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Oberlin Conservatory of Music
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Contact The
Office of Associate Deans

Conservatory of Music
Bibbins 113
77 West College Street
Oberlin, Ohio 44074-1588

Phone: (440) 775-8200
Fax: (440) 775-8942

M-F 8:30-12:00, 1:30-4:30

E-Mail: Condeans@oberlin.edu


Mary K. Gray
Associate Dean
Student Academic Affairs

Jany Miyake
Associate Dean of
Academic Affairs

Jennifer Gendics
Departmental Technician

For Arts & Science Students


Oberlin College, established in 1833, has a long and distinguished history of education, support and promotion of the arts in general, and music in particular. The music division, now known as the Conservatory, became part of the College in 1867 and continues to educate and train musicians for professional careers. The Bachelor of Music and limited Master of Music programs are offered in the Conservatory and a substantial number of students pursue two degrees in five years, completing the Bachelor of Arts and the Bachelor of Music degrees. In addition, the Conservatory has long provided musical opportunities for students in the Arts and Sciences division of the College. Within the Bachelor of Arts degree there is a major in music, called the College Music Major (see below).

Oberlin is rich with opportunities for musicians at all levels. The Conservatory presents nearly 400 concerts annually, most of them free and open to the public. Nationally known artists in the folk, pop, rock and jazz categories are also featured each year. The Oberlin Artist Recital Series showcases internationally known artists and offers tickets to students at a discounted rate.

Degree Opportunities

Each year, between 30 and 40 Arts and Sciences (A&S) students choose to pursue a major in music (commonly called the College Music Major) with an emphasis in performance, composition, theory/history or TIMARA (Technology in Music and Related Arts) through the Bachelor of Arts degree program. This program offers students the opportunity to study music within the liberal arts context. The requirements for the College Music Major are listed In the Course Catalog under "College Music."

An A&S student wishing to declare the College Music Major may do so after the required audition or interview. Students wishing to declare the College Music Major with an emphasis in either performance, composition or TIMARA must first pass an audition or interview in her/his specialty before an appropriate departmental committee. The theory/history emphasis has no mandatory audition or interview.  (For information about entrance requirements, please see the College of Arts & Sciences "Music Program" section of your course catalog. Students need to schedule these auditions on a regular Conservatory Audition Day through the Conservatory Admissions Office. The Conservatory Admissions office will notify students of the results. Any time thereafter (but preferably prior to the end of the sophomore year), the student should pick up a "Major Declaration Form" from the Registrar's Office and meet with the Chair of the College Music Committee to discuss the program and apply officially to be accepted into the major. All prospective College Music Majors may, as early as the beginning of their first semester, audition for secondary study.

New students are introduced to music opportunities on their first day of Orientation at the New Student Music Resource Fair. Students can meet faculty and student groups, and learn about applied study programs and ensemble opportunites.

Applied Study

Many A&S students come to Oberlin with a strong musical background and interest and wish to continue private study on an instrument, which we call Applied Study. Applied Study in the Conservatory is also referred to as Private Study or Applied Lessons. Applied Study takes several forms and may be taken for credit or no credit. Students in the Conservatory and the performance emphasis of the College Music Major  (see below) take Principal Private Study for a minimum of six credit hours per semester. Many students choose to audition for secondary applied lessons. Auditions occur during the first week of classes each semester. Following the audition, faculty members recommend students for placement with a faculty teacher if space permits, in the supervised student teacher program, or in the non-credit lesson program. Students placed for secondary study with a faculty member or a supervised student teacher receive two credits for the secondary lessons. Students recommended for placement in the non-credit program do not receive credit for the lessons and "contract" with the student teacher for $7.50 per half-hour lesson.

Audition Dates

Large Ensemble Auditions
Small Ensemble Auditions
Secondary (Private Study) Auditions

Some A&S students come to Oberlin wishing to audition (or re-audition) for the Conservatory once they are enrolled. Those who are admitted to the Conservatory may choose to become Double Degree students or to transfer from the College to the Conservatory. Incoming students in the Arts and Sciences or returning students who wish to audition for the Bachelor of Music portion of the Double Degree program or who wish to transfer from the B.A. degree to the B.M. may audition for entrance on the regularly scheduled Saturday audition dates (listed above). Auditions for the B.M. will not be given at the beginning of the semester. A Change of Status application (available in the Conservatory Admissions office) must also be completed. Students wishing to schedule an audition for the B.M. degree must contact the Conservatory Admissions Office (Conservatory Annex 206, x58413).

Performance Opportunities

There are many other ways to take part in the musical life of the Conservatory. Ensemble participation is one of the most common options. A&S students are welcome to audition for any Conservatory ensemble. Most often these students participate in the Musical Union–a large choral ensemble–Oberlin College Choir, Oberlin Treble Choir, Collegium Musicum. As of September 2012 a new ensemble formed specifically geared towards college students called the Oberlin Arts & Sciences Orchestra (OASO). In addition, each semester the ethnomusicology program offers ensembles such as the Mandinka Ensemble, the Javanese Gamelan or the Indian Music Ensemble. Please consult the Placement Test and Audition Schedule or the Conservatory New Student Orientation page for audition times and information; or contact us at condeans@oberlin.edu for specific questions.

Outside the Conservatory, student-run ensembles thrive as well. Oberlin Steel, a steel drum ensemble, is a popular campus group. Several a cappella choral ensembles exist such as the Obertones & Nothing But Treble. Gilbert and Sullivan productions are a staple of Winter Term and many rock and alternative music bands are active throughout the academic year.


Although most courses in the Conservatory are open to qualified A&S students, in reality some Conservatory courses become filled with Conservatory students. (Conservatory courses are listed in the Applied Studies "Courses of Instruction" section of your course catalog. Two introductory courses are offered each year specifically for College students: Introduction to Musics of the World (CMUS 100). This course accepts students with little formal training. In addition, MHST 101—Introduction to the History and Literature of Music—is an introductory course, which accepts college students with advanced musical preparation. If you are interested in these classes, please contact the course instructor for consent.

A&S students at an advanced level of musicianship may wish to enroll in Music Theory or Music History courses. Most interested College of Arts and Sciences students will be able to enroll in Music Theory and Aural Skills courses, however, priority in these courses is given to Conservatory and Double Degree students. The theory placement exam is given over the summer and the first aural skills exam occurs during Orientation.

College of Arts and Sciences students who wish to take Music Theory and Aural Skills courses must take the corresponding placement tests before they will be allowed to enroll. After obtaining their final placement results, College students should request to be placed on the wait list for the specific sections in which they wish to enroll.  These requests must be made in person in the Music Theory office, Kohl Building, room 309, during the orientation process.  Phone or email requests will not be accepted. You may contact Jeanne.Rosecrans@oberlin.edu for additional questions x58297.

Early requests will not be accepted. The online theory exam is available at this link beginning July 1st. Students interested in course work in Music History must begin with the MHST 101 or CMUS 103 course and may then proceed to 200-level Music History courses.



The facilities of the Conservatory include practice rooms, classrooms, electronic and computer music studios, two concert halls, and many teaching studios or offices. The Conservatory Library has a wealth of audio recordings, musical scores and books. The library also includes listening facilities with compact disc players, turntables, tape decks, video playback units and CD-ROM equipment. A&S students may use the library and practice facilities as well as other rooms in the Conservatory. Please see the Oberlin College Student Handbook for policies relating to the use of Conservatory facilities.


It has been the practice for many years at the Conservatory to provide instruments for various functions, including secondary instrument study, class lessons, and special performance needs to name a few. Although the instrument inventory exists primarily for use by Conservatory students, A&S students may have access to certain portions of the collection under the circumstances outlined below.

Conservatory instruments may be loaned to college students enrolled in classes and/or ensembles that require their use. Specialized instrument collections are under the direct supervision of the major faculty member in that area. In general, these collections are only available to Conservatory students enrolled in a class, ensemble, or lesson that requires access to those specialized instruments. The faculty member in consultation with the Associate Dean may make exceptions for A&S students enrolled in certain classes.

Unfortunately, the Conservatory cannot loan or rent instruments to A&S students for activities other than those described above. In cases where an instrument cannot be provided, instruments are often available from local music shops at reasonable rates. Information about these rentals can be obtained from Irene Brady (Conservatory Annex 210, x55303).

Unless other arrangements are made with the faculty member and the Associate Dean, students are expected to store instruments in the room and locker provided for that instrument. The Conservatory has very limited general locker or instrument storage space for use by A&S students, and cannot accommodate storing of large instruments (e.g. drum set, double bass, percussion, harp, etc.) for students not involved in a Conservatory ensemble or taking secondary lessons for credit. Contact Irene Brady for further information BEFORE you arrive on campus with a large instrument. Inquiries about locker availability should be made in the Concert Production Office (Bibbins 125) or contact Heather.Martin@oberlin.edu x58610.


Please consult your Student Handbook under the section titled "Regulations and Procedures of the Conservatory of Music" regarding practice room assignments. For specific questions regarding practice room assignments and keys please contact Irene.Harris@oberlin.edu. For questions regarding locker assignments, please contact heather.martin@oberlin.edu. Bachelor of Music students will be given preference regarding locker and/or practice room assignments. We cannot guarantee storage for non-major students. All Oberlin College and Conservatory students are welcome to utilize Robertson practice rooms on a first come first served basis in preparation for auditions or practice for lessons.