The music program at Fairfield offers the intimacy of a tight-knit arts community embedded within a broad liberal arts education. Our majors and minors develop their creative skills by exploring the many dimensions of music, while also building their critical, analytical and aesthetic thinking skills. This approach results in the cultivation of our student’s love for and life-long commitment to music.
Our faculty provides critiques in classes, lectures, and immersive workshops. Students can also supplement classroom learning with private lessons and performing group experience.
Through the program, you will collaborate with peers across disciplines and through internship opportunities. The training received in the Music Department allows you to become cultured leaders on the forefront of music, music education and other related fields.
Students may choose one of the following majors or minors:
For information about performance ensembles, students are encouraged to contact either Dr. Nash or Professor Torff.
Applied Music Lessons
The department provides private lesson instruction for all interested students and University members in most areas of music performance. Instruction carries an extra charge beyond tuition and includes 10 private lessons per semester. Students may enroll for 45-minute lessons and earn 1 credit or one-hour lessons and earn 2 credits. Lesson times are arranged individually with the instructor.
These credits do not count towards the 38 three-credit courses required for graduation. Students interested in registering for lessons must do so before the end of the Add/Drop period as identified on the University Academic Calendar. More information and registration forms are available from the Department Coordinator in Canisius Hall, Room 3. For more information, please contact Dr. Laura Nash.
Lesson fees are:
Ten - one-hour lessons: $575 (two credits)
Ten - 45-minute lessons: $500 (one credit)
Courses are grouped into three categories: American, Experiential, and European. All majors must take:
The Music Minor is 18 credits, six of which may come from performance credits (lessons or ensembles). In addition, students must take one history and one applied course, as well as 2-4 elective courses, chosen in consultation with the faculty.
See Music course descriptions from our catalog for more information
DMA, Cincinnati Conservatory
MMus, University of Connecticut
B.A., Univeristy of Bridgeport
M.Div., Yale University
Applied Music Faculty
If you've ever wondered if a particular career is a good fit for you, internships are a terrific way to find out. Academic credit and noncredit internships are available to Fairfield students in every field and offer hands-on, professional experience at leading companies throughout the region.
Name: Robert Schwartz '16
Major: Double major in music and biology
Hometown: Orange, Connecticut
Extracurricular Activities: Jazz Ensemble, Bensonians, Glee Club, Pep Band, Praise Project (6 pm mass), Lord’s Chords (9 pm mass)
Honors/Awards/Scholarships: Dean’s List Fall semester 2012 and 2013
* Image: Schwartz poses with Ellis Marsalis, famous jazz pianist and father of musicians Branford and Wynton Marsalis.
Why did you choose to study your major at Fairfield University?
I’ve played piano since I was 6 years old but I didn’t know until after I was accepted to Fairfield that I wanted to be a music major. Fairfield’s music program is really excellent because it is small enough for students to really get to know the professors through working with them in class and performance ensembles, but it also offers substantial performance opportunities. Being close with the professors is not only a great academic resource, but I’ve also been able to make extra-curricular contacts and have different experiences through them. Also, a few years back, I was involved in Professor Brian Torff’s summer jazz program, which allowed me to get a feel for how the music is run here. That program ended up influencing my choice to study music at Fairfield, even though it was a long time ago.
Was there a particular class or professor who has really inspired you? If so, how?
I’ve taken two music theory classes here- Classical Theory II with Dr. Laura Nash and Popular Music Theory and Composition with Professor Torff. Both vastly enhanced my understanding of how music works, allowing me to really think critically and analytically both when I listen to and when I compose music. Classical theory knowledge is a great thing to have because it is the basis for all composition- classical and otherwise. The pop music class was excellent because it was especially relevant to what I’d like to do for the rest of my life. By analyzing popular music, we were able to identify things that make truly great music. It was inspiring because it gave me a significant number of tools to achieve one of my goals (however lofty it may be): to make good music popular and to make popular music good. Both Dr. Nash and Professor Torff inspired choices that I now consciously make when I write music- instrumental, vocal, pop-oriented.
Fairfield University is a liberal art college and not a conservatory, thus the major is a BA in music without a designated specialization. As a result, all our classes, performing groups, and private lessons are open to all students, regardless of major.
Being so close to NYC, we are able to provide interested students with private lessons with professional musicians. There is an additional fee for the lessons, but student also receive credit -- up to 6 credits of private lessons may be applied to the major or minor.
Music clubs and organizations
To join one of the student music organizations or arrange for private lessons, contact Laura Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org
Music major graduates today have a great variety of professional fields open to them, such as:
School of Communication, Arts, and Media Alumni Panel
Once a year, the College of Arts and Sciences’ invites alumni from each of the School of Communication, Arts, and Media’s four departments (Communication, Visual and Performing Arts, English, and Modern Languages and Literatures) to participate in an interactive panel discussion. From public relations professionals to digital managing editors, the panelists represent a wide breadth of careers and share their professional advice and personal journeys with current students.
The Fairfield University Jazz Ensemble is an 8-10 member student group led by renowned bassist and Fairfield director of jazz and popular music, Brian Torff. The group performs a wide variety of jazz, including Traditional, Modern, Blues, Rock and World music.
Listen to the Jazz Ensemble perform original compositions composed by four talented Fairfield University students:
“Birds in the Night” - Composed by saxophonist Amanda Ocasio
“Butterfly Clockwork” - Composed by pianist Robby Schwartz
“Someday (I'm Gonna Be Somebody)” - Composed by DJ Horstmann
“Mi Alegría” - Composed by saxophonist Amanda Ocasio
For more information regarding Fairfield's performance ensembles, students are encouraged to contact either Dr. Nash or Professor Torff.
The Fairfield University Jazz Ensemble poses for a photo with jazz guitarist and former Dizzy Gillespie band member Rodney Jones (second from left) after their Fall 2016 Concert in Gonzaga Auditorium.