Music Department

Academics | Music

Music Department

The Music Department offers a diverse program of musical studies and activities for Ripon College students. The former includes appreciation, history/literature and theory courses as well as applied music at all levels in voice, piano, organ, harpsichord, stringed, brass, woodwind and percussion instruments. Students may participate in one or more performance ensembles, including the Orchestra, Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, Choral Union, Chamber Singers and Collegium Musicum. Membership in all of these groups is available to both majors and non-majors by audition at the beginning of the fall semester.

Students wishing to major in music may choose one of three areas of concentration: performance, history/literature-theory or music education. The performance concentration culminates in a senior recital, the history/literature-theory in a research project and the music education in student teaching and certification. Music majors from Ripon College have successfully pursued careers in performance, higher education, public school and studio teaching, church music and other professional fields.



Joyce Andrews

Kurt Dietrich

Maria Dietrich

Adam Hardt  

Sarah Kraaz

Matthew Miller

William Nelson

Sandra Polcyn



Choral Union
Choral UnionRipon College’s Choral Union is open to students, faculty, staff, and community members and presents at least one concert per semester. Through the ensemble’s repertoire, singers are exposed to a variety of musical styles, time periods, languages, instrumental collaborations, and high-quality texts. Additionally, Choral Union frequently performs with other ensembles. Recent collaborations not only include the college’s orchestra and Collegium Musicum, but also the Green Bay Civic Symphony. Highlights of the 2014–15 season include J.S. Bach’s Christ lag in Todesbanden, Brahms’s Schicksalslied, Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb, and Thompson’s Frostiana. Rehearsals are on Mondays from 4:15 to 5:15 and Wednesdays from 7:00–9:00. Please email Professor John C. Hughes, Director of Choral Activities, or call him at 920-748-8788 for more information.

Collegium Musicum
CollegiumCollegium Musicum is Ripon College’s premier choral ensemble and is open to students of all majors through an audition process. A chamber-sized ensemble, the majority of Collegium Musicum’s repertoire is unaccompanied; however, period instruments occasionally join in performance. The ensemble presents at least one major concert per semester, as well as several other concerts across campus as musical ambassadors. Highlights of the 2014–15 season include Barber’s Reincarnations, Debussy’s Trois Chanson, Lauridsen’s Four Madrigals on Renaissance Texts, Pachelbel’s Magnificat, and Tavener’s Village Wedding. Rehearsals are on Tuesdays from 4:00–6:00 and Thursdays from 4:00–5:00. Please contact Professor John C. Hughes, Director of Choral Activities, or call him at 920-748-8788 for more information.

Jazz Ensemble 
Jazz EnsembleThe Ripon College Jazz Ensemble is a big band that plays music from the earliest jazz through the most contemporary jazz styles. From within the group, a number of different jazz combos perform as well on the two major Jazz Ensemble concerts each year. Development of improvisation skills is a major goal of the group. The Jazz Ensemble also performs on a pops concert each year and occasionally at off-campus events.





OrchestraUnlike many schools its size, Ripon College has a long-standing, vital College Orchestra. Made up of students and community members, the group puts on two concerts a year that feature orchestral works from all of the style periods of Western music. Concerts often feature guest soloists. Children’s concerts are another type of event that the orchestra puts on with some regularity.



Symphonic Wind Ensemble 
Symphonic Wind EnsembleThe Ripon College Symphonic Wind ensemble is made up of brass, winds and percussion. In recent years, the group has had approximately 50 to 55 members. It is largely a student group, although there are a few community members. The group performs two major concerts each year, as well as a pops concert and a concert of small ensemble music. Literature ranges from band classics from throughout the 20th century to transcriptions of music from other media, marches and lighter fare.



Ripon College encourages all students to embrace a Four-Year Career Development Plan. This plan is based on the premise that career planning is a development process that involves learning and decision-making over an extended period of time.

First Year

  • Incoming students are assigned a Faculty Mentor based on their interest area(s). Please see the FACULTY tab under your major area;
  • All Freshman are required to enroll in a First-Year Seminar, which is designed as a transition from high school to college learning, providing an interdisciplinary introduction to the liberal arts and the pursuit of in-depth study;
  • Freshman are encouraged to meet the career development staff early on and complete interest and skills inventories, and self-assessment tools; and,
  • Attend the pre-Fall Break “Major Fest” to explore the various major options and career tracks.

Third Year

  • Assume leadership positions in on-campus clubs and organizations;
  • Participate in mock interviews with the Career Development Office;
  • Attend the Wisconsin Foundation of Independent Colleges Job Fair in February and other relevant career fairs;
  • If relevant, begin to research potential graduate school programs and take the appropriate entrance exam(s);
  • Continue to meet regularly with your Faculty Mentor;
  • Continue to build a solid network and a list of work references, and build your resume;
  • Consider off-campus study: Semester and/or alternative Spring Breaks;
  • Continue to job shadow; and,
  • Gain further career experience associated with your education during the academic year and as part of a summer job or internship.

Second Year

  • Get involved with on-campus clubs and organizations, athletic teams and/or intramural sports;
  • Attend the pre-Fall Break “Major Fest” to explore the various major options and career tracks;
  • Declare a major;
  • Meet regularly with your Faculty Mentor or match your interests with a faculty member in your major department. Determine which professors have areas of expertise most similar to your interests. Talk to people in the academic department to find out about faculty research, scholarly, and creative interests;
  • Attend on-campus career workshops;
  • Work with the Career Development Office to create an approved resume;
  • Job shadow people involved in various careers and professions of interest; and,
  • Gain further career experience associated with your education during the academic year and as part of a summer job or internship.

Fourth Year

  • Complete a Senior Capstone/Thesis in your major area(s);
  • Continue to meet regularly with your Faculty Mentor;
  • Perfect your interviewing skills;
  • Expand your existing network of contacts;
  • Finalize your resume and prepare cover letter;
  • Build a credential file in the Career Development Office;
  • Interview with on-campus recruiters;
  • Set-up informational interviews with target companies;
  • If relevant, apply to graduate school programs, and if necessary, re-take entrance exams; and,
  • Practice career goal-setting.


Unique Opportunities

Off-campus Studies

Music students may take advantage of many off-campus programs. Two common programs are the ACM’s London and Florence: Arts in Context program and the ACM Chicago Program’s Arts emphasis


Music scholarships, awarded by audition, are available in amounts ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.


The department sponsors nearly 30 free concerts every year. These include Ripon College ensembles and faculty recitals as well as professional ensembles such as the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.

Band holiday performance

Demmer Recital Hall

Music Facility Provides Numerous Opportunities

The music department is located in Rodman Center for the Arts. The center houses teaching studios, a practice area, lockers and instrument storage space, classrooms, a choral rehearsal room and a resource center.

The library of scores and recordings includes more than 10,000 items and ample listening stations for student use. A generous number of soundproof practice rooms are available from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day, and the instruments are carefully maintained by a resident technician.

Demmer Recital Hall provides excellent acoustics for all forms of musical performance. A fully equipped sound control booth makes high-quality recording possible from either the stage of Demmer Hall or the choral rehearsal room.

The collection of instruments for use by the students includes some of the finest in every class – Bechstein, Hornung/Moller and Steinway pianos, a Dowd French double harpsichord, a Zuckerman 5-octave clavichord and a Bedient 40-rank tracker organ, LeMay string instruments and a large number of wind instruments of well-known makes. Macintosh computers with music software and MIDI interface are available for student use.


What can I do with a Music major?


An undergraduate degree in music can lead to a career in performance, teaching, producing, promotion/media relations, administration, sound engineer, and research.

Alumni of our program are enrolled in a variety of graduate-level programs at some of the nation’s most prestigious research universities for disciplines from music to business to theology.


Recent graduates of our program work for…

  • Abbott Laboratories
  • Berlin High School
  • Community Pharmacy – Co-op
  • Francis W Parker School
  • Green Lake Festival of Music
  • Green Lake Public Schools
  • Liberty NW Insurance
  • Lincoln Park Zoo
  • Milwaukee Public Schools
  • Taste of New Orleans
  • Teitenbaum Group
  • U.S.D.A.
  • UW-La Crosse
  • West Salem Public Schools

Job titles of recent graduates include…

  • Unix Systems Administrator
  • Director of Instrumental Music
  • K-8 Music and Band Instructor
  • Facilities Technician
  • Development Associate for Major and Planned Giving
  • Private piano teacher
  • Actor
  • Music Teacher