Jun 15, 2024  
Course Catalog 2023-2024 
Course Catalog 2023-2024 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Performance Major: Organ Concentration

Course Requirements

For course requirements for the Performance Major: Organ Concentration, please see the grid .

Secondary Study

Although it is not a requirement, first-year organ majors are encouraged to study piano or harpsichord as a secondary applied study.

Major Status

Sophomore Major Status is attained upon completion of: The First Major Committee Examination.

Junior Major Status is attained upon completion of: Principal Private Study IV (Organ) and the Second Major Committee Examination.

Senior Major Status is attained upon completion of: Principal Private Study VI (Organ), the Third Major Committee Examination, and the Junior Recital.

Music Theory and Aural Skills Requirement

All BM students complete a core of music theory and aural skills classes, which includes the following: Music Theory I-II (MUTH 131 and 132), which prepares students to hear, perform, and communicate about multiple aspects of music in diverse repertoires; two additional music theory courses at the 200 level (MUTH 250-299), which include topic- and repertoire-based classes that are chosen in consultation with academic advisors; Aural Skills I-IV (MUTH 101, 102, 201, 202). Students are expected to register for one Music Theory and one Aural Skills course each semester until they have completed the core requirements. 

A music theory placement test score of 80 or higher is a prerequisite for MUTH 131. Students with lower scores must successfully complete MUTH 120 before taking MUTH 131. The placement exam may be taken five times.

First Private Study Committee Examination

This examination will consist of approximately 10 minutes of solo music, prepared with the major teacher, to be performed from memory for the organ faculty at the end of the freshman year. In addition, two hymns are to be played: one chosen and prepared by the student; one to be read at sight. Total duration of this exam: 15 minutes. Transfer students with two or more semesters of organ credit will not be required to take this examination. No grades are given for this exam; it is advisory in nature. Comments will be offered by the faculty.

Second Private Study Committee Examination

This examination, to be played for the organ faculty at the end of the sophomore year, will consist of the following items:

i. A piece of approximately 12 minutes duration, prepared with the major teacher, to be performed from memory.

ii. A self-chosen and self-learned piece of approximately six minutes duration, which may be played from score. (Both pieces should take no longer than 18 minutes to play.)

iii. Sight reading of a chorale harmonization and a trio.

This examination will be graded pass/fail and must be passed in order for the student to continue as an organ performance major. Total duration: 25 minutes.

Third Private Study Committee Examination

This examination, to be played for the organ faculty at the end of the first semester of the junior year, or at the end of the fifth semester of study, will consist of three parts:

i. A piece chosen by the faculty and announced two weeks before the examination date; this music is to be self-prepared, without help from the major teacher or others.

ii. More advanced sight reading of chorale harmonizations and trios.

iii. Transposition of a hymn harmonization up or down by a half or whole step.

This examination will be graded, and comments will be written by the faculty. Students who do not receive an average grade of B- or better on this examination will be required to repeat it at the end of the following semester. Total duration: 20 minutes.

Junior Recital

This will consist of solo pieces performed from memory. The maximum length shall be 35 minutes. Minimum length shall be 25 minutes. The junior recital may be performed during the first or second semester, or during Winter Term.

Senior Recital

This will consist of at least 50 minutes of solo repertoire and may be played from score. In addition, emsemble pieces may be included. The senior recital may be performed during the first or second semester, or during Winter Term.


At the discretion of the instructor, organ performance majors are expected and encouraged to secure a position as an organist in the Oberlin/Cleveland greater area. International students in their first year of study may accept positions only with institutions affiliated with the organ department.

Conservatory Writing Requirement

The Conservatory Writing Requirement is designed to help students develop the ability to do the following: communicate effectively in writing, understand writing as a process, engage in writing as a form of critical thinking, demonstrate rhetorical flexibility by addressing various audiences and purposes in their writing, and demonstrate awareness of the conventions and forms of writing in particular disciplines.

As noted in the Bachelor of Music Degree Requirements  section of this catalog, the writing requirement is as follows:

Students are required to complete one writing course, either Writing-Intensive (WINT) or Writing-Advanced (WADV). It is strongly advised that students complete this course by the end of the second year of study. The course must be completed at Oberlin, with the exception that transfer students may petition to count a transferred course with a comparable focus on writing toward this requirement. The petition to request transfer of credit toward the writing requirement can be accessed here. Taking a second writing course during studies at Oberlin is strongly recommended.

Courses carrying the Writing-Intensive (WINT) designation involve explicit instruction in writing, are generally limited in size to allow such instruction, and require multiple writing assignments. These courses are designed to help students develop, compose, revise, organize, and edit prose appropriate to the discipline or course. Courses carrying the Writing-Advanced (WADV) designation are associated with the major and aim at helping students develop as writers within a discipline, employing the conventions and styles appropriate to that field and demonstrating the depth and engagement with disciplinary issues and practices typical of knowledgeable practitioners.

Numerous campus resources are available to help students develop their writing skills, including Oberlin’s Writing Associates Program and the Writing Center. Conservatory students are encouraged to work closely with their Conservatory teachers to hone their music-specific writing skills as they progress through their degree requirements, with particular encouragement to engage in writing artistic statements, program notes, and grant proposals. Students enrolled in the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) sequence will fulfill the Conservatory Writing Requirement as part of their ESOL coursework, specifically with the successful completion of ESOL 140 .