music performance

Music Performance Major

Centered on training, a Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance from Saint Mary’s provides students the expertise necessary to pursue a career in music. 

The music performance degree, within the context of the liberal arts undergraduate university, provides students with the broadest possible educational foundation for lifelong musical success.

As part of their educational experience, music performance majors at Saint Mary’s will be required to take weekly private lessons to improve their musicianship skills, perform in regularly scheduled departmental recitals, and present junior and senior recitals.

This major may be combined with the M.A. in Instruction fifth-year education program.

Choosing a Music Performance Track

Students in the music performance major choose between four different tracks:

  • Instrumental
  • Piano
  • Strings
  • Voice

Students majoring in the vocal performance track must demonstrate proficiency in at least one language other than English, preferably a language found in a significant body of vocal literature from the standard western art music repertoire.

Career Options

Music performance majors will be prepared to pursue careers such as arts administrators, composers, elementary, middle, and high school teachers, librarians, musicians and singers, and recreational therapists.

High School Preparation

High school coursework that will support a student in his or her pursuit of a music performance degree includes experience in Band or Orchestra, Chorus, Music, Music History, and Music Theory.

Enhance Your Experience

Students who earn a degree in music education oftentimes pursue a double major or minor in theatre, dance, or educational studies.

Degree Requirements

Please Note:

MU130 Music Fundamentals I and MU131 Music Fundamentals II, or equivalent proficiency are prerequisites for MU160 Music Theory I. All students take an initial placement exam to determine theory proficiency.

A. Music Core:

(34 credits)

MU130 Music Fundamentals I (1 cr.)

This course is designed to be an introduction to music reading and understanding. The fundamentals of pitch and rhythm are covered along with ear training and score reading in this computer-assisted course.

MU131 Music Fundamentals II (1 cr.)

This is a continuation of Music Fundamentals I.

MU150 Experiencing Music (3 cr.)

This course is designed to stimulate interest in and enjoyment of music from its beginnings through medieval, renaissance, baroque, classical, romantic, and 20th century styles, including various styles of non-Western music. This course is required for music majors and minors and is also a general education aesthetics content area course open to all students with an interest in music.

MU160 Music Theory I (3 cr.)

This course is designed for students interested in increasing their knowledge of the basic elements of music. Concepts covered include: keys, scales, simple and compound rhythms, intervals, triads, 7th chords, principles of voice leading, harmonic progression, cadences, phrases and periods.

MU165 Music Theory II (3 cr.)

This course is a continuation of Music Theory I. Concepts covered are non-chord tones, use of triad inversions, secondary functions, modulation, binary and ternary forms, mode mixture.

MU170 Ear Training I (2 cr.)

The objective of this course is to develop aural skills involving melody, rhythm and harmony. Concepts covered include: identification of intervals, scales, triads, sight-singing and one voice melodic and rhythmic dictations.

MU175 Ear Training II (2 cr.)

This is a continuation of Ear Training I. The objective of this course is to continue to develop aural skills involving melody, rhythm and harmony. Concepts covered include: sight-singing, advanced one voice dictation, simple two voice dictation, identification of chord structures, error detection and simple harmonic dictation.

MU260 Music Theory III (3 cr.)

This course is a continuation of Music Theory II. Music Theory III, along with its predecessors, Music Theory I–II will enable the student to think critically about music of all periods and styles. Concepts to be covered will include: unconventional uses of augmented 6th chords, enharmonicism, altered dominants, sonata form, the breakdown of tonality, and post 20th century techniques including basic set theory, 12-tone composition and integral serialism.

MU270 Ear Training III (2 cr.)

This is a lab course and is a continuation of Ear Training II. The objective of this course is to continue to develop aural skills involving melody, rhythm and harmony. Concepts covered include: complex one voice dictation, two voice dictation, harmonic dictation and complex sight singing.

MU299 Sophomore Review (0 cr.)

A comprehensive review of transcripts, a portfolio of work, and a juried performance examination normally occurring during the second semester of the sophomore year. Required for all music majors in their fourth semester of study.

MU300 Introduction to Music Technology (2 cr.)

This lab course is intended to give students an overview of music technology by connecting today's hardware and software tools with the history of electronic music. Areas explored include Sound Synthesis, MIDI, Sequencing, Music Notation, Digital Audio Editing, and Computer Aided Music Instruction. The course is required for all music majors, but open to all students with an interest in music technology as an elective.

MU341 Music History I (3 cr.)

This course is a writing intensive study of music history covering ancient, medieval, renaissance, and baroque western art music. A basic understanding of the history of western civilization is expected.

MU342 Music History II (3 cr.)

This course is a continuation of MU341. It is a writing intensive study of music history continuing through the classical, romantic and contemporary periods.

MU382 Conducting (3 cr.)

This is an advanced course designed for students who plan to conduct instrumental and choral groups in private and public schools, churches, or communities.

MU383 Arranging (3 cr.)

This course presents a detailed study of the major instrument families and the human voice, and how to score and arrange for them.

B. Performance Studies:

(11–14 credits)

  • Applied Lessons: minimum of seven semesters of private lessons taken for credit on a major instrument or voice.
  • Ensembles: minimum of seven semesters of participation in one or more vocal or instrumental ensembles.

C. Both of the following:

MU125 Keyboard Musicianship I (2 cr.)

This course is an introduction to the keyboard for music majors with limited keyboard background. Emphasis is on functional skills such as reading, transposing, harmonizing, improvising, and playing by ear; along with keyboard theory, technique, and repertoire. A grade of "C" or higher in both the final exam and course are required to fulfill the piano proficiency requirement.

MU126 Keyboard Musicianship II (2 cr.)

This course is a continuation of Keyboard Musicianship I with further development of keyboard skills focused on raising the level of technical proficiency and increasing the students' competence in keyboard improvisation, harmonization, sight reading, and scales. A grade of "C" or higher in both the final exam and course are required to fulfill the piano proficiency requirement.

D. Recital Requirements:

MU390 Junior (Half) Recital (1 cr.)

The half recital is required for Music Education majors and Music Performance majors as a preparation for senior recital.

MU490 Senior (Full) Recital (1 cr.)

The culmination of four years of university private music instruction and music department recital performing experience; required for all Music Performance majors.

E. Either E or F or G:

Keyboard Emphasis; the following courses:

  • MU366 Piano Pedagogy
  • MU368 Keyboard Literature

F. Either E or For G:

Voice Emphasis; the following courses:

  • MU374 Vocal Pedagogy
  • MU375 Vocal Literature

G. Either E or F or G:

Instrument Emphasis; the following course:

MU377 Instrumental Literature (1 cr.)

This course is designed to help music performance majors and future studio teachers choose literature appropriate to specific instruments and chamber music ensembles.

MU378 Instrumental Pedagogy (1 cr.)

This course is a survey of techniques and problems of instrumental instruction, designed for the performance major and future studio teacher.

H. One of the following courses:

MU360 20th Century Analysis (2 cr.)

This course will examine specific 20th-Century techniques including mapping, minimalism, aleatoric techniques, quartal/quintal chord structures, external influences, electronic and acoustic timbres, and how to create your own analytical tools.

MU448 Form and Analysis (2 cr.)

This course examines specific formal techniques used from 1700 to the 20th Century. All principle forms are studied, including Fugue, Sonata, Rondo and Sonata Rondo. In addition, the Lorenz method of analyzing bow forms used in the formal construction of 19th and early 20th Century music are explored in detail.