Music program

Undergrad major Undergrad minor Teacher license

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 UWL Music Department 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 students regardless of major. Visit the Music Department website for specific audition requirements. 

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. Salaries are comparable to other teaching in fields. 
  • Graduate studies in music: Graduate studies could prepare you for college teaching in a specific area such as music theory, music history, composition or applied music. Many college positions require a master’s or 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
  • 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 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 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 The Truman T. Lowe 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.

Strong reputation for Jazz

A marquee program in Wisconsin, Jazz Studies features two big bands and two jazz combos. In Jazz Orchestra and the Jazz Ensemble, music-and non-music majors perform historical and contemporary big band styles. Improvisers learn their craft in jazz improvisation courses and combo performances at jazz clubs. Jazz vocalists sing with instrumental jazz ensembles and their own group, the Contemporary/Jazz Vocal Ensemble.

Variety of instrumental ensembles

These groups work with composers, perform new music, and join community music collaborations. Some groups require auditions.

  • UWL Symphony Orchestra and UWL Wind Ensemble perform masterwork repertoire and contemporary pieces.
  • UWL Concert Band and UWL Symphonic Band are open to any UWL student musician in fall and spring semester.
  • Scholarship chamber ensembles: These 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 in the fall. The Color Guard, Pom Pons, and Twirlers help create a wonderful blend of music, pageantry, and school spirit. 
Variety of choral groups
  • The UWL Concert Choir and UWL Treble Chorus: Concert Choir, the university's most prestigious choir, holds auditions for students from all disciplines. The UWL Treble Chorus is a non-auditioned choir open to all soprano and alto voices. Both perform music of various cultures and diverse styles from Renaissance through the 21st Century. 
  • The UWL Choral Union is open to students and community members. The largest choral ensemble on campus, they performs large scale symphonic works with orchestra.
  • The Contemporary/Jazz Vocal Ensemble is a small ensemble that performs more modern and improvisatory music without a conductor. 
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

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. 

Areas of study


Studying music includes both artistic and academic experiences. Student musicians work on their artistry in departmental recitals, master classes and participating in ensembles. Academic experiences enhance the artistry through private lessons, music theory, ear training, sight-reading and music history. 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.

Undergrad minor View a sample plan for Music Catalogfor Music Learn more for Music

Education: Choral & General Music Education Emphasis

Completion of the music education: choral and general music emphasis program and associated benchmark assessments will lead to endorsement for a Wisconsin teaching license in music for grades K-12 (2500). Students in all teacher education programs must satisfy the School of Education (SOE) core requirements.

Undergrad major Teacher license View a sample plan for Education: Choral & General Music Education Catalogfor Education: Choral & General Music Education

Education: Instrumental & General Music Education Emphasis

Completion of the music education: instrumental and general music emphasis program and associated benchmark assessments will lead to endorsement for a Wisconsin teaching license in music for grades K-12 (2500). Students in all teacher education programs must satisfy the School of Education (SOE) core requirements.

Undergrad major Teacher license View a sample plan for Education: Instrumental & General Music Education Catalogfor Education: Instrumental & General Music Education

Jazz Performance Emphasis

UW-La Crosse has an outstanding jazz program with performance opportunities for all in large and small ensembles. While the music major core includes lessons, music theory and music history, the jazz performance emphasis offers coursework in jazz improvisation, jazz combos, advanced jazz orchestra (big band) and the jazz performance recital, which includes you creating your own arrangements for your combo.

Undergrad major View a sample plan for Jazz Performance Catalogfor Jazz Performance

Performance Emphasis

Students select this emphasis when they wish to excel in a single area of performance, such as violin, piano or trumpet. Core studies include music theory and music history, along with refining their solo performance musicianship in lessons for at least six semesters, culminating in a performance recital completed as a capstone project near the end of their studies. This emphasis has six elective credits that also allow a student to pursue opportunities to dive deeper into theory, accompanying, chamber music, additional lessons and advanced ensemble participation.

Undergrad major View a sample plan for Performance Catalogfor Performance

Piano Pedagogy

Piano students who desire to teach will focus on developing their own musical expression in advanced lessons, as well as studying effective ways of teaching and reviewing business models for the independent studio through the pedagogy courses. Students will have the opportunity to teach during this emphasis.

Undergrad major View a sample plan for Piano Pedagogy Catalogfor Piano Pedagogy

Theory Emphasis

The music theory emphasis allows the music major to extend their application of knowledge gained from the core courses in music theory and music history. Students will have the opportunities to explore these applications through courses such as Composition lessons, Orchestration and Arranging and Advanced Music Theory.

Undergrad major View a sample plan for Theory Catalogfor Theory

Sample courses

MUS 130 Jazz Orchestra I Small ensemble open to students in all schools and colleges with consent of instructor. Requires concurrent enrollment in a large ensemble for music education majors: MUS 106/206/306/406 (Concert Choir), MUS 123/223/323/423 (Treble Chorus), MUS 158/258/358/458 (Choral Union), if choral and general music education major. MUS 100/200/300/400 (Marching Band), MUS 144/244/344/444 (Symphonic Band), MUS 156/256/356/456 (Orchestra), MUS 140/240/340/440 (Wind Symphony), if instrumental and general music education major. A maximum of two credits in all small ensembles may be applied to the music major. Repeatable for credit - maximum two. Offered Fall, Spring.

MUS 205 Global Cultures in Music This course surveys the selected musical traditions of the world. By looking at selected communities in detail, students will better understand that music is, in most cases, connected to culture and cannot be understood without an awareness of cultural contexts. Students will also develop a musical vocabulary and listening skills through exposure to recordings, lectures and assignments about stylistic elements, and analysis. The ability to read music is not required for the course, but it is helpful. The lectures will be supplemented with sound recordings, and will include in-class demonstrations when possible. Offered Fall, Spring, Summer.

MUS 264 History of Western Music I A chronological study of music in Western civilization with emphasis on periods and styles from early times to the death of Bach. Outside listening required. Prerequisite: MUS 115 or minimum score of 3 on AP music exam or Music Department Theory assessment milestone. Offered Annually.

MUS 266 Theory of Music I This course is an introduction to core music theory concepts. Students review essential concepts by studying them within musical contexts (melody, harmony, counterpoint, etc.). Topics include meter and rhythm, the management of dissonance, the structure of keys, the harmonic function of triads and seventh chords, and basic formal units (phrase, period, cadence, etc.). The course introduces students to applied chords. The students explore these concepts through composition and analysis, using models from the common practice period and some popular 20th-century styles. Prerequisite: MUS 115 or minimum score of 3 on AP music exam or Music Department Theory assessment milestone; concurrent enrollment in MUS 268. Offered Spring.

MUS 268 Aural Skills I In this course students develop aural skills to build their musical literacy by seeing, listening, and transcribing notation. Students complete specialized exercises that develop their hearing skills through the practice of singing using syllables and transcribing what is heard. Exercises include singing and notating increasingly challenging melodies, rhythmic exercises, and identifying harmonies and simple harmonic progressions. Prerequisite: MUS 115 or minimum score of 3 on AP music exam or Music Department Theory assessment milestone; concurrent enrollment in MUS 266. Offered Spring.