The Occidental Music Department is a community that values and cultivates the creation, performance, and critical study of the world's music. We believe that music, as one of the original liberal arts, is best studied in the context of the liberal arts, and thus aspire for our students to become well-rounded scholar-musicians. Students majoring in music develop an integrated understanding of music as creative work, as cultural and historical expression, and as performance. Through the rigorous study of composition, performance, music production, popular and vernacular music, conducting, music theory, musicianship, and music history, music majors acquire a complete set of skills that they can apply to their own area of musical expertise.

In addition to courses requiring an ability to read music, the Music Department offers private lessons from world-class performance faculty, as well as a wide array of courses in subjects including popular music, jazz, opera, music production, and music from various world traditions. Students collaborate with local arts organizations, pursue for-credit internships in the music industry, and routinely attend lectures, master classes, and live concerts by renowned musical artists.

Because of the quality, breadth, and depth of Occidental College's liberal arts curriculum, the music major enables students to pursue music professionally or begin careers in a wide variety of other fields. Recent alumni have gone on to careers in conducting, film composing, music publishing, arts management, music education, and singing, to name a few, as well as in medicine, geology, classics, and finance.

The development of musical craft and artistry requires time as well as effort. Students considering a major or minor in music are urged to begin taking music theory courses and private lessons in their first year. New students who are undecided about majoring in music may begin their music studies in their second year and still complete the major. However, students planing to study abroad in their third year must begin their music theory studies during their first year. Students study, practice, and perform in Booth Music Hall (including our music library) and Thorne Hall, with 24-hour access to practice rooms and an electronic music studio.