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 stimulates personal, intellectual, and social growth and has a positive, lasting influence.


The Music Department is a vibrant department that enrolls over five hundred students every term in a flexible and broad curriculum that offers an array of courses in performance, composition, theory, history, popular music, electronic music, media, and ethnomusicology.

Carleton’s ensembles include Orchestra, Choir, Symphony Band, Jazz Ensemble, African Drumming, Chinese Music, African Karimba and Mbira, and Chamber Music (Western, Folk, Jazz, and Non-Western); we offer private lessons in all traditional instruments and voice, and many Folk and Non-Western instruments. The personal and rigorous attention each student receives as a Music Major is from faculty members who represent diversity in their field on the international stage, including academic presentations at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, performances around the world, and research with collaborators in China, the UK, and Finland.

In addition to the Music Major, we offer a concentration in American Music. We regularly present internationally acclaimed guest artists in concert and in classes with students, and we provide many opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaboration. Majors have presented work at, and regularly attend, national conferences; recent graduates have continued their studies at Harvard, The Royal College of Music (London), Indiana University, and the Boston Conservatory. Others have continued on to Law school, Medical school, or other professions, where a Music major or double major was integral to their personal and professional success, and music continues to play a formative role in their lives.

The Music Department will be moving into new facilities in the Weitz Center for Creativity in the Fall of 2017. The new facilities will boast a 400-seat flexible performance hall, an 80-seat recital/rehearsal hall, a chamber rehearsal room, a jazz room, an Electronic/Rock Lab, and all-new practice rooms and rehearsal spaces with built-in A/V recording capabilities.