Step into the Bixler Art and Music Center and you’ll know that you’ve entered a unique place. You’re likely to hear Bach,  Bruch or the beat of Colby’s African Drumming Ensemble coming from practice rooms, experience the arresting colors of student computer compositions, find the chorale polishing its program for an upcoming tour abroad or hear an a cappella group practicing a Lady Gaga song. Peek into faculty offices and you’ll see students at work with professors—tossing back and forth ideas for a senior thesis on Chopin, tackling a particularly tough choral harmonization, or preparing a concerto for an upcoming performance with the orchestra.

At Colby you’ll take challenging courses that teach you to see music as a rigorous academic discipline and an object of aesthetic delight. You will not only learn to think about music—and the world—in new ways, you will also build the sorts of abstract reasoning, writing, and oral skills that have allowed our graduates go on to careers in performance, arts management, journalism, teaching, library science, law, medicine, and a variety of other professions.  If you are looking for passionate engagement with music as part of your college experience, we invite you to explore Colby’s music department.

Close faculty-student interaction is the hallmark of music study at Colby. Most upper-level classes have fewer than 10 students,and seminars are even smaller. Music students undertake independent study projects under the supervision of a faculty mentor and work as research assistants on faculty research projects.

Our faculty of composers, historians, theorists, and performers offers a large selection of courses. Both the music major and the music minor include courses on Western music history, theory/analysis, and applied music, yet allow students flexibility to emphasize composition, theory, history, performance, or popular music.

Students can also explore topics as diverse as world music, rhythm & amp; blues, African drumming, film music, conducting, counterpoint, American music, composition, or chamber music through electives. Elective courses at all levels make it possible for students with varying backgrounds to explore the the academic discipline of music. 

Meet Colby music students:            

Distinction in the major is awarded to graduating seniors who have received:

  • 3.65 GPA in the major
  • 3.0 overall GPA
  • recommendation of the music faculty

An honors program is available to students majoring in music who have a 3.25 overall grade point average and a 3.5 average in the major. In addition to fulfilling the requirements for the music major, honors students must take one additional course in music, approved by the department, at the 300 level or above; they must also complete the honors sequence (MU 483 and 484) in one of four areas (music analysis, music history, performance, or theory/composition). During the second semester of the junior year, students seeking admission to the honors program submit a formal proposal outlining their proposed research or creative project to the department for approval. Click here to learn more.

Each year outstanding students are recognized by a number of annual departmental prizes and awards:  The “Alma Morrissette Prize” for music performance and leadership in musical organizations, the “Ermanno Comparetti Prize” for achievement in orchestral playing and/or composition, the “Mollie Seltzer Yett Prize” for excellence in music academics, the “Music Department Performance Prize” for the best performance by a student performer. Click here to see a list of recent winners. 

For more information, contact the department’s Administrative Assistant, Deb Ward ( ).