This preparation includes developing an understanding of composition as both a craft and an art—an understanding of how knowledge can guide inspiration.

Students interested in majoring in composition take private lessons, meet with other composers in a weekly master class, and have a recital component in their senior year. In addition, students have multiple opportunities each year to have their works performed, whether it is in the designated student composition recitals or other performance recitals that occur both on and off campus.

Why Study Composition at Concordia?

  • We are an undergraduate-focused program. This means that you will get close attention from our faculty and multiple opportunities to get direct feedback on your work.
  • The size of our program allows for students to build personal connections with faculty, leading to continued mentoring beyond graduation. 
  • The composition faculty at Concordia is active and has a wide range of musical interests including acoustic, electroacoustic, chamber, vocal, and orchestral music.  
  • Proven success: Many of our graduates have gone on to study at esteemed graduate schools and have a variety of successful careers in composition.

After Graduation

Students majoring in composition who complete the degree will have a portfolio that includes:

  • Solo works for various instruments
  • Vocal/choral works
  • Chamber pieces for small ensembles
  • Electroacoustic works
  • A work for a large ensemble
  • Collaborative works (with theater, film, art, etc.)

Composition at Concordia

Students interested in majoring in composition take private lessons, meet with other composers in a weekly master class, and have a recital component in their senior year.  In addition, students have multiple opportunities each year to have their works performed, whether it is in the designated student composition recitals or other performance recitals that occur both on and off campus.

Degree Requirements and Courses

Required Courses

Additional Requirements

  • 4 credits from contextual studies courses 
  • 8 credits in music electives
  • 8 credits in private instruction or class piano (eight 1-credit courses)
  • 0 credits in ensemble (eight semesters). Participation in an appropriate ensemble as designated by the music faculty and as related to the major area of study is required each semester of enrollment.

It is suggested that students concentrate the elective courses within a single area – music theory and composition, music history and literature, conducting or pedagogy. Credits in private lesson instruction may not be used to fulfill the 8-credit requirement in music electives.

Private Instruction in the Bachelor of Music Program

All students majoring in programs leading to the Bachelor of Music are required to take private instruction in a major instrument, voice or composition, and a minor instrument or voice. Students majoring in instrumental music should have adequate foundation in preliminary study of their major instrument.

Students take the 200-level courses in private instruction for 1 or 2 credits, according to the following guidelines:

  • Major instrument or voice: 2 credits are given for each course to all first-year and sophomore majors in the Bachelor of Music programs, and to juniors and seniors majoring in music education or composition, for private instruction in the student’s major instrument or voice. Students receive two half-hour lessons per week in their major instrument or voice and are expected to practice three hours daily. 
  • Minor instrument or voice: 1 credit is given to all majors for each course of private instruction in a student’s minor instrument or voice. One hour of daily practice and one half-hour lesson are required per week.
    • MUS 261 – Voice, 1 to 2 credits. E.
    • MUS 263 – Brass, 1 to 2 credits. E.
    • MUS 264 – Composition, 1 to 2 credits. E.
    • MUS 265 – Woodwinds, 1 to 2 credits. E.
    • MUS 266 – Piano, 1 to 2 credits. E.
    • MUS 267 – Strings, 1 to 2 credits. E.
    • MUS 268 – Percussion, 1 to 2 credits. E.
    • MUS 269 – Organ, 1 to 2 credits. E.
  • Composition: MUS 264 – Composition may be taken as 1 credit starting in the freshman year, or 2 credits beginning in the sophomore year, such that 4 credits have been completed by the end of the sophomore year. At 1 credit, students receive one half-hour lesson per week and are expected to compose 60 minutes daily. At 2 credits, students receive one, one-hour lesson per week and are expected to compose 120 minutes daily. 

Juniors and seniors majoring in voice performance, instrumental music, or composition take the 400-level courses of private instruction in their respective area of focus. Students receive a weekly, one-hour lesson in their area of focus and are expected to practice or compose three hours daily. 4 credits are granted.

  • MUS 461 – Voice, 4 credits. E.
  • MUS 463 – Brass, 4 credits. E.
  • MUS 464 – Composition, 4 credits. E.
  • MUS 465 – Woodwinds, 4 credits. E.
  • MUS 466 – Piano, 4 credits. E.
  • MUS 467 – Strings, 4 credits. E.
  • MUS 468 – Percussion, 4 credits. E.
  • MUS 469 – Organ, 4 credits. E.

Private Instruction Policies

Registration for private music lessons is on a semester basis. At the end of each semester, each student registered for private instruction must perform for a panel of music faculty members. Note carefully these regulations regarding private instruction:

  • Students entering not later than two weeks after the beginning of the semester must pay in full for private instruction.
  • If lessons are discontinued during the semester, no refund is made after the eighth week of the semester.
  • Only in the case of illness of more than two weeks’ duration are fees refunded for absences from lessons.
  • Students are charged for lessons missed unless they notify the instructor a reasonable time in advance of an absence. Lessons missed on legal and special holidays and during organization tours are not made up.
  • Students are permitted to change instructors with the consent of the department chair.
  • Students registered in the department of music are not permitted to take private lessons for credit from instructors who are not faculty members of Concordia College.

Ensemble Courses

Ensemble courses may not be applied toward fulfilling the requirements in private instruction for a major or minor. Participation in a music ensemble is required for majors and minors in music as follows:

  • Bachelor of Arts majors (not music education) and minors must participate for two years.
  • Bachelor of Music students and Bachelor of Arts teaching majors must participate each semester of enrollment.

Because participation in many ensembles is open to students who are not majors or minors in music, detailed descriptions of these organizations are included under Expanded Academic Opportunities on Page 27.

  • MUS 170 – The Concordia Orchestra, 0 credit. E. 
  • MUS 172 – The Concordia College Symphonia, 0 credit. E.
  • MUS 174 – Kantorei (mixed chorus), 0 credit. E.
  • MUS 175 – Cantabile (women’s chorus), 0 credit. E.
  • MUS 176 – The Concordia Choir, 0 credit. E.
  • MUS 177 – The Concordia Chapel Choir, 0 credit. E.
  • MUS 181 – The Concordia Band, 0 credit. E.
  • MUS 182 – The Concordia Symphonic Band, 0 credit. E. and Concordia Echo Band, 0 credit. E.
  • MUS 188 – Percussion Ensemble, 0 credit. E.

Guest Composers

Each year Concordia brings acclaimed composers to campus.  Guest composers talk about their works/creative process during the weekly master class and often give private lessons to composition students.

Electroacoustic Music at Concordia

At Concordia students have the opportunity to study and compose electroacoustic music in classes and in private lessons.  Concordia houses a 5.1 electroacoustic music studio where students can explore a variety of techniques, including scoring for film.

Circuit 721 Concert Series

Started in 2017, the Circuit 721 concert series is a yearly recital that focuses on electro-acoustic music from prominent composers (including faculty and alumni)

Natalie Fideler '19 on composition at Concordia

My process is so deeply rooted in composing things for a reason and, while those reasons may not always be earth-shatteringly important or revolutionary, I strive to give my audiences music that acts as food for thought... I love the way my education in the liberal arts can intersect so many ways to influence my art.

Music Composition Faculty