation unless finishing another degree. Performance majors must pass two different upper-division juries to access the 300 and 400-level of lessons. Music History majors must pass one upper-division jury to access the 300-level of lessons.

  • Bachelor of Music BMus Composition: Enrollment every quarter until the last year of study. If a student is completing another BMus concentration, they must continue to enroll in applied lessons according to the other major requirements. Composition majors must pass one upper-division jury to access the 300-level of lessons.

  • Bachelor of Music BMus Education P-12: Enrollment every quarter until they enroll in student teaching, SEC 495. Music Education majors must pass one upper-division jury to access the 300-level of lessons.

Ensemble Requirements

All students must enroll in an ensemble to participate with the exception of Viking Band which is not offered as a course. 

 

Auditing Ensembles

Students cannot audit a participation-based course. The only exception to this rule is music majors that are being asked to enroll in an additional major ensemble and this enrollment will put them over the 18 credit maximum for full-time tuition. Students who are eligible to audit must talk to the Registrar's Office first and then submit the Special Enrollment Form.

Music majors and students enrolled in applied lessons must enroll in a major ensemble. A major ensemble is also the co-requisite for all students enrolled in applied lessons.

Majors ensembles include concert band, orchestra, choir, piano accompanying, and guitar ensemble. At this time, jazz ensembles do not apply major ensemble requirements. Piano and guitar students should refer to their major requirements for directives on when to enroll in piano accompanying and guitar ensemble.

Transfer Credits and Assessments

Music Transfer Credit

We directly accept transfer credits from ensembles, lessons, survey classes, and general music courses as the agreed transfer equivalency.

While we directly accept credits, music majors must enroll and participate in lessons and ensembles at WWU regardless of previously completed credits. 

Credits for music theory, aural skills, and keyboarding skills are initially transferred as general credits (1TT/1XX) until a music core equivalency assessment determines the appropriate equivalency. 

Music Assessments

What are the Music Core Equivalency Assessments?

The Music Core Equivalency Assessments are diagnostic assessments for students with transferable credits in music theory, aural skills, and/or keyboarding skills through college/university coursework or AP/IB credit. Students must earn a 3 or higher on the AP/IB exam to be eligible.

Modality

We offer online and in-person assessments for those who have been accepted to the department through an Entrance & Scholarship audition.

Format

The music theory written assessment is an overview of the two-year curriculum, students are encouraged to answer what they can. The aural skills assessment is an individual appointment with our theory coordinator which includes sight singing and other ear training exercises. The keyboarding assessment is also an individual appointment where students play what they can from the Keyboard Proficiency Exam (KPE). An accompanied piece included in the KPE is not required at the assessment.

How to Sign-Up

Eligible students will be sent more information after completing an Entrance & Scholarship audition. Mid-year applicants for winter and spring quarters may be able to take assessments before completing an audition to help with advising and enrollment. 

Assessment Advising

Students are encouraged to use study materials from previous institutions or exams to prepare for the assessments.

Students should be advised that they are not guaranteed to enter at their expected level and may be required to repeat courses previously taken at other institutions. All credits received in music theory, aural skills, and keyboard skills will be transferred as general credit, and will apply towards total graduation requirements, and/or major requirements contingent on assessment results.

First-quarter assessments are optional.

Incoming students without transferrable credit in core classes are offered an opportunity to test out the first quarter of music theory and aural skills. During the first week of classes, students will be given the option to take the final for MUS 122 and MUS 121A online. 

There are no consequences for scoring low on this assessment.

Non-Music Major/Minor Opportunities

Participate in a Production

Each year the Department of Music produces Opera Scenes and Opera Workshop. Any WWU student can audition to perform in these productions as well as volunteer for the production crew. Students who are interested in musicals or theatre should look into the Department of Theatre & Dance. Musicals and staged plays are open to all WWU students.

Join an Ensemble

All WWU students can participate in ensembles. Please see the Ensemble and Ensemble Auditions page for more information.

Join a Club

Students can join a musical club through the Associated Student organization! Some musical clubs include WWU Opera Club, A Capella Club, WMEA, ACDA, Glee Club, Vocal Jazz.

Take Academic Courses

All WWU students can register for our MUS GURs (MUS 104-112, 202 & 205) as well as MUS 101, Fundamentals of Music.

Take Private Lessons

Private "applied" lessons are available to students on a space-available basis who have previous experience on an instrument or voice. Some studios may require an official audition to be considered. Please contact the instructor or Area Coordinator if you are interested in taking lessons.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes! Music students can double major with any degree outside of the department. Students who complete two majors are not necessarily awarded two diplomas or two degrees. If the two majors are the same degree type (B.A, BMus, BS, etc.) or overlap by more than 50% then one diploma is awarded and the second major is listed as completed in degree notes.  Within the music department, students can complete multiple concentrations.

Students should be aware that scheduling conflicts are common when completing a double major. Students who decide to double major should plan to meet with each department advisor at least once a year to go over academic planning and coursework.

Eligible students can take our music core equivalency assessments to place or “test out” of one or more core classes. Eligible students will have completed college courses in music theory, aural skills, and/or keyboarding skills, or earned a 3 or higher on the AP Music Theory Exam. Assessments are given to students after being accepted via an Entrance & Scholarship Audition. Most incoming students will complete these assessments before their summer orientation sessions. Students who join mid-year will schedule assessments on an individual basis.

Earning an AA/DTA can assist music students by fulfilling general university requirements (GURs). However, earning an AA/DTA does not guarantee a student may graduate faster from any degree program. 

Students must complete all major and general graduation requirements to earn a degree from WWU which may not include courses previously completed at another institution. In addition, music majors meet technical and music benchmarks in private lessons that cannot be determined through previous academic coursework. Students who are eligible for course equivalency assessments offered to accepted music majors and minors may be able to graduate faster depending on the results.

We accept transfer credits from ensembles, lessons, survey classes, and general music courses as the agreed transfer equivalency. Credits for music theory, aural skills, and keyboarding skills are initially transferred as general credits until a music core equivalency assessment may determine the appropriate equivalency. Students eligible for assessments will have completed college courses in music theory, aural skills, keyboarding skills, and/or earned a 3 or higher on the AP Music Theory Exam.

Unfortunately, our core academic courses are restricted to those who have been accepted as a major through an Entrance Audition. These include courses such as music theory, aural skills, keyboarding skills, music history, conducting, and music education courses.

Private "applied" lessons have an MJ or program restriction on them as a way to prioritize enrollment. Non-music majors/minors can enroll in lessons with the permission of the instructor. Please note that some studios may require an audition.

Composition lessons also have an MJ or program restriction. These studios have a waitlist for non-majors/minors who are interested in taking composition lessons. Please email Dr. Halka (Charles.Halka@wwu.edu) with your name, W#, and interests to see if you can be added to the waitlist. Please note, taking composition lessons does not automatically mean a student is a composition music major. 

Private "applied" lessons are open to all WWU students with previous experience. Non-music majors/minors can enroll with instructor permission if there is room after music majors, minors, and scholarship recipients have been placed. 

Some studios may require an official audition to be considered. Please contact the instructor or Area Coordinator if you are interested in taking lessons. Area coordinator information can be found on the Music Faculty Directory page. 

The Department of Music offers HUM or AGCM GURs during the summer. At this time, we do not offer core music classes, ensembles, or lessons during the summer quarter. 

Yes! Students at WWU can study musical theater through the Department of Theatre & Dance. Please see the Theatre Concentrations page on the Department of Theatre & Dance website.

Students interested in these subjects are encouraged to look at the Audio Technology, Music, and Society Minor in Fairhaven College. While BMus Composition students may elect to take a course in computer or electroacoustic music, this is not the primary focus of the degree program.

Waitlist Policy

The Department of Music reserves the right to prioritize students on any class waitlist based on graduate date or program.

Looking for more information?

If you have any questions, we're happy to find you an answer. Call the Music Department Office 360-650-3130, or view the directory of faculty and staff.