Music program

MUndergrad major mUndergrad minor TTeaching/Certification

Find your tempo. Tap into your talents.

Whether you want to teach, perform or prepare yourself for graduate study, an undergraduate degree in music is a good first step toward a fulfilling life in music.

The Music Department at UW-La Crosse is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music. In UWL's program, students form a close community, and faculty are eager to share their passion for music. Students explore the field in a broad and balanced way incorporating theory, composition, history, performances, community musical activities and other specialized topics. Many instrumental ensembles and choirs are open to all UWL students regardless of major. Visit the Music Department website for specific audition requirements. 

What is it like to major in music?

Studying music includes both artistic and academic experiences. Student musicians work on their artistry in departmental recitals, master classes and participating in ensembles of various sizes and styles. Academic experiences enhance the artistry through private lessons, music theory, ear training, sight-reading and music history. At UWL, all majors and minors include several semesters of lessons on one voice or instrument. Music education courses provide opportunities to gain skills in teaching expertise as well.

I chose to study piano performance at UWL because of the great professors I met at my audition. The individual attention I’ve received is beyond what I thought possible! There are so many ensembles to join, and the best part has been meeting great musicians that I now call friends.

John Paul Peckham

Careers in music

Music majors are prepared for a variety of careers and continuing education opportunities.

  • Music performance careers
  • Music-related professions: Examples include music therapy, music sales and songwriting.
  • Teaching in public schools or private settings: UWL music graduates continue to be in high demand for positions such as instrumental, choral and general music teachers. The most important consideration in job placement is a willingness to move and not be limited to a single geographical area. Salaries are comparable to teaching in fields other than music. Advanced degrees mean salary benefits in almost all school systems.
  • Graduate studies in music: Continuing your education might lead to preparation for college teaching in a specific area such as music theory, music history, composition, music education, and applied music. Many college positions require a master’s degree; an increasing number also require a doctoral degree. Others continue their graduate education in music performance, conducting, conservatory study, business school or theological school.

Entry-level music jobs

  • K-12 music educator
  • Band, orchestra or choral director
  • Church musician
  • Jazz instrumentalist
  • Performer
  • Private studio instructor
  • Music store teacher/specialist
  • Music journalist
  • Composer/songwriter
  • Military musician/performer
  • Instrument repair technician
  • Piano tuning
  • Music agent

Long-term career development

  • Arranger
  • College/university instructor or professor
  • Concert soloist
  • Conductor
  • Recording artist
  • Commercial music performer
  • Entertainment law
  • Music therapist
  • Recording engineer
  • Video/sound engineer

What distinguishes UWL's Music program?

Scholarships available for music students

The Music Department awards more than 50 talent-based scholarships per year to music majors and minors. Ensemble scholarships are available for talented non-majors performing in ensembles and chamber groups. Learn more about scholarship opportunities on the Music Department website or contact

Multiple, music-related employment opportunities while studying

Part-time student employment opportunities in the Music Office and Listening Lab are available to students eligible for the Federal Work Study program. Other job opportunities, such as recital hall tech crew and ensemble assistantships, are available to all students regardless of financial need. Learn more about student employment opportunities on the Music Department website or contact

Applied music lessons

All music majors and minors receive applied music lessons without additional fees. Any student without a music major or music minor may audition to take applied lessons when studio space is available; an additional fee is required for students enrolled in lessons only.

Excellent facilities for rehearsing, performing, recording and learning

Located in the UWL Center for the Arts, the Music Department features the acoustically-superb and renovated 235-seat Annett Recital Hall, which houses two grand pianos, a two-manual harpsichord and state-of-the-art digital recording equipment. Center for the Arts also houses well-equipped rehearsal facilities, classrooms, and labs, as well as ample practice rooms.

Devoted faculty and staff

Music faculty and staff members are dedicated to excellence in teaching and performing. They are passionate about providing artistic performance opportunities for students and helping all students attain their musical goals. 

Variety of instrumental ensembles

These groups work with composers, perform new music, and use music talents to support collaborative efforts in the La Crosse community. While some groups require an audition, others are open to any student musician on campus. All ensembles in the Instrumental Studies area are committed to supporting diversity and inclusion both in music choice and membership.

  • UWL Symphony Orchestra and UWL Wind Ensemble perform masterwork repertoire, as well as contemporary pieces.
  • UWL Concert Band and UWL Symphonic Band are open to any UWL student musician in fall and spring semester, respectively.
  • Scholarship chamber ensembles: Three scholarship chamber ensembles include the Hoeschler String Quartet, Cordeiro Woodwind Quintet, and Hoefer Brass Quintet.
  • Screaming Eagles Marching Band is one of the most active and visible organizations at UWL during the fall semester. The Color Guard, Pom Pons, and Twirlers join the SEMB on all performances, creating a wonderful blend of music, pageantry, and school spirit. Performances include all home football games at Veterans Memorial Stadium, regional exhibition performances, and parades and special events in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Membership is open to all UWL, Viterbo University, and Western Technical College students. The group typically Involves students from almost every academic discipline.
Strong reputation for Jazz

Long a marquee program in Wisconsin, the Jazz Studies area features two big bands and two jazz combos. Both music-and non-music majors perform historical and contemporary big band styles in the Jazz Orchestra and the Jazz Ensemble through frequent on-and off-campus concerts. Improvisers learn their craft in jazz improvisation courses and gain small group experience in combo performances at area jazz clubs. Jazz vocalists sing with all instrumental jazz ensembles and have their own dedicated group with the Contemporary/Jazz Vocal Ensemble.

Variety of choral groups

The Choral Studies program is one of the most diverse on campus in both student population and opportunity. All choirs perform several times throughout the year both on and off campus.

  • The UWL Concert Choir and UWL Treble Chorus: Concert Choir is the university’s most prestigious choir. While selective, the Concert Choir auditions are open to students from all disciplines throughout campus and are held prior to the beginning of each school year. The UWL Treble Chorus is a non-auditioned choir open to all soprano and alto voices. Both ensembles consistently perform music of various cultures and diverse styles from Renaissance through the 21st Century. While the level of music can be more demanding with the Concert Choir, both ensembles continuously perform music with relevant themes that connect to issues within society today as a unified voice through music.
  • The UWL Choral Union is the largest choral ensemble on campus and performs large scale symphonic works with orchestra. This choir integrates both students and community members for its grandiose performance each semester. Recent performances include Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem, and Faure’s Requiem.
  • The Contemporary/Jazz Vocal Ensemble is a small ensemble that performs more modern and improvisatory music, without conductor, allowing the students to explore a different side of vocal music.

Areas of study

Sample courses