The Penn Music Department offers an innovative program for undergraduate studies in music. We aim to provide opportunities for students to pursue their passions and develop expertise in musical traditions they may know well; and to open their ears and minds to sounds and practices with which they may be less familiar. There are many different and overlapping ways to pursue music: through performance, listening, academic investigation, and composition. All of these are encouraged and fostered by the department. Information on our Performance programs (lessons, ensembles etc.) can be found at this link.

Performance and Academics at Penn: A Unique Mix

To a greater extent than in most comparable institutions, the Music Department’s academic courses include a performance component, and viceversa. The curriculum offers a unique variety of modes of integration between the two components, the academic and the performance one, with the aim of forming, in a holistic way, a "thinking musician" as well as a scholar, depending on each individual student's choices and emphases.

For example:

  • meetings of traditional ensembles (Music 007), although mostly devoted to performing, incorporate academic components such as theoretical and historical units regarding the repertoire; 
  • Music 010 (Marian Anderson Solo Performance Program) and Music 011 (its ensemble music version) develop excellency in performance skills at pre-professional level, but also including formal oral presentations and other scholarly activities; 
  • Music 236 ("Performance, Analysis, History") balances the two components in equal parts, through papers, quizzes, and presentations, in addition to regular coachings by distinguished performers, and a final recital;
  • the wide offer of courses in our two Music Minors (which can also be combined) articulate the two components in different ways, see here and here;
  • finally, intermediate and advanced academic courses for Majors (at the two- and three-hundred levels) incorporate, when suitable, visits of artists (such as our distinguished Resident Artists) and collaborations with ensembles.
Performance: A Wide Range of Opportunities
  • Students may participate in one of the many performance ensembles on campus (Music 007). 
  • Students may also pursue instrumental lessons through the College House Music Program, which matches interested students with Philadelphia area instructors, many of whom are Fellows in the College Houses (Music 005). 
  • A special program of instruction in vocal and instrumental performance, made possible through an endowment by Marian Anderson, is also available for music majors and minors. The Marian Anderson Solo Performance Program (Music 010) and the Marian Anderson Group Performance Program (Music 011), both open to predominantly music majors and minors, offer students the possibility of up to two years of private music instruction at an intermediate level. 
  • The popular Chamber Music program (Music 007) may also be taken for performance credit. 

Music 005 and 007 are semester-long courses that count for half a credit. Music 010 and 011 are two-semester programs, for a total of one credit. Music 236 is a semester-long course for one credit.

Academics: Intro Courses, the Major, and the Minors

For students interested in pursuing an academic course of study, we offer a wide range of options (see our brochure for a summary of the Major and the Minors):

  • The curriculum includes a number of introductory-level courses on topics, from world music to musicianship, all of which fulfill requirements for the general education curriculum. We also regularly offer Freshman Seminars and classes that contribute to the Writing Program at Penn.
  • For a more sustained study of music, the Department offers a Music Major, which, through a balance of requirements and electives, equips students with fundamental tools and contexts for thinking about music, while at the same time offering them options to customize their course of study according to their particular interests.
  • We also offer two Music Minors, one specializing in jazz and popular music, and the other organized with flexibility in mind, enabling students to select from courses in many different fields (it is also possible to pursue both Minors).