Oct 21, 2021  
2020-2021 General Catalog 
2020-2021 General Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]


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Department Office
Green Music Center 2040
(707) 664-2324

Department Chair
John R. Palmer

Administrative Coordinator
Brooke Tester

For faculty information, please see Faculty  or the faculty webpage

A commitment to active involvement stands at the heart of the music curriculum. Students are involved in many ways—as listeners, performers, composers, critics, or historians. Intelligent and lively participation informs every facet of the department’s various degree programs.

The core curriculum for music majors provides a thorough foundation in such essential skills as keyboard facility, theoretical understanding, aural perception, and analysis of a wide range of music literature. All majors gain experience with both the intuitive and the intellectual processes of the art. The curriculum is designed to place the specialized study of music in the setting of a liberal arts education and to serve as a firm basis for careers in a wide variety of professions in and related to music.

The Liberal Arts music concentration provides a broad basis from which a student may pursue graduate studies or a variety of careers. The Composition and Technology degree attracts students who are already using technological tools in music creation but need formal training. Three concentrations exist within the Bachelor of Music. The Jazz Studies concentration trains the student in the techniques and practices of contemporary Jazz styles. The Performance concentration is intended for those having interest and promise in the following areas:

  • Vocal/Choral Performance
  • Instrumental Performance
  • Opera/Music Theatre

The bachelor of music in Education prepares students to enter the teaching credential program in the School of Education.

All students are expected to consult with a music advisor prior to registering each semester. Any student planning to do graduate work in music should consult a music advisor in time to plan a program that will support the intended graduate specialty. Students planning careers in business or media should consider minors in communications studies or business administration. The Music Department has been a fully accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Music since 1972.

Audition and Proficiency Expectations for Entering and Transfer Students

In order to be accepted as a music major, one must be admitted to the University AND must also successfully complete a Music Department audition.


The Department of Music requires all prospective music majors to complete an audition on their major instrument/voice. Students living more than 250 miles from campus may send recorded auditions (YouTube link, CD, or DVD). To schedule an audition, use the Audition Request Form found on the department website (also available in the department office).

All auditions, live or recorded, shall include two pieces in contrasting styles that demonstrate accurate rhythms, pitch control, and interpretive awareness. Accompaniment is not necessary and the time limit is 10 minutes. In addition, Instrumentalists shall prepare two major scales and one minor scale in all three forms: natural, harmonic, and melodic.

Jazz students shall prepare two contrasting tunes; Aebersold-type play-along accompaniments are acceptable. Jazz Drummers must demonstrate various styles, including medium and up-tempo swing, Jazz, waltz and 3 or 4 different Latin and/or contemporary rhythms. They may submit a tape of a band in which they are featured.

Music Education students shall write a one-paragraph statement on why they wish to teach.

Music theatre students are encouraged to submit a DVD of themselves performing (singing and acting) in a musical.
Composition Students, in addition to auditioning on their major instrument/voice must submit two notated scores and recordings of their original work.

Students may include more than one instrument/voice or musical style on their audition.

Please use the Audition Request Form to schedule auditions.
Send recorded auditions, along with a cover letter to:

Music Department (Audition Materials)
Sonoma State University
1801 E. Cotati Ave.
Rohnert Park, CA 94928


All auditionees are automatically considered for a variety of Music Department Scholarships. Scholarship audition information is available on the department website.

Send all required materials to:

Music Department Scholarship Committee
Sonoma State University
1801 E. Cotati Avenue
Rohnert Park, CA 94928

Proficiency Expectations

Basic keyboard skills and the ability to read standard music notation are prerequisites for the music major. All entering and transfer students will be given a placement examination in music theory during the audition process. Students with inadequate preparation in keyboard will take MUS 109 - Intensive Keyboard Lab I . Students without background in music theory will take MUS 106 - Fundamentals of Music Theory .

Jazz studies majors, whether continuing or transfer students, must complete MUS 420 - Musicianship IV ; MUS 312 - Jazz Harmony and Arranging II ; MUS 389 - Jazz Improvisation III ; MUS 489 - Jazz Improvisation IV ; MUS 392 - Jazz Piano II ; and  MUS 412 - Jazz Composition .

Basic keyboard proficiency is a prerequisite for enrollment in MUS 110 - Theory I: Diatonicism . MUS 320  and MUS 309A /MUS 309B  (or MUS 392 ) are prerequisite for certain upper-division music courses.

Lower-Division Program

All Freshman students are required to enroll in MUS 160A /MUS 160B , the Freshman Learning Community. The core of the lower-division program for music majors is a sequence of courses in musicianship, theory, and music literature. This sequence is a comprehensive approach to musicianship in its broadest sense. It includes sight-singing, dictation, counterpoint, harmony, and historic and stylistic considerations as they relate to the development of aural and written skills. Materials and sol-fa techniques from a variety of musical styles are used. Lower-division students enroll in 300-level music ensembles.

Upper-Division Program

The upper-division program is designed to integrate studies of theory, musicianship, keyboard and aural skills, music history and analysis. Students who wish to specialize in jazz, music education, or performance music will be required to take classes that develop skills specific to these areas. MUS 310 - Theory III: Form and Analysis  and MUS 410 - Theory IV: 20th Century Techniques  must be taken in residence.

Capstone Experience

Bachelor of Arts music majors and students in Jazz Studies are required to complete a senior project. MUS 490 - Senior Project , may take the form of directed research leading to a lecture-demonstration, a recital, an extended composition, a student-instructed course, the preparation of a performing edition, or another project of substantial effort. Students enrolled in the Performance music concentration and in Music Education must present a MUS 491 - Senior Recital . Performance majors must also complete a junior recital.

Performance Ensemble Requirement

The Music Department regards continuous experience in active music-making to be an essential part of college music study. To provide this experience, the department offers a wide range of ensembles both vocal and instrumental.

  • All music majors (performance, jazz studies, liberal arts, and music education) must declare a major performance medium (instrument or voice) upon entering their program of study.
  • Every music major is required to be in ensembles in which he or she plays his or her declared performance medium (instrument or voice) according to their specific degree program. Students may be invited to play in additional major ensembles.
  • Every music major is required to be two major or minor performing ensembles (see specific requirement below) during each semester of residence in which he or she plays his or her declared performance medium (instrument or voice), according to their track.

The major performance ensembles for vocalists in performance (at least half must be in a choral ensemble) are the following:

  • MUS 325 - Symphonic Chorus  
  • MUS 323 - Concert Choir  
  • MUS 330 - Musical Theatre Production  
  • MUS 340 - Musical Theatre Scenes Workshop  

Vocal performance majors are required to take one choral and one musical theatre ensemble each semester in residence, the placement of which will be
determined by audition.

The major ensembles for strings, woodwind, brass, and percussion in performance are the following:

  • MUS 328 - Symphony Orchestra   (required for strings)
  • MUS 227 - Concert Band  
  • MUS 327 - Symphonic Wind Ensemble  
  • MUS 327 - Symphonic Wind Ensemble  
  • MUS 326 - Guitar Ensemble   (guitar majors only)

Instrumental performance majors are required to take 12 units of a major ensemble (the placement of which will be determined by audition) and 4 units of
chamber music or minor ensembles.

The major ensembles for pianists will be determined in consultation with the department chair and the area coordinator and must include at least four
semesters of:

  • MUS 329 - Chamber Music Ensembles  

In semesters where students’ production/performances are completed prior to midsemester,
they are required to participate in one of the major ensembles above.

The Minor Ensembles for vocalists are:

  • MUS 329 - Chamber Music Ensembles  
  • MUS 481 - Special Topics Workshop  
  • MUS 391 - Concert Jazz Ensemble  
  • MUS 379 - Latin Jazz Band  
  • MUS 390 - Jazz Orchestra  
  • MUS 377 - Brass Ensemble  
  • MUS 378 - Percussion Ensemble  

Instrumental Performance majors are required to enroll in a chamber music/minor ensemble for at least two 4 semesters on their declared major instrument.
The Chamber Music/Minor Ensembles for instrumentalists in the Performance concentration are:

  • MUS 377 - Brass Ensemble  
  • MUS 329 - Chamber Music Ensembles  
  • MUS 378 - Percussion Ensemble  
  • MUS 481 - Special Topics Workshop  
  • MUS 391 - Concert Jazz Ensemble  
  • MUS 379 - Latin Jazz Band  
  • MUS 390 - Jazz Orchestra  

Additional Ensemble for music students in Bachelor of Music concentrations:

  • Vocalists must participate in an instrumental ensemble (Brass Ensemble, Chamber Music, Concert Band, Percussion Ensemble, Rock Collegium, Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Concert Jazz Ensembles, Latin Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Orchestra) at least one semester.
  • Instrumentalists must participate in choral ensemble (symphonic Chorus, Concert Choir) at least one semester.

Ensemble Requirements Performance Concentration  

Ensemble Requirements Jazz Studies Concentration  

Ensemble Requirements Music Education Concentration  

Music Use Fee and Instrument Checkout

A nonrefundable fee of $25 per semester is charged for use of Music Department facilities and equipment. In addition, a $20 refundable deposit is charged for checking out a departmental instrument.

Private Instruction

The department funds 60-minute lessons for B.M. students and 45-minute lessons for B.A. music students.

All music majors will take studio instruction in their performing medium. It is department policy that music majors are required to study their major performance medium (instrument or voice) with an SSU faculty member.

Repertoire Classes and Forums

All music majors must be enrolled in a music repertoire or forum class each semester in residence, according to their concentration.

Classical Instrumental Repertoire Class (for classical instrumentalists) MUS 151 /MUS 451 
Vocal Repertoire Class (for vocalists) MUS 151 /MUS 451 
Jazz Forum (for jazz students) MUS 426 
Composers Forum (for student composers) MUS 425  


Each semester, enrolled music majors perform a jury before the assembled Music Department faculty members. Juries typically take place during the penultimate week of classes and are intended to monitor a student’s applied progress. Some of the repertoire is from a list of standard, graded works, compiled by the applied faculty. Adjudicators assess among other things, the performers’ musicality, technique, interpretation, and professionalism; expectations will be based on each student’s level in the program. Students are responsible for signing up for jury times and arranging accompanists as necessary. Students in the Bachelor of Music degree program must receive a jury score of 75% or better in order to pass. Students in the Bachelor of Arts degree program must receive a jury score of 65% or better in order to pass. The jury counts for 25% of the students private/ applied lesson grade.


Students who fall below jury performance level expectations (below 75% for B.M.; below 65% for B.A.) will be placed on Probationary status the following semester. Students on probation may, at the discretion of the faculty, be ineligible for state-supported lessons and will be required to remediate deficiencies at their own expense. At the end of the probation semester, the student must sign up for a jury and successfully pass all deficient material.

Continuation Jury

If at the end of the sophomore year a student has failed two or more consecutive juries the student can be dismissed or reassigned from the music major degree program. Bachelor of Music students can become Bachelor of Arts students, Bachelor of Arts students can become Music Minors.



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