Instrumental Studies Program

Our students develop technique and mature artistically through their interaction with world class faculty, masterclasses, and access to a state of the art learning environment. The Carl J. Murphy Fine Arts Center is equipped with computer labs, secured practice rooms furnished with pianos, and multiple performance spaces.


For more information about Morgan State University Bands, please click HERE.


Requirements for the B.A. Degree in Music

A minimum of 120 credit hours are required to graduate with a B.A. in Music. These credit hours are distributed as follows:

  • General Education and University Requirements: 43 credits
  • Liberal Arts Core Requirements:  6 credits
  • Required Core Courses for the Music Major: 46 credits
  • Required Music Track Requirements: 25 credits


Core courses for Instrumental Studies majors include:

Class Piano 

This continuous course provides class instruction in the fundamentals of keyboard technique for music majors needing study on an elementary level and progressively advancing to performance proficiency. 

Aural Skills

These courses are designed to develop aural recognition of musical sounds, dictation, and sight reading/singing, using moveable "doh".

Music Theory

This continuous course studies of the rudiments of music progressively advancing to the fundamentals of two-voice counterpoint, the treatment of consonance and dissonance, and incorporates elements of 16th and 18th century practice. The advanced course levels examines the contemporary music language-set theory, twelve-tone, serial music and introduces Schenkerian analysis among other theoretical writings of the twentieth century.


This course analyzes baton technique, principles and challenges of choral and instrumental conducting.

Instrumental & Voice Method

Various courses are offered to develop technique for performance and pedagogy for woodwind, brass, percussion, string, and voice.

Electronic & Computer Application

This course will familiarize students with computers notation and performance software, electronic devices for sound generation, recording, and performance both for home and studio. 



Instrumental music majors are required to perform throughout the semester for juries, concerts, and monthly recitals as a soloist and with University ensembles. Additional performances may include department wide productions and off campus performances for students who meet the audition standards. Outstanding student musicians may also be eligible to participate in intercollegiate ensembles and competitions regionally, nationally, and abroad.

**Additional graduation requirements include enrollment in private lessonssenior recital, and passing the piano proficiency examination.**
Review the Academic Course Catalog to LEARN MORE


Participation in University Ensembles is open to all Morgan State University students who meet the audition requirements. Scholarships opportunities are competitive and offered to exceptional student musicians who complete the audition process.

Symphonic Band

The Morgan State University Symphonic Band is comprised of music majors and selected students from other disciplines. Exploring traditional as well as contemporary compositions for band, the ensemble has a reputation for its high level of performance and quality literature. Musicians in a Morgan State University Band have an opportunity to share in the excitement of the creative process as they broaden their musical experiences.The Symphonic Band maintains an active schedule and is a group committed to high musical standards.story and let your users know a little more about you.                  

Magnificent Marching Maching

The most popular and well recognized ensemble is the Marching Band, known as "The Magnificent Marching Machine". The Magnificent Marching Machine (M3) is comprised of 150+ students who perform as musicians, dancers, and color guard at MSU football games, NFL games, and more. Most recently the M3 performed in 93rd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2019 as the first marching band from a HBCU in the state of Maryland to do so. The ensemble has also made cameo appearances in the movie "Head of State" featuring actor-comedian Chris Rock and on radio host Tom Joyner's television show.

Jazz Band

The Morgan State University Jazz Band Ensemble is comprised of music majors and non-music majors performing classic works by jazz composers including Duke Ellington, Thad Jones, Count Basie, Miles Davis and more. This ensemble has a reputation for its high level of performance and quality literature.The Jazz Band maintains an active schedule and is a group committed to high musical standards. 

Jazz Combo

The Morgan State University Jazz Combo is a small touring group comprised of the Jazz Band's leading musicians. Participants perform at various ceremonial engagements for the University on and off campus.

Pep Band

The Morgan State University Pep Band performs at Morgan State University Basketball games. The "Bear Band" performs the traditional MSU School Spirit Songs and renditions of today's radio hits.


Dr. Thesen image and quote

"Our program is moderately sized with small class sizes that enable students to receive substantial attention and frequent communication with the faculty. We are also able to offer excellent performing opportunities with our nationally known choir and band programs. Our location in Baltimore gives students access to a wide range of cultural institutions and events on the east coast."

- Dr. Anita Thesen, Lecturer of Music History, World of Music, & Applied Flute


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AUDITIONS (Undergraduate)

All students requesting an audition with the MSU Band Program must apply to Morgan State University before the audition.



  • All Major and Minor Scales. Quarter note @ 120 BPMS.
  • Two contrasting etudes or movements
  • Sight reading


*Percussionists are required to audition on each.


  • All Major and Minor Scales. Quarter note @ 120 BPMS.
  • Two contrasting etudes or movements
  • Sight reading


  • Perform snare drum rudiments on snare drum
  • Tune timpani
  • Two contrasting etudes
  • Sight reading

Battery (Snare Drum)

  • All Basic Rudiments. Opened and closed. 
  • Two contrasting etudes or movements
  • Sight reading



Spring 2021 Audition Dates: TBD

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, in person auditions are currently suspended and video recordings will be accepted. Completion of the MSU Bands application is required for auditions.

VIDEO RECORDINGS will be accepted via YouTube link, MP4 or MOV formats submitted no later than April 30th. The recordings should be unaltered. Before each piece, announce the title and composer. Please note that an interview may be required for students seeking financial support.

Contact the Morgan State University Bands office at 443.885.3087 or with additional questions regarding auditions.





Pursuing a degree in music can be challenging but very rewarding. To help prospective undergraduate students prepare for college we encourage you to heed the following tips:

1. Play with Others

Studying music in college will require ensemble performances. Music by nature is a collaborative art form. Join your school ensemble or find a youth music program in your community. If neither is available, try practicing duet and trio pieces with friends.

2. Take Music Lessons

Music performance in university settings is more competitive and rigourous. Give yourself a head start by taking music lessons with a qualified professional music instructor. If you are unable to identify someone in your community contact a local college or university to request lessons with a music major.

3. Learn Music Theory

Music theory is the study of the practices and possibilities of music making. It is an evolving life long study. Register for a music theory class if your high school offers one. Purchase a beginner theory book if you are unable to take a class at your school or find a beginner music theory course at a local community college.

4. Develop your Ear

Expand your awareness of music genres, instrumentation, and sound. Listen to other genres beyond your favorites. Practice trying to mimic and harmonize the melodies of your favorite songs on your instrument.

5. Discover Music Technology

There are several ways to compose and produce music in this age of technology. Become more aware of the different music making programs such as Finale, Smart Music, and Sibelius. Some programs offer free trials and discounts for students. Begin exploring music technology.

6. Invest in Your Craft

Be prepared to invest time and money for equipment in your study of music. You will be required to purchase your own music, instruments, accessories, and etc. as a music major. While other majors may spend hours in the library studying from a book, student musicians will spend hours studying theory while practicing their instrument.




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