The School of Music views its goals and objectives as complementary to those of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, which include "to provide an environment in which faculty and students can discover, examine critically, preserve and transmit the knowledge, wisdom and values that will help ensure the survival of the present and future generations with improvement in the quality of life." The goals of an education in music are:

  • competency in communication;
  • competency in using the modes of thought characteristic in the art of music;
  • awareness and perception of the musical art and its discipline;
  • a knowledge of our basic cultural heritage;
  • a thorough understanding of at least one area—creative, recreative, analytic, historical, or pedagogical.

The University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Music is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), and has been an institutional member of NASM since 1966.

Undergraduate Degree Programs

The School of Music offers four principal degree options for the music major. All require a performance audition for admission.

Bachelor of Music: Performance, with concentration in Brass, Composition, Guitar, Harp, Jazz Studies, Organ, Percussion, Piano, Strings, Voice, or Woodwinds.

Bachelor of Music: Music Education, with certification in General and Instrumental Music (Early Childhood through Adolescence), or General and Vocal Music (Early Childhood through Adolescence).

Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science, with a music major: options in performance, history, theory, or an individualized music curriculum.  The individualized music curriculum can be designed with an emphasis in composition or jazz studies.  The history and theory options are under review and may be changed.  During this time, the School of Music is not admitting new students to these options.

Grades and Advising

The School of Music is a department of the UW–Madison College of Letters & Science. Information on the grading system and academic procedures is available in the College of Letters & Science section of this catalog and in the opening section of this catalog.

The undergraduate advisor of the School of Music serves as the advisor for every music major. The advisor maintains records and will assist students in determining an appropriate course schedule each semester. More information about advising at UW–Madison appears in the opening section of this catalog.

First-Year Core Curriculum

Preliminary music students admitted to the School of Music without any previous transferable college coursework in music enroll for a core curriculum of music courses their first year that lays a basic foundation for later, more specialized study. Near the end of the first year, each student applies for a specific degree emphasis. During the first year, the student has opportunities to consider the program best suited to individual interests and needs. All preliminary School of Music students are assigned a classification of PRM.

Recommended First-Semester Curriculum (TOTAL CREDITS = 14–16)

Music Courses
Performance study2
Music Theory4
Organizations (Band, Orchestra, or Choir; piano majors will enroll for Keyboard Skills class)1-2
Secondary piano (non-piano majors)2
Chamber Ensemble (for majors in brass, guitar, or percussion)1-2
Liberal Studies (College of Letters & Science)
Communication0-3
Quantitative Reasoning0-4
Breadth0-8

Music Courses for Nonmusic Majors

A variety of courses in music theory, music history and literature, as well as orchestra, chorus, band, and some ensembles, are open to students from other departments, schools, and colleges. Students should review the specific regulations of their degree program to determine whether music courses can fulfill breadth requirements. The Course Guide indicates music courses that are open to nonmusic majors.

Music Performance courses are generally filled by music majors. Fundamentals courses (007–036) are for instrumental music education majors only. Class Piano (101–104) is for music majors only. Basic courses require the ability to read music and to pass a prepared audition; in addition, Basic Guitar requires previous experience with classical guitar. Students outside the School of Music may audition to be on a waiting list for group or individual voice study with a teaching assistant (MUS PERF 143 Introduction to Performance: Voice or MUS PERF 144 Vocal Instruction for Non-Voice Majors). Contact the course instructor for more information about course requirements and admission criteria. The School of Music offers private music lessons (not for university credit and with separate costs) for nonmusic majors through the Community Music Lessons program.

Regulation of music courses available for degree credit varies among the divisions of the university. Students should consult their major department for specific advice.

Courses open to nonmusic majors that satisfy the university's humanities breadth requirements:

MUSIC 101 The Musical Experience3
MUSIC/​FOLKLORE  103 Introduction to Music Cultures of the World2
MUSIC 104 Study Abroad: Elementary Music Appreciation/Theory/History1-3
MUSIC 105 Opera3
MUSIC 106 The Symphony3
MUSIC 111 Elements of Music3
MUSIC 113 Music in Performance1
MUSIC 151 Basic Concepts of Music Theory3
MUSIC 204 Study Abroad: Intermediate Music Theory or History1-3
MUSIC 205 The Big Bands2
MUSIC 206 The Legendary Performers2
MUSIC 305 Popular Music in the USA: 1920-19502
MUSIC/​AFROAMER  308 Black Music (1920-Present): Rhythm Section and Combos2
MUSIC/​AFROAMER  309 Black Music (1920-Present): Vocalist/Trombone/Misc Instrumental2
MUSIC/​AFROAMER  310 Black Music (1920-Present): The Trumpet2
MUSIC/​AFROAMER  311 Black Music (1920-Present): The Saxophone2
MUSIC 319 Topics in Music and Ethnicity in the United States3
MUSIC 361 Non-Western Music Performance-Study Groups1
MUSIC 461 Collegium Musicum1
MUSIC/​AFROAMER  400 Music Cultures of the World: Africa, Europe, the Americas3
MUSIC/​FOLKLORE  401 Musical Cultures of the World3
MUSIC/​FOLKLORE  402 Musical Cultures of the World3
MUSIC/​FOLKLORE  404 Music of S.E. Asia: Tradition, Innovation, Politics, and Religion3
MUSIC/​AFROAMER  509 Seminar in Afro-American Music History and Criticism3

Professors Aley, Bartley, Blasius, Calderon, Chisholm, Cook, Crook, Davis, Dembski, Dill, Di Sanza, Doing, Earp, Fischer, Fulmer, Hyer, Jensen, Johnson, Jutt, Karp, Koza, Leckrone, Perry, Radano, Rowe, Schaffer, Schwendinger, Smith, Stowe, Swack, B. Taylor, C. Taylor, Teeple, Thimmig, Vardi

Associate Professors Dobbs, Hetzler, Vallon

Assistant Professors Grabois, Wallmann

Office of Student Financial Aid

Prospective music students should contact the Office of Student Financial Aid (333 East Campus Mall #9701, Madison, WI 53715-1382; 608-262-3060) to obtain information about grants and loans when returning the application for admission.

School of Music Scholarships

Some funds are available for scholarships awarded by the School of Music to outstanding applicants. It is always advisable to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and submit it to the Office of Student Financial Aid. Application materials will serve as support for music scholarship consideration.

Scholarship applicants must audition in person and must take the Theory Placement Examination on the audition day in order to be considered for an award. After the audition and review of materials, the associate director will notify each applicant about the scholarship decision. Accompanying each award notification will be a Letter of Commitment, to be signed and returned to the School of Music. Criteria used for awarding scholarships are:

  1. Quality of the performance audition
  2. High school and/or college academic record
  3. Letters of recommendation

Most School of Music scholarships are awarded for a four-year period. The music faculty reviews every scholarship award each semester and expects that each student on scholarship will maintain satisfactory progress toward completing the music major and degree requirements, continue to make significant contributions in performing organizations or accompanying, and maintain a minimum 3.00 grade point average. Please see the School of Music website for more information regarding music scholarships.