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Music Overview

At Chatham, students engage with music from myriad perspectives. They receive a strong foundation in musicianship, music theory, and music history, and participate in private vocal, instrumental, or composition instruction with some of the region’s best performers. Musical training is complemented by a solid liberal arts foundation, with critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills, as well as thoughtful career preparation. All students complete at least one internship as well as take courses in areas such as music technology that further diversify their professional skills.
Degrees Offered
  • BA
Program School

Chatham University’s music program is both thorough and flexible. We provide performance and composition students with a firm grounding in their own area of specialty, as well as music history and theory, while allowing them to customize their course of study to fit their own interests.

— MICHAEL BOYD, associate professor of music

Photo of a symphony's string musicians performing on stage.

Three Questions for Music Students

Nestled in the lesser known Laughlin building at Chatham University—James Laughlin Music Hall—is a music program that hits all of the right notes. Thanks to ample performance opportunities, private instruction from Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra members, and music-specific scholarships, our musical students flourish.

Explore the Music Degree:

Chatham’s music department combines the benefits of a smaller institution, such as the ability to work one-on-one with faculty in lessons and courses, with the advantages of living in a city that offers resources and opportunities at larger neighboring institutions. The program enables students to connect with music in traditional and nontraditional ways. In addition to providing a solid foundation in music performance, composition, theory, history, and musicianship, Chatham offers courses in popular music, jazz, ethnomusicology, music technology, and interdisciplinary subjects.

  • Students can easily combine music with another academic area of interest to create a double major or interdisciplinary major. Recent combinations include music and English, psychology, mathematics, and cultural studies.
  • The Chatham Choir performs at on- and off-campus events several times each year. Notable past performances include concerts with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and River City Brass.
  • Instrumental students have the opportunity to perform on-campus in chamber ensembles, as well as with the Chatham Pep Band that plays at basketball games and other campus events. In addition, Chatham students are able to audition for and perform with large instrumental ensembles off-campus such as the University of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for credit.
  • The music faculty, all of whom are professional musicians with strong artistic achievements, work closely with all students and are strongly committed to the highest standards in teaching.
  • Through outlets like the Music Club and the Music Blog, students are encouraged to be entrepreneurial, innovative, and self-directive.

History of Rock, Pop, & Soul

This course explores the evolution of American and British popular music from about 1950 to the present day. Musical styles are studied and contextualized with an examination of related cultural, social and political trends. This course also introduces fundamental music terminology that is germane to the study of popular music.

Diatonic Tonal Harmony

The course covers principles of diatonic harmony and voice-leading, as well as species counterpoint and simple formal structures, with an emphasis on analysis and stylistically appropriate composition. The course includes an ear-training lab that features sightsinging, rhythmic performance, and melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic dictation.

Introduction to Computer Music

The course is a composition-focused introduction to computer music resources. Basic principles of digital audio and acoustics/psychoacoustics, as well as the history of electroacoustic and computer music, are introduced. A range of software applications are used for recording, editing, sequencing, synthesis, and processing. Discussion of composition strategies and aesthetic issues guide the use of such techniques in creative projects.

View Full Curriculum

Our Faculty

If one word could best sum up Chatham's faculty, it would be engaged. Professors bring experiences to relate the course lessons to real-world situations.

Full Faculty
Photo of Pauline Rovkah
Director of Piano Program, Artistic Director of Concert Series
Photo of Chatham University music students standing on risers in a choir with music and matching black outfits.

Chatham Choir

The Chatham Choir, which sponsors the all-campus winter celebration and the annual Cabaret Benefit, can be heard at the opening and closing convocations, the spring concert, and the choir tour. The choir has performed in New York City, Baltimore, Washington D.C., and West Virginia, while select members have performed with Marvin Hamlisch and the Pittsburgh Symphony Pop’s All-Star College Chorus.

Photo of a woman with dark hair reading sheet music

Music Scholarships

In addition to Chatham’s university-wide merit- and need-based financial aid, the music program offers the Minna Kaufmann Ruud Scholarships in Voice, as well as scholarships for instrumental music. These scholarships recognize and support students with outstanding talent. The Ruud Scholarship is awarded to qualified vocalists interested in studying music as a major or as part of an inter-departmental major, while the instrumental scholarships are available to any undergraduate student. Scholarship awards are based on audition results.

Photo of a man with tattoos teaching acoustic guitar to a child sitting across from him

Music in Collaboration

Chatham has a collaborative program in music education with Carnegie Mellon University that allows our students to earn state teacher certification along with a music degree from Chatham.