About the Music Department

Music Performance

SPU's Music Department offers programs for undergraduates interested in pursuing a career in music, as well as for those wanting to sharpen their musical skills or pursue music as an avocation. SPU-educated musicians, music educators, and music therapists are in high demand throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond. If you want to make a difference in the world through music, the Music Department can equip you to do just that.

Music Department faculty members are not only accomplished musicians who are experts in their field, but also gifted educators who are personally involved in the learning and lives of their students.

Members of our Music faculty are well known throughout the region, country, and world as professional performers, educators, clinicians, researchers, and adjudicators. SPU's location brings many outstanding local performers from regional orchestras, chamber ensembles, and other professional organizations to the faculty.

Why Major in Music at SPU?

We offer three majors: Music, Music Education, and Music Therapy, all of which give you the advantage of a strong Music major within a liberal arts setting at a comprehensive university.

As a Music major, you will choose from one of four emphases:

As a Music Education major, you will choose to meet endorsement requirements for one or more of the following:

  • Choral/Vocal
  • Instrumental
  • General Music

As a Music Therapy major, you will choose from one of three emphases:

  • Physical Therapy and Exercise Science
  • Psychology
  • Special Education

Learning Outcomes in Music

A 21st Century musician trained at Seattle Pacific University will have strong abilities in three primary areas:

  1. Musicianship Core

Our core classes in music will acknowledge and message lifelong growth and talent development. Here, content and the skills developed are timeless, unchanging, and culturally / genre universal.

  • Music Fundamentals (Aural Skills, Ear Training, Rhythm Development)

  • Music Theory (Harmony, voice-leading, analysis, composition)

  • Music History (Critical listening, understanding of musical styles from the Renaissance to today and across the globe.)

2. Cultural and Contextual Understanding

  • Reflecting on how to create art with a social consciousness

  • Exploring the intersection of faith and our work

  • Developing identity and cultural context

3. 21st Century Essential Skills

Certainly, these skills are not new as Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven were all improvisers, performers, composers, and business people.  However, these components not systemically and universally taught in most traditional music schools. We believe that these skills are crucial to defining what will become a complete musician in the coming decades of the 21st century.

  • Performance

Technique development and repertoire knowledge of the student's primary instrument or vocal type.

  • Composition  

Creative application of learned skills in both traditional written contexts and in electronic sound design. Skills in arranging and collaboration.

  • Improvisation

As a separate and unique skill in need of study and development. Much of the music of the past century is of an improvised language and we anticipate that the convergence of improvisation, performance, and composition will continue long into the future.

  • Technology Integration

Understanding and competence in the professional technological capabilities in music is of crucial importance for all musicians. Students will work from music creating and generation, to recording and producing, to integration of electronic elements in live performance.

  • Business Savvy

The modern musician is often self-employed and has a portfolio-based career. Skills in marketing and promotion, fundraising, budgets, networking, and freelancing are essential to both financial and artistic success.

With a Music degree, graduates enter a wide variety of careers, from church musician to ethnomusicologist, composer to music critic, music librarian to music teacher. They also work in arenas as diverse as business or entertainment.

A Rich Blend of Opportunities for All SPU Students

If you have a desire to participate in music while majoring in another field, we offer many opportunities through choral and instrumental ensembles, studio instruction, and other coursework designed to enhance a music education in a Christian setting. All ensemble courses carry regular university credit, and most require an audition or permission of the instructor for enrollment. You will find information in course descriptions and more extensive detail in the pages of the various activities.

A Focus on Diversity and Community Engagement

In keeping with their commitments to leadership and service, Music Department faculty and students are fully engaged in the community and among diverse populations at the local, regional, national, and international levels. Whether performing on the main stages of Seattle, presenting a research paper at a national conference, conducting a choir in a local high school, or offering music therapy services at a clinic in Jamaica, as an SPU Music major, you will be engaged!

At the heart of Seattle Pacific's approach to the discipline of music is a focus on engagement with people and cultural music from around the world — including Western European art music, African and Polynesian percussion, Indonesian gamelan, American jazz, and African-American gospel music — genres that are all valued, studied, and performed on campus and in the wider community.

The Music Department values the richness that diversity brings to the learning community at SPU, and faculty and students strive to maintain respect for the rigor of learning from and with one another.

Engagement With Faculty and Other Students

You are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the strength of our department by getting to know our faculty. Sharing career goals will offer opportunities in teaching, research, production, and recording. Student-led clubs bring guest artists and clinicians on campus for networking opportunities or workshops. You will have many opportunities to be involved in music ministry, on and off campus. Since many of our Music faculty members are church musicians, students have many resources available.

Becoming an accomplished musician is hard work. Sharing music with others makes it all worth it.

Kedmon Mapana
Video Icon

Kedmon Mapana, who earned his EdD in SPU’s School of Education, is on the faculty of Arts and Sciences at University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Here he leads the SPU Men’s Choir in rehearsal and worship at First Free Methodist Church.

Sprezzatura Trio

Meet the members of the Sprezzatura Trio, a music ensemble comprising three SPU alumnae.