Music Lessons for Non-Musicians

Mar 11, 2011

Music's in your soul, but any time it tries to get out everyone around you wants to push it back in. Does this sound like you? Even if you can't transform your love of music into a performance that someone would want to hear, you have lots of educational options to appeal to that passion. Here are a few of them!

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By Eric Garneau

Music History Classes

Many colleges offer music history survey courses for non-majors interested in the field. These cover topics important to the art form's long and storied history. Some survey courses are broad, handling large time spans or movements, such as the history of western music or important developments in the art from the Renaissance through the present day. Other classes take a more focused approach, spotlighting various genres, cultures and performance styles. For instance, there are history courses out there on jazz, rock, African music, Native American music and opera, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Musical Theater

When you think of musical theater, you probably think of actors who can sing. However, those aren't the only people who find an outlet in that particular world. If you want to contribute to a performance without actually performing, you might try becoming a theater technician or production manager. You could also take a musical theater history course, which gives background on both the dramatic and musical elements of the art form.

musical theater


Much like musical theater, songwriting often takes a cross-disciplinary approach. It merges skills learned in English courses, like vocabulary and meter, with those inherent to music, such as knowledge of rhythm and melody. This might be an especially fun class for anyone interested in popular music or expressing themselves with their words.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Jazz
  • Music Composition and Theory
  • Music History and Literature
  • Music Merchandising and Management
  • Music Pedagogy
  • Music Performing
  • Musical Conducting
  • Musicology and Ethnomusicology
  • Piano and Organ
  • Stringed Instruments
  • Voice and Opera

Music Business

Maybe you (or your parents who have generously paid for your education) don't think of music as a practical endeavor. Some universities are out to change your mind by offering full programs of study in music business. Here, you can learn about management, promotion, event organizing, publishing and more. It's a fascinating curriculum that combines artistic pursuits with the bottom line of making money, and it may provide an outlet for students with an interest in the art form but a desire to hold a more traditional job.

music and medicine

Arts in Medicine

Like music business, Arts in Medicine programs may provide music lovers with a more practical application of their passion. These classes, available at a number of universities, take a holistic approach to healing that combines traditional medical knowledge with insights into ways that artistic expression might help patients, especially as a form of therapy. Besides music, these programs typically include theater, writing, the visual arts and more, making for a truly cross-disciplinary experience.

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