Music for All

Students from ANY MAJOR are invited to join our music ensembles!

You can not only enjoy creating music together, but earn credit as well. Our ten exciting choral and instrumental ensembles perform frequently throughout the school year. Although some groups require an audition, students do not have to be music majors to participate. Many ensembles can be joined at mid-year. The ensembles (except for Pep Band) earn .5 credits per semester (credits can be waived for students taking 16 or more credits to avoid paying additional fees). 

Explore our ensembles below and then click the yellow button at the bottom of the page to let us know what you're interested in.


NMU Arts Chorale

Arts Chorale

The Northern Michigan University Arts Chorale is a prestigious ensemble of voices that maintains an active performance schedule presenting a choral repertoire from all periods of music. This ensemble is open to music majors and non-majors by audition. 

Arts Chorale meets four times per week (MTWR 1-1:50pm) and performs multiple times throughout the semester. The course number is MU108.  

Learn more: Choral Director Dr. Erin Colwitz, 906-227-2308 


NMU Pep Band at Rokerthon 3

Athletic Pep Bands

NMU pep bands ramp up the energy at NMU hockey games, fast-paced basketball games, as well as at pep rallies and other events (such as when the Today Show's Rokerthon came to campus in 2017 as shown above). Students participating in Marching Band or Symphonic Band are eligible to participate in this non-credit, extra-curricular activity.

Learn more: Band Director Dr. Stephen Grugin, 906-227-1040.


Far North Brass Group photo

Chamber Ensembles

Various chamber groups are assembled each semester depending on educational goals and availability of players. These groups are supervised by individual faculty and rehearse a minimum of two times each week. Students interested in participating in a chamber ensemble should contact the appropriate faculty member.  Participation is open to all NMU students. The course number is MU118.

Learn more: Music Department Office, 906-227-2563.


NMU Jazz Band

NMU Jazz Band

The NMU Jazz Band is a standard big band that performs many concerts throughout the school year and has toured Michigan as well as Wisconsin. The ensemble performs standard literature by well-known jazz composers. This group is the featured ensemble at the yearly NMU Jazz Festival, and has performed with many prominent artists in recent years including trumpeters Clark Terry, Ingrid Jensen saxophonists James Moody, Bob Mintzer, and Jim Snidero; trombonists John Fedchock, Dean Sorenson, and Michael Davis; pianists Jim McNeely and Bill Carrothers; drummer Peter Erskine; and guitarist Mike Stern.

The NMU Jazz Band is open to music majors and non-music majors selected through competitive auditions at the beginning of each semester. The ensemble meets three times per week: 12:00-12:50 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, & Friday.  The course number for Jazz Band is MU117. 

Learn more: Jazz Band Director Dr. Mark Flaherty at 906-227-1037.


OM Winter 23 Poster

Open Mind (OM) Ensemble

Under the direction of Patrick Booth, OM (Open Mind) New Music Ensemble presents non-traditional experimental music performances.  The OM Ensemble’s adventurous programming offers listeners and performers a unique music experience. Performances feature conventional and unconventional composition techniques, improvisation, and interdisciplinary collaborations with visual artists, dancers, poets, etc.

OM is open to all NMU students. The ensemble rehearsal schedule varies from semester to semester depending on student and faculty schedules.  The course number for Open Mind Ensemble is MU118 (register for the section called OM Ensemble!). 

Learn more: Contact Patrick Booth at 906-227-2567


Singer in Sweeney Todd

Opera Theatre Workshop

Opera Theatre Workshop provides practical experience in the performance of operatic scenes or chamber operas. One production is presented each year during the winter semester.  Projects range from full light operas with orchestra to small chamber operas performed in local schools.  The course number is MU174.

Learn more:  Music Department Office, 906-227-2563


NMU Drumline

Percussion Ensemble

The NMU Percussion Ensemble is devoted primarily to the NMU Marching Band drumline during the fall semester and is a concert ensemble during the winter semester. This chamber ensemble performs a wide variety of music, including contemporary works, world music and standard literature for percussion ensemble. Traditionally, this ensemble performs a full concert during the month of April. The ensemble has a flexible rehearsal schedule. The course number is MU118.

Learn more: Percussion Ensemble Director Dr. James Strain, 906-227-2574.


NMU Symphonic Band

Symphonic Band & Wind Ensemble

The NMU Symphonic Band & Wind Ensemble performs traditional band repertoire as well as transcriptions from symphonic literature. The ensemble has toured the Upper Peninsula, performing concerts at area high schools. It meets during the winter semester, three days a week (Monday, Wednesday and Thursday) from 4 - 4:50 p.m. The ensemble is open to all university students. Auditions—which occur after the semester has started—are held to determine chair seating. Non-music majors may audition for service awards to participate in the ensemble. The course number is MU113. 

Learn more: Band Director Dr. Stephen Grugin, 906,227-1040.


University Choir at St. Peter Cathedral

University Choir

The University Choir performs traditional vocal repertoire, both sacred and secular, tours the Upper Peninsula and visits area high schools. The University Choir meets three days a week from 3 - 3:50 p.m Monday, Wednesday and Thursday and is open to all university students. Auditions are held to determine the vocal range of each student. Students may audition for service awards to participate in this ensemble. The course number is MU111. 

Learn more: Director of Choirs Dr. Erin Colwitz, 906-227-2308.


University Orchestra

University Orchestra

The NMU Orchestra is a symphonic orchestra made of up strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion. Rehearsals are 4 - 5:50 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays during the academic year. This ensemble is open to music majors, music minors, and non-music majors wishing to perform with an orchestra. It is a requirement for string majors, and an enriching opportunity for any student seeking a break from their academic studies. The ensemble performs four times per school year in the beautiful Reynolds Recital Hall, and occasionally in the surrounding community. The course number is MU116.

Learn more: Orchestra Director Dr. Barbara Rhyneer, 906-227-2309.


Instrument checkout and storage


Marching Band spelling out Cats

Wildcat Marching Band

Year after year, audiences in NMU's Superior Dome are thrilled by the exciting musical sounds and intricate marching formations of the Wildcat Marching Band.

We take great pride in performing a different halftime show at each home football game, as well as other venues. The band has many traditions both social and musical, including hosting area high schools for Band Day and the formation of script “Cats” on the field for Homecoming.

Anyone with band experience willing to put in a little work and have a lot of fun is welcome to audition. We’re looking for enthusiastic people who want to continue their musical experience at the collegiate level. Our band consists of the standard woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments—and our color guard, which utilizes flags and other special equipment to add dramatic effect to our performances. The course number is MU 114.

Learn more: Band Director Dr. Stephen Grugin, 906-227-1040.

Pride of the North Marching Band brochure

Marching Band FAQs

Video: What is it like to be in the band?

Video: A Wildcat Halloween