Music Major Resources

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Tacos and Music 2024

Question: What classes should a music major take? 

Answer: The Big 4




So, you’re thinking about majoring in music? Maybe you’ve already decided or maybe you’re on the fence. Either way, it’s helpful to know which courses you should take as a music major and because it can be a little confusing, we made this page to help you figure it out. 


The first thing you want to know is that the music major is different from many other majors in that there are several courses you want to be taking every semester. This is because these courses are four semester sequences like Piano I, Piano II, Piano III and Piano IV. You take Piano IV after you have passed Piano III and so on, so you want to start those courses right away so that you can finish your courses in a timely manner. 


The next thing you want to know is that we (the music professors) regularly meet with students to come up with a plan specific to your situation. Please contact us and set up an appointment to have an advising session where we can discuss your goals and then make a semester by semester plan of which courses you want to take to reach your goals. To set up an appointment you can simply email


Now back to these courses you want to be in every semester. We like to call these courses The Big 4 and they are: 


  1. Performance Studies - In many ways the most important part of your music major journey is private lessons. For centuries the way musicians have trained is by studying with an expert on their instrument or voice type usually for 1 hour per week. Performance Studies is a course we offer at Cuyamaca where we help you find a private teacher and provide you with an opportunity to showcase the progress you are making in your lessons while getting college credit. We recommend all music majors take Performance Studies every semester beginning with their first semester. The specific courses you want to take for Performance Studies are MUS 190, MUS 191, MUS 290 and MUS 291. You can email for more information about Performance Studies
  2. Music Theory - Music Theory is where you learn everything from how to read alto clef to what a half-diminshed 7th chord is. Music Theory is a core part of the music major and usually music majors end up taking 6-8 semesters of Music Theory as part of their Bachelors degree. The specific courses you want to take here at Cuyamaca are MUS 001, MUS 105 and MUS 106. We recommend starting MUS 001 your first semester unless you have experience with Music Theory in which case you can test into a higher level. It is always a good idea to start with MUS 001 and then we can switch you from there if necessary. You can email for more information about music theory.
  3. Piano - Piano is a four semester sequence that is again a core component of your music degree. In Piano I we start with the basics of where the notes are on the piano. By the time you get through Piano IV you will be able to play a variety of styles ranging from four part Bach chorales, Chopin Nocturnes as well as blues, jazz, pop and other forms of contemporary music. The specific courses you want to take here at Cuyamaca are MUS 132, MUS 133, MUS 232 and MUS 233. Again we recommend you start in MUS 132 and if you have experience with piano you can test into a higher level. You can email for more information about piano.
  4. Ensembles - Each semester you want to be in a performance ensemble and you can choose from three we offer at Cuyamaca:
    1. Rock, Pop and Soul Ensemble (RPSE) - The Rock, Pop and Soul Ensemble meets Monday nights and performs contemporary albums from the past several decades. The past few semesters the RPSE has performed albums by U2, Neil Young, Alanis Morissette, The Beatles, The Police and The Guardians of the Galaxy Soundtrack. The specific courses you want to take if you are interested in RPSE are MUS 108, MUS 109, MUS 208 and MUS 209. You can email for more information about RPSE. 
    2. Concert Band - The Concert Band meets Tuesday nights and performs symphonic music for Winds and Percussion. Music ranges from large scale symphonies to movie soundtracks and pop songs. If you played in Concert Band in Middle or High School and/or if you play a wind or percussion instrument then the Concert Band might be for you. The specific courses you want to take if you are interested in the Concert Band are MUS 152, MUS 153, MUS 252 and MUS 253. You can email for more information about Concert Band. 
    3. Choir - The Choir meets Thursday nights and performs a wide variety of music for voices. The ensemble explores diverse forms of vocal expression, and is a place to build lifelong friendships. Whether you are new to singing or have years of experience, you’ll find something worthwhile at the Cuyamaca College Choir. The specific course numbers you want to enroll in for the choir are MUS 158, MUS 159, MUS 258 and MUS 259, consecutively. Please feel free to email for more information about Choir.
Big Four

Useful Links

Buy concert tickets and browse events for this semester's Concert Series here at the Samuel M. Ciccati Theatre, Cuyamaca College!

Music Education

The California Association for Music Education
 is the California affiliate of the National Association for Music Education (MENC).


The Music Association for California Community Colleges is a statewide organization for music educators in the California Community College system. They hold an annual conference that includes a festival chorus and a festival band.


Music Industry

The Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association
 (MEIEA) is the first and most comprehensive organization that addresses the interface between arts education and the performing arts industry.

The National Association of Music Merchandisers (NAMM) is a leading trade group in the music industry that sponsors trade shows and educational projects.


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