Main content start

Conducting Concentration Requirements

The Conducting Concentration allows undergraduate Music Majors to pursue a course of study in conducting that encompasses all aspects of the field, with a focus on either instrumental or choral conducting. Students are guided through a course of study in elementary, intermediate, and advanced conducting, with rehearsal and performance opportunities leading to a Concentration Project in conducting during their senior year. Requirements for the Conducting Concentration total 62 units, comprising 42 units of core requirements and 20 units of concentration requirements. Students who plan to pursue graduate study in conducting and/or a professional career in this field are strongly advised to supplement this basic curriculum in the ways listed below under "Recommendations." Either Professor Stephen Sano, Harold C. Schmidt Director of Choral Studies; Professor Paul Phillips, Gretchen B. Kimball Director of Orchestral Studies; or Giancarlo Aquilanti, Senior Lecturer in Music and music director of the Stanford Wind Symphony; will be your principal advisor in this concentration. Contact any of them for further information.

Core Requirements (42 Units)

Lower-Division Music Theory: 12 units

Develop aural skills

  • Music 24A24B24C: Ear Training I, II, III (1-2 units each)
  • Ear training exit exam
  • Piano proficiency exam

Analytical approaches: from the common-practice era to today

  • Music 212223: Elements of Music I, II, III (3 units each)
Lower-division Music History: 12 units

Develop proficiency with the history of Western art music

  • Music 40: Music History to 1600 (4 units)
  • Music 41: Music History from 1600 to 1830 (4 units)
  • Music 42: Music History since 1830 (4 units)
Upper-division Music Theory and History: 12 units

Complete three upper division courses:

1. Choose one course among these three:

  • Develop compositional and analytical skills focus on tonal and post-tonal contrapuntal practices
  • Learn analytical methods
    • Music 122B: Analysis of Tonal Music (4 units)
    • Music 122C: Introduction to 20th- Century Composition (4 units)

2. Choose one course among these eight that satisfy the Writing In the Major (WIM) requirement:

  • Acquire the capacity to write about music
    • Music 140: Studies in Music of the Middle Ages (4 units)
    • Music 141: Studies in Music of the Renaissance (4 units)
    • Music 142: Studies in Music of the Baroque (4 units)
    • Music 143: Studies in Music of the Classical Period (4 units)
    • Music 144: Studies in Music of the Romantic Period (4 units)
    • Music 145: Studies in Western Art Music Since 1900 (4 units)
    • Music 146: Studies in Ethnomusicology (4 units)
    • Music 147: Studies in Music, Media, and Popular Culture (4 units)

3. Choose one more course among the remaining nine listed in 1 and 2.

Note: A course cannot be used to satisfy more than one major requirement.

Performance: 3 units

Choose a course or some courses among the following, for a minimum of 3 units

1. Develop proficiency with at least one instrument or voice

2. Ensemble

3. Acquire conducting skills

  • Music 130B: Elementary Instrumental Conducting (2 units)
  • Music 130C:  Elementary Choral Conducting (2 units)

4. Play/Perform electronic music

  • Music 128: Stanford Laptop Orchestra: Composition, Coding, and Performance (3-4 units)

5. Play/Perform improvised music

  • Music 126A: Introduction to Thoroughbass, historically informed stylistic improvisation  (1-3 units)
  • Music 156: [sic] Improvisation Collective (1 unit)

6. Play/perform contemporary music, and collaborate with performers in having your music performed

Note: A course cannot be used to satisfy more than one major requirement.

MST/Composition/Orchestration: 3 units

Choose a course or some courses among the following, for a minimum of 3 units

MST (Music, Science, and Technology)

  • Music 101: Introduction to Creating Electronic Sounds (3-4 units)
  • Music 155: Intermedia Workshop (3-4 units)
  • Music 192A, B, C: Sound Recording (192A & B: 3 units each, 192C: 1-2 units)
  • Music 220A, B, C: Computer Generated Sounds (2-4 units each)
  • Music 223: Composition for Electronic Musicians (3-4 units)
  • Music 223B: Sonic Experiments in Composition (1-3 units)
  • Music 223C: Tradition, Experimentation, and Technology in String Quartet Composition and Performance (1-3 units)
  • Music 223D: Sound Practice: Embodiment and the Social (2-3 units)
  • Music 250A, C: Design of Digital Sounds for Interactive Performance (3-4 units each)
  • Music 256A, B: Music Computing, Design (3-4 units each)

2. Composition

  • Music 20C: Jazz Arranging and Composition (3 units)
  • Music 112: Film Scoring (3 units)
  • Music 113: Introduction to Instrumental Composition (2-3 units)
  • Music 123A: Composition seminar: Rhythmic design (1-2 units)
  • Music 123B: Composition seminar: Pitch design (1-2 units)
  • Music 123C: Composition Seminar: World Music (1-2 units)
  • Music 123i: Undergraduate Seminar in Composition (2-3 units)
  • Music 124A: Songwriters Workshop (1-2 units)
  • Music 131A: Musical Indeterminacy & Advanced Notation (2-3 units)

3. Orchestration

  • Music 127A: Instrumentation and Orchestration (3 units)
  • Music 127B: Advanced Orchestration (3 units)

Note: A course cannot be used to satisfy more than one requirement.

Conducting Requirements

Conducting Course Requirement: 12 units

Earn at least 12 units from among the following courses in these two groups:

1) One of these two elementary courses (2 units):   

  • Music 130B: Elementary Instrumental Conducting (2 units)    
  • Music 130C: Elementary Choral Conducting (2 units)


2) All of these 2-unit courses (10 units):

  • Music 136: Intermediate Conducting: Music Since 1900 (2 units)
  • Music 230: Advanced Instrumental Conducting* (2 units)
  • Music 231: Advanced Choral Conducting* (2 units)
  • Music 198: Concentration Project (2 units)

*Conducting Concentrators with instrumental focus take Music 230 twice and MUSIC 231 once; those with choral focus take Music 231 twice and Music 230 once. The total unit count for Music 230/231 is thus 6 units.

Theory/Analysis/Ear-Training Requirement: 5 units

Earn at least 5 units from among the following courses in these two groups:

1) Whichever one of these three 4-unit courses was not taken to fulfill the Core Requirement:

  • Music 122A: Counterpoint (4 units)
  • Music 122B: Analysis of Tonal Music (4 units)
  • Music 122C: Introduction to 20th-Century Composition (4 units)


2) This course for 1 unit:

  • Music 129: Advanced Ear-Training/Musicianship (1 unit)*

*Note: Music 129 is offered for 1 or 2 units. Conducting Concentrators must take it for 1 unit to fulfill the Conducting Concentration requirement, but are strongly urged to take it for 2 units, if possible.

Note: A course cannot be used to satisfy more than one major requirement.

Performance Requirement: 3 units

Participate for three quarters in any combination of these ensembles (1 unit per quarter):

  • Music 159: Early Music Singers
  • Music 160: Stanford Symphony Orchestra
  • Music 160A: Stanford Philharmonia
  • Music 161A: Stanford Wind Symphony
  • Music 161B: Stanford Jazz Orchestra
  • Music 162: Stanford Symphonic Chorus
  • Music 163: Memorial Church Choir
  • Music 165: Chamber Chorale
  • Music 167: University Singers
  • Music 171: Chamber Music

 or another ensemble (with advisor’s permission)

These performance units must be in addition to the three units earned to satisfy the Core Performance requirement.


Language Study

Given the importance of language proficiency for conductors, conducting concentrators are strongly encouraged to pursue language study (especially of German, French, Italian, and/or Latin) beyond the Stanford language requirement, which states, "Stanford undergraduate students are required to complete one year of college-level study or the equivalent in a foreign language."


These music courses are recommended as electives for Conducting Concentrators:

  • Music 6F: Art is My Occupation: Professional Development in Music (1 unit)
  • Music 11N: Harmonic Convergence: Music’s Intersections with Science, Mathematics, History, and Literature (3 units)
  • Music 11Q: Art in the Metropolis (3 units)
  • Music 13N: Music and Politics: From Mozart to Miranda (3 units)
  • Music 14N: Women Making Music (3 units)
  • Music 33N: Beethoven (3 units)
  • Music 34N: Performing America: The Broadway Musical (3 units)
  • Music 39B: Music and Healing (3 units)
  • Music 80: Russian Modernists: Stravinsky & Shostakovich (3 units)
  • Music 112: Film Scoring (3 units)
  • Music 113: Introduction to Instrumental Composition (2 units)
  • Music 126A: Introduction to Thoroughbass (1-3 units)
  • Music 140-147 Any of these upper-level musicology "Studies" courses (3-5 units)
Beyond the Major

Conducting Concentrators are also encouraged to:

• participate in conducting workshops and masterclasses.
• study conducting at summer workshops and festivals, or take summer courses.
• apply for funding from Stanford (if needed) either for these activities, or to develop and carry out research during your Sophomore summer.
• attend concerts and rehearsals, and follow the live music scene.
• serve as assistant conductor of one of the Stanford large ensembles.
• develop advanced keyboard skills and take courses in opera, song literature, musical theater, and diction, particularly if interested in opera or musical theater.
• be part of the community; expand existing music communities or create a new one.
• develop collaborations with fellow musicians.
• use the library and online resources to expand and diversify your knowledge of the repertoire.
• participate in the Stanford Overseas Study Program.
• research and prepare for entrance requirements and exams if planning to pursue graduate study in conducting.