Mission Statement and Overview

Mission Statement

The study of music in a liberal arts setting develops logical thinking, critical analysis, musical literacy, historical consciousness, cultural sensitivity, and aesthetic values. The human dimensions that music is especially capable of revealing--emotional nuance, beauty, and imagination--are also central to the liberal arts ideal. Creative musical activity cultivates feelings of accomplishment and facilitates the search for meaning. Many students with outstanding academic records believe their work as musicians is the most challenging they undertake as an undergraduate. Composing, performing, and writing about music require talent, initiative, risk, and reflection and demands the courage to stand up for a personal vision realized through exacting attention to detail. This process can stimulate personal, intellectual, and social growth and have a positive, lasting influence.


The Department of Music at Carleton College enrolls several hundred students every term, both majors and non-majors, in a curriculum that offers a balanced, integrated approach to the areas of performance, composition, theory, history, and ethnomusicology. Experience in all these fields is essential to the understanding of music as an artistic and intellectual achievement. Though students arrive at Carleton with a wide range of musical background and ability, all are encouraged to broaden, deepen, enrich and improve their engagement with music. In addition to music-making experiences in our performing ensembles and private lessons, the Department sponsors numerous performances by on- and off-campus artists. These often include student interaction with the music professionals involved in those events. Additionally, we offer an array of classroom courses that range from those designed specifically for the introductory-level student to advanced seminars for majors and those non-majors who devote a significant part of their time to music.