Music courses at Marlboro are designed for liberal arts students, and there is something for everyone. We offer courses for experienced musicians and for those who are absolute newcomers. We offer courses that are practical and performance-based, and those that are historical and theoretical. Music courses often complement Plan work in fields other than music. The music department gives students both a comprehensive background in traditional Western theory and history and an opportunity to explore less traditional fields after one has completed the regular course of study.

We offer three categories of courses:

  1. Applied Music Skills: These courses include: Madrigal Choir and Chamber Music, which require some ability to play an instrument and read music; Applied music is offered on a number of instruments through the Brattleboro Music Center (BMC) and Vermont Jazz Center (VJC). Students interested in arranging for music lessons through the BMC or VJC should see Stan Charkey. Instrument instruction may not be taken for more than one credit in the freshman or sophomore years.
  2. History/Culture: These courses are for both musicians and non-musicians who have an interest in music. There are no prerequisites, and the courses are designed to help students better appreciate and understand music in its societal and historical context. These are particularly useful to students working in history, philosophy or cultural history and are as much about history and cultural theory as music, although music is the lens through which we conduct our examination.
  3. Theory and Composition: Theoretical courses are designed for students who want to learn the nuts and bolts of music, its grammar and structure. Students should begin with Theory Fundamentals, which is an introduction to basic principles and notation. It is a prerequisite for all other theory courses, which include Harmony, 16th-Century Counterpoint and 18th-Century Counterpoint. These are challenging courses for those interested in serious musical study. Composition Workshop is open to students who wish to explore writing music and the expressive possibilities of sound. An ability to read music, play an instrument or sing, and an understanding of basic theory are prerequisites.

Electronic music is also offered. Students who want to explore electronic music can do so as part of a complete music program. Any student who wishes to do a Plan in electronic music will be held to the same requirements as students doing Plans in other areas of music. Minimum Requirements:

  • The Two Music Fundamentals Classes
  • Two years performance ensemble

Areas of Interest for Plan-level Work:

  • History, philosophy or cultural history through the lens of music
  • Electronic music
  • Music composition
  • Music performance (for experienced instrumentalists and/or singers)

Sample Tutorial Topics

  • Readings in Musical Aesthetics
  • Harmonic Analysis
  • Electronic Music Workshop
  • Music Composition
  • Instrumentation/Orchestration


(a mostly random selection of Marlboro microdestinations)