In addition to degree programs for music majors, the Bienen School of Music provides numerous opportunities for music study to nonmajors.

Academic music courses, private lessons, and nine performing ensembles (Concert Band, Philharmonia, University Singers, Women's Choir, Alice Millar Chapel Choir, Baroque Music Ensemble, Marching Band, and Jazz Orchestra and Jazz Small Ensemble) are among the Bienen School’s diverse offerings for nonmajors.

Nonmajor Lessons for Credit

Music lessons are available for credit to nonmusic majors. New students interested in lessons for credit should attend the information meeting during Wildcat Welcome week. Returning students with questions regarding lessons may call or e-mail the appropriate program coordinator. All students interested in lessons must sign up for an audition (see more information below). Variable fees apply to each course and are specified under the course listing.

Private and Class Lessons

  • Piano and Organ (GEN MUS 115, 116) Weekly attendance at lessons, at least one to two hours of daily practice, and a final performance jury at the end of the quarter are required. Piano students receive eight 45-minute lessons per quarter; organ students receive eight 30-minute lessons per quarter.
  • Instrumental (GEN MUS 120, 125, 130) Students receive eight 30-minute lessons per quarter.
  • Private Voice (GEN MUS 160, 260, 360) Students in 160 receive eight 30-minute lessons per quarter; those in 260 and 360 receive ten 30-minute lessons per quarter.
  • Class Voice (GEN MUS 133) Because of space limitations, not everyone who auditions can be scheduled for private lessons. Voice students not selected for private lessons are assigned to 133 Class Voice. Students in this class receive nine weekly group lessons as well as three private lessons per quarter.

All private lessons and Class Voice lessons are offered for variable credit (0–.5). Students accepted for private study or Class Voice will be given a permission number; no lessons will be given until you are registered. Quarterly registration fees will be billed to the student’s account. To register after the first week of classes, go to Ryan Center 2-115 for late-registration approval; a fee will be charged for courses added late.

Private Lesson Enrollment & Fees

GEN MUS 115 Nonmajor Piano and Organ (.5 credit), $305

  • Section 21 Kan-Walsh (piano)
  • Section 22 Kemper (organ)

GEN MUS 116 Nonmajor Piano (0 credit), $305

  • Section 20 Bosits

GEN MUS 120 Nonmajor Strings (0 - .5 credit), $305

  • Section 21 Keys (violin)
  • Section 22 Keys (viola)
  • Section 23 Keys (cello)
  • Section 24 Keys (string bass)
  • Section 26 Keys (guitar)

GEN MUS 121 Nonmajor Class Guitar, Beginning (.5 credit), $280

  • Section 20 (meets twice weekly) Keys

GEN MUS 125 Nonmajor Winds and Percussion (0 - .5 credit), $305

  • Section 21 Keys (trumpet)
  • Section 22 Keys (horn)
  • Section 23 Keys (euphonium)
  • Section 24 Keys (trombone)
  • Section 25 Keys (tuba)
  • Section 26 Keys (flute)
  • Section 27 Keys (oboe)
  • Section 28 Keys (clarinet)
  • Section 29 Keys (saxophone)
  • Section 30 Keys (bassoon)
  • Section 31 Keys (percussion)

GEN MUS 130 Nonmajor Jazz (0 - .5 credit), $305

  • Section 20 Keys

GEN MUS 133 Nonmajor Class Voice, Beginning (0–.5 credit), $280

  • Section 20 Lyashenko/Keys

GEN MUS 160 Nonmajor Private Voice, Beginning (0–.5 credit), $305

  • Section 20 Keys

GEN MUS 260 Nonmajor Private Voice, Intermediate (0–.5 credit), $440

  • Section 20 Keys
  • Section 21 Keys

GEN MUS 360 Nonmajor Private Voice, Advanced (0–.5 credit), $440

  • Section 20 Keys
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Auditions are held during the first week of classes fall quarter. Sign-up sheets, indicating times and locations, will be posted during Wildcat Welcome at the locations listed below:

After fall quarter, vocal auditions are held during reading week for lessons the following quarter. Piano and instrumental auditions are held early in subsequent quarters, depending on availability. Auditions will be approximately five minutes in length.

Audition Requirements

Students auditioning should prepare material as follows:

  • Piano: Any recently studied advanced-level piece from the standard repertoire (Beethoven sonatas, works by Chopin, etc.). Memorization is not required. Bring a list of repertoire studied during the past several years. In addition, you will be asked to play a piano solo at sight.
  • Voice: A classical or musical theater work. Accompanists will be provided; bring the work’s piano part to your audition.
  • Instrumental: An étude or solo demonstrating playing abilities.


Acceptance for lessons will be based on audition results and instructor availability. Following the auditions, all students who auditioned will receive an email regarding acceptance into the program. Those accepted will receive registration information and a permission number. 

If accepted for Private Piano or Organ, Class Voice, Private Voice, Class Guitar, or private instrumental lessons, you must be registered on CAESAR by 1 p.m. the day after you receive the email with registration information.


Admission to ensembles is by audition. Contact the ensemble director regarding auditions and placement. All students participating in an ensemble must register. Registration assistance is available in Room 2-115,  RCMA.

Ensembles open to nonmajors:

See All Performing Ensembles

Nonmajors Courses

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 each quarter:

See Course Listings

Note: Distribution areas are noted in parentheses for courses that fulfill distribution requirements in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

Academic Courses for Nonmajors

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)

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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) 
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Nonmajor Faculty Contacts