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Student on timpani with the St. Thomas choir.

Begin the next step of your journey at St. Thomas!

Department of Music

About the Department of Music

The Music Department at the University of St. Thomas strives to provide outstanding music instruction through our progressive curriculum. You will realize your full potential in the development of your musical, artistic and career goals, gaining a versatile skill set that will offer you a distinct competitive advantage in the next chapter of your life. Our accomplished faculty models musical and academic excellence and will mentor you in a creative environment, enhancing the cultural, spiritual and intellectual life of the university and community.

Upcoming Featured Events

  • High School String Day Festival - Monday, March 11, 2024

Email music@stthomas.edu for more information.


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Department of Music

The music department is committed to providing a safe and welcoming space, fostering a vibrant diverse community, and nurturing an inclusive learning environment through the arts at St. Thomas. Since diversity is an indispensable component of human experience, we respect all differences in race, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, socioeconomic background, faith tradition, and ability. We are all responsible for maintaining a welcoming and safe space in our classes, lessons, and ensembles. The expectation is that students will study and/or perform all repertoire and engage in all materials selected by their instructors as we all listen attentively to one another, respond respectfully, and engage in music that educates us and celebrates our differences.

The Music Department at the University of St. Thomas Affirms that Black Lives Matter.

Academic Excellence

The pursuit of a life in music can take many paths. Regardless of the career you seek, our department is dedicated to providing outstanding music instruction through our rigorous curriculum and helping you achieve your full potential.

Music Minors

Be a part of the music and explore new interests. A music minor is an excellent way to distinguish yourself from others in your major field.

Music Performer's Certificate

For those students who love making music, but a music major or minor is not in their college plans, we have the Music Performer’s Certificate! Certificate requirements include four semesters in a large ensemble, four semesters of lessons on the same instrument and one music-approved MUSC course.

Graduate Programs

Our Graduate Programs in Music Education are made for teachers by teachers to serve professional music educators by combining theoretical and applied study at a graduate level.

Graduate Certificates for Music Educators

Designed for professionals who would like to pursue studies but do not wish to attain a graduate degree.

Upcoming Events

Undergraduate and Graduate Course Offerings

Undergraduate music course offerings include lecture and lab courses, ensembles and music lessons. Most courses, including ensembles and music lessons, are open to all students regardless of year or major.

Our graduate programs feature a broad range of theoretical courses balanced by requirements that apply to music teachers’ work with students of all ages. By design, they serve professional music educators who wish to strengthen their classroom teaching effectiveness at a graduate level.

Music for Everyone

Students play the piano together.

Music Lessons

For beginners, advanced and every skill level in between, you can enhance your abilities and style through music lessons at St. Thomas. No matter what your schedule looks like, it is easy to arrange a music lesson. Plus, you can receive academic credit!

We offer 30- or 50-minute weekly lessons for most classical and popular instruments in these categories:

  • Brass
  • Composition
  • Digital Music
  • Keyboard - piano, organ and harpsichord
  • Percussion
  • Strings - fretted and bowed
  • Voice
  • Woodwinds

Lessons are available to all undergraduate and graduate students. While most performance studies are individual, we also offer group guitar and group piano lessons designed for students with little to no background on the respective instrument but desire to learn. Please contact us with any questions.

The Symphonic Band rehearsing in a classroom.


Join an ensemble! St. Thomas is home to over 20 large and small performing ensembles. Many of our award-winning groups have appeared at state, regional, national and international music conferences. Our ensembles perform in a variety of venues including the O’Shaughnessy Auditorium in St. Paul and Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis.

Taking pride in our innovative programming, St. Thomas ensembles have commissioned over 100 works by nationally recognized composers. Instrumental and choral ensembles perform with guest artists from around the country and abroad, and regularly appear on commercial recording labels.

Learn more about our ensembles
Students go over notes during a class.

Core Curriculum

The core curriculum is the bedrock of a St. Thomas education that focuses on educating the whole person and complementing their major and minor studies.

Core-area fine arts courses aim to enhance students' understanding of an appreciation for arts in society. Students gain an understanding of the role of the fine arts in expressing, maintaining, discovering and questioning a culture's dominant beliefs and struggles. Students can fulfill the Fine Arts Requirement by enrolling in a four-credit fine arts course, by participating in a one-credit large ensemble for four semesters, or by participating in an eligible 50-minute elective lesson in the same area (instrument, voice, digital, or composition) for four semesters.

Learn more about the Core Curriculum

Music Major Auditions and Scholarship Opportunities

Undergraduate students planning a major in music, music education, music performance or music business are welcome to apply to the Department of Music any time before or during their studies at St. Thomas. By completing the application before the February 1 deadline, new students can also be considered for a music major scholarship. An audition is required for acceptance into the music major.

Students selected to advance in the scholarship process will be invited to on-campus auditions. Scholarships range from $1,500-$10,000 annually and are renewable for four years of study.


Our accomplished faculty are recognized both nationally and internationally as experts and leaders in their fields. They have a deep passion for mentoring students in a creative environment through their innovative teaching approaches.

Dr. Shersten Johnson

Dr. Shersten Johnson

Dr. Johnson is Chair of the Music Department. She teaches the full spectrum of undergraduate and graduate music theory courses, as well as individual composition and aural-skills lessons and interdisciplinary honors seminars. Her interests include contemporary opera and art song, embodied cognition, disability studies and theories of music pedagogy.

Dr. Shersten Johnson
Music faculty member and graduate program director Dr. Doug Orzolek leads a class in lecture.

Dr. Douglas Orzolek

Dr. Orzolek is Director of Graduate Programs in Music Education. He teaches music education methods and techniques, and also conducts the Symphonic Band. He teaches musical acoustics, music literature and conducting, as well as core classes and instrumental music education. He advises papers in both the master’s and doctoral level music education programs.

Dr. Douglas Orzolek
Dr. Steve Cole smiles during a music business class in the create[space] on the St. Paul campus.

Dr. Steve Cole

Steve Cole is head of music industry studies and recording arts at the university. He has performed at the Hollywood Bowl, Benaroya Symphony Hall, Bass Performance Hall and Chicago Symphony Center. He has been a featured performer at the JVC, Playboy and Blue Note Jazz festivals, plus performing arts centers and jazz clubs around the world.

Dr. Steve Cole


The University of St. Thomas Music Department is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and the National Association of Schools of Music.

The University of St. Thomas is registered with the Minnesota Office of Higher Education pursuant to sections 136A.61 to 136A.71. Registration is not an endorsement of the institution. Credits earned at the institution may not transfer to all other institutions.

Connect with Us!

Learn more about taking your place in the St. Thomas music program.

Department of Music: Call 651-962-5850 (Fax 651-962-5876) or Email music@stthomas.edu

Graduate Programs in Music Education: Call 651-962-5870 (Fax 651-962-5886) or Email music@stthomas.edu

Mailing Address

Department of Music
2115 Summit Ave., BEC 112
St. Paul, MN 55105

Graduate Programs in Music Education
2115 Summit Ave., BEC 112
St. Paul, MN 55105

Campus Location

Both the undergraduate and graduate music offices are located on the first floor of Brady Educational Center.