The department offers private music lessons to many students. We do not have a performance faculty; instead, we help to match students with excellent private teachers. We provide a subsidy -- in some cases, 100 percent of the cost of lessons -- and give academic credit for private lessons. In addition, the most accomplished music students may apply to receive transportation expenses to study with teachers off campus.
In many cases it isn't necessary to leave campus for private lessons. The department has invited a number of prominent musicians to teach in Lang Music Building. These are performers of the first rank, including musicians who have toured worldwide and appeared as soloists with the Philadelphia Orchestra and other major orchestras, opera houses, and recital series. Voice students are particularly fortunate, in that we provide a voice studio supervised by the faculty, as well as sessions with a first rate vocal coach.
Practice rooms are readily available in Lang Music Building. There are no sign-up sheets; just show up and play. Practice rooms are equipped with high-quality Steinway and Yamaha pianos. Also located in Lang Music Building is The Underhill Music and Dance Library, which provides access to a vast collection of books, scores, and audio recordings.
Guidelines for Music 48 (Lessons for Credit)
Music 48 provides an opportunity for dedicated music students to continue their vocal and instrumental studies while at Swarthmore. Students who are qualified to enroll in the program will be able to:
- Choose their own private teacher, with or without the advice of Swarthmore's music faculty;
- Perform for and meet with Swarthmore music faculty members to discuss their progress;
- Earn 0.5 academic credit per semester;
- Enroll every semester without limit; and
- Earn subsidies to help pay for lessons. The program stipulates 10 weekly lessons per semester.
Participation in Music 48 is intended to support the committed members of Swarthmore's musical community. It is available to members in good standing of these faculty-directed ensembles:
- Gamelan (Indonesian Percussion Orchestra)
- Jazz Ensemble
- Wind Ensemble
Note: Chamber Music (Music 47) does not satisfy this requirement.
Music 48 students must enroll in Music 48 for 0.5 credit. Membership in their departmental ensemble is required, but enrolling in an ensemble (for 0.5 academic credit) is optional.
Music 48 students can pursue a major in any department. There is no expectation that they will major in music. Music majors and minors, however, may receive higher levels of subsidy; see below.
In exchange for actively participating in the life of the department, all Music 48 students receive subsidies to defray the cost of their lessons, as follows.
Merit-based subsidies are given at the following three levels:
- 25 percent (the student pays 75 percent of the cost of lessons)
- 50 percent (the student pays 50 percent of the cost of lessons)
- 100 percent ("President's Scholarship;" the student pays nothing)
A limited number of need-based subsidies are awarded to eligible students who would otherwise lack the funds to participate in Music 48. These are awarded based on a confidential application and normally boost a student's subsidy by one level.
Music Majors and Minors
Students who have been formally accepted as music majors and minors (and who have been assessed at any level below 100 percent) receive subsidies of 75 percent (the student pays 25 percent of the cost of lessons).
Music 48 requires 10 one-hour lessons per semester, assuming a norm of $75 per lesson. Thus, the maximum subsidy for students at the 25 percent level is $187.50 (25 percent of $750); the maximum subsidy for students at the 50% level is $375; and the maximum subsidy for music majors and minor at the 75 percent level is $562.50. In recognition of the higher costs of pre-professional training, students at the 100 percent level may receive a maximum subsidy of $1200 per student per semester, including reasonable transportation costs to and from lessons.
Students assessed at the 50 percent and 100 percent levels may apply to receive additional funding to support individual coaching sessions with a professional accompanist. This is particularly recommended for vocalists. The specific number of coachings, and the amount of departmental subsidy for them, varies each year depending on the overall funding available to the program.
Support is available for a single set of lessons each semester. If a declared music major or minor is interested in taking lessons on two instruments in a given semester through the Music 48 program, a special request must be submitted to the chair - in writing - in advance of the audition.
Although Music 48 is limited to students who are members of Departmental Ensembles, the department is also able to support a few students who, as beginners, are not eligible to participate in the full program (see below).
How to Enroll in MUSI 048
Join a Department Ensemble to fulfill the Ensemble Requirement.
- Sign-up sheets and other information about Ensemble auditions are posted on the Department Bulletin Boards, opposite Lang Music #401, during Orientation.
- It is expected that Music 48 students participate in an ensemble on the instrument or voice for which they receive Music 48 funding and credit.
- Keyboard players, guitarists, and others whose instruments are not normally found in standing Department Ensembles can qualify for Music 48 by joining the College Chorus or the Balinese Gamelan. These musicians must be at the intermediate level or above, and should consult with Professor Michael Johns as well as with the director of the ensemble in question before enrolling in Music 48.
- Chamber Music (Music 47) does not fulfill the Department Ensemble requirement.
Music 48 Preliminary Assessment
Students who wish to enroll in Music 48 for the fall semester are heard by members of the music faculty during the first week of classes in September. Students who wish to enter the program for the spring semester are heard during the exam period in December. The faculty listens to each student perform for 4-5 minutes. Here is the procedure:
- Sign up for an appointment to play/sing for us. A sign-up sheet will be posted outside the Department office (Lang Music Building, #401).
- Sign up to rehearse in advance with a professional accompanist, if applicable. Performing with accompaniment is mandatory if your piece requires it.
- Prepare a representative four-minute excerpt that is not too difficult for your level of technical development.
- The faculty is most eager to hear:
i) Technical mastery of material that is appropriate for your level; and
Incoming students ranked at 25% level are strong and highly motivated musicians who can be expected to make excellent ongoing contributions to their Departmental Ensemble. Students ranked at the 50% level demonstrate unusual accomplishment and leadership potential significantly above average. Students at the 100% level are considered "pre-professional" whose level of accomplishment equals that of students at top conservatories.
Find a Private Teacher
It is your responsibility to find a private teacher during the first two weeks of the semester. A number of outstanding instrumental and vocal teachers come to campus to work with Swarthmore students; they typically post sign-up sheets on the departmental bulletin board opposite the Department Office (Lang Music #401). Of course, many other fine teachers have their studios off-campus, in Philadelphia and elsewhere. We recommend that you consult with us so that we can help you find the teacher best suited to your needs.
- Singers: please contact Bernadette Dunning
- Instrumentalists: please contact Professor Michael Johns
Submit a Music 48 Application directly to Bernadette Dunning in the Department office.
- You may not register for Music 48 through the College Registrar.
- The application is due in the Department Office by the posted deadline.
- The Department will register you for 0.5 academic credit, pass/fail. This does not affect your option to take other academic courses pass/fail.
- Please note: Music 48 students are permitted to carry 5.5 credits without incurring an extra tuition charge.
During the Semester
Lessons and Coachings
- Students must take 10 one-hour lessons during the semester, all with the same teacher.
- The Department expects that students will be prompt, well prepared for their lessons, and that they will observe the teacher's policy for advance notificiation in the event that a lesson must be rescheduled.
- 25 percent, 50 percent, and 75 percent level students: Pay your share of the lesson fee first to your teacher; the department will remit the remaining balance later in the semester directly to your teacher. Meeting your financial obligation is a requirement of the Music 48 program.
- Additional Coachings: additional sessions with a professional accompanist are available in some cases. Please consult Bernadette Dunning to apply for this benefit.
Music 48 Paper
The Music 48 paper is an opportunity for students to bring additional tools to their growth as a musician. It enables students to work with a member of Swarthmore's music faculty to enhance critical and research skills in music, thereby developing a stronger and more authoritative approach to interpretation.
- The paper must be a minimum of two pages of thoughtful inquiry into the historical/cultural context of the primary composition you are preparing for performance at the end of the semester. It must also include a detailed bibliography. In addition, it should include a brief, self-assessment of how you have progressed in your lessons during the semester.
- The music faculty has created a set of questions to guide you in your research. Please consult them; they are available on the Department website. Donna Fournier, the performing arts librarian, has also prepared an on-line guide to Music 48 research. First-time Music 48 students, in particular, should make an appointment to talk with Donna before they begin working on the paper.
- The deadline for the Music 48 paper may be found on the Department website. Please submit a hard copy to Bernadette Dunning in the Department office. Late papers and electronic copies are not acceptable. Music 48 Advisors will give a non-binding letter grade to each student. Failure to turn in the Music 48 Paper on time will result in a grade of No Credit and loss of subsidy.
- After enrollment in Music 48, you will be assigned a faculty member to be your Music 48 Advisor. Toward the end of the semester you will have an individual meeting with that faculty member to discuss your completed paper. This meeting is a required component of your Music 48 coursework.
End of Semester Performance
During the reading period at the end of each semester, each Music 48 student performs for the music faculty a 4-5 minute excerpt of the work that was the subject of the Music 48 paper. This is an opportunity for you to share what you've learned during the semester with the community. The procedure for this is similar to the Music 48 Preliminary Assessment. You will sign up for an appointment to play for us, and also to work in advance with an accompanist if applicable. We welcome the larger community at this event; please invite friends to come hear your performance!
Participation in this performance is required of all Music 48 students except for those second semester seniors who have performed a senior recital or a senior comprehensive presentation. Second semester seniors who have performed a prominent solo with a Department Ensemble may apply in writing to have this requirement waived.
Criteria for Assessment
Given the long-term nature of musical growth we hope and expect that most students will re-enroll in the program each semester. Therefore, we assess all Music 48 students at the end of the semester to monitor their progress. The music faculty's assessment takes into account the following criteria:
a) The culminating performance (this is an important factor, but not the sole one). As noted above, the faculty is most eager to hear:
i) Technical mastery of material that is appropriate for that student's level; and
b) A written evaluation by the student's private teacher;
c) An informal evaluation by the director of the Departmental Ensemble;
d) The Music 48 paper - which will be given a non-binding letter grade by your MU 48 advisor;
e) Other departmental service (e.g., participating in multiple Departmental Ensembles, chamber music, and other forms of service to the musical community).
In some cases, the faculty provides written comments to students at the end of the semester. Academic credit is given on a CR/NCR basis; this does not diminish your four options to take academic courses CR/NCR.
Other Opportunities for Private Study
Stott Beginners Program
Students who have never studied piano before and who wish to begin at Swarthmore can apply for funding through the Stott Program. It is open to any student enrolled in Music 002 ("How to Read Music"), which is normally offered each fall semester. These students can receive up to ten 30-minute lessons during the semester, but they cannot receive academic credit for this. For more information about this program, please contact Bernadette Dunning in the department office.
Keyboard Lessons for Beginners Who Read Music
If you do not play the piano but wish to begin, and if you can already read music fluently, we recommend that you take Music 11 (Form, Harmony, and Counterpoint I) and Music 40A (Musicianship). Students in that course with minimal keyboard skills are given a weekly, 30-minute keyboard lesson free of charge as part of their coursework. Prerequisites: ability to read treble and bass clef; knowledge of major and minor scales and key signatures.