In keeping with the aims of a liberal education, the music department offers all students opportunities to expand their understanding of music and its place in society. Students actively engage diverse musical materials in a variety of contexts. In ensembles and private lessons, students mature as singers or instrumentalists, better understanding music by performing it. In courses, students develop critical skills for experiencing, creating and using music effectively and intelligently. The department offers both a major and a minor in music, and provides all students with ways of participating in music.
Guiding principles for the department in setting learning goals for students are:
- the importance of close, active listening, as well as articulating what one is hearing
- the importance of participating actively and reliably in collective work
- the importance of learning to lead responsibly
- the importance of responsible decision-making
- the importance of a disciplined approach to problem-solving
We emphasize collaborative and interdisciplinary study. Many music classes include work in the Newell Center for Arts Technology, where students learn to use digital technology to compose and perform music, to design sound for theatrical productions and to create multimedia works. Special topics courses focus on particular composers, genres or regions of the world, and typically involve extensive study of scores and recordings from the music library.
Music department ensembles — the Laurentian Singers, the University Chorus, the Early Music Singers, the String Orchestra, the Concert Band and the Rhythm & Roots Ensemble — are open to all St. Lawrence students by audition. Performances, residencies and workshops by a wide array of guest artists additionally enrich musical life on campus.
Exemplary student participation in ensembles and coursework is recognized by induction into the Ives Society. Applications for membership in this departmental honor society are due each December. Individual awards in keyboard study, choral performance, and other fields of study are given annually at Moving-Up Day.