Music Student Handbook

This handbook is designed to provide links and answer common questions concerning requirements of the School of Music, Bachelor of Music Education, Bachelor of Arts in Music, Bachelor of Arts in Music Technology, and Music Minor programs. Additionally, non-music majors who perform in ensembles and study in applied lesson should be familiar with the requirements and responsibilities expected of them as musicians representing the School of Music. This e-guide should be used in conjunction with the current MSU catalog. Montana State University is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music.

School of Music Mission Statement

The School of Music at Montana State University offers dynamic programs in music, music technology, and music education, preparing our students for various professions in music, music education and life-long musical enhancement. Inspired by the belief that music is central to human ways of life, the School affirms the University's mission to serve the people and communities of Montana by providing a musically enriched environment. The School is committed to contributing to the musical world through performance, scholarship, composition, leadership, and nurturing the musical expression, understanding, discovery, and creativity of its faculty and students. 

Academic Information

Academic Integrity

Students and faculty are expected to adhere to the Academic Integrity Guidelines as described in the Student Academic and Conduct Guidelines and Grievance Procedures, a document that contains faculty/student academic integrity guidelines, faculty/student academic grievance and review procedures, student conduct guidelines and conduct grievance procedures, and conduct board membership, procedures, and actions.

Professional Expectations for Music Majors and Minors

Communication competencies are demonstrated by behaviors such as:

  1. Using appropriate grammar (syntax, inflection, and word choice) in oral communication
  2. Speaking distinctly and with confidence
  3. Communicating with sensitivity to the situation and circumstances of professors, students, peer, and colleagues
  4. Using correct spelling, standard English language mechanics, and meaningful word choice in written expression
  5. Communicating through electronic means such as email or D2L

Intellectual competencies are demonstrated by behaviors such as:

  1. Ability to comprehend, memorize, analyze, synthesize and retain material
  2. Ability to develop reasoning and decision-making skills

Musicianship competencies are demonstrated by behaviors such as:

  1. Demonstrating competency in performing (playing/singing/conducting)
  2. Demonstrating adequate pitch matching skills through singing
  3. Demonstrating competency in rhythmic and melodic notation
  4. Demonstrating appropriate music reading skills for the level of study

Professional, behavioral and social competencies are demonstrated by behaviors such as:

  1. Completing assignments and meeting responsibilities on time (MSU Student Conduct Code 310.00)
  2. Participating fully in class and field settings (MSU Student Conduct Code 310.00)
  3. Seeking assistance from instructors and supervisors when appropriate (MSU Student Conduct Code 320.00)
  4. Developing positive relationships with peers and educational professionals (MSU Student Conduct Code 310.00)
  5. Perceiving a wide range of interpersonal cues from others and responding appropriately (MSU Student Conduct Code 310.00)
  6. Displaying openness to new ideas and constructive criticism and using that criticism to improve performance (MSU Student Conduct Code 320.00)
  7. Recognizing one’s own strengths and weaknesses and taking personal responsibility to respond appropriately (MSU Student Conduct Code 310.00)
  8. Displaying professional appearance, poise, flexibility and a positive attitude
  9. Prioritizing responsibilities (MSU Student Conduct Code 610.00)
  10. Taking initiative (MSU Student Conduct Code 310.00)
  11. Using good judgment, tact, and discretion (MSU Student Conduct Code 310.00 & 610.00)

Revised 3/7/11

The School of Music expects students to meet the school'sProfessional Expectations for Music Majors and Minors. Students who fail to meet these expectations will receive a warning. Faculty members may use the School's Student Concern Form to address such issues. Continued failure to meet the expectations may result in the student being placed on a Professional Improvement Plan as follows: 

  • The faculty member identifies the concern, and associated remediation plan, on the Professional Improvement Plan.
  • If agreement about the problem in need of remediation, or the manner in which the problem will be addressed cannot be reached, the student may meet with the Director of the School of Music.
  • The Director will issue a written confirmation of their decision for remediation.
  • In the course of any Professional Improvement Plan, sanctions may be imposed by the Director (e.g. oral or written reprimand, special, additional or repeat assignments, lower or failing grade, or removal from the program). Decisions concerning any improvement plan, including sanctions, are subject to the Student Academic Grievance Procedure (sect. 500 of the conduct guidelines and grievance procedures for students)
  • Documentation of the Professional Improvement Plan is retained by the School of Music until the student's graduation.

Academic Standards

All music majors must earn a “C” are better in all Music Content courses and Other courses outlined in the MSU Catalog.


There is no University policy regarding class attendance. Each instructor may set his or her own policy. However, if such policy involves penalties for absence, it must be clearly stated in the course syllabus.

Concert Attendance Policy

Music majors and minors in all degree programs are required to attend School of Music Seminar (11:00 AM, Thursday), live musical performances, and lectures. School of Music Seminar attendance is monitored through a student ID card swipe system. For outside events, students must provide a program/flier/ticket/etc.

Purpose and Outcomes:

Appreciating and understanding music through listening is fundamental in fostering musicianship and broadening exposure and understanding of an ever-expanding variety of musics. It is additionally important for students to interact and gain knowledge from working professionals.

School of Music Seminar offers these opportunities: solo/chamber music recitals and lectures by working musicians and other professionals. School of Music Seminar is also a venue for sessions on career planning, musician’s health, teaching, music technology, etc.


Assessment is based solely on student attendance.

Note: ALL MSU School of Music events are free to music majors and minors. Expenses for any outside concert performances will be the responsibility of the student.

Events Required for Graduation - Music Major & Minor:

  • Students with a major in music are required to attend 160 School of Music Seminars, concerts, recitals, lectures, or outside musical events. Music majors are required to attend the weekly School of Music Seminar, which account for 120 of the required events over four years.
  • Students with a minor in music are required to attend 40 School of Music Seminars, concerts, recitals, lectures, or outside musical events. Music Minors are required to attend the weekly School of Music Seminar while enrolled in applied lessons.
  • Student IDs will be used to log into a computer system for all events in Reynolds Recital Hall. Students must use the magnetic card reader to swipe ‘in’ AND ‘out’ at an event.
  • Late arrivals or early departures will not count toward this requirement.
  • If a student does not have an opportunity to sign in at a performance, they must submit a program/flyer/ticket/etc. that includes the date, time, venue, and performer(s) for the performance to the front office.
  • Transfer student, change of major, and BME students who student teach during their eighth semester of study will have their required total adjusted. 

Allowable Concert/Recitals:

  • Concerts and recitals that count for concert attendance credit include School of Music Seminar, School of Music concerts/recitals and other outside events where listening and engaging with musical performance is the primary activity.
  • Recordists and Stage Monitors may count attendance if they attend the entire event and appropriately log in and out.  

Allowable Lecture Events:

  • School of Music Seminar with guests and special topic lectures.
  • Any lecture event (not a class) the student might attend that deals with an appropriate music, teaching, or music technology topic with proof of attendance.

Academic Advising

It is your responsibility to meet each semester with your academic advisor. Although students are fully responsible for their own academic decisions, it is to their advantage to attain close cooperation and understanding with their academic advisor. 

Your academic advisor is qualified to assist you with various problems that you confront, including adding/dropping classes, class conflicts, etc. Do not hesitate to ask for assistance. You should be familiar with the music curriculum and your particular degree requirements. This information may be found in the current undergraduate catalog. Furthermore, you should be aware of the Core curriculum requirements. You will find that many courses have already been chosen for you; however, there are some choices left for you to make. 

Change of Major

It is not unusual for students to change their degree plans during their undergraduate careers. If you are thinking about changing your major, discuss this change with an academic advisor from music and your new program. If you want to change your major, you will need to process an online Change of Curriculum Form

Registration/Restricted Entry

To register for classes:

  • Review your Degreeworks worksheet
  • Draft a proposed course schedule for the upcoming semester
  • If a student has conflicts that prevent them from registering themselves for a course, their instructor will add them through MyInfo: Faculty Services:Section Add Approval. 
  • Meet with your advisor to receive your registration PIN number.
  • CatCourse must be used to register for all courses not requiring consent of instructor or restricted entry.

Student Records

Degree progress and audits are available through Degreeworks in MyInfo. The School of Music retains all correspondence and academic forms pertinent to your studies in music at MSU. Your permanent files are accessible to you, your academic advisor, and other University officials in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. 

Registration for Applied Music

Applied Music (MUSI 102, 195-495) - After you have completed your course schedule, see your applied music professor to receive approval for credit and arrange a private lesson schedule.

Ensemble Auditions

Please see: Ensemble Auditions.

Graduation Procedures

  • See your music advisor   

Keyboard Skills Placement

Most entering music majors and minors will be placed in Keyboard Skills I MUSI 135. If an entering student has significant prior experience, they may petition to be placed in a more advanced level of Keyboard Skills. A placement examination will be administered by the piano professor, and petitioning students will be placed in keyboard skills study at the level deemed appropriate. Expected competencies for each semester are listed below: 

To Bypass MUSI 135, Keyboard Skills I, a student will be asked to do the following:

  • Play tonic, subdominant, dominant-seventh chords in major keys up to 4 sharps or 4 flats.
  • Construct and play all major scales in tetra chord positions. (Tetra chord position uses the left hand 5,4,3,2, to play the first four scale tones, and the right hand 2,3,4,5 to complete the scale).
  • Construct and play any triad in any inversion. This includes major, minor, augmented, and diminished chords in root position, 1st and 2nd inversions.
  • Sight read and transpose up or down a step a simple melody.
  • Harmonize a folk melody at sight using tonic, subdominant, and dominant-seventh accompaniment.

To Bypass MUSI 136, Keyboard Skills II, a student will be asked to do the following:

  • Play all major scales hands together or alone with the correct fingering.
  • Construct and play all qualities of seventh chords. This includes major, minor, diminished, half-diminished, and dominant-seventh quality chords.
  • Play all primary and secondary chords in a given major key. This includes the I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, vii triads.
  • Harmonize a melody at sight using primary and secondary chords.

To Bypass MUSI 231, Keyboard Skills III, a student will be asked to do the following:

  • Play the I, vi, IV, ii, V, I chord progression in any major key.
  • Play the i, VI, iv, V, i chord progression in any minor key.
  • Play all harmonic minor scales hands together or alone with correct topographical fingering.
  • Play vocal and instrumental accompaniments at sight.
  • Sight read in Alto and Tenor clef.
  • Transpose wind excerpts to concert pitch and perform at sight.

Guitar Proficiency Examination

All Bachelor of Music Education majors must demonstrate guitar proficiency by successfully completing MUSI 160: Beginning Guitar, or by passing a guitar proficiency examination. Guitar proficiency must be demonstrated prior to student teaching. Requirements:

  • Successfully demonstrate the use of the capo in the transposition of an accompaniment.
  • Successfully demonstrate the appropriate strumming techniques for the meter signatures of 4/4, 3/4, 2/4, and 6/8. 
  • Successfully perform the chord progression I-vi-IV-ii-V7-I in A major, C major, D major, E major, and G major. 
  • Accompanying yourself on the guitar, sing one of the following songs: 
  • Skip To My Lou
  • Buffalo Gals
  • When Johnny Comes Marching Home
  • Coventry Carol
  • Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring

A four-measure introduction should be used. Correct strumming techniques must be demonstrated. Examples of the required material may be found in the guitar text Guitar in Class, Vol. 1, by Mel Bay. 

Scholarship Policies and Information

New Undergraduate Awards

  • Students who have tuition waived from another source may not be eligible to accept a School of Music tuition waiver. 
  • Deadline for scholarship acceptance is stated in the letter of offer. If the acceptance response is not received by the stated date, the scholarship offer may be rescinded. 
  • Scholarship awards to new undergraduate students may be renewable, contingent upon acceptable performance, participation, and available funding. 
  • Students must be in residency to receive financial assistance, excluding 8th semester student teachers that are no longer in ensembles or in residency.
  • All scholarship awards are contingent upon sufficient funding.
  • Music awards are generally paid in the form of a tuition reduction and are credited to student accounts in the spring semester. Exceptions are handled on a case-by-case basis and are subject to approval by the School of Music Scholarship Committee.

Scholarship Requirements and Expectations for All Students

  • Recipients must be registered as full-time students (MINIMUM of 12 credits).
  • Recipients must be registered for academic credit in specific ensembles or activities as stated in their letter of offer. 
  • Renewal of scholarships is determined during the Spring semester of each academic year and is based upon faculty recommendations and student performance (musical and academic). 
  • Music major recipients must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 for scholarships to remain in effect. 
  • Non-music major recipients must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.5 for scholarships to remain in effect. 
  • Music scholarship recipients are expected to earn a minimum grade of "B" in Applied Music. 
  • The altering of awards is possible at any time of the academic year should the faculty and/or Scholarship Committee feel the student is not fulfilling responsibilities.
  • Presently enrolled students may request scholarship consideration at any time during the academic year. Action on such applications will be taken the following semester. 
  • Scholarship awards and subsequent renewals are limited to a maximum of 4 years or 8 semesters.

Scholarship Renewal Procedures

  • Scholarship recipients will submit a Scholarship Renewal Application Form by February 1st of each year. Renewal application will include a copy of the student's academic transcript.
  • Upon notification that a scholarship has been renewed, the student MUST return the signature acceptance included in the letter of notification before the scholarship will be authorized. 

Applied Music, Recital, and Ensemble Policies

Applied Music Requirements

Each applied instructor will distribute an Applied Music syllabus describing the requirements and expectations of their studio. Students are expected to be familiar with these guidelines. 

Changing Applied Instructors

Requests for a change in Applied Music instructor must be made in writing to the School Director. The School Director may ask for a meeting with the student in order to discuss the reason for the request. 

Lesson Length

Applied lessons vary in length. The length is based on the number of credits (½ hour lesson = 1 credit; 1 hour lesson = 2 credits). Music Majors may enroll in 1 or 2 credit lessons. Non-Music Majors enroll in 1 credit lessons. Non-Music Majors can petition the School Director for permission to enroll in 2 credit lessons. Approval is at the sole discretion of the School Director. 

Missed Lessons

If you must miss a lesson, you are required to notify your Applied Music instructor as well as your accompanist (singers) well in advance of the lesson time. Your applied instructor is not obligated to reschedule a lesson which you missed. If the applied instructor cancels a lesson due to illness or professional obligation, the instructor is expected to arrange a make-up lesson. It is the student's responsibility to avoid scheduling conflicts when arranging for private lessons. 

Performance Seminar

All students enrolled in applied study must attend Performance Seminar. The content of the performance seminar will be flexible. Some Performance Seminars will be used for studio recitals, area recitals, (e.g. brass students), and School of Music student recitals. Other Performance Seminars will be used for master class situations, while other sessions may be used for discussions of literature, recordings, performance practices, auditioning, etc. Note that Performance Seminar is required of all music majors.


All Applied Music students will be placed, by audition, at the appropriate level of applied study. Advancement to the next level of applied study will be by performance jury and with the approval of the Applied Music instructor. BME students must successfully complete one semester of MUSI 395 (Applied Music III) prior to student teaching. An appearance on a recital as soloist must be completed prior to advancement to MUS 395.


All Applied Music students are expected to perform a jury (student performance for the faculty) at the end of each semester they are enrolled in Applied Study. Check with your applied instructor for specific requirements and instructions. 

Recital Appearance

An appearance on a recital as soloist must be completed prior to advancement to MUSI 395. Approximately five student recitals per semester, on Tuesdays and/or Thursdays at 11 AM, allow students to perform on the stage of Reynolds Recital Hall. The following recital procedures must be followed:

  • Students desiring to perform on the student recital program must complete the Student Recital Information form in order to be included on the program. This information form can be found in the music office. The form lists information regarding the work to be performed, the performers, length of the work, accompanist, etc., and defines the stage equipment requirements for your performance.
  • The form must be completed, signed by the Applied Music instructor, and returned to the music office no later than the Thursday preceding the student recital. 

Junior/Senior Recitals

All students planning to perform a recital (either half or full), must enroll for MUSI 450 prior to scheduling the recital with the School of Music Office. 

Publicity - Students are encouraged to create their own publicity materials (posters, social media materials, or other available platforms).

  1. Policies - See the Building/Facilities Usage section of this document for Department policies regarding the student use of Reynolds Recital Hall. 
  2. Students must complete a Student Recital Request Form 
  3. A recital preview must be performed at least three weeks prior to the recital, for approval by the applied instructor and at least one other faculty member. 


Please consult with your applied music instructor for a list of available accompanists. You are responsible for arranging for an accompanist if your applied instructor requires you to have one. You are also responsible for all financial arrangements. It is advisable to have a clear agreement with your accompanists prior to using their services. 

Large Ensembles that meet catalog and applied lesson requirements: 

All applied music students are required to participate in SOM large ensembles.

Large Ensembles for MTEC, BME, BA, and Minor


Additional Large Ensembles for MTEC, BA, and Minor only

Symphony Orchestra     Gamelan
Wind Symphony     Guitar Ensemble
University Band     Percussion Ensemble
University Chorale (SATB)     Accompanying (piano principles ONLY - Maximum, 2 enrollments)
Montanans (SATB)      
Voces Luminis (SSAA)      
University Tenor Bass Chorus (TTBB)       
Jazz I      
Jazz II      
Marching Band      


Building/Facilities Usage

Building Hours

Building hours are posted at the Howard Hall entry doors. After the 15thclass day of each semester, Music majors are given 24-hour access to Howard Hall. For your safety, and the safety of all students in the building, NEVER SHARE YOUR STUDENT ID OR CAT CARD WITH ANYONE.

Classroom/Rehearsal Room

Classrooms (117, 179, and 184) and the rehearsal room (130) are reserved for regularly scheduled classes. Generally, these rooms are not accessible in the evenings and on weekends. For after-hours classroom reservations, a Room Reservation form, signed by the Music Office, must be presented to the monitor on duty in the computer lab.

Computer Lab: Room 127

Software programs for computer assisted instruction in music theory and aural skills, as well as composition and recording programs, are installed on these computers for student use. You must be enrolled in an eligible class in order to utilize the computers and software in Room 127. Eligible classes include any theory, aural skills, music technology, composition, orchestration class, and certain music education courses. Hours of operation for Room 127 will be posted on the door each semester.

Practice Room Deposit

All practice rooms in the School of Music are locked. Students enrolled in Applied Music may check out a key for the semester. A refundable deposit is required for each key (no checks please).  You may reserve a time to practice each week by signing up on a practice room door.

Locker Rental

Storage lockers with locks in Howard Hall may be rented each semester. Personal locks may not be used. 

Use of Practice Rooms

  1. Practice rooms are to remain locked when not in use. It is recommended that students lock the rooms from the inside at night when using them for safety. 
  2. Practice rooms may be reserved by the hour. A reservation sheet will be placed on the door of each room. If a room remains vacant at 10 minutes after the hour, even with a reservation on the room, that room shall be considered available for use by anyone. 
  3. Practice rooms 'A' and 'G' are for use WITH accompanists only. Practice room 'A' is set aside for use by vocalists with accompanists, and practice room 'G' is set aside for use by instrumentalists with accompanists. As with all practice rooms, if a room remains vacant at 10 minutes after the hour, even with a reservation on the room, that room shall be considered available for use by anyone. 
  4. Practice rooms 'B' through 'F' are for piano practice only. Practice rooms 'T' through 'W' are for use by percussionists only. Practice room 'S' is for harpists only. 
  5. Music majors may check out keys for a semester from the front office to gain entrance to practice rooms. There is a refundable fee for this key. Only music majors may check out keys. 
  6. All other users of practice rooms must inquire in the front office during office business hours or in the computer lab during evening building hours if they wish to use a practice room. 
  7. Practice rooms are NOT to be used for socialization or for homework which does not require the use of a piano or other instrument. Please be considerate of others who may be waiting for a room in which to practice music. 

Reynolds Recital Hall

The procedures for reserving and using Reynolds Recital Hall are intended to facilitate authorized use and to provide maximum flexibility while maintaining control of the facilities. The following guidelines and procedures are to be followed for scheduling rehearsals/performances in Reynolds Recital Hall: 

  1. Time reserved in the Schedule of Classes for class meetings and rehearsals is not available. 
  2. If a full recital is in preparation, a student is allowed a maximum of four hours of rehearsal time in Reynolds. The Room Reservation Form must be signed by the student's Applied Music instructor and the School Director prior to final scheduling by the School of Music Administrative Assistant. 
  3. Students participating in a general student recital are allowed a maximum of one hour of rehearsal time in Reynolds. The Room Reservation Form must be signed by the student's Applied Music instructor and the School Director prior to final scheduling by the School of Music Administrative Assistant. 
  4. A Room Reservation form, signed by the Music Office, is required for student use of Reynolds Recital Hall. Students may not practice in Reynolds without a reservation. 
  5. Other non-departmental users must complete a Facility Use Agreement and have the approval of the School Director (Music). 


  • Insure musical instruments and other valuables.
  • Keep practice room doors locked while practicing, and keep MONSTER studio doors locked. Lock practice rooms when momentarily leaving if you leave personal belongings in them.
  • Keep instrumental and personal lockers locked at all times.
  • Close all doors to classrooms, rehearsal rooms, practice rooms, and studios when you leave. Be certain these doors are locked.
  • Carry your University ID card with you at all times.
  • School of Music personnel reserve the right to inspect any School-owned property (instruments, equipment, etc.) removed from Howard Hall. 

Health, Wellness, and Safety


The MSU School of Music, as required by the National Association of Schools of Music, is proactive in informing and training anyone who might be physically endangered by practicing, performing, teaching, or listening to music. This information and training is designed to guard against injury and illness and raise awareness of the musician's health, wellness, and safety. 

It is important to note that health and safety depend largely on personal decisions made by informed individuals. MSU has health and safety responsibilities, but fulfillment of these responsibilities cannot and will not ensure any individual's health and safety. Too many factors beyond MSU's control are involved. Each individual is personally responsible for avoiding risk and preventing injuries to themselves before, during, and after study or employment in MSU School of Music. The policies, protocols, and operational procedures developed by the School of Music do not alter or cancel any individual's personal responsibility, or in any way shift personal responsibility for the results of any individual's personal decisions or actions in any instance or over time to the University.


Students are encouraged to supplement information obtained in their lessons, seminars, master classes, and guest lectures regarding musicians' health, wellness, and safety issues by utilizing the resources listed below. The following resources contain best practices related to health, wellness, and safety in musical settings. These are links to research-based strategies for maintaining personal health and safety within the contexts of practice, performance, teaching, and listening.

Protecting Your Hearing Health

Musculoskeletal/Vocal Health and Injury

Psychological Health and Wellness

Equipment and Technology Safety

  • Students working as concert monitors in Reynolds Recital Hall must complete a training session on how to safely move the grand pianos on stage. Contact the School of Music office for information.
  • Students working as audio/recording technicians must complete a training session on how to safely use the sound system and recording equipment, and how to safely lift and carry stage monitors. Contact the School of Music office for information.

Acoustic Conditions in Practice, Rehearsal, and Performance Facilities

Although MSU's acoustically-treated practice, rehearsal, and performance facilities meet OSHA Noise Standards, students must be mindful of exposure to excessive noise levels for extended periods of time. OSHA guidelines define excessive noise levels as 90 decibels or higher for more than 8 hours. For more information, please see the linked decibel comparison chart. Decibel levels specific to musical performance, listening, mixing are discussed in the article, What Volume (In Decibels) Should Audio Be Mixed/Listened At?

  • Ear plugs or hearing protection are advised for all students and faculty that are exposed to noise and loud music beyond what the OSHA Noise Standards recommend. Playing music has its inherent risks and students and faculty should take steps to protect their hearing whenever possible.
  • Some large ensembles exceed recommended noise exposure levels. Those ensembles can include Jazz Band, Wind Symphony, Marching Band, and Orchestra. Wearing hearing protection can help minimize the risk of hearing loss.
  • If “ringing” (Tinnitus) of the ears becomes a problem, you should seek medical advice.

School of Music

Montana State University
PO Box 173420
Bozeman MT 59717-3420
Tel: (406) 994-3562
Fax: (406) 994-6656
[email protected] 
Location: Howard Hall

School Director

Jason Bolte
[email protected]

Business Operations Manager

Rachel Lamphear
[email protected]

Student Services Coordinator

Deanna Banister
[email protected]

National Association of Schools of Music

11250 Roger Bacon Drive, Suite 21
Reston, VA 20190-5248