Dean Pertl teaching the didgeridoo

In addition to ensemble participation and individual lessons, many Conservatory classes are open to students of all backgrounds - be that extensive musical training or simply a love of listening!

Listed below are courses in Musicology, Music Composition, Music Theory, Music Education and more that are open to all students. Note that these courses will change year to year.


Courses available for the 2018-2019 school year:

MUCO 210:  Topics:  The Beatles

A survey of The Beatles' career from their formation and early development, rise to superstardom, and influence in popular music in the 1960s, to their subsequent adoration as cultural icons. Discussions will center on presentations of audio and video clips, and simple analyses of music and lyrics relating socio-cultural, political, and other extra-musical factors to popular music.

Prereq:  Sophomore standing

MUCO 211:  Introduction to Musicologies I

This course is the first in a two-term sequence that takes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of music, drawing upon fields such as ethnomusicology, music history, popular music studies, sound studies, cultural studies, music hermeneutics, gender studies, critical race theory, post-colonial studies, historiography and performance studies. We will explore musical styles, practices, functions, meanings and values in cross-cultural and transhistorical contexts. We will develop--and think critically about--the power of engaging actively, intensively and creatively with questions, ideas and sources.

Prereq:  MUTH 251 or consent of instructor

MUCO 494:  Music and the Environment (G)

In many societies around the world, people use music to connect with nature, specific places, and surrounding environments. This course will explore music performance practices and repertoire that expresses or enacts these connections. Case studies will include songlines and Australian Aboriginal land claims, North American protest songs, and the intimate relationships between music and nature of the BaAka people in central Africa and among the Kakuli people in Papua, among others.

Prereq:  Sophomore standing or consent of instructor

MUCO 110:  Topics:  Musics of Latin America (G)

This course will present an introduction to traditional and popular musics of Latin America. We will listen to and analyze sound recordings and videos of numerous musical performances. Lectures and discussions will focus on the defining characteristics, history, and political and cultural contexts of an array of musical genres and styles. This course has no prerequisites and is open to all Lawrence students.

No prereq

MUCO 471:  Performing Arts of Bali (G)

This course explores the intersections of Balinese music, dance, drama, and ritual. Discussions will include how globalization, tourism, and economic and religious tensions affect the arts and performer’s lives. Students will have hands-on experience learning to play Balinese gamelan instruments.

Prereq:  Sophomore standing

MUCO 210:  Topics:  The Rise of Rock and Roll

Growing out of the need for the young generation to have a voice separate from the influence of their parents, Rock-and-Roll will be studied from its genesis in the mid-50s, combining influences from R&B, Country, and Pop, through the variety of sub-genres in the 60s to the punk and disco movements in the 70s that attempted to return R/R to its simpler origins and functions. Movers and shakers who shaped the growth and acceptance of R/R as a popular artistic culture as well as the multitude of social, political, and racial challenges that influenced popular music will be the basis of discussions in class.

Prereq:  Sophomore standing

Click here for the Musicology schedule for 2018-2019!

Music Composition

MUCA 100:  Fundamentals of Composition

An introduction to the craft of music composition open to students with some background in music. Taught as a small class, the course will introduce basic compositional techniques to students with limited background in composition. Individualized compositional projects will be complemented by group listening and analysis.

The ability to read and write music is required to take this course; one term of music theory or the equivalent is strongly recommended.

MUCA 110:  Introduction to Electronic Music

Through hands-on composition-based projects, the course explores electronic and computer music in the context of the contemporary art music tradition as well as various popular idioms. Topics include digital audio sampling and editing, digital signal processing, sound synthesis, MIDI sequencing, and multi-track sound mixing. Discussions engage the integral role of technology in shaping our musical culture as well as the history of electronic music.

The ability to read music is not required to take this course.

Click here for the Music Composition schedule for 2018-19!

Music Theory

MUTH 100:  Music Theory for the Non-Major

An introduction to the fundamentals of music theory—notation, scales, intervals, chords, keys, basic harmony and counterpoint—and their practical application in analysis, composition, and performance.  No previous musical experience required.  Course does not apply toward any music major. Units: 3.

Other music theory courses (e.g., MUTH 201, 211, 221) may be available to non-music majors based on their previous experience as determined by the music theory placement exam.  Interested students should contact Professor Biringer (

Click here for the Music Theory schedule for 2018-19!

Music Education and Pedagogy

MUEP 373:  The Brain, Music, and Optimal Performance

The course will highlight how sensory and motor systems function from the practical perspective of neural anatomy and how we, through the application of cognitive psychology and perceptual-motor skills may optimize our performance in an ideal performing state.

Prereq:  Junior standing

MUEP 280:  The Entrepreneurial Musician

A broad introduction to entrepreneurship for musicians, dancers, thespians, visual artists, and other interested students. This course aspires to give students the tools and the mindset to become agents of innovative, entrepreneurial change, social entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial artists. After presenting a social science view of entrepreneurship, the course will feature faculty from a variety of disciplines as well as visiting entrepreneurs. This is a project-oriented course with extensive speaking that will challenge convention, push you to new realms of creative thought, and stretch the boundaries of collaborative learning. Are you ready to unleash the power of the liberal arts?

No prereq

Click here for the Music Education and Pedagogy schedule for 2018-19!

Music Repertoire-Performance Study

MURP 120: Deep Listening Lab

Deep Listening is a practice championed by Pauline Oliveros, one of America's most prominent experimental composers. Oliveros once described the practice as listening to all things at all times in every way possible.  Incorporating aspects, of movement, contemplative practice, improvisation, collaboration, and intensive listening, this course will have applications to areas as diverse as Environmental Science, Religious Studies, and Music.

No prereq

MURP 110:  Topics:  Song Making

A class for anyone with strong interests in creating songs. We'll explore songwriting from an insider/outsider perspective in the context of pop/alternative/experimental, with an emphasis on traditional songwriting forms and contemporary presentation options. The propagation of songs via digital media, with visual components, will be a central topic. Students will engage in workshops, discussions of readings, interactions with distinguished guest speakers, and generous playing of our songs to each other. Final exam concert.

Prereq:  approval of instructor

MURP 121:  Sound Lab--Topics:  American Roots Music

This course will focus on the early to mid 20th century American music traditions from blues to string band to regional folk musics that were the forerunners of modern rock, blues, country, and hip hop traditions.  The course will also explore the contemporary traditions influenced by American roots music.

No prereq

Click here for the Music Repertoire-Performance Study schedule for 2018-19!


MUDA/THAR 132:  Ensemble Thinking

A Dance course. Ensemble Thinking is a system of physical, improvisational, group exercises that provides organizing lenses through which we observe and participate in movement and performance. Using this technique, we will develop awareness and listening skills for relating to others, build a common language, and practice collaboratively creating dances. Through embodied studio investigations, this course introduces students to dance composition.

No prereq

MUDA/THAR 134:  Contact Improvisation

Contact Improvisation is a partnering dance form that explores movement possibilities created when two or more individual bodies are touching and/or sharing weight, balance, or support. The practice of Contact Improvisation encourages the development of self-responsibility, awareness, clear physical communication, and a strong, versatile body. A rigorous dance lab, we will experiment with action, physics, and listening.

No prereq

MUDA/THAR 136:  Embodied Creative Practice

This is a course designed to build your creative muscle. In the supportive community of this class, we will access your individual story, writing, drawing, movement, and voice to create and perform for each other often. Employing diverse performance techniques and referencing various readings, we will discover and craft our unique inspirations, directions, and experience.

No prereq

MUDA/THAR 138:  Articulating the Solo Body

Based in ReWire/Dancing States and other contemporary techniques, this course will build a movement foundation for the solo dancing body. In the studio, we will work with clarity, speed, and precision to develop a versatile and conscious dancer. We will also explore topics such as performance, intention, and habits while dancing.

No prereq

MUDA/THAR 220:  Musicians in Movement

In this course, we will experiment with various ways movement interacts with music. Topics will be explored from a movement perspective and include- composing music for dance, using space to enhance or alter music performance, dancing while playing music, and attending to the motion of making music. With collaborative guests.

Prereq:  Some music improvisation/composition ability

Click here for the Music-Dance schedule for 2018-19!

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