Academics / Departments & Programs / Music / Majors & ProgramsMusic

Degree Overview

Graduate with broad musical skills, confidence in your abilities, and expertise in your specific interests. Calvin has the kinds of wide-ranging opportunities that big schools have—plus a community that will know you and encourage you to excel.

While you’re mastering your craft, you’re also being equipped for the future. Calvin music major graduates go on to study music in graduate school and perform as professional musicians. They also work in many fields, like computer programming, communication, law, and medicine.

That’s because at Calvin, you’ll learn how to combine creativity and precision—in classrooms, in worship, in live performances. You’ll be ready to lead, whether at the conductor’s stand or in a totally different field.

Program Distinctives

A vibrant community - Delve into a deep, joyful, artistic community where students take the lead. From music festivals to student ensembles to worship services, you’ll create and perform alongside people who love music as much as you do.
Become world-ready - When you graduate with a music degree from Calvin, you’ll have a resume packed with ensembles, recitals, and theater productions—practical experiences employers are looking for.
Versatile academics - Pursue a flexible major that complements any other field. The music major is designed specifically to let you double major in music and another discipline.
Financial support for your music - Draw on a vast range of music scholarships. You’ll find scholarships and financial aid for music students of all types.

Take the next step:

Degree Information

  • Overview

    Calvin’s liberal arts program in music is designed to provide breadth of general studies combined with studies in musicianship and an area of emphasis in music.

    Becoming a music major 

    If you plan to major in music, you should notify the registrar’s office as soon as possible after enrolling at Calvin University. Some music major programs require four consecutive years of courses to graduate, so you want to be sure you are assigned to a music department faculty advisor who will guide you through the process of completing all of your graduation requirements. No entrance audition is required.

    Step One: Discuss the requirements for majoring in music with a faculty member.

    If you were not assigned a music advisor during PASSPORT and would like to have one, submit a Change of Advisor form to the registrar's office.

    Step Two: During your first year of study (two semesters) complete the following:

    • Overall GPA of at least 2.5
    • A grade of C or better in Music 101 Introduction to the Musical World (offered every fall semester)
    • A grade of C or better in Music 108 Music Theory I and credit for passing Music 108L Music Theory I Lab
    • Evaluation of keyboard proficiency
    • A grade of C or better in two semesters of private music lessons (100 level or higher)
    • A passing grade of B- in the performance jury

    Completing the music major

    The faculty of the music department wants you to become a well-rounded and versatile musician, so, in addition to taking courses, ensembles and private lessons, you are expected to complete some important departmental requirements before you can graduate with a music degree:

    Piano Proficiency

    All music majors must pass levels 1 and 2 of the piano proficiency exam.

    Level 1

    • Major and minor (natural, melodic, harmonic) scales in all keys, 2 octaves, hands together, in eighth notes, metronome at quarter note = 72 minimum, conclude with I-IV-V-I cadence
    • Tonic triad and inversions in all major and minor keys (blocked, broken), one octave, maintaining a steady, consistent tempo
    • Sight reading using both hands, 4-8 measure length in treble and bass clef
    • A prepared piece: difficulty about Royal Conservatory Syllabus level 3; You may use music
    • Improvisation in single line, 4-8 measures, using major or minor scales

    Level 2

    • Chord progressions (primary, secondary chords), including transposition
    • Harmonizing melodies using primary and secondary chords, transposition included
    • Realization of figured bass
    • Melodies in C clef (alto, tenor) or written for transposing instruments, with 10 minutes for preparation.
    • Playing from lead sheets
    • Blues scale, improvisation (12-bar blues form)

    Recital Hour

    Recital Hour (MUSC 180) is a weekly seminar for music majors and minors that provides experience in public performance for music students as well as opportunities to hear performances of a wide range of music literature. Additional topics related to music study are offered throughout the semester. Attendance at Recital Hour is required for all music majors and minors as determined by their program. Music majors must attend additional concert events and complete music major cards.


    The final exam for your private lesson each semester is called a "jury." The jury is a panel comprised of music faculty and private lesson instructors who listen to you perform what you've studied during the semester, provide helpful feedback, and evaluate your progress in applied music. The Applied Music Approval Jury is a special jury exam used to evaluate a student's readiness to be approved for the performance emphasis, enroll in advanced private lessons, and prepare to present a required recital.

    Student Recitals

    If you plan to complete the Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in music and an emphasis in performance, you must perform both a half recital program (30 minutes) and a full recital program (60 minutes) after receiving approval of your major. Students in other music programs (general music and music composition) may present recitals, but they would be for personal enrichment only and do not fulfill music degree requirements.

  • Courses



Pie chart showing the amount of household debt accumulated by percentages of the graduating student body

You can afford a Calvin education.

You’ve heard a lot about the high cost of a university education. But a Calvin education is much more affordable than you think. Most Calvin students pay far below the sticker price—and graduate with less debt than you might expect.

Explore affordability at Calvin »

U.S. News & World Report ranks Calvin as a Best Midwest Regional University for 2020.

A reputation for excellence.

There’s a reason Calvin gets top marks from U.S. News & World Report, The Princeton Review, and more. Calvin graduates are in demand at grad schools, med schools, and careers in every field.

Discover the Calvin advantage »


The latest sights & sounds | #calvinuniversity

Female student wading in Plaster Creek, examining a sample of water, holding it up to the sky.


With over 100 majors and programs, you’re bound to find something you love.

Browse by category

A dramatic view looking up at the Calvin's Crossing bridge, with a perfect blue sky overhead.

Apply to Calvin

It all starts here! We accept applications on a rolling basis throughout the year. All completed applications receive equal consideration.

Start your journey × CLOSE DRAWER
A female and male student walking side by side down the Calvin's Crossing bridge, conversing with each other.

Visit Calvin

Find the visit option that works best for you and get a taste for life at Calvin!

Browse Visit Options Launch the virtual tour × CLOSE DRAWER
Students huddled around, lighting sparklers with a beautiful evening sky behind them.

Request Info

Learn why Calvin’s dedication to faith and discovery have earned it the rank of #3 among regional midwest universities.

Graduates in their robes, tossing their caps high into the air, laughing.

Costs & Financial Aid

Families from all economic backgrounds—many just like yours—are making Calvin work. Scholarships, grants and loans are the tools that make Calvin possible.

Explore financial aid & Scholarships How much does Calvin cost? × CLOSE DRAWER