About the Major

Hamilton’s music concentration is very flexible and the music community vibrant, with abundant opportunities for students to create and perform. In addition to courses in music theory and history, private lessons, and various ensembles, the curriculum includes courses in world music, music and film, folk and country music, opera, the history of jazz, jazz arranging, composition, conducting, and music technology. Students can explore the state-of-the-art digital music studio, play in our Javanese gamelan, or hear legendary musicians share their experiences in our Fillius Jazz Archive.

Students Will Learn To:

  • Demonstrate active listening skills from among a wide variety of musical experiences and practices
  • Make links between various musical styles and their historical and cultural contexts
  • Demonstrate proficiency in various theories of music
  • Display skills in making music through performance, composition, recording, or production

A Sampling of Courses

Doc Woods conducting


The elements of conducting, including baton technique, aural perception, rehearsal techniques and score study (both instrumental and choral).

Explore these select courses:

A study of how to listen to music and get the most out of it. Consideration of approaches to listening to Western art music, film music, jazz, popular music, and selected gamelan and African musics. Focus on strategies of active listening and learning a vocabulary for discussing musical perceptions in various kinds of music. Does not include study of musical notation.

The study of music through lessons in voice, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, saxophone, horn, trumpet, trombone, euphonium, tuba, piano, organ, harp, percussion, classical guitar, jazz/contemporary guitar, folk guitar, violin, viola, cello, and contrabass. Hour tutorial for one-half credit. Based on evaluation of Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory. A fee is charged.

This course explores the nature of silence in literature and music as a way to understand how sound, or lack thereof, came to shape modern Europe. We will discuss the history of silence as a philosophical concept, as a response to crisis, alienation and negation, gendered muteness, as well as the aesthetics of dissonance. Literary and musical selections include Boethius, Dante, Petrarch, Gaspara Stampa, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Robert Musil, Arnold Schoenberg, Theodor Adorno, Eugenio Montale, Anna Banti, Alda Merini,  Luigi Nono, Ingeborg Bachmann, George Steiner. Taught in English. 

The theoretical designs used in combo, big band and third-stream writing. Coverage of jazz scales, chords, voicings, ranges and tonal properties. Students are expected to compose and copy the parts to three compositions, one of which will be read and recorded.

A study of counterpoint and of analytical techniques applied to common musical forms from many traditions, emphasizing Western classical music but also including popular, jazz, and other world music.

Meet Our Faculty

Heather Buchman

Chair, the Carolyn C. and David M.’38 Ellis Distinguished Teaching Professor of Music


orchestral repertoire and conducting; ballet and opera conducting; trombone and low brass; solo performance; 20th- and 21st-century music

David Bird

Visiting Assistant Professor of Music


computer music composition; studio recording; interactive sound and video; algorithmic music composition; spectral and transcription-based music; multimedia collaboration

Charlotte Botha

Assistant Professor of Music


Choral repertoire and conducting; phonetic transcription of Afrikaans choral music; group vocal technique; choregie and interdisciplinary ensemble performance; text-painting in a cappella music; children’s choir composition; equity, diversity and inclusion in the choral literature canon

Ryan Carter

Assistant Professor of Music


acoustic and electro-acoustic composition; post-tonal analysis; audio programming; algorithmic composition; mobile platform development of audio applications

Lydia Hamessley

Eugene M. Tobin Distinguished Professor of Music


Dolly Parton; American folk and traditional musics; banjo, music and film; medieval and renaissance music; music and gender

Tonia Passwater

Visiting Assistant Professor of Music


women composers; Modernism; American music of the 19th and 20th centuries; reception history; race, gender, social class, and music; opera and the Enlightenment

Monk Rowe

Joe Williams Director of the Fillius Jazz Archive and Lecturer in Music (Saxophone)


jazz history, music composition

Michael Woods

Margaret Bundy Scott Professor of Music


jazz, composition, inspiring student growth, and revealing music's secrets

Rick Balestra

Lecturer in Music (Jazz Guitar)


jazz guitar

Suzanne Beevers

Lecturer in Music (Violoncello)



Stephen Best

Lecturer in Music (Keyboard and Organ; Keyboard Harmony)


keyboard and organ; keyboard harmony


Michael Cirmo

Lecturer in Music (Percussion)



Adam Dudding

Lecturer in Music (Folk Guitar)


folk guitar

Jon Garland

Lecturer in Music (Horn)


Marshall Henry

Lecturer in Music (bass)



Jim Johns

Lecturer in Music (Jazz Percussion)


Jessica King

Lecturer in Music (Bassoon)



Allan Kolsky

Lecturer in Music (Clarinet)





Alexander Meszler

Lecturer in Music (Keyboard)



Rick Montalbano

Lecturer in Music (Jazz Piano)


jazz piano


Colleen Roberts Pellman

Lecturer in Music (Piano), Student Pianist Coach



John Raschella

Lecturer in Music (Trumpet)



Peter Rovit

Lecturer in Music (Violin)



Sar-Shalom Strong

Lecturer in Music (Piano) and Coordinator of Staff Pianists



Tina Toglia

Lecturer in Music (Piano)



Ubaldo Valli

Lecturer in Music (violin and viola)


violin and viola


Sharon West

Lecturer in Music (Voice)




Robert Hopkins

Associate Professor of Music Emeritus (retired)


closure in music; codas and their function in sonata-form movements; musical parameters and the perception of musical form; critical and structural analysis of the music of Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms and Mahler; barbershop quartet music and style

G. Roberts Kolb

Marjorie and Robert W. McEwen Professor of Music Emeritus and Senior Lecturer in Music


conducting techniques, choral literature, French Baroque music, Guillaume Bouzignac, and Brahms vocal ensemble music

Explore Hamilton Stories

Lydia Hamessley

Hamessley’s Unlikely Angel Focuses on Dolly Parton’s Songs

Most people, when asked to define Dolly Parton, will probably answer “singer” or “celebrity.” Few might be aware that she defines herself first as a composer, having written more than 3,000 songs, almost 500 of which have been recorded.

Entao Xie '24

A Musical Tour Through Root Glen

Meandering through Hamilton’s Root Glen with nothing but a pair of headphones and a phone, you find yourself on a journey through the intertwining of music and nature.

Andrew Little '22

The Sound of Color

Inspiration often comes from unexpected places. For Andrew Little ’22, it arrived at the hands of a $4,500 electronic instrument called a Lumatone, which produces notes based on a color microtonal scale.

Careers After Hamilton

Hamilton graduates who concentrated in music are pursuing careers in a variety of fields, including:

  • Sound Design, WHYY-FM, Philadelphia
  • Director of Finance, American Composers Forum
  • Professor of Music and Music Technology, California State University San Marcos
  • Conductor/Artistic Director, Indianapolis Opera
  • Pediatric Dentist
  • Violinist, American Ballet Theatre
  • Senior Manager Digital Products, Los Angeles Times
  • Executive Director, New Hampshire Humanities Council
  • Assistant Professor of Music-Voice, Crane School of Music
  • Senior Vice President, Bank of America


Department Name

Music Department

Office Location
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323

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