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Program Overview

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:

  • Music Major with a Concentration in Classical Music
  • Music Major with a Concentration in Jazz/Popular Music
  • Music Minor with a Concentration in Classical Music
  • Music Minor with a Concentration in Jazz/Popular Music


Performing Ensembles

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)

Music Major

Courses are grouped into three categories:  American, Experiential, and European.  All majors must take:

  • at least two courses from each category and one of these must be at the 200-level*
  • at least one course at the 300-level course
  • at least one course must emphasize pre-20th century music.
  • the remaining credits to complete a 30-credit major may be fulfilled with a combination of:
    • internship
    • independent study
    • additional course(s) from any of the three areas
    • performing credits (no more than 6 performing credits may count towards the major, but a student may accumulate more than 6 credits.)


Music Minor

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. 

Course Offerings

See Music course descriptions from our catalog for more information.


  • MU 101: The History of Jazz (H)
  • MU 102: The History and Development of Rock (H)
  • MU 111: The Lives and Music of Gershwin, Ellington, and Porter (H)
  • MU 112: The Music of Black Americans (H)
  • MU 120: The History of American Song (H)
  • MU 132: Critical Issues in American Popular Music: Blues to Hip Hop (H)
  • MU 200: Special Topics (H)
  • MU 201: History of Hip-hop and its Antecedents (H)
  • MU 245/FTM 205: Survey of Film Music - "Hearing the Movies" (H)



  • MU 103: History of Music, 400-1700 (H)
  • MU 104: History of Music, 1700-1964 (H)
  • MU 124: Bach and Beethoven (H)
  • MU 126: History of Choral Music (H)
  • MU 200: Special Topics (H)
  • MU 240: Choral Music: History and Practice
  • MU 242: Music of the Classical Era (H)
  • MU 243: 19th-Century Romanticism in Music (H)
  • MU 244: Music of the 20th Century (H)


  • MU 113: Introduction to Piano and the Elements of Music (A)
  • MU 122: World Music History and Ensemble (H)
  • MU 150: Music Theory and Composition I (A)
  • MU 155: Popular Music Theory and Composition (A)
  • MU 156: Intro to Music Technology: History and Practice (A)
  • MU 157: Introduction to the Music Industry (A)
  • MU 202/FTM 236: Digital Audio Workstation (A)
  • MU 250: Music Theory and Composition II (A)


300-Level Courses

  • MU 300: Independent Study in Music (H)(A)
  • MU 301: Independent Study in Music Theory (A)
  • MU 305: Internships (A)
  • MU 306: Performing Arts Administration Principles and Practices
  • MU 310-311: Senior Capstone Project


Performance Ensembles

  • MU 255: Symphony Orchestra (A)
  • MU 256: Jazz Ensemble (A)





Michael Ciavaglia

DMA, Cincinnati Conservatory

Michael Cooney

MMus, University of Connecticut

John Fumasoli

B.A., Univeristy of Bridgeport

Alan Murchie

M.Div., Yale University

Applied Music Faculty

David Childs

David Coe

Michael Cooney

Jamie Finnegan

John Fumasoli

Kurt Leon

Tracey Marble

Michelle McBride

Roberta Michele

Steve Moran

Chris Morrison

Darryl Tookes


Professors Emeriti

Orin Grossman


VPA Coordinator

Melissa Roberto




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.

Student & Alumni Spotlight

Robert Schwartz

Class of '16

Get to Know Robert

Name: Robert Schwartz '16
Undergrad Degree: Double Major in Music and Biology
Hometown: Orange, CT
Extracurricular Activities: Jazz Ensemble, Bensonians, Glee Club, Pep Band, Praise Project (6 pm mass), Lord’s Chords (9 p.m. 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.

A group of Fairfield U students practice in the studio.

Music clubs and organizations

  • Orchestra and jazz ensemble each carry 1 credit, which either counts as an elective or up to 6 credits total (including lessons) may be applied to a major or minor in music.
  • Five practice rooms (which include pianos) are available in Jogues Hall and are available for reservation.
  • The student music organizations include orchestra, jazz band, chamber music; and Glee Club (part of Student Affairs Division).

‌To join one of the student music organizations or arrange for private lessons, contact Laura Nash at

A group of students perform for an audience.

Life After Fairfield

Music major graduates today have a great variety of professional fields open to them, such as:

  • Music Education: Elementary, Secondary, and Post-Secondary
  • Studio/Individual Teaching
  • Music Therapist
  • Performance/Professional Musician
  • Church/Temple, as Music Director
  • Composer (Arranger/Orchestrator/Copyist) and Conductor
  • Music Librarian
  • Publisher / Editor
  • Arts Administrator
  • Promotions and Marketing
  • Music Software Programmer
  • Manager / Booking Agent
  • Music Dealer: Management / Sales
  • Newspaper Critic / Reporter
  • Tuner, Technician, Instrument Repair
  • Copyright / Clearance Administrator
  • Music License Administrator
  • Music Editor, Producer, Composer
  • Sound Mixer
  • Post-Production Scoring
  • Disc Jockey / Video Jockey
  • Program Director - Radio
  • Music Researcher

Learn about how an internship can support your post-graduate goals, and how Fairfield's tight-knit alumni network can build career and mentoring opportunities that last a lifetime.

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.

Jazz Ensemble

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.

group of jazz band players

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.

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