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The music department offers courses for credit in performance study, including private lessons, for students who wish to improve singing, instrumental, or general performance skills.

Voice & Instrumental Performance Study

The music department has a renowned faculty and adjunct faculty who teach voice and a wide variety of instruments.

When no instructor for a particular instrument is available at Smith College, every effort is made to provide students with qualified instructors from the Five College community. Such arrangements may require Smith students to travel to other campuses within the Five College system. Students wishing to study performance with Five College faculty must obtain prior approval from the Smith College music department.


Performance courses consist of weekly private lessons with a faculty member. Specific expectations are determined by the instructor. Two performance courses may not be taken concurrently without permission of the department. (This restriction does not apply to chamber music or conducting.)


A level of proficiency must be demonstrated by audition in order to register for a performance course for the first time. Students are accepted on the basis of musicianship, competence, and potential. Auditions take place prior to or during the first week of classes for the fall semester, and by appointment for the spring semester. Students should sign up at Sage Hall for an audition time slot immediately upon arrival on campus and prepare a three- to five-minute piece of choice for the audition.


All performance students are required to do at least one evaluative performance each year. The faculty will provide all relevant information during the semester.

Students are highly encouraged to participate in performance ensembles and study music in the classroom. Nonmajors and nonminors wishing to take performance beyond the second year must be taking or have already taken two 4-credit classroom courses in music (MUS 100 Fundamentals of Music does not count).


Performance courses require an additional fee, which is waived for music majors and minors. The fee is currently $690 per semester, but subject to change yearly. There is financial aid available to defray the cost of performance for nomusic majors and minors. For students on Smith grant financial aid, the college contributes $200 per semester towards the fee. The music department also has a limited source of funds to provide scholarships specifically for performance fees. Students may apply each semester for these scholarships by submitting a completed form to the Music Department office.


If the student drops before the end of the 5-week drop period, she must pay for their lessons up to that point (including unexcused absences). If the student drops beyond the 5-week drop period, she must pay the entire semester’s fee. If the student uses a Free Drop, she must still pay part/all of the performance fee, depending on whether she dropped before or after the end of the 5-week drop period. If the student has received financial aid from Student Financial Services, SFS will determine whether all or a portion of the aid should be returned to the college. If the student has received Music Department Scholarships, the scholarship will continue to apply to whatever portion of the fee the student has to pay. For example, if the student drops within the 5-week drop period, the scholarship will be prorated to cover only those lessons; the remainder must be returned to the Music Department. If the student drops after the 5-week drop period and must therefore pay the entire fee, the entire scholarship will continue to apply. Any student who takes an initial lesson or two and decides not to register for the course is responsible for paying for the individual lessons taken.


Sage Hall has numerous practice rooms, equipped with pianos and music stands. These are available on a first-come, first-served basis to Smith College students, with first preference given to students taking performance courses and members of Music Department ensembles.


Lockers of various sizes are available in Sage Hall for students to store their instruments and music. Locker rooms are located near the practice rooms on all four floors. A student may choose a locker of a size appropriate to her need; it is required that she then fill out a Locker Use Form for the Music Office to register the locker as hers for the year. Students must provide their own locks; locks are available at the Campus Center Bookstore. Students may retain lockers for the duration of the academic year. They must leave them empty and clean at the end of spring semester. If storage is needed over the summer, it must be approved and arranged with the Music Office. The Music Department is not responsible for the condition or security of contents of the lockers.


There is no online registration for performance courses. Each student must fill out a performance registration form and bring it to her first lesson. The teacher, after verifying the accuracy and completeness of the form and whether requirements have been met, signs the form. The student then submits the signed form to the Registrar’s Office in College Hall before the deadline. Performance registration forms are available online or at the Registrar’s and music offices. Deadline: The end of the second week of classes.

Performance study requires a year-long commitment. First- and second-year students normally take lessons in addition to a regular course load. With permission of the instructor, a student in the third or fourth year may register for 8 credits within or above a regular program. No more than 24 credits in performance courses may be counted toward graduation.

Courses carry the following numbering sequence, credits and section letters. Regardless of their level of skill, all students begin with the MUS914Y, First Year Performance.

Smith College reserves the right to make changes to all announcements and course listings online, including changes in its course offerings, instructors, requirements for the majors and minors, and degree requirements.

MUS 914Y First Year Performance

Full-year course
{A} Credits: 2 per semester, 4 for yearlong course

MUS 924Y Second Year Performance

Full-year course
{A} Credits: 2 per semester, 4 for yearlong course

MUS 930Y Advanced Performance

Advanced level for variable credit (4 or 8 credits). Can be repeated once. Prerequisite: MUS 924Y

Full-year course
{A} Credits: 2 or 4

MUS 940Y Performance for the Concentration

Intensive preparation for a senior recital for those admitted to the Concentration in Performance. Two-hour lessons per week. Prerequisites: four semesters of performance for credit or the equivalent; audition and permission of the department.

{A} Credits: 4 per semester, 8 for yearlong course


General Performance Study

In addition to private lessons, the music department offers the following general performance courses:

MUS 901 Chamber Music Ensemble

Open on a limited basis to qualified students who are studying their instruments. This course requires a one-hour lesson and two hours of practice per week. May be repeated. Permission of the instructor required.

{A} Credits: 1
Judith Gordon, Joel Pitchon
Offered every semester

MUS 903 Conducting

Introduction to the art of conducting. The class will examine philosophical and practical aspects of the modern conductor's role. Topics include a musical gestural vocabulary, baton technique, and score study/internalization of the printed page. Prior music performance experience and study of Western music theory is highly recommended; admission by permission of the instructor. May be repeated for credit.

{A} Credits: 2
Joseph Baldwin
Offered Fall 2013

MUS 905 Five College Opera Production: Topic: Street Scene (Kurt Weill)

Prerequisite: admission by audition. S/U only.

{A} Credits: 1
Jane Bryden
Offered Interterm 2014