In addition to degree programs for music majors, the Bienen School of Music provides numerous opportunities for music study to nonmajors.

Academic music courses, private lessons, and eight performing ensembles are among the Bienen School’s diverse offerings for nonmajors.

Lessons Top

Music lessons are available to nonmusic majors. New students interested in lessons for credit should attend the information meeting during Wildcat Welcome week. All students interested in lessons must sign up for an audition (see more information below). Variable fees apply to each course and are specified below.

Private lessons are offered for variable credit (0–.5). Acceptance for lessons will be based on audition results and instructor availability. Following the auditions, all students who auditioned will receive an email regarding acceptance into the program. Those accepted will receive registration information and a permission number. No lessons will be given until you are registered. Quarterly registration fees will be billed to the student’s account. 

For questions about instrumental lessons, voice lessons, or guitar class, contact Elena Batman ( For questions about piano lessons, contact Karen Kan-Walsh (

Private and Class Lessons

Class Piano (GEN MUS 110)

Contact the group class coordinator ( for signup. Small group lessons are offered at beginner through intermediate level in the piano lab. Students receive six 50-minute group lessons starting during the third week of the quarter. Students enroll for 0 credit, and there is no evaluation at the end of the quarter.

Applied Piano Lessons (GEN MUS 115, 116)

Contact the program coordinator ( for audition signup. Space for students new to the program is prioritized. Students receive eight 45-minute lessons plus two studio classes/special sessions. Daily practice of at least one hour is expected. Students enrolled for credit must perform a jury during Reading Week; students enrolled for 0 credit are required to perform in studio class at the end of the quarter.

Instrumental (GEN MUS 120, 125, 130)

Students receive eight 30-minute lessons per quarter. Sections offered are subject to instructor availability.

Beginning Guitar Class (GEN MUS 121)

No audition required. Course meets twice weekly for eight weeks. Student must have a classical nylon-stringed acoustic guitar. Students who read music or who have previous experience playing guitar are encouraged to audition for private lessons.

Private Voice Lessons (GEN MUS 160, 260, 360)

Beginning (160), intermediate (260), and advanced (360) study offered. Weekly lesson attendance, daily practice, and a quarterly jury are required. Beginning and intermediate level students studying with a graduate instructor receive eight 30-minute lessons per quarter. Intermediate and Advanced level students studying with nonmajor faculty and receive ten 30-minute lessons per quarter.

Enrollment & Fees - Private and Class Lessons

GEN MUS 110 Class Piano (0 credit), $105

GEN MUS 115 Nonmajor Piano and Organ (.5 credit), $335

  • Section 1 (piano)

GEN MUS 116 Nonmajor Piano (0 credit), $335

  • Section 1

GEN MUS 120 Nonmajor Strings (0 - .5 credit), $335

  • Section 1 (violin)
  • Section 2 (viola)
  • Section 3 (cello)
  • Section 4 (double bass)
  • Section 5 (guitar)

GEN MUS 121 Nonmajor Class Guitar, Beginning (.5 credit), $310

  • Section 1 (meets twice weekly)

GEN MUS 125 Nonmajor Winds and Percussion (0 - .5 credit), $335

  • Section 1 (trumpet)
  • Section 2 (horn)
  • Section 3 (euphonium)
  • Section 4 (trombone)
  • Section 5 (tuba)
  • Section 6 (flute)
  • Section 7 (oboe)
  • Section 8 (clarinet)
  • Section 9 (saxophone)
  • Section 10 (bassoon)
  • Section 11 (percussion)

GEN MUS 160 Nonmajor Private Voice, Beginning (0–.5 credit), $335

  • Section 1

GEN MUS 260 Nonmajor Private Voice, Intermediate (0–.5 credit), $335-475

  • Section 1 (Taught by faculty - $475)
  • Section 2 (Taught by TAs - $335)

GEN MUS 360 Nonmajor Private Voice, Advanced (0–.5 credit), $475

  • Section 1
Show More

Auditions Top

Auditions are held during the first week of classes fall quarter. Auditions can be scheduled using the links below:

After fall quarter, vocal auditions are held during reading week for lessons the following quarter. Piano and instrumental auditions are held early in subsequent quarters, depending on availability. Auditions will be approximately 5-10 minutes in length.

Audition Requirements

Students auditioning should prepare material as follows:

  • Piano: Any recently studied advanced-level piece from the standard repertoire (Beethoven sonatas, works by Chopin, etc.). Memorization is not required. Bring a list of repertoire studied during the past several years. In addition, you will be asked to play a piano solo at sight.
  • Voice: A classical or musical theater work. Accompanists will be provided; bring the work’s piano part to your audition.
  • Instrumental: An étude or solo demonstrating playing abilities.

Ensembles Open to Nonmajors Top

Admission to ensembles is by audition. Contact the ensemble director regarding auditions. Students interested in a jazz ensemble audition should contact Bernard Scavella All students participating in an ensemble must register. Registration assistance is available in RCMA 2-115 or via email at


Academic Courses Top

The following courses, mostly listed under GEN MUS "General Music", are designed to meet the needs of students from other schools of the University. Most examine music from a historical or cultural perspective (GEN MUS 170, 175, 220, 230, 250) and require no prior music study; courses intended for nonmajors are also offered annually in composition, music technology, and other applied topics (GEN MUS 176, MUS COMP 211, MUS TECH 300). Students with a basic music foundation who are interested in a beginning course in music theory may register for GEN MUS 252 Introduction to Music Theory I followed by 253 Introduction to Music Theory II. Students may also enroll in certain 300-level courses in Musicology, Music Theory, Composition, and Technology with instructor permission when space is available.

For more course listings, check GEN MUS, MUSICOL, MUS COMP, MUS TECH, and MUS THRY on CAESAR or see the Registrar's Office Class Descriptions online each quarter.

Academic Courses for Nonmajors

Note: Distribution areas are noted in parentheses for courses that fulfill distribution requirements in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

GEN MUS 170 Introduction to Music - An introduction to key concepts and contexts, guiding students to become informed listeners and critical thinkers with respect to a broad range of musical styles and genres and to acquire the skills and vocabulary to discuss and write about music effectively. Individual sections may vary from quarter to quarter; see specific section descriptions for more information. No previous musical training or ability to read music notation is required. (VI. Literature and Fine Arts)

GEN MUS 175 Selected Topics in Music Literature - Each year, several courses for nonmajors are offered addressing a variety of specific musical genres and topics from historical or cultural perspectives. The many recent Selected Topics courses have included History of Jazz, Celtic Music, History of Song, Music and Digital Cultures, American Folk Music, and The Beatles. Please check listings and descriptions under this course number each quarter for specific offerings. (VI. Literature and Fine Arts)

GEN MUS 176 Selected Topics in Applied Music - Courses for nonmajors in areas such as composition, musicianship, and music technology—such as Songwriting and Recording Techniques—are periodically offered under this rubric. Please check listings and descriptions under this course number each quarter for specific offerings.

GEN MUS 220 History of the Symphony - Focused study of symphonic music through examination of numerous works and their composers from various periods. Particular attention to interdisciplinary research in a broader intellectual and cultural context. (VI. Literature and Fine Arts)

GEN MUS 230 History of Opera - The history of opera from its origins in late-16th-century Italy to the present day. (VI. Literature and Fine Arts)

GEN MUS 250 History of Rock - This course introduces students to a framework for critical engagement with the cultural practices of rock, primarily focusing on the 1950s to the present. A broad chronological survey of musical and historical developments will undergird an ongoing discussion of interrelated economic, social, and political issues. (VI. Literature and Fine Arts)

GEN MUS 252 Introduction to Music Theory I - For non-majors. A basic course in fundamentals of common-practice tonal music, including harmonic structure and function, melodic construction, rhythm, meter, and harmonization of melodies. (II. Formal Studies) 

GEN MUS 253 Introduction to Music Theory II - For non-majors. Study of musical forms – such as binary form, invention, fugue, theme & variation, sonata, etc. – and their application to works primarily from the 18th and 19th centuries by composers including Bach, Mozart, and Schubert, among many others. Prerequisite: GEN_MUS 252-0, or music-reading skills and some understanding of harmony. (II. Formal Studies)

MUS_TECH 300 Introduction to Music Technology - Survey of music software, hardware, techniques and tools for the professional musician. Topics include basic acoustics, MIDI, audio recording and editing, effects, synthesis, and web publishing. Assignments include creative projects demonstrating the practical use of software tools. Consent of Instructor is required. Priority will be given to majors in the Bienen School of Music.

MUS_COMP 211-0 Class Composition - Class instruction in techniques of composition. May be repeated for credit.

Show More

Minors Top

Please contact the Office of Student Affairs at or 847-491-3818 for questions about music minors.

General Music Minor

A General Music Minor is available to all nonmajors. 


The General Music minor requires a minimum of 6 credits:

  • One music theory course, either GEN MUS 252 Introduction to Music Theory I or GEN MUS 253 Introduction to Music Theory II (prerequisite: 252 or equivalent experience)
  • One music history course (from GEN MUS or MUSICOL)
  • Two music academic courses chosen from GEN_MUS, MUSICOL, MUS_TECH, MUS_COMP, or MUSIC_ED
  • Two credits of electives (can be additional music courses or a combination of ensembles and nonmajor lessons; students are required to audition for the nonmajor lesson program and for music ensembles) 
Show More

Nonmajors may also declare minors in one of the following areas:

Music Cognition
Music Composition
Music Technology

Minor Declaration Form


Contact the Office of Student Affairs: or 847-491-3818

FAQs Top

If your question is not answered here, please contact the appropriate program coordinator.

Are auditions required for lessons?

Yes. Auditions are held the first week of classes in the fall quarter. Learn more about scheduling Auditions.

What about guitar lessons or Beginning Class Guitar?

If you can read music or have any experience playing guitar, you should audition for private lessons. Otherwise, contact the program coordinator ( regarding Class Guitar. All guitar students must have a classical (acoustic) nylon-stringed guitar.

How do I get into an ensemble?

Contact the ensemble director regarding auditions and placement. Students interested in a jazz ensemble audition should contact Bernard Scavella

Do I need to register for lessons and ensembles?

Yes, students must register by the add deadline, even if the class is taken for 0 credit. To register for a class, lesson, or ensemble after the first week of classes, go to RCMA 2-115 or email

My permission number didn’t work. Now what?

Contact the faculty or staff member who issued the permission number for a replacement before the add deadline. Permission numbers may be used only once. After the add deadline, email for late-add approval.

May I take lessons for 0 credit?

Private instrumental lessons and private voice lessons may be taken for 0 credit. Credit can be set at the time of registration in CAESAR or updated after registration using the Manage Classes tile in CAESAR. See instructions on editing course enrollment. Course credit cannot be changed after the add deadline for the quarter of enrollment.

May I use practice rooms?

Nonmajor students registered for music lessons or ensembles may practice in Regenstein Hall. Practice facilities in RCMA are restricted to music majors only. Learn more about practice spaces.

How do I get into Regenstein?

Once you are registered for music lessons or ensembles, contact to have your WildCARD activated for access to Regenstein.

Contacts Top

Nonmajor Faculty

Elena Batman


Karen Kan-Walsh

Piano program credit lessons

Scott D. Paulin

Academic courses for nonmajors