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Crane for Non-Music Majors: Music Classes for Everyone

Frequently Asked Questions

You don’t have to be a music major to take advantage of performance and study opportunities at The Crane School of Music! Find out more about how SUNY Potsdam students from other majors can get involved below. More questions? Contact us at or (315) 267- 2812.

Crane regularly offers a number of courses designed for non-music majors, including those listed below. Not all of these are offered every semester; check the course schedule to find out which are in the schedule for any particular term. Note that some of these courses will fulfill the Pathways requirements, either Thinking Aesthetically (TA) or Connecting Globally (CG). For more information about these courses, consult the academic catalog.

  • MULH 101: Crane Live!
  • MULH 110: Music Through the Ages
  • MULH 161 Global Pop Music and Urban Cultures
  • MULH 204: Introduction to Musical Theater
  • MULH 261: Music of Africa
  • MULH 340: The Music of the Beatles
  • MULT 101 Music Theory for Non-Music Majors
  • MULT 201: Accelerated Music Theory for Non-Music Majors
  • MULP 105, 106 & 107: Instrumental Lessons (105), Piano Lessons (106), and Voice Lessons (107) for the Non-Music Major
  • MUAP ensembles - see the next FAQ

Other courses, not listed here, may be also be offered. The subject codes (for example, "MULP") can inform you if non-music majors can enroll in a course. Look for subject codes that being MUL_ or MUA_ . Courses designed for non-music majors have an "L" or "A" as the third letter in their course subject code (L = Liberal Arts Students and A = All Students), while the last letter of the code refers to the subject of the course (H=music history, for example).

Courses with a third letter of "C" (for example, "MUCP") are restricted to music majors only, so these courses are not generally available to non-music majors.

Crane ensembles are open to all students at SUNY Potsdam. Some ensembles require a placement audition, some do not. There is a complete list of all of our ensembles here, but we highlight some of the major ensembles below.

Choral auditions are heard by one or more choral ensemble directors at designated times; contact the Coordinator of Choral Ensembles, Dr. Nils Klykken, for more information. Instrumental ensemble auditions are heard by the studio teacher(s) of each instrument (for example, the flute teacher hears all flute auditions and decides ensemble placement and seating). Please see the Crane School's faculty list or call (315) 267-2812 for the names of any specific instrumental instructors. Auditions are usually held the first two days of classes each semester. Contact faculty ahead of time, as you will need to have time to prepare audition materials prior to the audition.

Not all of these are offered every semester; check the course schedule to find out which are in the schedule for any particular term. 

Choral Ensembles:

  • MUAP 310: Campus/Community Chorus (SATB choir, no audition required)
  • MUAP 350: Crane Chorus (SATB choir, no audition required)
  • MUAP 356: Hosmer Choir (SATB choir, no audition required)
  • MUAP 357: Eclectic Ensemble (SATB choir, no audition required)
  • MUAP 355: Phoenix Club (treble choir, audition required)
  • MUAP 358: Concert Choir (SATB choir, audition required)

Please Note: The last four choirs on this list require students to co-register for MUAP 350 Crane Chorus as a requirement of the course, but students may request an exemption from that requirement through a request to the ensemble's director. MUAP 350 Crane Chorus may also be taken alone.


  • MUAP 115: Campus Community Band (no audition required)
  • MUAP 370: Crane Wind Ensemble (audition required)
  • MUAP 387: Crane Symphonic Band (audition required)
  • MUAP 388: Crane Concert Band (audition required)
  • MUAP 392 Jazz Band (audition required)
  • MUAP 374 Crane Jazz Ensemble (audition required)


  • MUAP 360: Crane Chamber Orchestra (audition required)
  • MUAP 362: Crane Symphony Orchestra (audition required, see note below)
  • MUAP 396: Opera Orchestra (placement is by faculty from students in Crane Symphony Orchestra)

Note: Students need to register for the correct section of MUAP 362 depending on their instrument. String players will also be required to attend sectional rehearsals in addition to the regular Symphony Orchestra meeting time.

Please come to our concerts! All members of the campus community are invited to attend any of the numerous concerts that take place each week in The Crane School of Music’s three performance halls: the Hosmer Concert Hall, Snell Music Theater and Wakefield Recital Hall. Almost all of these events are free. These include student recitals, faculty performances, student ensemble concerts, operas, musical theatre productions, guest artists of all kinds, and much more. For a calendar of events, please see the campus events calendar. Many concerts are also live-streamed.

Crane, SUNY Potsdam and the community also sponsor the Community Performance Series which brings world famous artists and ensembles to campus. Tickets are required for these events. For more information, call the CPS Box Office, located in the Performing Arts Center Lobby, at (315) 267-2277.

The Crane School of Music does not offer a generic music minor. Of the several minors we offer, there are two which do not require you to be a music major:

  • The Musical Theatre Minor is open to students majoring in a music, theatre and dance disciplines. An audition is required; auditions are typically held in February.
  • The Music Business Minor is open to any student on campus. Students interested in this minor must get approval to add this minor from Dr. David Heuser, the program coordinator. Typically this is done in the first or second semester. There are two versions of this minor: the Music Business Minor is for Business Administration majors only, while the Business of Music Minor is for students in all other majors.

Each year, we have a small number of SUNY Potsdam students who are not currently music majors audition (or re-audition) to enter Crane. If you auditioned for us in the past and were not accepted, we recommend that you contact the faculty who auditioned you. Some faculty are willing to share their observations about your audition, and recommend ways to improve your skills. Some faculty are available for private lessons as well (see additional question below). Please note that, as with any auditioning student, there is no guarantee you will be accepted into The Crane School of Music. Not only will your audition have to be at a high enough level for admission, but the availability of studio space in your area is also a factor. Generally, only about 60% of the students who audition for Crane are admitted, although this will vary for each instrument and voice part.

SUNY Potsdam students who plan to audition for Crane should consider the requirements of the music degree they wish to pursue when they select their courses. Non-music majors at SUNY Potsdam should take some General Education requirements, but be aware that certain required courses in the Bachelor of Music degrees fulfill Pathways requirements (TA, TF, TH), and required non-music courses fulfill SW for two majors: Music Education and Music Business. Details of the program requirements can be found on the degree plans page.

We encourage non-music majors interested in Crane to enroll in either MULT 102: Accelerated Music Theory for Non-Music Majors (preferred) or MULT 101: Music Theory for Non-Music Majors, as these courses will help your musical skills as you prepare for your audition. Students who have not yet taken music major theory courses at the college level, but have passed Accelerated Music Theory for Non-Music Majors with a grade of 4.0, are permitted to take the transfer placement exam in order to attempt to place into Theory and Aural Skills II.

Students should also perform in a Crane ensemble (see FAQ #2, above). You may also wish to register for one of the "Lessons" courses (see FAQ #1, above), although it is advisable to hire a private teacher to work with throughout the semester, leading up to your audition. Faculty may be able to assist you in finding an appropriate teacher in the area.

Although the courses mentioned above are useful, they will typically not count toward degree requirements for music majors, nor will they speed up your progress to graduation should you become a music major. Most music degrees take 4 years, starting from the semester you become a music major (assuming that you do not have transfer hours in music from another institution, some of which may count towards a degree at Crane). There are a number of reasons for this; for example, most degrees require students to take 7 or 8 semesters of studio lessons, and studio lessons can only be taken one-at-a-time during the fall or spring semesters.

Detailed information about auditions can be found online here. If you wish to start as a music major in a spring semester, make sure you register for our fall audition (in late November or early December). If you wish to start in a fall semester, you can register for any of our auditions. Make sure you register no later than two weeks before the audition date. Students are only permitted to audition once per audition "season" (November through March). Note that students auditioning for Crane who are already enrolled at SUNY Potsdam must have a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 or higher to be eligible for admission to a music major.

No. Due to limited studio space, we can only offer private lessons with faculty to music majors, except in rare cases. We do sometimes offer classes which allow students to take lessons either in a group (Class Piano and Class Voice) or one-on-one with music majors, under faculty supervision (MULP 101 through MULP 107, see FAQ #1). 

Some faculty are available to give lessons privately, but those arrangements would have to be made between the student and the faculty member as to availability, frequency and costs. No college credit would be earned for these private lessons.

Polices about The Crane School of Music facilities can all be found the Crane Student Handbook (beginning in the "Building Regulations" section). During the fall and spring semesters, when classes are in session, the Crane Music Center is usually open from 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., from Monday through Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., on weekends. At other times, building hours will be posted at entrances to the facility.

  • Storage space for instruments: There are instrument lockers in the Crane Music Center, but these are generally only available to music majors, due to limited space. Some may be available for non-music majors students who are in Crane ensembles; but otherwise, non-music majors cannot store instruments at Crane. Questions about lockers should be addressed to the Crane Instrument Technician, Miles DeCastro.
  • Practice Rooms: See the Crane Student Handbook, under the "General Practice and Practice Room Policies" section.
  • Instruments: Crane cannot provide non-music majors with instruments. This includes percussion instruments, although percussionists in ensembles will have access to necessary percussion equipment for ensemble rehearsals. Brick and Mortar Music, in downtown Potsdam, has many different instruments available for rental or purchase.