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Majoring/Minoring in Music at Swarthmore

student conducting the college orchestra on stage

The music faculty encourage students to explore majoring or minoring in music. Many of our students double major in music and another discipline, or consult with us to craft a special major tailored to a specific interest. Most important, we encourage students to talk with the music faculty to explore possible paths to majoring or minoring in music.

Our teaching philosophy is that the study of music in the liberal arts requires an integrated approach to theory, history, and performance. We believe that experience in all three of these fields is essential to the understanding of music as an artistic and intellectual pursuit.

Theory courses train students to understand and hear how compositions are organized. History courses introduce students to the development of musical styles and genres within the context of society and culture and explore the relationship of music to other areas of thought. Ethnomusicology courses deepen students' understanding of music as a social process and explore what music means to its practitioners and audiences, and how those meanings are communicated.

The department encourages students to develop performing skills through private study and through participation in our ensembles (chorus, gamelan, jazz ensemble, orchestra, wind ensemble, and Taiko dance and drumming), and the Fetter Chamber Music Program, which it staffs and administers. The department also assists instrumentalists and singers to finance the cost of private instruction.

Music & Dance Summer Funding Opportunity

The Music faculty invites applications every January for funding to support summer study in music.  Junior Music Majors and Minors, and prospective Majors and Minors in the Sophomore class interested in attending a summer program or pursuing private lessons during the summer, submit a proposal to identify the program or outline of their plan of study.  The proposal must include a detailed budget, including transportation, lodging, and any alternate sources of funding that they have received, requested, or intend to request for summer study; it should also indicate what portion they are able to contribute, if any.

Announcements about the timeline for Summer 2024 applications are expected in late fall 2023.

Students wishing to apply for funding are required to simultaneously apply for an Arts & Humanities Division Summer Research Grant.  Learn more. 

Mindful that some summer programs do not send out acceptance notices until later in the spring, we invite them to include alternative plans in your proposal to cover more than one possibility.

Note: Sophomores are eligible for summer funding through the Music department only if they apply to and are accepted into the major or minor.