Applied Vocal Music (Voice Lessons)


The primary objective of applied voice study (voice lessons) is to provide students with the tools needed to develop a healthy way of singing for every manner of vocal expression, from art songs to musical theater, from duets to choral ensembles and beyond.


At Carleton College any student is welcome to take voice lessons. We view the study of voice as an important component of a comprehensive liberal arts education. Thus, there are no pre-requisites for applied voice study.

However, students who are interested in registering for applied vocal music for the first time should schedule a hearing with the Applied Voice Coordinator for a skills assessment and to determine the best teacher assignment. Hearings are scheduled during New Student Week, the first week of classes, and the academic advising and registration periods. .


Music Department Information and Guidelines for Applied Music Study are online at where related documents can be downloaded.

Both juried and non-juried lessons fulfill the Arts Practice (ARP) requirement.

All students registering for applied voice for the first time at Carleton must begin with MUSC 151 or 151J (both require a minimum of one-half hour of practice daily), regardless of prior background and proficiency. Students progress to MUSC 251 or 251J (both require a minimum of one hour of practice daily) by permission of the instructor. 

All students register for voice lessons in the same manner as for other courses. The assigned instructor, the applied voice coordinator or the department administrative assistant may sign Add/Drop Cards.

Guidelines for Juries in Applied Voice

The experience of creating or re-creating music through musical performance is central to understanding the discipline of music. To this end, juried voice lessons are structured so as to allow any student at any level of experience to engage in this type of study. Inherent in this approach is the assumption that an increase in proficiency and skill should be both measurable and continuous. End-of-term voice juries seek to assess the progress of individual students, to enable students to present concrete evidence of their improved musical understanding, to maintain standards of skill levels and performance, and to assess the efficacy of applied voice in the curriculum.

MUSC 151 and 151J are starting points for students engaging in applied voice to fulfill the Arts Practice (ARP) requirement, regardless of the prior experience of the individual student.

To reach and maintain study in MUSC 251 and 251J, the student must demonstrate a basic understanding of the technique associated with vocal performance. In addition, the student must be able to perform selections from the introductory repertory with fluency while maintaining proper intonation, articulation, phrasing, style, tone, tempo, and stage deportment. The student should also exhibit the capacity for memorization, where appropriate.

Juries in applied voice are five-to-ten minutes in duration. The voice faculty may ask students to perform scales, arpeggios, vocal exercises and prepared repertoire. (This process is common in music institutions throughout the world.) Following department policy: a junior or senior recital in the second half of the term can be a substitute for a jury at the end of the term.

Students should review with their instructor the repertoire to be performed. The voice faculty will not concentrate on whether the scales, arpeggios, exercises and repertoire are easy or difficult. Instead, they will provide feedback as to whether the student demonstrates a command over the performance.

The jury team will consist of at least two voice faculty members, one of which will be the student’s instructor.

Juried Voice Recitals will be held:

     . Fall term
     . Winter term
     . Spring term

When necessary, alternate times will be scheduled by the applied voice coordinator in consultation with the instructor and the student. In cases of emergency, follow Academic Regulations and Procedures. The Dean of Students Office will determine the earliest and latest possible dates for a make up.

Unexcused absences from a voice jury will not be made up and will be reflected in the final grade. 

Jury videos will be available to each student.


The College’s comprehensive fee, described online at, does not include the cost of private instruction. Fees for Applied Music courses are described under the Special Fees heading.

The full-term fee will be charged if you are enrolled after the Drop/Add period. Fees are not refundable for late drops except when a late drop is made for medical reasons or in similar emergency situations. In such cases, the student must consult with the Music Department. Additional information about registration and fees is online at

Scheduling Lessons

Assigned instructors will notify students about lesson days and times by e-mail and will post her/his teaching schedule at their teaching studio at the start of each term. 


Students will have nine weekly lessons per term. Attendance at every lesson is an extremely important component of applied voice study. If a student has, for any reason, three or more absences in a term, that student is strongly advised to drop by the late-drop deadline, as it is not possible to guarantee that many make-up lessons.

Excused Absences are the result of circumstances beyond the control of the student (e.g. illness or family emergency) and off-campus trips related to requirements in other courses. Except in cases of emergency, the student should notify the instructor at least one week in advance. All reasonable efforts will be made to make up as many excused absences as possible by the end of the exam period, but no more than one excused absence make-up is guaranteed.

Unexcused Absences have a direct impact on the final grade for the term. Absences for personal reasons such as completing an assignment for another course, a scheduled appointment, an off-campus trip not related to requirements for other courses, etc., are considered to be circumstances within the control of the student and are not excused. In some cases, where there is sufficient advanced notice given, the anticipated missed lesson can be exchanged with another student's lesson time (as arranged and agreed to by both students).

Instructor Absences will be made up before or after the missed lesson. The instructor will make a good faith effort to schedule makeup lessons with the affected student(s) as soon as possible, and certainly by the end of the exam period. 


A variety of activities are offered in conjunction with voice lessons:

Voice Performance Classes begin the second week of each term unless otherwise announced. The purpose is to enhance the learning process in a group setting that specifically addresses issues of performance skills, including student solo performances and group exercises that deal with a wide range of concerns for the solo singer.

Every registered student is required to attend one of the classes each week. Attendance is taken at every session. Absence is permitted only in the instance when the student’s class schedule does not allow participation in either Voice Performance Class. NOTE: Students who are unable to attend Voice Performance Class for this reason should not hesitate to register for lessons; the absence from Voice Performance Class is made up through alternate assignments designed by the instructor.

Voice Performance Class Recitals and Voice Themed Recitals are presented sixth or seventh week of each term. Though students in their first term(s) of study are never coerced into public performing situations, all students who are comfortable with the idea of performing and have sung during Voice Performance Classes are encouraged to share their work with their peers in Voice Performance Class Recitals and the Voice Themed Recitals.

Solo Recitals are available to registered applied music students who have demonstrated a high level of preparation in her/his repertoire and who have the permission of their instructor. These department-sponsored recitals are scheduled through the Office of the Performance Activities Coordinator. Students should contact the applied voice coordinator for advice about scheduling junior and senior recitals. The general guidelines and reservation form are online at

Students may register for MUSC 299 (Recital) instead of MUSC 251 or 251J by exhibiting performance skills that show substantial command of both technique and artistry. More defining characteristics include musical independence and creativity, specifically the skill of "making the performance one's own."

When scheduling a solo recital, do the following:

     - Make a list of dates your special guests (relatives and others) are able to come to campus.

     - Compare that list to concerts and recitals (and other campus activities/events) on the department and college events calendars. Be aware that not all concerts, recital and other events may be posted.

     - Decide on a prioritized list of dates.

     - Contact your preferred accompanist about her/his fee and availability for rehearsals in the hall and the recital.

     - Contact your instructor about her/his availability to attend rehearsals in the hall and the recital.

     - Contact the Performance Activities Coordinator to reserve the Concert Hall for your dress rehearsal and the recital.

     - Complete the reservation form available online at

     - In addition, you may consider registering for MUSC 299 the term of your recital, if you'd like your transcript to show that you presented a recital. (See the course description and steps and procedures online.)

Master Classes and Workshops are offered as part of the annual Concert Series. All students are encouraged to attend and some may be selected by the voice faculty to perform.

Dress Code for Performances

The voice instructors regard recitals, master classes and juries as formal events, a window through which we (and the public attending recitals and master classes) view the work of the students. As such, students performing in these events are expected to dress with a degree of sophistication and decorum. Students should wear attire that can, at the least, be considered "dressed up." Appropriate attire will be discussed in voice performance classes and in lessons.


Thomas Bartsch is the collaborative pianist for voice students. He is a valuable resource for any student learning new repertoire and polishing songs for performance. The Accompanist Guidelines and information about scheduling rehearsal times are announced each term.

Student accompanists are available through the Department. Submit a request to your instructor, who, in turn, will consult with the Student Accompanist Supervisor.

Accompanists for solo recitals and other activities are at the expense of the student, be it the collaborative pianist or someone in the community.


Studio grades result from the contractual agreement between the instructor and the student at the beginning of each term. MUSC 151 and 251 are S/Cr/NC only. Letter grades are earned for MUSC 151J, MUSC 251J and MUSC 299.