Contact Information

Address:  102 Thomas Fine Arts
Phone:  906-227-2563
Fax:  906-227-2165
Web Address:
Department Email:

Music at NMU


The Music Department educates students, the university community and the general public in music of many different kinds. Northern Michigan University is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Music.

The department supports a wide variety of ensemble programs that are open to all students. The varied ensembles serve an array of functions including the laboratory experience for music majors. Musical enrichment for the university community is a high priority for the department. The department offers teachers and other community members the opportunity to refine their musicality and increase their musical skill and understanding. Recitals by both faculty and students enhance the area’s cultural environment throughout the academic year.

Non-music majors are encouraged to minor in music and take part in any of the department’s ensemble programs. When space is available, non-music majors may take private lessons from department faculty.


Ensembles and Student Organizations


  • University Orchestra
  • Jazz Band
  • Pep Band
  • Marching Band
  • Symphonic Band
  • University Choir
  • Chamber Groups
  • Madrigal Choir
  • NAfME (National Association for Music Education)
  • Friends of Jazz


Department Facilities


The department is housed in the newly remodeled Russell Thomas Fine Arts building, which serves as the instructional and rehearsal facility. There are 28 individual practice rooms, two large rehearsal halls (instrumental and choral), an electronic piano lab, and a music technology lab. Recitals and concerts are performed in the new, 303-seat Reynolds Recital Hall, which houses a Walker digital organ and two Steinway grand pianos (concert nine-foot Model D, and seven-foot Model B).


Department/Program Policies


Entrance Requirements
All students must meet all entrance requirements (performance audition and the ability to demonstrate musical aptitude) as outlined in the Music Department Student Handbook in order to continue the major. (Please contact the Music Department directly for detailed information.)

Performance Requirements
A classification system defines four performance levels. All entering freshmen and transfer students who have had no previous university-level performance study are assigned to the 100 performance level. All transfer students with previous university-level performance study are auditioned and assigned the 100 performance level until completing the departmental proficiency exams.

The performance regulations are as follows:

  1. Each student in the bachelor of music education program must complete seven credits of performance study and must be promoted to the 300 level before enrolling in MU 490 Senior Recital. Each student in the bachelor of arts or bachelor of science program must complete a minimum of four credits of performance study and must be promoted to the 300 level in order to graduate.
  2. For the bachelor of music education, five of the seven credit hours in performance must be on one instrument. For the bachelor of arts/bachelor of science, four credit hours must be on one instrument.
  3. Students seeking the bachelor of music education must achieve the 300 level (decision rendered by full faculty) before they are permitted to schedule their senior recital. Students seeking the bachelor of arts or bachelor of science must achieve the 300 level in order to graduate and take MU 491 Senior Project if the project is a performance. All recitalists must pre-audition before faculty two weeks before their recital.
  4. Proficiency assessment from the 100 to 200 level, the 200 to 300 level, and 300 to 400 level is rendered by the full faculty.
  5. Any performance level may be repeated for credit any number of times.

Double performance classes in a single instrument or voice may be necessary for transfer students to make up deficiencies or to qualify for requirements. (See the Music Department Student Handbook.)

Generally, students study in their major performing area to satisfy the performance requirement. Students electing a double major must meet the requirements of areas they select, including ensemble requirements.

Secondary Education Music
Students with a major in secondary education music must maintain a grade point average of 3.0 or greater overall, in the major, and/or minor(s) with no grade below a "B-" in the professional education sequence and no grade below a "C" in the major and/or minor(s).


Grade Point Average Requirements


All music curriculum core courses must be passed with a grade of “C” or higher. A student can have no more than five repeats of “failed” courses in the music major or minor. A minimum grade point average of 2.70 GPA is required for the bachelor of science and bachelor of arts degrees. A 3.0 GPA is required for the bachelor of music education degree. In addition to the aforementioned, bachelor of music education degree candidates are required to satisfy the teacher selection and retention standards outlined in the School of Education section of this bulletin.


Piano Level Requirements


Instrumental majors, including pianists, must complete Piano III (MU 140) with a grade of “C” or higher, or test out of this requirement (equivalent to the final in Piano III). Piano I (MU 103) and Piano II (MU 106) may be taken as electives if the student has no previous experience. Choral majors must pass Piano IV or test out of this requirement. Piano I, II and III may be taken as electives if the student has no previous experience.


Large and Small Ensemble Requirements


Music majors are urged to audition for the ensemble of their choice; however, the faculty reserves the right to assign students to particular ensembles in order to obtain balance within the ensemble or to broaden the student’s performance experience. All music majors must participate in a large ensemble from their first semester of enrollment and should continue to participate in consecutive semesters until the ensemble requirement is completed. Normally, two semesters of large ensemble participation will be required to perform the proficiency exam for promotion to the 200 level.

Large ensembles include marching band, symphonic band, university choir and university orchestra.

University choir is highly recommended as an elective for all entering music majors, both instrumental and vocal. The large ensemble requirement for instrumental wind and percussion majors in the bachelor of music education program is marching band in the fall and the symphonic band in the winter.

The large ensemble requirement for vocal majors in the bachelor of music education program is the university choir. The Marquette Choral Society may be substituted only with the written approval of vocal-area faculty.

Instrumental wind, string and percussion non-teaching majors (bachelor of arts, bachelor of science degrees) must complete two credits of large and/or small ensembles. The vocal non-teaching majors must complete four credits of ensemble, of which three semesters must be large ensemble (university choir) and one semester can be chamber music or university choir. The amount of credit for all ensembles is .5 credit.






Additional Requirements


Piano majors who elect the choral specialization must take MU 170 Class Voice or performance lessons for a minimum of one semester.

Music majors must attend a specified number of concerts each semester or the performance grade is lowered. The policies and procedures for lowering of the performance grade is fully described in the Music Department Student Handbook.



Bulletin Year: 2023 - 2024 Undergraduate Bulletin