Music Major (BA)

A Bachelor of Arts degree (120 credits) consists of Core Curriculum (30 credits) and at least one major(36–60 credits), as well as minors and/or elective courses of the student’s choosing. 

In this 36-credit major, students are free to make the music that is most meaningful to them, without restrictions on genre or style. The program is focused on creativity and the creative process, developed through the practice of improvisation—making music in the moment—and extending to the craft of composition, recording, and innovative uses of music technology.

Students develop their musical knowledge during three semesters of musicianship courses, including training in theory, sight-singing, and aural and rhythmic acuity. Each semester, Music students connect as a community in the Music Program Retreat, exploring the relationship between contemplative practice and music; this includes one-on-one meetings between students and faculty to clarify student goals and development. Performance skills are fostered through private music lessons, ensembles, and public and private concerts offered throughout the academic year. To further deepen their musical understanding, students explore multicultural perspectives on music-making, music history, and audio recording and production.

Departmental Policies

Students can declare their major at any time and are invited to join the Music Program Retreat in the semester of their declaration. While students engage in private music lessons, they must perform in at least one Works in Progress Concert or Final Music Concert, as stated in the syllabus. Recommended foundational courses include MUS140 Keyboard Studio and MUS230 Improvisation.


As the culminating graduation requirement of the BA degree, students design and execute a Senior Project in their final semester. This is a performance, recording, or other creative project that incorporates vital elements of musicianship and creativity acquired in their training at Naropa. Students develop marketing strategies and publicity materials for the presentation of their work.

Special Opportunities

In addition to regular music program events and recording opportunities, students are encouraged to collaborate with other disciplines at Naropa: dance, theater, visual art, writing, film, etc. In addition, an Independent Study may be designed to support specific projects, collaborations, or particular areas of musical study.

Music Major Requirements

Required Courses


  • MUS200  Musicianship I: Musical Beginnings (3)
  • MUS250  Music Cultures of the World (3)

Community Retreat
Take four times for 2 credits

  • MUS248 Music Program Retreat (0.5)


  • MUS210  Musicianship II: The Practice of Notation (3)
  • MUS360  Musicianship III: The Art of the Chart (3)
  • MUS397  Private Music Lessons (4)

Music Technology
Choose 3 credits

  • MUS275 Producing Music with Ableton Live (3)
  • MUS280 Technical Skills for Contemporary Creativity (3)

Music in Context
Choose 3 credits

  • MUS263 History of Rock n' Roll (3)
  • MUS260 Listening to Jazz (3)

Advanced Skills
Choose 3 credits

  • MUS230  Improvisation (3)
  • MUS380  Advanced Audio Recording and Production (3)
  • MUS490  Special Topics in Music (3)

Choose 3 credits

  • MUS370  Musicianship IV: Arranging and Orchestrating (3)
  • MUS400   Composition (3)

Ensembles and Performance
Choose 3 Credits

  • MUS208  Naropa Chorus (3)
  • MUS215  Rhythm Hemispheres: World Percussion Traditions (3)
  • MUS270 Naropa Ensemble (3)
  • MUS420  Naropa Composers and Improvisers Orchestra (3)
  • TRA114 Indian Devotional and Raga Singing (3) 


  • MUS485 Senior Project (3)

Total Credits: 36

Additional Recommended Music Electives

    • COL450 Internship (3)
    • MUS140 Keyboard Studio (3)
    • MUS150 Solo Singing in Style (3)
    • MUS499 Independent Study: Music (0.5–4.0)