Nonmajor Courses

Academic Courses for Nonmajors

The following courses are designed to meet the needs of students from other schools of the University. Most examine music from a historical or cultural perspective (170, 175, 220, 230, 250) and require no prior music study. Students with a basic music foundation who are interested in a beginning course in music theory may register for 252 Harmony followed by 253 Form and Analysis. Students may also enroll in certain 300-level courses with instructor permission when space is available. For course listings check GEN MUS, MUSICOL, MUS COMP, MUS TECH, and MUS THRY on CAESAR or at each quarter. (Distribution areas are noted in parentheses for courses that fulfill distribution requirements in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.)

GEN MUS 170 Introduction to Music An introduction to key concepts and contexts, guiding students to become informed listeners and critical thinkers with respect to a broad range of musical styles and genres and to acquire the skills and vocabulary to discuss and write about music effectively. Individual sections may vary from quarter to quarter; see specific section descriptions for more information. No previous musical training or ability to read music notation is required. (VI. Literature and Fine Arts)

GEN MUS 175 Selected Topics in Music Literature Each year, several courses for nonmajors are offered addressing a variety of specific musical genres and topics from historical or cultural perspectives. The many recent Selected Topics courses have included History of Jazz, American Musical Theater, Piano History and Repertoire, and The Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Please check listings and descriptions under this course number each quarter for specific offerings. (VI. Literature and Fine Arts)

GEN MUS 176 Selected Topics in Applied Music Courses for nonmajors in areas such as composition, musicianship, and music technology—such as Songwriting and Recording Techniques—are periodically offered under this rubric. Please check listings and descriptions under this course number each quarter for specific offerings.

GEN MUS 220 History of the Symphony Focused study of symphonic music through examination of numerous works and their composers from various periods. Particular attention to interdisciplinary research in a broader intellectual and cultural context. (VI. Literature and Fine Arts)

GEN MUS 230 History of Opera The history of opera from its origins in late-16th-century Italy to the present day. (VI. Literature and Fine Arts)

GEN MUS 252 Harmony A beginning-level course in music theory. Harmonic materials and tonal structures. Analysis of harmonic structures; harmonization of melodies. Musical materials from pieces employing tertian harmonies. (II. Formal Studies) 

GEN MUS 253 Form and Analysis An extension of GEN MUS 252 Harmony, with an emphasis on form and analytical content of music. Analysis of musical examples, with an emphasis on original composition. Prerequisite: GEN MUS 252 or equivalent. 

GEN MUS 250 History of Rock This course introduces students to a framework for critical engagement with the cultural practices of rock, primarily focusing on the 1950s to the present. A broad chronological survey of musical and historical developments will undergird an ongoing discussion of interrelated economic, social, and political issues. (VI. Literature and Fine Arts)

General Music Minor

A General Music Minor is available to all nonmajors. Students who wish to pursue the minor should complete the declaration form in the Bienen School of Music’s Undergraduate Student Affairs Office (RCMA 2-115).

The General Music minor requires a minimum of 6 credits:

  • One music theory course, either GEN MUS 252 Harmony or GEN MUS 253 Form and Analysis (prerequisite: 252 or equivalent experience)
  • One music history course (from GEN MUS or MUSICOL)
  • One world music course (from GEN MUS or MUSICOL)
  • One upper-level music history, theory, technology, or composition course
  • Two credits of electives (can be additional music courses or a combination of ensembles and nonmajor lessons; students are required to audition for the nonmajor lesson program and for music ensembles) 


Academic courses for nonmajors:
Scott D. Paulin,, 847-491-3909

Instrumental and vocal programs: 
Keven Keys,, 847-467-3962

Piano program credit lessons:
Karen Kan-Walsh,, 847-491-3886

Piano program noncredit instruction:
Marcia Bosits,, 847-491-5735