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Conservatory of Performing Arts

BW Music for All: Opportunities for Non-Music Majors

Image of BW Music for All

Music is a beautiful form of expression, whether you consider it a hobby or plan to make it a part of your future career. For non-music major students, there are many opportunities to participate in Baldwin Wallace music programs.

In contrast with auditioning and being accepted in a Conservatory of Performing Arts degree program, BW offers other music opportunities as a way for students who are not pursuing a bachelor of music (B.M.), to continue pursuing their interest in music. This may mean adding a music major or minor, taking music courses or private lessons, performing in an ensemble, auditioning for a production or learning the art of working in the music business. Take a look at the options available to all students through the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory.

  • Photo of Students in African Drum Class

    Introduction to Drumming in the African Diaspora teaches technically safe drumming techniques with hands and sticks, while exploring their application to the music of West Africa, Cuba, Brazil and the United States.

  • Photo of Students with Guitars

    A selection of courses in voice and guitar introduce basic elements to students with little or no music background.

  • Photo of Students in Piano Class

    Greg Upton, lecturer in music history and literature and keyboard, instructs a piano course for non-music majors who have had little or no piano experience.

  • Photo of Trumpet Ensemble

    A selection of Conservatory ensembles are open for all BW students to earn academic credit.

  • Photo of BW Marching Band

    The marching band, also known as the Marching Yellow Jackets, is led by Dr. Andrew Machamer, assistant professor of music education. The band is open to Conservatory and non-music major students during fall semester.

Earn Your BA in Music or a Music Business Degree

BW was recently recognized by Billboard Magazine as one of the "Top Music Business Schools" in the country. In addition to Conservatory music programs and our B.A. in music, BW is proud to offer programs in Arts Management & Entrepreneurship or Music Industry. You can major, double major or minor in a music business degree to prepare for a creative business career.

If you are interested in learning more about these programs, reach out to the Conservatory Admission Office at They can help you to schedule an audition for a spot in the relevant faculty studio.

Music Minor

Adding a music minor, either academic or applied, to your educational experience enables BW students the opportunity to take 20 to 22 credit hours of music-related courses.

Acting, Singing and Dancing Opportunities

BW students interested in acting, singing or dancing while on campus are not limited to auditioning and enrolling in our highly regarded music theatre or acting degree programs. Most on-campus productions host open auditions during the fall semester.

If you're interested in earning a degree in one of these areas, BW's BA in theatre offers tracks in acting/directing as well as dance. A minor in music, theatre or dance also allows you to keep that interest alive and well during your studies at BW. Students can double major, add a minor or take electives across multiple areas to create your own performance experience in line with your professional goals.

Elective Music Courses

If you're not interested in a music major or minor, you have the option to take elective music courses in the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Performing Arts. In fact, non-music majors can take select music courses that will complete certain core requirements. BW has several elective courses open to non-music majors including:

American Pop Music: Study works of American pop musicians from 1865-1965.

Branding, Marketing, and Social Media for Artists: This course examines how to use social media and email marketing to build a brand and develop a marketing plan as an artist.

Diversity Through Music in Disney Films: This course examines representations of diversity, specifically, the topics of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and disability, through the lens of music in Disney and Disney/Pixar films.

Engaging with Music: An introduction to music and its basic elements, focusing on the interaction of these elements in musical styles.

Gender and Sexuality in Popular Music: This course examines popular music, broadly defined to include rock, pop, hip hop, country, and other popular music genres, through the lens of gender and sexuality from the 1970s to the present.

Guitar Class: An introduction to guitar for non-music majors who have little or no guitar experience.

Intermediate Guitar Class: Class instruction to further develop technique and broaden styles introduced in the intro guitar class.

Introduction to Drumming in the African Diaspora: This course introduces students to technically safe drumming techniques with hands and sticks, while exploring their application to the music of West Africa, Cuba, Brazil and the United States.

Jazz Improvisation: This course focuses on the development of basic improvisational skills.

Megamix: American Society Through Music Theatre: This course examines American music theatre as a reflection of American society by looking at how music comes from a multitude of traditions and how the art form addresses a multitude of American cultural and societal issues.

Music Business: This course provides an overview of skills necessary for management roles in the music industry including: contracts, copyright, recording, concert production and promotion, music publishing, touring and digital music.

Music Copyright Law, Publishing, and Licensing: This course provides an overview of legal and professional components of music publishing, copyright and licensing relative to the music industry.

Piano Class: An introduction to piano for non-music majors who have little or no piano experience.

Songwriting: This course will explore what it means to be a contemporary songwriter.

The Art of Listening to Music: An introductory course designed for the non-music major, with the goal of becoming familiar with representative masterpieces of classical music.

The Music of Woodstock: An examination of the performers and music at Woodstock and the effect on American music and society.

Voice Class: An introduction to the basic elements of singing for non-music majors.

Private Lessons

Whether you are a student in one of BW's music programs or not, you can take private lessons through the Conservatory. Students must first audition with faculty in the relevant studio before taking private lessons in the following areas:

  • Brass - trumpet, horn, trombone, euphonium and tuba
  • Woodwind - flute, oboe, clarinet, saxophone, bassoon
  • Percussion
  • Strings - violin, viola, cello, double bass, harp and guitar
  • Keyboard - organ and piano
  • Voice

BW Conservatory Ensembles

You can keep your musical talents sharp by joining one of our Conservatory ensembles while also earning academic credit. Most of our choral and instrumental ensembles hold auditions in the fall semester that are open to all BW students. If offered a spot in a Conservatory ensemble, be sure to plan on adding a credit hour to your semester schedule. All ensembles are audition-based.

  • BW Singers - Our largest curricular choir that sings a wide variety of repertoire from Renaissance motets to Broadway and vocal jazz.
  • Motet Choir - A select ensemble comprised primarily of music majors that serves as the touring choir for the voice program.
  • Symphonic Band - Consists of 60 musicians playing brass, woodwind, and percussion.
  • Symphony Orchestra - Composed of approximately 70 members and includes all string players and selected woodwind, brass and percussion students.
  • Symphonic Wind Ensemble - Comprised of 50 advanced brass, woodwind and percussion students.
  • Treble Choir - A chorus that focuses on a diverse repertoire and innovative performances.
  • University Choir - A select mixed chorus of 48 singers who are responsible for singing the major work at the annual Bach Festival.

Additional Ensembles

  • Bach Festival Orchestra
  • Brass Choir
  • BW Men's Chorus
  • BW Women's Chorus
  • Chamber Ensembles
  • FOCUS Festival Ensembles
  • Jazz Combo
  • Jazz Ensemble
  • Opera Orchestra
  • Percussion Ensemble
  • Pit Orchestra for Musicals

Baldwin Wallace Marching Band

Led by a Conservatory faculty member, the Baldwin Wallace Marching Band, also known as the Marching Yellow Jackets, offers participants a membership within a community of talented musicians, color guard and twirlers. You'll build lasting friendships, earn academic credit and receive a $500 annual scholarship, which is available for both music and non-music majors.

BW Community Arts School

The BW Community Arts School (CAS) offers private instrument and voice lessons to students throughout Northeast Ohio. All BW students are welcome to contact CAS about scheduling lessons, taking a class, or auditioning for one of their ensembles. Please note, unlike private lessons or ensembles through the Conservatory of Performing Arts, students will not earn credit. Learn more about private lessons and ensembles for BW students.


The Conservatory Office of Admission welcomes any other questions you have about our music opportunities. Please call, text or email using the contact info below. We look forward to seeing you around the Conservatory!

Phone: (440) 826-2368
Text: (440) 827-2493