Frequently Asked Questions
I want to major in economics, legal studies or something else. Can I still be involved in music?
Yes. All Brandeis students may enroll in courses and ensembles offered by the Music Department. Some courses require prerequisites or permission of the instructor. Others require an audition. University-sponsored ensembles are open to all members of the Brandeis community by audition. Check course descriptions for specific requirements.
How do I join the choir or orchestra?
Auditions for all ensembles are held at the beginning of the fall semester (and by appointment at the beginning of the spring semester). As soon as you get to campus, reserve a time on the audition sign-up sheets posted on the main bulletin board in the Slosberg Music Center. Instrumentalists should prepare a short piece that demonstrates their technical level, singers should prepare a song or aria. See Auditions.
How much do music lessons cost? Who teaches them?
Lessons are taught either by members of the Brandeis faculty or by members of Boston's large and talented community of professional musicians. Lessons at Brandeis cost $700 per semester (for 10 one-hour lessons) for non-majors; music majors pay $250 per semester. Students audition at the beginning of the fall semester. For more information, contact Cheryl Nalbach.
Can I take lessons for credit?
Students must register for lessons on Sage (MUS 111a/b for instrumental lessons; MUS 112a/b for voice lessons). Students are encouraged to register for credit whenever possible. The courses are half-credit courses (one year of study is worth one semester course credit), and they have as a corequisite participation in a university-sponsored ensemble. The ensembles are also half-credit courses.
Can I receive credit for ensemble participation?
Brandeis students may take up to four elective credits towards their degree. Ensembles can be taken as a half-credit course until the elective credit limit is reached. Once you reach your elective credit limit, you will register in the non-credit section of your ensemble so that your participation in ensemble will continue to be documented in your transcript.
Can ensembles or lessons for credit satisfy the Creative Arts elective requirement?
Two semesters of ensemble or one semester of private lessons plus the co-requisite ensemble satisfy the Creative Arts requirement for your degree. Since two half-credit courses are required in this instance, you should contact the Registrar directly in order to count lessons/ensemble for Creative Arts credit.
What does the music major consist of?
Brandeis is a liberal arts university and offers a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in music. The university is not a conservatory, nor a school of music, and therefore does not offer a Bachelor of Music (B.M.). The major in music is broad-based, combining the study of history, theory, composition and performance. The core of the program consists of the study of the theory (with associated labs that provide further training in the necessary musicianship skills) and the history of Western music, with additional studies in composition, cultural studies, history or performance.
How do I choose a music major "track?"
Students normally declare the major by end of the sophomore year. When selecting the music major, a student may wish to choose one of five specialized concentrations or "tracks": composition, cultural studies, history, performance, or musical theater performance. Music majors who want to focus on composition must submit an original musical composition to the composition track advisor. Music majors who want to focus on cultural studies need only speak with the cultural studies track advisor before declaring. Music majors who want to focus on music history must submit a writing sample to the music history track advisor. Music majors who want to focus on performance or musical theater performance must audition, normally at the end of the sophomore year; and, once accepted, will perform solo recitals in the junior and senior years in addition to the other music requirements. There is also the option of submitting an alternative proposal for completing the major, which would be done in consultation with the undergraduate head advisor.
Are there courses that will teach me basic theory?
MUS 5a (The Beginner's Toolbox: Fundamentals of Music Notation and Performance) addresses notation, elementary theory and sight-singing. This is the best place to start if you have little experience. If you have some background and if you are considering either a major or minor in music, you should take MUS 101a (Theory I). There is a brief diagnostic test during the first class meeting to determine placement in the appropriate level of theory.
Are there courses for students who like music but don't have a background?
The department offers several introductory courses including MUS la (Introduction to Music), MUS 3b (Introduction to World Music: Performance Tradition Through Sound) and MUS 4b (Introduction to Chinese Music). There are also a number of courses devoted to particular composers (Mozart, Bach and Handel, Beethoven), or topics (opera, globalism, American music, jazz, the Beatles). These courses do not have prerequisites.
Who can use the practice rooms in the Slosberg Music Center?
Practice rooms on the first floor of Slosberg are open every weekday and on weekends and are available to all members of the Brandeis community on a first come/first served basis. Classrooms, when not in use, may also be used for practice Monday through Friday 8 am - 5 pm. Music majors are permitted access to classrooms during the evenings and on weekends. Signing in with the front desk monitor is required after 5 pm and on weekends. All practice rooms and classrooms have pianos.
Does the department offer graduate degrees?
The department offers three graduate degrees: a one-year M.A., a two-year M.F.A., and a Ph.D in musicology and in composition. Graduate courses are open to qualified undergraduates. See Graduate Programs.
Does Brandeis have an electronic music studio?
The department has a state-of-the-art electronic music studio (Brandeis Electro-Acoustic Music Studio or BEAMS), headed by Eric Chasalow. The studio is designed for electro-acoustic composition, both analog and digital.
All music department ensembles and recitalists perform in the Slosberg Music Center Retical Hall. The hall has a superb natural acoustic and is also equipped with state-of-the-art surround sound and video. There are two Steinway concert grand pianos and a tracker organ as well. Additional performances take place at various locations on campus, including the Mandel Humanities Center, the Shapiro Campus Center, the Rose Art Museum, the Berlin Chapel, and the Rapaporte Treasure Hall. The Brandeis-Wellesley Orchestra also performs at Wellesley College.