Academic Department Introduction

The Music Department offers a highly regarded academic program and wide range of outstanding performance activities, creating an ideal environment for students to combine serious musical study with a traditional liberal arts curriculum.

For students who wish to undertake focused exploration of music history, theory, composition, ethnomusicology, digital media, experimental music, and performance practice, our academic curriculum includes programs for a music major or minor. For those who wish to take music as an elective, numerous course offerings require no special background.

Our department comprises three programs: the academic program; the performance program, which welcomes students of all levels to take lessons and participate in ensembles; and our concert series, which brings world-class musicians and artists to campus to present their work and engage directly with students.

Learning goals

  • Read, understand, and interpret music.

  • Recognize specific styles of composers and performers, and identify the progression and evolution of music in space and time.

  • Cultivate creativity with other performers and collaborate with an accompanist, an ensemble, or in chamber music.

  • Find one’s unique style within the performing medium, such as improvisation, and communicate and express emotion though the voice or learned instrument.

  • Use music technology to manipulate sound and create musical compositions, including the production of music in concert, exhibition, and multimedia performance.

Programs of Study

Music major and minor

Students will demonstrate and describe a wide variety of performance practices in styles encompassing classical, jazz, digital, and various world traditions.

Course Highlights

  • Topic for Fall 2024: Global Music Industries. Have you ever wondered how the music you love gets transformed from its inception to a product for eager audiences around the world? Discovering new music is often a combination of personal taste, the influence of our social cohort, and the limitations of what is available through live performance in our neighborhood and online digital music services.  This seminar will take a critical exploration of the different routes that we use to find the music we love.  We will cover a vast array of topics ranging from the ways musical taste changes in time, the use and abuse of streaming digital media, and the mining of musical ideas from the developing world in recent pop music trends.  All students in the seminar will have an opportunity to design a term project on the role of listening among Wellesley students.
  • Topic for Fall 2024: Expressing Race and Gender through New Music. This course takes its spark from recent global and on-campus conversations around race and anti-racism in relation to the arts, particularly music composed and created during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Students will become familiar with “canonical works” by (predominantly male, some female, and mostly white Euro-American) composers. However, the primary focus is on the creative achievements of under-represented composers and musicians identifying as Black, Latinx, East Asian, and Native American. This course inverts the balance by privileging the artistic accomplishments of composers and musicians who usually reside at the margins of “central” conversations. Our goal is to understand what the traditional category of “modernism and music” reveals about history and society from typically less represented cultural/racial/gendered perspectives. Students will undertake critical listening/viewing/reading assignments and reflect on live performances through writing.

Places and spaces

  • BlueJazz group rehearses in the Grand Salon.

    Performance spaces
    Our department is housed in the historic Jewett Arts Center, which contains the 320-seat Jewett Auditorium, and in Pendleton West, where there are two additional performance spaces: a beautiful chamber music hall (Sargent Music Salon) and a large ensemble practice space (Grand Hall).

  • Rows of bookshelves. The nearest is labeled Performing and Interpretation: Music and...Art, Lyrics, Movement

    Music library
    Containing a rich, diverse collection of Western classical music, jazz, world music, musical theater, and popular music, the library has over 10,000 CDs of every kind of music and collections of music online, available 24/7 to the Wellesley College community.

  • Close up of a sheet music as seen over the shoulder of a practicing student.

    Practice rooms
    We have 22 practice rooms, most of which contain Steinway grand pianos.

  • Rows of computer stations setup with headphones and piano keyboards.

    Sound lab
    Providing state-of-the-art workstations for computer music composition, keyboard harmony, and theory instruction, the lab serves as both classroom and computer lab.

Research highlights

Our faculty is composed of academics and musicians whose credentials include concerts and shows at acclaimed venues, collaborations with music luminaries, recordings, and live broadcasts. They also teach at local conservatories and music schools.


  • Wellesley College Concert Series

    Presenting classical, jazz, early music, electronic, and world music, the series features visiting artists and performing faculty, as well as performances by our faculty-directed student ensembles. Watch recordings of past concerts on YouTube.

  • Performing ensembles

    Ensembles, directed by faculty members, include the Brandeis-Wellesley Orchestra, the Chamber Music Society, Wellesley College Choir, Chamber Singers, Collegium Musicum, Wellesley BlueJazz Ensemble Program, Yanvalou Drum and Dance Ensemble, and the Guild of Carillonneurs.

  • Private instruction

    We offer private instruction in voice as well as a wide variety of instruments, in classical, jazz, and world music genres.

Beyond Wellesley

Beyond Wellesley

Many of our graduates pursue careers related to music—playing, performing, recording, teaching—with some earning advanced degrees. Whatever their field, music continues to play a significant role in their work.

Department of Music

Jewett Arts Center
106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481
Kaleb Goldschmitt
Department Chair
Dagny von Mering, Felicity Salmon
Academic Administrators