Frequently Asked Questions
I want to major in economics, legal studies or something else. Can I still be involved in music?
Students may apply to become double majors, with concentrations in music and in another area. Others may choose to minor in music. The minor requires six courses: three semesters of theory (two courses plus their associated half-credit labs), two semesters of history (two of the five courses in the history sequence), and one elective. Electives include performance, an additional history course, courses in jazz history or jazz improvisation, conducting or composition, among others. University-sponsored ensembles are open to all members of the Brandeis community by audition.
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 $650 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 are encouraged to register for lessons (MUS 111a/b for instrumental lessons; MUS 112a/b for voice lessons). 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 does not offer a Bachelor of Music (B.Mus.). 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 concentrations 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. In addition to selecting the music major, a student may wish to choose one of five specialized concentrations or "tracks" (composition, cultural studies, history, performance, musical theater performance). Music majors who want to focus on composition, cultural studies or history need only sign up for that particular track. Music majors who want to focus especially on performance or musical theater performance must audition for these two tracks (open by audition to highly qualified undergraduates) and give solo recitals in their junior and senior years in addition to the other music requirements. There is also the option of proposing an alternative proposal for completing the major, which would be done in consultation with the undergraduate head advisor. Most music majors (regardless of their area of concentration) are very active in performance activities during their time at Brandeis. In addition to numerous student recitals and ensemble performances, the department sponsors a number of professional concerts.
Are there courses that will teach me basic theory?
MUS 5a (Fundamentals of Music) 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 at the beginning of the semester given in the first class to determine placement.
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 2a (The Western Tradition as Seen Through Chamber Music), MUS 3b (Introduction to World Music) and MUS 4b (Introduction to Chinese Music). There are also a number of courses devoted to particular composers (Mozart, Bach and Handel, Beethoven), topics (opera, globalism, American music, jazz) or periods (Romanticism). These courses do not have prerequisites.
Who can use the practice rooms in the Slosberg Music Center?
All students may use the practice rooms in Slosberg. Priority is given to music students taking lessons and/or participating in a university ensemble. A Brandeis ID is required during evenings and weekends.
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.