The Department of Music at California State University, Stanislaus offers a high-quality, comprehensive musical education for the students as well as rich cultural offerings for the wider regional community. The Department creates a learning environment characterized by outstanding instruction in music education, performance, composition, jazz studies, and music technology informed by primary experiences in performing, teaching, composing, or any other aspect of music making. In all its activities, the Department strives to prepare its graduates to create and perform musical art in as many contexts and settings as possible.

Bachelor of Music

The Bachelor of Music degree program provides an intensive curriculum designed for students wishing to prepare for graduate study in music and for specific professional purposes.

For more information, see the University Catalog and the Core Curriculum Calendar for the Bachelor of Music degree program.

Degree majors include:

The Bachelor of Music degree with a major in choral education provides students with the training necessary to be a successful music educator at all levels of instruction.

Students enjoy a varied and comprehensive curriculum that includes private instruction in voice, an in-depth study of choral conducting and rehearsal techniques, as well as choral methods, materials, and literature. Students also take classes designed to address issues specific to teaching in the elementary school and in the high school music classroom.

Another important component of the choral music education emphasis is the students’ participation in large and small choral ensembles, where they are introduced to a variety of repertoire—including music from the Renaissance to the 21st Century—and also where they start to develop their choral leadership skills by serving as section leaders and/or assistant conductors of these ensembles. The Stanislaus State choirs keep a busy calendar of activities thrroughout the year that includes not only their regular choral concerts but also frequent collaborations with the Opera Workshop and with the Modesto Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.

The Bachelor of Music degree with a major in instrumental education provides students with the training necessary to be a successful music educator at all levels of instruction. Along with individual lessons each semester on a primary instrument, students also enjoy a curriculum that includes courses in all areas of music education including techniques for teaching brass, woodwinds, percussion, strings, as well as the art of conducting. Students also take classes designed to address issues specific to teaching in the elementary school as well as the high school music classroom. The instrumental education degree culminates with the California Credential Program, providing students with the accreditation necessary to teach in California elementary (primary) and secondary schools.

The Bachelor of Music degree with a major in instrumental performance is a preparatory sequence for students interested in pursuing a life as a professional performer. Students are enrolled in private instruction on their primary instrument for one hour each week with outstanding artist faculty. Students also have multiple opportunities for performance including chamber ensembles, wind ensemble, orchestra, new music ensemble, jazz ensemble, and solo recitals. Instrumental performance majors also take classes pertinent to their future career including conducting, string/woodwind/brass techniques, and orchestration. Many students who finish their degree in this program will continue their study at the graduate level.

The Stanislaus State Jazz Studies program is focused on providing an educational environment for future jazz educators and performers. Students involved in Stan State Jazz have numerous opportunities to perform, participate in master classes, study privately, and to pursue independent projects. In addition, the Jazz program offers a comprehensive classroom experience emphasizing performance, composition/arranging, jazz history, pedagogy, styles and analysis, and large and small ensemble playing. The Jazz program also performs a number of outreach activities that are designed to enrich elementary, middle school, and high school students throughout the area, and the community at large. The growing California State University, Stanislaus, Jazz Studies Program welcomes participation from students throughout the Stanislaus campus, regardless of major. All jazz ensembles are placed through auditions held at the beginning of each semester, including two big bands, the Latin Ensemble, the Vocal Jazz Ensemble, and 5 Jazz combos. Each year, prominent jazz artists are invited to campus to perform and conduct clinics; in 2009-10 clinics were provided by members of both the Count Basie Orchestra and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.

For more information, please email Ms. Barb Shinaver, Jazz Studies Coordinator, or call (209) 667-3740.

Piano Performance Program Overview

The Piano Performance program at California State University, Stanislaus maintains a long tradition of excellence in the study and instruction of piano and keyboard studies.  Stanislaus State piano faculty, piano majors, and alumni contribute significantly to a growing musical culture on- and off-campus, engaging frequent performances as well as fostering a passion for piano and music instruction that extends throughout the region and beyond. 

At California State University, Stanislaus, piano majors discover a stimulating environment for pianistic study, with frequent opportunities to perform, to assist at the annual Summer Music at Stanislaus Piano Camps, and to engage a variety of musical activities sponsored by both on- and off-campus organizations.  With the small student-teacher ratio, a dynamic student body, fine performing artists and ensembles, and internationally and nationally recognized faculty, students can readily excel in their musical pursuits.  Pianists receive an excellent opportunity to study with a faculty of piano professors who actively engage concert artistry on international, national, and regional stages.  Piano faculty are moreover well-experienced in competition adjudication, masterclass instruction, festival management, research scholarship and lecturing, and compositional craft, engaging important knowledge of professional experience relevant to the discipline as well as outreaching to regional, national, and international communities.

Department of Music Facilities, Keyboard Instruments, and Other Offerings

The facilities of the Department of Music include the Bernell and Flora Snider Recital Hall, an elegant, contemporary building with excellent acoustics and state-of-the-art recording technology; the Music Building, which houses rehearsal, teaching, and practice rooms of various spacing; and the Music Technology Lab, which features a ten-station Macintosh computer lab furnished with Pro Tools, Sibelius and other digital technology.  The department possesses an excellent collection of keyboard instruments, including an outstanding Steinway concert grand piano and an exquisite Dowd harpsichord housed in Snider Music Recital Hall.  Within the Music Building, instruments include newer Steinway, Mason and Hamlin, Kawai, and Boston pianos as well as a classroom lab of digital piano lab. 

Music students often enjoy the beautiful setting where the music facilities are located, finding the water-rich, tree-lined park environment of the western part of campus conducive to focused music study and artistic creativity.  Students also frequently enjoy the opportunity to experience the many fine cultural events offered locally, regionally, and nationally.  With the Stanislaus State campus situated in travel proximity to Modesto, Stockton, Fresno, Sacramento, San Jose, San Francisco, and the Bay Area, students have easy access to an array of artistic offerings that further inform their educational and cultural experience of the musical arts.

Bachelor of Music (B.M) Degree Program in Piano Performance

The Bachelor of Music (B.M.) degree program in Piano Performance is designed for advanced pianists for whom piano performance and teaching is the major emphasis.  Piano performance majors engage a well-rounded curriculum designed to equip them with essential advancing pianistic and musical skills useful toward a successful career in performing and teaching.  Alongside high-level training in applied piano performance, students receive a comprehensive undergraduate education in the study of keyboard literature, piano pedagogy, piano accompanying and collaborative arts.   Courses within the curriculum include weekly hour-long applied piano lessons, pedagogical instruction in studio and class piano teaching, training in accompanying methods and collaborative arts, and studies in keyboard literature from the Renaissance to the Contemporary eras.  The core program of keyboard studies is complemented with an excellent curriculum of courses in music theory, music history, music performance, and liberal arts studies.  Throughout their undergraduate years, piano performance majors gain significant opportunities to perform, present lecture-demonstrations, and engage introductory experience in pre-college piano teaching.  Intended for students concentrating on a career in solo and collaborative concert performance as well as in piano teaching, the piano performance degree program furthermore aims to prepare students for studies at the graduate level.  Prospective piano majors are encouraged to contact Dr. Sarah Chan at or (209)-667-3429 for more information.

About the Piano Performance Curriculum

In addition to intensive training in Piano Performance through weekly applied lessons, and performance and masterclass opportunities, the Bachelor of Music degree program in Piano Performance offers the piano major comprehensive development through a well-balanced curricular offering of courses in Piano Pedagogy, Collaborative Arts/Accompanying, and Piano Literature.

The Piano Pedagogy sequence—comprised of Piano Pedagogy I, MUS 4450, and Piano Pedagogy II, MUS 4451—offers comprehensive training in the instruction of piano students at beginning through intermediate levels.  The courses include study of both the theoretical aspects of teaching—including educational learning theories—and the practical aspects of merging knowledge with understanding and practice.  Topics include the study of international educational learning theories and approaches; age-appropriate instructional methods; teaching through effective reading and technical perspectives; tone production and sound projection at the piano; ear-training, improvisation, and composition; technique and etude study; developing student musicianship and artistry; preparing students for studio classes, recitals, and competitions; caring for the business aspects of developing and maintaining a studio, including preparing well-considered studio policies, budgeting, marketing, and tax issues; and incorporating Web-based and software technologies to enhance pupil success.  Courses include opportunities to observe studio and class piano teachers as well as engage hands-on teaching of beginning and intermediate students.  Through pedagogy study at Stanislaus State, piano majors will develop a thoughtful teaching philosophy informed by understanding and practical experience, and will  furthermore be equipped with a solid foundation upon which to start independent studio teaching.

The Collaborative Piano/Accompanying sequence—Collaborative Piano/Accompanying I, MUS 3620 and Collaborative Piano/Accompanying II, MUS 3621—prepares the piano major with a foundation of skills and understanding vital to the role of piano accompaniment and collaborative artistry.  Topics are tailored to each course and class, with beginning courses focused on choral and congregational accompanying and music leadership (focusing on SATB chorale four-part open-/closed- score reading, and diverse matters of performance preparation); keyboard improvisation and composition; and accompanying for opera, ballet, and/or musical theatre.   Advanced courses incorporate topics such as reading simple figured bass, open chamber and orchestral scores; collaborative performance of vocal art song and instrumental chamber music; collaborative performance of four-hand and/or two-piano works.  Courses are taught as a hybrid of practicum workshop and lecture style classes that address intermediate and advanced issues of collaborative playing.  Students will have the opportunity to engage their practice through internal and external performance opportunities. 

The Piano Literature sequence—comprised of Piano Literature I, MUS 4452, and Piano Literature II, MUS 4453—offers a study on the development of Western keyboard music through the Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Contemporary periods.  Students will also study important works from the major keyboard repertoire to develop their understanding of significant compositional procedures, trends, and styles specific to major keyboard composers.  Other topics studied include instrumental technology and tuning, perspectives in historical performance practice, and issues of interpretive performance artistry in analysis and practice.

Entrance-Scholarship Audition Information

Students interested in majoring in piano performance should demonstrate a substantially advanced level of pianistic training before considering the piano performance track.  A limited number of merit-based scholarships are available to the most outstanding pianists intent on majoring in piano performance, with scholarship consideration administered through entrance-scholarship auditions.  (Senior high school students who win the Sylvia M. Ghiglieri Piano Competition can automatically qualify for scholarship consideration if applying for University admission as piano performance majors for the subsequent academic year.  See Ghiglieri Music Festival page)  Scholarships are given as four-year awards for entering freshmen, and two- to three-year awards for transfer students.  

Piano auditions occur in the Spring semester of each academic year.  Pianists interested in applying for a performance scholarship should audition in the Spring prior to the intended year of academic enrollment.  Prospective students should schedule an audition time with the Music Recruitment Coordinator at or (209) 667-3844 and are expected to have applied for University admission prior to auditioning with the Department of Music.  Guidelines to University application and Department of Music audition procedures:

University Admissions Deadlines and Procedures

  • General University Admission: Main application deadline of October-November for subsequent Fall admittance; possible additional deadline of August for subsequent Spring semester admittance (if open). See specific dates on Admissions website.
  • International Student University Admissions: Main application deadline around June 1 for subsequent Fall admittance; possible additional November deadline for subsequent Spring admittance (if open).  See International Education website for specific dates, and contact the Office of International Admissions for further information.

Department of Music Entrance-Scholarship Auditions

  • Audition dates are posted on the "Entrance and Scholarship Audition Information" webpage.  Prospective students need to contact the Music Recruitment Coordinator to set up a specific time and date for their audition.  International students living abroad at the time of application and for whom overseas travel presents an extenuated difficulty may send a video recording of a live performance either by weblink or by DVD; please contact the Music Recruitment Coordinator for more information.
  • Piano Audition Requirements: Please refer to the Piano Audition Requirements document for a full description of repertoire and sightreading requirements.  The audition comprises a 10-minute performance of two solo pieces in contrasting styles, selected from two contrasting musical eras; a 1-minute sightreading assessment is also administered.

Pre-College Piano Competitions/Events

The Bachelor of Music degree with a major in vocal performance is a preparatory sequence for students interested in pursuing a life as a professional singer. Students are enrolled in private instruction in voice for one hour each week with outstanding artist faculty. Students also have multiple opportunities for performance on and off campus. In addition to the Opera Workshop, which each semester presents a program of fully staged scenes or complete works (opera, operetta, and musical theater), students have multiple opportunities to perform as soloists with the university choral ensembles in performances of major works with orchestra and smaller instrumental ensembles. Vocal performance majors also take classes relevant to their future career, including lyric diction, solo/vocal literature, and vocal pedagogy. Many students who finish their degree in this program will continue their study at the graduate level. Recent graduates from the vocal performance program have been admitted to some of the most prestigious graduate music programs in the country, such as Indiana University, The Peabody Conservatory of The Johns Hopkins University, University of Southern California, New England Conservatory, Westminster Choir College, University of Colorado – Boulder, Boston University, and more.

Students who pursue the Bachelor of Music in Composition develop a portfolio of compositions representative of musical styles studied in the theory sequence and in upper-division composition lessons. Student compositions are performed in annual new music festivals as well as in other large and small ensemble concerts. Composition students have opportunities to meet well-respected composers in regional and national conferences held at the University, as well as in guest lectures and master classes.

Bachelor of Arts

The Bachelor of Arts in Music degree program provides a humanistic approach to the study of music as a significant part of human tradition and culture. As a liberal arts curriculum, the Bachelor of Arts is not intended as vocational preparation, although many career opportunities may be open to students with such a background.

For more information, see the University Catalog and the Core Curriculum Calendar for the Bachelor of Arts degree program.

Emphasis areas include:

The BA in General Music is designed to provide a foundation in music theory, history and literature and a broad overview of music through a variety of elective courses.

Students pursuing the Bachelor of Arts degree with an emphasis in music technology prepare an electronic portfolio of representative work undertaken during the degree course sequence. This includes the use of various software and hardware in the production of electronic content which includes MIDI, audio recording, engineering, mixing, mastering, and post-production. Students also gain experience by serving as recording technicians for music department events.

Liberal Studies Concentration in Music

Students who wish to pursue a Multiple Subject Credential may elect music as a concentration in the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Liberal Studies, which is a pre-professional Subject Matter Preparation Program.

For further information please contact the Department of Liberal Studies.

Minor in Music

The music minor is designed for the musician who has chosen another major, but wishes to gain some of the educational benefits of the music major. The minor may easily be completed in two years; however, most students remain actively involved with the Department throughout their academic program. The Minor in Music is an excellent supplement to all degree programs. Get more information in the University Catalog.

Updated: February 26, 2024