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Performance Study

Hannah Simmons tunes a viola

The music department offers a range of performance courses: individual lessons, which are numbered MUS 914Y, 924Y, 930Y and 940Y; chamber music coaching (MUS 901); conducting (MUS 903); and large ensembles, numbered MUS 951 and above.

Admission to individual lessons, chamber music, and some ensembles is determined by audition during fall semester orientation period and the first days of the semester. Students are accepted on the basis of musicianship, competence and potential. With the exception of voice, some prior experience is assumed. There is a lesson fee which is waived for music majors and minors. Other students may apply for departmental scholarship funds. Information and sign-up sheets for auditions may be found at the Music Department office.

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 departmental approval.

Individual voice or instrument performance courses consist of weekly private lessons, with specific expectations determined by each instructor. Lessons require a yearlong commitment and are normally taken in addition to a regular course load. Two such courses may only be taken concurrently with departmental approval. (This restriction does not apply to enrollment in MUS 901 or MUS 903, or to participation in large ensembles for credit.)

All performance students are encouraged to study music in the classroom. Non-majors and non-minors should talk with their instructors about which courses best complement their interests.

No more than 24 credits in performance may be counted toward graduation. This includes participation in the various large ensembles described below.

All large ensembles are graded on an S/U basis.


Individual Performance Courses

Individual performance lessons carry the following numbering sequence and credits:

MUS 914Y First year of study
This is a full-year course. {8} {A} Credits: 2. Normally offered each academic year

MUS 924Y Second year of study
This is a full-year course. Prerequisite: MUS 914Y. {8} {A} Credits: 2. Normally offered each academic year

MUS 930Y Third and fourth years of study
Prerequisite: MUS 924Y. This is a full-year course. {8} {A} Credits: 2. Normally offered each academic year

MUS 940Y Concentration in Performance
Reserved for seniors who have been approved for Concentration in Performance. Two hours of performance lessons per week during the senior year. {8} {A} Credits: 4. Normally offered each academic year

MUS 901 Chamber Music
Weekly group meetings for exploration and coaching of varied repertory for duos and small ensembles. Open to instrumental students by permission of instructors. May be repeated for credit. {8} {A} Credits: 1. Normally offered both fall and spring semesters

MUS 903 Conducting
Introduction to the art of conducting. This course examines 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; instructor permission required. May be repeated for credit. {8} {A} Credits: 2. Normally offered in alternate years


Large Ensembles: Choral

Encompassing four dynamic and diverse ensembles, the Smith College Choirs perform annually at Commencement and Family Weekends, Montage, Autumn Serenade, Christmas Vespers, at a cappella jams, and at various college events including Opening Convocation and Rally Day. Each choir selects music from a diverse repertoire, including major works for women's choir, jazz, contemporary, and folk music of the U.S. and from international traditions. Every spring, men’s glee clubs from such universities as Harvard, Rutgers, Cornell, Michigan and Virginia come to campus to collaborate with Smith choirs on a major work. Recent performances have included Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Mozart’s Requiem, Orff’s Carmina Burana and Bach’s B-minor Mass. In alternate years, the Smith College Chamber Singers perform on tour in the United States and abroad.

All students, including Ada Comstock Scholars, are welcome to join a Smith choir, regardless of prior experience. First-year students, with no need to audition, sing in the Smith College Chorus. On most occasions the Chorus sings together with the Smith College Glee Club, an ensemble for students who have completed one year of college. All members of the Chorus and Glee Club may audition for the Smith College Chamber Singers, a small and selective ensemble that tours internationally, and for Groove, the choral program’s student-run a cappella group. The Chorus, Glee Club and Chamber Singers rehearse on Mondays and Wednesdays in the late afternoon. Groove rehearses at various times during the week.

MUS 951 Smith College Chorus
{8} {A} Credits: 1; normally offered both fall and spring semesters

MUS 952 Smith College Glee Club
{8} {A} Credits: 1; normally offered both fall and spring semesters

MUS 953 Smith College Chamber Singers
{8} {A} Credits: 1; normally offered both fall and spring semesters


Large Ensembles: Instrumental

MUS 954 Smith College Orchestra
A symphony orchestra open to Smith and Five College students, and members of the community. The orchestra gives at least one concert each semester and performs at annual events such as Family Weekend and Christmas vespers. Rehearsals on Tuesday evenings. {8} {A} Credits: 1; normally offered both fall and spring semesters

MUS 955 Smith College Javanese Gamelan Ensemble
One rehearsal per week; one concert per semester. Open (subject to space) to Smith and Five College students, faculty and staff. No prior experience necessary. Rehearsals on Wednesday evenings. {8} {A} Credits: 1; normally offered both fall and spring semesters

MUS 956 Smith College Jazz Ensemble
The jazz ensemble rehearses once per week on Wednesday evenings 7–9 p.m. in Earle Recital Hall, and performs at least one concert per semester. Favoring traditional big band instrumentation, and performing a variety of jazz styles, the ensemble is open to Smith and Five College students, as well as and members of the community (space permitting, and by permission of the instructor) with all levels of music training. Prior jazz experience is recommended but not required. {8} {A} Credits: 1; normally offered both fall and spring semesters

MUS 957 Smith College Wind Ensemble
One rehearsal per week; at least one concert per semester. Open to Smith and Five College students, faculty, staff and members of the community with prior instrumental experience.{8} {A} Credits: 1; normally offered both fall and spring semesters

MUS 958 Smith College Irish Music Ensemble: The Wailing Banshees
One rehearsal per week; at least one concert per semester. Open by audition or permission of the director to Smith and Five College students, faculty and staff, and members of the community. {8} {A} Credits: 1; normally offered both fall and spring semesters

MUS 959 Handbell Choir
The choir rehearses twice weekly and performs at the Family Weekend Montage concert, the annual Advent Dinner for the Roman Catholic community, Christmas Vespers and the second semester Spring Ring. In addition, the choir occasionally performs in off-campus community concerts. Rehearsals are Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5 p.m. in the John M. Greene Hall Handbell Room. {8} {A} Credits: 1; normally offered both fall and spring semesters