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Beginner Classes

New to music? Start here.

College is the perfect time to try new things, pick up new skills and dive into learning about long-held curiosities. If you’re interested in learning to play an instrument, improve your vocal techniques or understand the fundamentals of music theory, we offer several courses perfectly suited to student-musicians just starting out.

Our goal is to prepare students for lifelong music-making and enjoyment of music. Be sure to visit the course catalog for a full listing of all of our courses. Here are several you may want to check out if you’re just getting started with music.

Fulfill Your GEP Requirements With Us

Many of our courses will satisfy your major’s general education requirements in Visual and Performing Arts, Global Knowledge, Interdisciplinary Perspectives, and/or U.S. Diversity.

Starting Out on a New Instrument

Learn to Play a Band Instrument


Our Beginning Band class, taught by Mr. Chris Branam, is modeled on 6th grade band but for college students. This introductory course will provide an outlet for creative expression as you learn to play a new concert band instrument (woodwinds, brass or percussion) in a safe, collaborative and nonjudgmental environment. In Beginning Band, students will also learn to read standard musical notation while playing music together as an ensemble during class.

Learn to Play the Piano

MUS 107︱Class Piano I
MUS 207︱Class Piano II

Our introductory group piano courses are a great way to learn basic keyboard skills and music theory. Our faculty teach students the basics of music notation, five-finger scales, and beginner’s repertoire based on hand position. Students may utilize the practice rooms in Price Music Center to practice outside of class. These courses also utilize Dr. Olga Kleinkina’s innovative Piano+ app to assist with practice and provide flexibility and resources for students who like to learn at their own pace.

Improve Your Vocal Techniques

MUS 150︱Vocal Techniques

Singers or aspiring singers who want to gain a better understanding of proper vocal techniques will love Jennifer Beattie’s course. Students will develop and practice vocal techniques suitable to solo and ensemble singing in a variety of musical styles, both historical and contemporary. Practice rooms are available in Price Music Center.

Understanding Music and Its Role in Society

Explore Music in a Western Historical and Cultural Context

MUS 105︱Introduction to Music in Western Society

This course is a good starting place for students looking to explore the history of music and how it’s made. It focuses on the Western art music tradition, including stylistic periods from medieval to post-modern, and begins with the study of basic musical elements, formal principles and compositional techniques. 

Experience Music in New Ways

MUS 180︱Introduction to Musical Experiences

This course examines Western musical materials, forms, styles and history through the primary musical experiences of composing, performing, and listening. It’s designed for students with no formal musical training.

Explore Music in a Global Context

MUS 200︱Understanding Music – Global Perspectives

Understanding Music is a semester-long exploration of music’s materials, contexts, and purposes that considers music as a global phenomenon and commonality of human social experience. Students will examine the occasions and purposes of music making and listening in diverse regions of the world. The course explores the ways in which traditions, values, belief systems, and patterns of social change are encoded and made manifest in musical practices.

Build the Skills to Create Your Own Music

Understand the Fundamentals of Music Theory

MUS 120︱Introduction to Music Theory

Introduction to Music Theory is designed for students with minimal or no music theory background and covers the fundamentals of music, including note reading in treble and bass clefs, rhythm, meter, scales, key signatures, intervals, triads, and basic keyboard skills.

Learn to Use Technology to Compose Music

MUS 270︱Songwriting with digital audio workstations

Learn to compose music in Ableton Live using digital audio workstations (DAWs) in our Broughton Hall music lab. The same DAWs are available in both of the libraries on campus, giving you access to everything you’ll need to continue your songwriting after you complete the course. Check out some of the music made by students in the advanced course on our Soundcloud playlist below for inspiration!