About the Music Program

The Bard Music Program is dedicated to letting music students carve out paths that match their talents and passions. Many of our students major in, for instance, violin, or classical voice, or jazz percussion, all of which we fully support; others find themselves attracted to hybrid forms, between disciplines, and we cheer them on when they don’t conform to category.

The most common route for a music major at Bard is to take weekly lessons in composition, voice, or an instrument; to present a concert late in sophomore year as a Moderation project; and to present two more concerts, one in each semester, as the Senior Project. For composition students, half the Senior Project can consist of an orchestra piece to be performed at the Commencement Concert; similarly, a classical performer can perform a solo (vocal or instrumental) with the orchestra. A Moderation project or the Senior Project can also take the form of an ambitious music history paper, an ethnomusicology project, an electronic sound installation, or various other formats.

Bard also has a range of ensembles, orchestras, and choruses in which students perform regularly.


At the simplest structural level, the Bard College Music Program is divided into the following areas:

Each of these areas has its own set of course requirements, typically a mix of performance lessons and ensembles, theory classes, and history classes; visit each individual page for specifics. In addition, the student whose work does not fall neatly into one category is encouraged to work out an individual course of study with his or her adviser. The student who works in both classical music and jazz, or who composes both acoustically and electronically, or who plays violin and sings in a rock band, is a staple of our department.

In any case, it is expected that the student will complete half of his or her graduation requirements by the time of Moderation.

Our usual guidelines for Moderation and the Senior Project are as follows:

Moderation Project

  • A concert presenting 25 minutes of music, either performed by the student solo or with ensemble, or the student’s compositions performed by others (and the concert can be a mix of the two); or,
  • A paper on some topic in music theory or music history, often one written for a music class (for the student who plans to major in musicology or theory).

Senior Project

  • Two concerts, each at least 45 minutes in length; or,
  • A concert and a performance of an original composition, or as soloist with the orchestra, at the Commencement Concert, or (for singers) a large role in the Opera Workshop; or,
  • A 70-page paper on some topic in music history or music theory, written from a wide array of academically suitable sources.
  • Other combinations are certainly possible and have been successfully implemented.

Graduation Requirements

In addition to the requirements for the music major, all students are required to meet the College’s general requirements for completion of an undergraduate degree:

  • A minimum of 128 credits
  • A minimum of 40 credits outside the division of your major
  • Two semesters of First-Year Seminar
  • One course from each of the College’s 10 distribution areas

As an arts program in a liberal arts college, the Music Program strives to give as complete and intensive a musical education as possible within the context of a well-rounded general education.

student rehearsing on tenor saxophone
exterior view of music building
student rehearsing on piano
student rehearsing on flute
entrance to the electronic music studio
students rehearsing on accordion and violin