In the Middle Ages, music held an honored place as one of the seven original “liberal arts.” Like science, rhetoric, and theology, music was a field of study that was considered essential to the development of the well-rounded intellect. Music study at Wheaton falls within this grand tradition, providing students the opportunity to develop their academic abilities through the intensive study of its historical, theoretical, and social components. The music curriculum teaches students the skills that will allow them to ask the important and interesting questions that will lead to a lifetime of learning and exploration, no matter what their eventual career. Through a challenging and energizing exposure to the great composers, performers, and thinkers in the world of music, our students learn how to write, research, and communicate their ideas in compelling and thought-provoking ways.
Since music is interdisciplinary at its core, music study at Wheaton entails a multi-faceted approach. In applied lessons and ensembles, students improve their performance abilities through immediate exposure with music from a host of traditions – from steel pan music of Trinidad to arts songs by Schubert. In theory classes, student develop fluency in the language of music as they analyze masterworks by Bach, Coltrane, and the Beatles. In history and ethnomusicology courses, students discover the stylistic developments and social trends that knit together the musical lives of peoples from many different cultures. In composition classes, they discover their own creative voices by learning the skills that allow them to organize the ideas that spring from their musical imagination. In addition, Wheaton students are encouraged to link their love of music to studies beyond the music department’s core curriculum, through the interdisciplinary First Year Seminar program, through Wheaton’s unique Connections curriculum, and through study abroad programs, independent study with faculty mentors, and internships.
Faced with a society in which the the arts are becoming increasingly marginalized, Wheaton hopes to train future leaders who will use their intellectual and creative abilities to advocate passionately and articulately for the importance of music as a central component of the human experience.