Catalogue PDF Version

Catalogue - PDF Version


Department Faculty
Charity Lofthouse, Associate Professor (chair)
Robert Cowles, Professor
Mark Olivieri, Associate Professor
Katherine Walker, Associate Professor

Wade McClung, Professor of Practice, Guitar
Chris Potter, Professor of Practice, Guitar and Jazz Guitar
Kyle Vock, Professor of Practice, Double Bass and Electric Bass
Ryan Russell, Professor of Practice, African and Latin Percussion
Rich Thompson, Professor of Practice, Drum Set
Julianna Gray, Professor of Practice, Violin and Viola
Glenna Curren, Professor of Practice, Cello
Bill Straub, Professor of Practice, Woodwinds and Jazz Improvisation
Charlie Carr, Professor of Practice, Trumpet and Horn
Ben David Aronson, Professor of Practice, Trombone, Baritone, Euphonium, and Tuba
Anthony Calabrese, Professor of Practice, Percussion
Yi-Wen Chang, Professor of Practice, Piano
Jeananne Ralston, Professor of Practice, Piano
Alexandra Hotz, Professor of Practice, Voice
Suzanne Murphy, Professor of Practice, Voice
Wendra Trowbridge, Professor of Practice, Voice

Music is a cornerstone of academics at HWS. With a flexible curriculum that is robust enough to challenge the most experienced musicians and at the same time ignite that initial spark in beginners, nearly a third of all HWS students will incorporate the study of music into their college careers. Our dedicated music instructors offer lessons on major Wind, Brass, String, Keyboard, and Percussion instruments as well as Voice. Performers may also choose to participate in one of our flagship choral or instrumental ensembles, whose performances fill the halls of the state of the art Gearan Performing Arts Center.

In the classroom, interdisciplinarity is the focus. With curricular connections to Africana Studies, German Area Studies, History, American Studies, Dance, and Media and Society, music faculty encourage students to draw connections among multiple disciplines and research areas. With wide-ranging performance opportunities, a flexible curriculum with strong interdisciplinary connections, new state of the art facilities, and opportunities to train for careers in music education, music entrepreneurship, music therapy, and music performance, there is something for everyone.

Mission Statement

To provide a professional education for music majors and minors that develops their competency in all aspects of the discipline and prepares them for various professional pursuits.

  • To forge interdisciplinary connections across campus that allow students to bridge their music studies to other academic and intellectual pursuits. 
  • To provide an education for the greater Colleges community through general curriculum courses and performances, thus developing an informed group of advocates and affirming that music is an integral part of a liberal arts education.
  • To foster an academic community that values music both as a fundamental part of one’s education and as an essential expression of the human spirit.


Music Major (B.A.)

12 courses
Learning Objectives:

  • Describe how music works unto itself; how it works on us as listeners and humans; and how it works on communities and cultures.
  • Employ practical skills in the service of making music with and for others.
  • Identify music as a carrier of stories and attune oneself to stories of power, privilege, identity, and oppression.
  • Support a lifelong relationship with music as a practitioner, collaborator, listener, and creator.

MUS 120; two musicology courses, MUS 208 and MUS 210; two analysis courses, MUS 211 and MUS 311; two performance labs, MUS 220 and MUS 221; two music electives; two performance course credits (one course credit earned through participation in a major choral or instrumental ensemble for two semesters, and one course credit earned through taking private lessons for two semesters); and the capstone course, MUS 460.

Music Minor

6 courses
MUS 120; one musicology course, MUS 210 or MUS 310; one analysis course, MUS 211 or MUS 311; one performance lab, MUS 220 or MUS 320; one music elective; and one performance course credit earned through participation in a major choral or instrumental ensemble for two semesters or through private lessons for two semesters, or a combination of both.

Music Administration and Entrepreneurship Minor

7 courses
MGMT 101, 120, and 201; one MGMT Ethics or Elective course; MUS 214; one approved MUS elective (MUS 215, MUS 194, MUS 209, MUS 311, MUS 205); and MUS 460.

New York State Music Teacher Certification

Students seeking to obtain New York State teacher certification to teach in the public schools (pre-K-12) are required to fulfill all requirements of the regular music major in the Department of Music, with the following additions: The required music major elective must be replaced by MUS 305 Conducting. In addition to the standard ensemble and applied study requirements for the music major – i.e., at least one credit (two semesters) of ensemble participation and at least one credit (two semesters) of applied study on a primary instrument or voice – at least two credits (i.e., four semesters) must be earned through private applied instruction in any four (i.e., one semester each) of the following areas: brass, woodwinds, strings, voice, piano, guitar, and percussion. It should be noted that only two out of the four credits required in this area of ensemble participation and lessons may be counted toward the general baccalaureate requirement of 32 credits for graduation from the Colleges.

Students seeking to obtain New York State teacher certification should arrange early in the process to meet with Professor Mark Olivieri as well as a faculty member from the Department of Education to ensure that all education requirements are being addressed.

Course Descriptions

MUS 120 How Music Works  How much of your day revolves around listening to music? Do you ever wonder why you can't stop singing the melodies to your favorite songs? What exactly are the reasons that one musical style sounds so different from another? Why do certain pieces of music evoke melancholy and nostalgia, while others make you want to get up and dance? This course seeks to answer these kinds of questions through a hands-on approach, showing students how music works by focusing on listening, analyzing, and playing music. Students 1) learn the basic elements of music and how they can be combined to form patterns and styles, 2) develop the theoretical knowledge and aural skills necessary to perceive musical details and concepts, 3) listen to music critically and play it musically, and 4) think artistically about musical form and content. By the end of this course, students will be actively integrating thinking, hearing, and playing, and they will be developing skills in musical notation, songwriting, keyboard proficiency, and musical analysis. (Offered each semester)

MUS 190 History of Rock & Roll  This course provides a survey of rock and roll from its roots through contemporary times. Beginning with a study of the development of rock from earlier sources, such as mainstream popular music, rhythm and blues, and country and western, the course proceeds by considering the artists and trends that serve to define rock music through the decades. The course places a strong emphasis on hearing the music that is discussed: students receive guidance in listening to basic musical features such as form, rhythm and meter, and instrumentation. Attention is also given to content of lyrics and to the role that rock music plays as a general, sociological phenomenon. (Offered annually)

MUS 200 Introduction to Music Production and Recording  This course introduces students to studio audio techniques and their applications in music production, including recording, editing, and mixing sounds. Students gain an understanding of recording equipment, room acoustics, critical listening, microphone placement, and signal processing and learn the hardware and software skills to edit and compile their recordings. Readings, discussions, and projects will focus on the ever-changing recording industry, acoustics and psychoacoustics, studio practices, tracking and multi-tracking, DAW and recording technology, workflows and processes, mixing and sequencing, best studio practices, autotune and autotimer, and the "loudness war."

MUS 205 Music at the Movies: Film Music from the Silent Era to the Present  This course provides a comprehensive survey of film music from the silent era through the present day, exploring its role and relation to the plot and visual elements at small-scale and large-scale (narrative) levels. Topics covered will include general elements of music, musical forms and stylistic periods, as well as film score compositional developments including instrumentation, theme structures, diegetic (part of the film's narrative sphere) and non-diegetic (purely soundtrack) music, music as narrative participant, subliminal commentary, and music as iconographic character. Films viewed will include those with soundtracks by major 20th-centry composers and specialized soundtrack composers. The course is designed for varying levels of musical knowledge; reading musical notation is helpful but not necessary. (Offered annually)

MUS 207 Big Band to Bossa, Bop to Blues: A History of Jazz  This course studies the development of contemporary styles and techniques in jazz and American popular music of the Western hemisphere since 1900. (Offered annually)

MUS 210 Remixing Western Music History  The word "remix" calls to mind the technological practice of altering, contorting or otherwise reconceiving a cultural artifact, appropriating and changing it to make something new. Remixes are spaces in which authorship is broadened, authority is questioned, power is redistributed, and the past is reinterpreted. If we can remix a song, why not a history? Reconceiving (or remixing) remix as an intellectual, rather than technological, practice. This course rewrites European music history with pluralistic, anti-racist! and anti-imperialist voices. Deconstructing the longstanding dichotomy between "the West and the rest," we'll examine the centrality of othering in the construction of European selfhood, as well as music's participation in that project. In the process, we will consider Western music's ambivalent relations with popular, folk, and non-Western music; its role in the formation of national and racial identities; and issues of representation and difference in jazz, blues, and world music. Remixes often claim to preserve the "aura of the original"; in this case, with reverence for the music itself, it is precisely the aura-of imperialism, patriarchy, colonialism, and slavery-that is being contested. (Offered annually)

MUS 211 Ready to Play: The Science, History, and Art of Video Game Music  This course engages video game music by analyzing its history and effect on players and listeners through three interlocking and integrated viewpoints: music cognition and emotion; the history of video game music and game sound design; and the art of choosing and creating music for gaming. Students will learn about the history of video game music, including its journey from beep-boops to full-orchestra scores and choose-your-own soundtrack adventures. This history provides a framework for learning how video game music works on us – tools from the science of music cognition, including music's origins in human evolution; biological and neurological accounts of musical emotion; music and game processing and multimedia environments; musical anticipation; and music theories surrounding behavior and play will allow students to explore what specific parts of our human actions, feelings, and behavior are affected by games and music. Lastly, students practice the art of video game music by composing or choosing music for a game, applying the knowledge to a real-world gaming experience. MUS 110 or 120 and/or some background in music performance is helpful but not required. (Offered annually)

MUS 213 Philosophy of Music  This course introduces students to the aesthetic tradition in music by examining its most important and enduring claims. Musical aesthetics is a branch of philosophy whose goal is to provide persuasive answers to questions about music's nature, purpose, and value: What is art? What is the nature of aesthetic experience? What is a musical work, and what determines its value? What is the relationship between music and other art forms? How would music function in an ideal society? Over the course of the semester, students will critically engage some of the most canonical answers to these questions, and learn to apply them to musical works from a variety of time periods and traditions. Offered periodically

MUS 214 Rock, Pop, and the Written Word  This course invites students into the professional world of music critics, journalists, agents, and publicists, who use language as a tool to characterize and promote music of all kinds. As emerging critics, students will learn to generate and articulate intellectually grounded responses to a variety of examples from the popular music canon, including commercial pop, indie, rock, hip hop, jazz, blues, and R&B, in dialog with the aesthetic principles studied over the course of the semester. As developing agents, publicists, and promoters, they will learn to harness the resources of social media, create one-sheets for record releases, gather content for crowdfunding, and draft press releases, bios, and website content. Through these combined efforts, students will deepen their appreciation and understanding of music, while enlisting that knowledge in a broader study of cultural and commercial enterprises that support it. (Offered annually)

MUS 215 Power, Privilege, and the Other in US Popular Music  This course examines discourses of power and privilege in US popular music from the later nineteenth century to the present day. Through non-technical analysis (no previous knowledge of music required) of a variety of musical styles, the student will learn to identify ways in which music and performative gesture underscored, subverted, and sometimes transcended dominant cultural scripts and narratives. The course is organized into four units: 1) The "Other": Primitive-Exotic in the Jazz Age of the 1920s; 2) The Black Power(ed) and 1960s Soul; 3) Gender, Sexuality, and Gangsta Rap; 4) Performing Race; Performing Gender; moving the dial in contemporary popular music. Through focused engagement with these topics, you will learn to hear expressions of power and privilege that reside below the surface of specific musical works while developing skills that can be applied to other genres and style periods (Offered periodically)

MUS 220 Performance Lab I  Can you see what you hear and hear what you see? Continuing from its prerequisite, MUS 120, this course integrates theoretical patterns and aural skills, and builds the practical musicianship abilities needed to take music from page to performance and from listening to understanding and notating. Students will gain fluency in playing all kinds of written music, from tabs and lead sheets to traditional and modern notation, and become discerning listeners who can hear and understand musical events, structures, and styles. They will also learn to be critical and artistic listeners who can visualize heard notes and rhythms, allowing them to think musically and to write down their compositions or favorite tunes with greater ease. Keyboard proficiency, ear training skills, and creative process will be prioritized. (Offered annually)

MUS 221 Introduction to Music Therapy  Many of us can attest to the value of music in supporting well-being, whether we use it to get energized before an important athletic event, seek solace when grieving a painful loss, or calm our busy minds when it's time to sleep. Although all of these examples apply music therapeutically, none of them constitutes music therapy (MT), which involves the use of clinical, evidence-based musical interventions to accomplish non-musical goals. This course offers an introduction to this rich and diverse field. Over the course of the semester, students learn about the history, institutions, and characteristics of the field of MT; the diverse areas of human experience in which music therapists work, the array of physical, psychological, emotional, and social interventions employed through MT, and the outcomes that are achieved. The course also spends a lot of time trying out the techniques being studied: case studies, role plays, treatment plans, and music-therapeutic activities will bring all of this theory into practice. (No musical abilities? No problem-this course is appropriate for musicians and non-musicians alike.) (Offered annually)

MUS 305 Conducting  This course serves as an introduction to the art of conducting. Exploration and development of the necessary skills involved in becoming a successful musical leader generally and conductor specifically are undertaken. Emphasis is placed on the development of a basic repertoire of gestures needed to beget a variety of musical responses. Physical technique associated with both the right and left hand (including baton technique) is emphasized. Topics related to programming, rehearsal technique, score reading, ear training, and mixed meter are also explored. The final project will normally involve each student recruiting players or singers and leading them in rehearsal of a pre-selected piece of music. Prerequisite: MUS 220 (Offered periodically)

MUS 310 People Making Music: An Introduction to Ethnomusicology  This course steps back from the study of music as an art form to examine the social and cultural contexts that shape musical communities. After exploring the nature, history, and applications of ethnomusicology research, we will embark on a virtual tour across the seven continents to observe the social, historical, and cultural contexts that shape music as diverse as the Brooklyn drill and the Bhatiali of Bangladeshi fishermen. Along the way we will learn the methods, practices, and challenges of conducting ethnomusicological research and bring that knowledge to bear on our own musical observations. Students will have the option to conduct field research at one of dozens of music events at HWS and/or in the Geneva community. Alternatively, students will have the option to work with a recorded sample of music making from around the world. (Offered annually)

MUS 311 Global Popular Music Analysis  From the first World's Fair in 1791 to the advent of sampling and the Internet, music's movement around the globe has been thrilling and accelerating. This course focuses on analyzing global popular music and centers concepts of cultural tradition, timbre, style, harmony, rhythm, and form to look at how popular music from Tejano to K-Pop and from Arab dance orchestras to Afro-Cuban drum beats creates the sounds that move us to dance, to think, and to sing along. Students will develop nuanced and detailed knowledge of the ways global pop music is organized and structured, learn about the theories that describe popular music genres and styles, and create and discuss original analyses of popular music of various origins, times, and places. (Offered annually)

MUS 320 Performance Lab II  How does jazz differ from rock, rap, and other contemporary new music? How can a performer make their timing more expressive? How can I sound like a certain genre or artist when I play or write music? Continuing from its prerequisite "How Music Works," this course focuses on music from the last hundred years and builds applied listening and musicianship skills to hear, play, compose, conduct, and notate modern music; improvise in various styles and genres; and lead bandmates, singing partners, and large groups in creating music together. This course prioritizes the creative process, conducting, listening, and integrating theoretical details with keyboard musicianship and improvisation. (Offered annually)

MUS 450 Independent Study

MUS 456 1/2 Credit Independent Study

MUS 495/496 Honors

MUS 460 Seminar in Music  This seminar provides in-depth capstone study of a selected area within musicology, music theory, or composition, as well as research and bibliographic skills necessary for graduate study in music. Subjects vary, with topics ranging from the works of a single composer (e.g., Mozart's operas, Stravinsky's ballets, Bach's cantatas) or specific themes (e.g., text/music relationships,) to large-scale composition projects and studies, to interdisciplinary, theoretical, critical, analytical, or historiographical investigations. Requirements include active participation in discussion and research projects, as well as a substantive final paper and participation in the Senior Symposium, if eligible. Prerequisites: One of MUS 202, 203, or 204; as well as concurrent enrollment in, or completion of, one 300-level MUS course; as well as permission of instructor. (Offered annually)

Private Instruction Courses
See the Department of Music's webpage for additional information related to taking private lessons.

MUS 903 High Brass
MUS 904 Low Brass
MUS 906 Cello
MUS 907 Jazz Saxophone
MUS 908 Violin/Viola
MUS 910 Piano
MUS 911 Voice
MUS 914 Woodwinds
MUS 915 Jazz Improvisation 
MUS 916 Organ
MUS 917 Guitar
MUS 918 Drums
MUS 919 Jazz Piano
MUS 927 Percussion

MUS 920 Colleges Jazz Ensemble
MUS 930 Colleges Chorale*
MUS 935 Colleges Community Chorus 
MUS 945 Colleges String Ensemble 
MUS 950 Colleges Community Wind Ensemble 

*Members of the Colleges Chorale may be considered for additional membership in the Colleges Cantori, a chamber vocal ensemble. Cantori is a not-for-credit ensemble.

Note: Students who take half-hour private lessons receive one-half course credit per semester; students who take hour private lessons receive a full credit per semester (although this full credit does not count toward the student's standard course load in a given semester). Students who participate in any of the above-listed ensembles receive one-half course credit per semester.