About the Major

Hamilton’s music concentration is very flexible and the music community vibrant, with abundant opportunities for students to create and perform. In addition to courses in music theory and history, private lessons, and various ensembles, the curriculum includes courses in world music, music and film, folk and country music, opera, the history of jazz, jazz arranging, composition, conducting, and music technology. Students can explore the state-of-the-art digital music studio, play in our Javanese gamelan, or hear legendary musicians share their experiences in our Fillius Jazz Archive.

Detailed information on courses, ensembles, lessons, facilities, and concentration requirements can be found at the department-managed website.

Students Will Learn To:

  • Demonstrate active listening skills from among a wide variety of musical experiences and practices
  • Make links between various musical styles and their historical and cultural contexts
  • Demonstrate proficiency in various theories of music
  • Display skills in making music through performance, composition, recording, or production

A Sampling of Courses

Doc Woods conducting


The elements of conducting, including baton technique, aural perception, rehearsal techniques and score study (both instrumental and choral).

Explore these select courses:

A study of how to listen to music and get the most out of it. Consideration of approaches to listening to Western art music, film music, jazz, popular music, and selected gamelan and African musics. Focus on strategies of active listening and learning a vocabulary for discussing musical perceptions in various kinds of music. Does not include study of musical notation.

The study of music through lessons in voice, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, saxophone, horn, trumpet, trombone, euphonium, tuba, piano, organ, harp, percussion, classical guitar, jazz/contemporary guitar, folk guitar, violin, viola, cello, and contrabass. Hour tutorial for one-half credit. Based on evaluation of Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory. A fee is charged.

This course explores the nature of silence in literature and music as a way to understand how sound, or lack thereof, came to shape modern Europe. We will discuss the history of silence as a philosophical concept, as a response to crisis, alienation and negation, gendered muteness, as well as the aesthetics of dissonance. Literary and musical selections include Boethius, Dante, Petrarch, Gaspara Stampa, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Robert Musil, Arnold Schoenberg, Theodor Adorno, Eugenio Montale, Anna Banti, Alda Merini,  Luigi Nono, Ingeborg Bachmann, George Steiner. 

The theoretical designs used in combo, big band and third-stream writing. Coverage of jazz scales, chords, voicings, ranges and tonal properties. Students are expected to compose and copy the parts to three compositions, one of which will be read and recorded.

Intensive study of music theory topics, analytical techniques, and compositional approaches applied to common musical forms and styles from different traditions, including Western classical music, popular, jazz, film, theater, and selected world music. Selected repertoire will emphasize 20th- and 21st-century practices.

Meet Our Faculty

Lydia Hamessley

John and Anne Fischer Professor in Fine Arts


Dolly Parton; American folk and traditional musics; banjo, music and film; medieval and renaissance music; music and gender

Alex Bádue

Assistant Professor of Music


musical theater, popular music, Latin American music, 20th- and 21st-century music, and popular-classical crossovers

Charlotte Botha

Assistant Professor of Music


Choral repertoire and conducting; phonetic transcription of Afrikaans choral music; group vocal technique; choregie and interdisciplinary ensemble performance; text-painting in a cappella music; children’s choir composition; equity, diversity and inclusion in the choral literature canon

Heather Buchman

Chair and John L. Baldwin, Jr. Professor in Music, Associate Chair of Dance and Movement Studies


orchestral repertoire and conducting; ballet and opera conducting; trombone and low brass; solo performance; 20th- and 21st-century music

Ryan Carter

Associate Chair, Associate Professor of Music


acoustic and electro-acoustic composition; post-tonal analysis; audio programming; algorithmic composition; mobile platform development of audio applications

Rick Balestra

Lecturer in Music (Jazz Guitar)


jazz guitar

Suzanne Beevers

Lecturer in Music (Violoncello)



Stephen Best

Lecturer in Music (Keyboard and Organ; Keyboard Harmony)


keyboard and organ; keyboard harmony


Joe Carello

Lecturer in Music (Saxophone)


Michael Cirmo

Lecturer in Music (Percussion)



Adam Dudding

Lecturer in Music (Folk Guitar)


folk guitar

Jon Garland

Lecturer in Music (Horn)



Marshall Henry

Lecturer in Music (bass)



Jessica King

Lecturer in Music (Bassoon)



Allan Kolsky

Lecturer in Music (Clarinet)




Rick Montalbano

Lecturer in Music (Jazz Piano)


jazz piano



John Raschella

Lecturer in Music (Trumpet)



Monk Rowe

Joe Williams Director of the Fillius Jazz Archive and Lecturer in Music (Saxophone)


Jazz history, Saxophone ensemble

Sar-Shalom Strong

Lecturer in Music (Piano) and Coordinator of Staff Pianists



Tina Toglia

Lecturer in Music (Piano)



Edgar Tumajyan

Lecturer in Music (violin)


Ubaldo Valli

Lecturer in Music (violin and viola)


violin and viola

Sharon West

Lecturer in Music (Voice)




Careers After Hamilton

Hamilton graduates who concentrated in music are pursuing careers in a variety of fields, including:

  • Sound Design, WHYY-FM, Philadelphia
  • Director of Finance, American Composers Forum
  • Professor of Music and Music Technology, California State University San Marcos
  • Conductor/Artistic Director, Indianapolis Opera
  • Pediatric Dentist
  • Violinist, American Ballet Theatre
  • Senior Manager Digital Products, Los Angeles Times
  • Executive Director, New Hampshire Humanities Council
  • Assistant Professor of Music-Voice, Crane School of Music
  • Senior Vice President, Bank of America

Explore Hamilton Stories

Lydia Hamessley and Jake Blount ’17

Coming Home, Giving Back

On an unseasonably warm Friday afternoon in April, sounds of acoustic old-time roots music streamed from the Schambach Center courtesy of award-winning musician Jake Blount ’17 and his banjo. The informal concert was part of his short trip to Clinton that included reconnecting with a faculty mentor and performing at the local Kirkland Arts Center.

Heather Buchman conducting Symphoria 2022

Buchman Conducts World Premiere of Marion Bauer's Symphony No. 1

Heather Buchman is the Carolyn C. and David M. Ellis ’38 Distinguished Professor of Music and director of the Hamilton College Orchestra and the Chamber Music program. But it was through her other role — guest conductor for Symphoria, Syracuse’s professional orchestra — that she received a recent distinction.

Heather Buchman conducts the Hamilton College Orchestra during a performance in Wellin Hall.

Buchman Named Inaugural John Baldwin Professor; 10 Appointed to Endowed Chairs

Professor of Music Heather Buchman was named the inaugural recipient of the John L. Baldwin, Jr. Professorship in Music, and 10 other faculty members were appointed to endowed chairs effective July 1.


Department Name

Music Department

Contact Name

Lydia Hamessley, Acting Chair

Office Location
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323

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