Department of Music, College of Fine and Performing Arts
109-111 credits minimum
Music composition majors learn a variety of skills enabling them to express their musical ideas in an effective manner that allows for performance of their creations. Each student receives private composition instruction along with instruction in basic music theory, music history, conducting, lessons on their major instrument or voice, and ensemble performance. While composition instruction will cover all modes, genres, and periods, students may elect to concentrate their creativity on one or more specific areas. Instruction will include introduction and advanced courses in the use of computer hardware and software.
Why Consider a Music Composition Concentration?
The Music Department at Western Washington University is centered around a community of collaboration and support where all are welcome and encouraged to learn, explore and create in a positive nurturing environment. Western graduates become successful teachers, performers, composers and leaders in all fields of music. The strength of Western’s Department of Music is its faculty’s commitment to students and helping them achieve their goals and aspirations.
Professional Composer for Orchestras, Choirs or Wind Bands | Professional Composer for Movies, Video Games or Television | Music Critic | Composer of Popular Music | Engineer/Mixer
Admission and Declaration Process:
General WWU vs. Music Admissions: Acceptance to the Music Department does not guarantee admission to the general university. Decisions related to general admissions are completed independently by the University. Students may request and complete a music audition regardless if they have received their admissions decision by the WWU admissions office.
Admissions/Audition: All students must successfully complete an Entrance Audition on their instrument or voice. Prospective Composition majors must also submit a portfolio of previous work for faculty review. Please visit our website for priority audition dates. Students who audition after these priority dates will be considered on a space available basis. Due to the sequential nature of our curriculum, mid-year applicants are not recommended or guaranteed to be granted an audition. Students electing to begin in a quarter other than Fall should seek advisement through the Program Coordinator before requesting an audition. cfpa.wwu.edu/music/auditions
Declaration and Advising: All incoming music students will receive advising and curriculum planning with the Program Coordinator during orientation sessions and/or by appointment. Declaration is required to access all academic coursework. Overrides will be entered prior to orientation and/or by appointment to obtain access to all program restricted courses before declarations have been processed. Please see below for more details.
- Freshman: Freshman will declare their music major during Fall Advising & Orientation. Students who intend to double major may be placed into another advising session if deemed appropriate by the Program Coordinator. Students intending to double major will be asked to notify the Program Coordinator before Fall Advising & Orientation. These students will receive an email prior to Fall A&O with specific instructions for Music registration and declaration.
- Transfer: Transfer students will declare their music major during Transition Orientation, Transitions, or by appointment with the Program Coordinator. Declaration is required to obtain access to all major restricted courses. Overrides will be entered prior to Transitions, or by appointment to give preliminary access to major restricted courses before major declarations are processed.
- Returning Students: Returning students will declare their music major by appointment with the Program Coordinator. Returning students should contact the Program Coordinator prior to registration in order to obtain access to major restricted courses.
Graduation Timeline: Due to the sequential nature of our core curriculum, we strongly recommend that all students considering a Bachelor of Music degree (BMus) in Performance, Composition, History & Literature, and Music Education begin our music core sequences the Fall quarter of their first year. These majors are designed around a curriculum that takes approximately four years to complete. Additionally, the Music Education degree has an approximate graduation timeline between year four and five. Please note, the approximate graduation timeline does not apply to all students, and is dependent on each student’s incoming status, eligibility for placement exams, and academic progress within the department.
Placement Exams: Placement exams in Music Theory, Aural Skills, and Keyboarding are given only to students who have successfully passed an Entrance Audition on their primary instrument or voice. All auditioned students are eligible for placement exams if they meet the following eligibility requirements.
Theory and Aural Skills (Ear Training): Students are eligible to complete placement exams if they have successfully completed the AP Theory Exam with a 3 or higher, or have successfully completed college level courses in the corresponding subject at another institution.
Keyboarding (Class Piano): Students are eligible to complete the keyboarding placement exam if they have successfully completed college level class piano courses at another institution. Those that have completed piano lessons will not be eligible to test out of our sequence without the completion of class piano at another institution. These students will instead be placed into an advanced keyboarding sequence.
Scheduling: Placement exams are scheduled each Fall quarter before term begins. Those that are attempting to start a major in Winter and Spring quarter will be given placement exams on an individual basis contingent on faculty and room availability. Students attempting to start the major Winter or Spring quarter should contact our Program Coordinator as soon as possible to determine eligibility and to schedule exams. Study materials are available on request after a successful audition. Contact Program Coordinator for more details.
Placement Exam Advising: Students should be advised that they are not guaranteed to enter at their expected level. Students must complete the entire core sequence of theory, aural skills and keyboarding as a pre-requisite to all upper division core requirements. All credits received in theory, aural skills, and keyboard skills previously at other institutions will be transferred at the level for which it was earned, and may apply toward fulfillment of elective requirements for the major in music or in music education. Students may be required to repeat theory and/or aural skills/keyboarding skills courses previously taken at another institution.
A grade of C- or better is required for all Music Major and Minor courses. A minimum GPA of 2.5 in music courses is required for graduation with a degree in music.