Prospective Undergraduate FAQ

Q. How many music students attend Case Western Reserve University Music?

A. The number of undergraduate majors varies from about 80 to about 100, and the number of graduate students is usually about 50. In addition, we teach required courses to students at the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM), with which we have a Joint Music Program.

Q. What is the Joint Music Program?

A. The Joint Music Program (JMP) has been in existence between the neighboring institutions, CWRU and CIM, since 1968. Basically, CIM teaches lessons and undergraduate theory to CWRU students, and CWRU teaches music history and other classes, including non-music classes, to CIM students. We thus teach required courses for each other, but the institutions are completely independent.

Q. What undergraduate programs are available in the CWRU Department of Music?

A. The two undergraduate degree programs in Music are a BA in Music and a BS in Music Education, the latter of which leads to teacher licensure. Unlike CIM, we do not offer a BM degree.

Q. Why is the Music Education major a BS rather than a BA?

A. BS designations are given to undergraduate degree programs whose curricula include more than a certain number of required courses. Because the state of Ohio and the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) mandate so many courses in Music Education, the degree is a BS, rather than a BA. All of the foundational music courses in music history and theory are identical between the two degrees, however

Q. What are the music theory requirements for incoming students?

A. A student’s first music theory course assignment will be determined by a theory diagnostic exam that is administered during freshman orientation. The exam tests written fundamentals, ear training, and sight singing. More information on the exam and how to prepare for it can be found here.

Q. Is it possible to do a double major with Music and another subject?

A. Yes. Unlike many other schools, CWRU has long encouraged students to pursue multiple interests intensively, and a double major with another other Department in the College of Arts & Sciences is common among our students. It is also possible to do a dual degree in Music and Engineering (BA and BS), but there, additional requirements may mean an extra semester or even extra year in order to fulfill all of the requirements for both degrees. We frequently have students complete both degrees in four years, but it requires a very heavy academic load. There is also a dual degree between CWRU and CIM, where students complete a performance degree at CIM and a BS in Music Education at the same time. Such students matriculate at one or the other school and do not have to pay double tuition.

Q: What ensemble opportunities are offered through the Department of Music?

A: The Department of Music offers a wide variety of ensembles ( vocal and instrumental ) that are open to all CWRU affiliated students regardless of major. The Ensembles webpage will give more specific information about what groups are available and how to join.

Q: Do ensembles require an audition?

A: Yes.  All ensembles require a placement audition and permission from the director.  Auditions take place in the fall during orientation or the first week of class. The Ensembles webpage will give more specific information.  Interested students should contact the ensemble director by email with any questions.

Q. How are lessons handled?

A. Students are assigned a teacher at CIM based on availability and assessment of needed skill development. Some are members of the Cleveland Orchestra, which is down the block from us, but all are expert teachers of their respective performance media.

Q. Is there a cost for lessons?

A. CWRU pays CIM for teaching lessons to all of our music majors. This includes lessons on a student’s primary instrument beyond the requirement for the B.A. or B.S. degree, and also secondary lessons where applicable. All non-majors, including music minors, pay an “Applied Music Fee,” which is added to the term bill each semester. 

Q. What about popular music?

A. Since 1998, the CWRU Music Department has had a relationship with Cleveland’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and, more recently, its Archive, which opened at Cuyahoga Community College in 2012. We have had several undergraduate music majors over many years who have gone on to careers in popular music (Jim Brickman, for example), and many who have taken advantage of the outstanding opportunities in Jazz. Recently we have increased our course offerings in popular music, begun offering applied instruction in popular music performance, and founded a Popular Music Ensemble, and founded a Center for Popular Music Studies.

Q. Are there any music theater opportunities at CWRU?

A. The Music Department currently offers no formal program in music theater., although we do have faculty with expertise as performers, teachers, and scholars. Students with interest in musical theater generally participate in the Footlighters, a student-run campus organization that mounts a Broadway show each semester.

Q. What is the “Early Music” mentioned in Music Department informational materials?

A. Historical Performance Practice has long been an internationally-renowned graduate specialty on the Music History side of the Department. It refers to the study of how music was performed in earlier centuries (mostly, the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque periods), taking into account techniques of articulation, ornamentation, tempo, tuning, and so on. Recently, we have begun expanding our coverage of music studied in this way to include more recent eras, including the Classical and Early Romantic periods, and thus, to reflect that change, we have begun to call it Historical Performance Practice. We have courses and ensembles active in this area, including the Case/CIM Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Ensembles, and the Collegium Musicum. Undergraduates are welcome to participate in these ensembles by audition, using instruments from the Kulas Historical Instrument Collection.

Q. What is the “Kulas” name on so many things?

A. Elroy John Kulas and his wife, Fynette H. Kulas, were Cleveland philanthopists who focused their giving on college and university music programs in northeast Ohio. Mr. Kulas, who died in 1952, was an executive in the steel industry. He and his wife had no children, so in 1937 they established the Kulas Foundation as a means to organize their charitable giving. Most area music schools and departments (including Oberlin, Baldwin-Wallace, CWRU and CIM) have Kulas halls, libraries, and professorships, and the Foundation is still a vital benefactor for music in our region.

Q. Do CWRU students have any relationship with the Cleveland Orchestra?

A: The Cleveland Orchestra performs in Severance Hall, which is in the middle of the CWRU campus and, in fact, the land on which it sits is leased to the Orchestra by the University. Several members of the Orchestra are currently on the faculty at CIM and, thus, are sometimes among faculty available to teach lessons to CWRU students. All CWRU music majors are eligible to receive a season pass (at no cost) to attend all Cleveland Orchestra concerts, including the summer concert series. All other CWRU students are given reduced tickets rates through the Severance Hall Box Office. Lastly, music students in the JMP are eligible to attend selected rehearsals of the Orchestra

Q. What opportunities exist for students who want to major in something other than Music?

A. There are various levels of non-major involvement in Music. A minor in the Department of Music, for example, consists of 15 credit hours (6 theory, 6 history or appreciation, and 3 others which may be lessons or ensembles for credit). There is great flexibility in courses used to fulfill the minor and the 15 credit hours is only a minimum; there is no limit, though all non-majors pay an Applied Music Fee if they want lessons. Other students just take the occasional class in music, or participate in ensembles throughout their time on campus.

Q. Where do students do individual practice?

A. There are several acoustically isolated practice rooms in Denison/Wade for any CWRU students participating in department ensembles, and three others in Haydn Hall that are available to CWRU students registered for piano/vocal lessons. All music majors have 24-hour access to these spaces. Practice in individual dorm rooms is discouraged, though there are music rooms in the Village at 115 dorm complex, which is for upperclass undergraduates

Q. What is the “Core” on signs around Haydn Hall?

A. The Core is our dedicated music computer classroom and lab in the basement of Haydn Hall. It’s a Mac operation that has been in existence, in one form or another, since Macs were introduced in 1984, and provides students the opportunity to use specialized software that they might not have access to on their own computers, sign out digital equipment, and receive one-on-one instruction for software and equipment.

Q. What is the Maltz Performing Arts Center project?

A. The Temple Tifereth Israel, the historic gold-domed building to the west of campus (beyond the Cleveland Museum of Art), has been designated as a new Performing Arts Center for the CWRU Departments of Music, Theater, and Dance. With funding from the Maltz family, the sanctuary will be converted into our own large concert hall, and there will be additional performance spaces, including a recital hall, a black box theater, a proscenium stage, along with some classrooms, rehearsal studios, and offices. Planning is well underway for this renovation and construction…check back soon for a projected opening date!

For general information about undergraduate programs in music at CWRU, please contact:

Jennifer Wright | Coordinator, Department Operations | Undergraduate Recruiting & Admission
Case Western Reserve University
Department of Music 
11118 Bellflower Road | Haydn Hall Room 201
Cleveland, OH 44106-7105 
Office: 216.368.2400 | Fax: 216.368.6557 | Email:  
Department of Music | Case Western Reserve University

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